Hear from a dance instructor (and my friend) who overcame her doubts and developed the confidence to speak her mind when judging dance competitions.
Laurie: Hey, my friend. Welcome to Episode 3 of Laurie TALKS. Today, a phone call, very easy conversation, very laid back. It gives you an idea of the kinds of conversations you can have when you call in. I’ll announce on social when the phone lines open. And if I could change one thing about this call it would be in the beginning I said to the caller — and I wouldn’t call people caller anymore. I’m going to find another word maybe “friend” — but I wouldn’t say, “Do you have an agenda.” I’d be more tactful and say something like “anything in particular you’d like to talk about?” something with a little more finesse and flair.
Okay. Enjoy the call.
Laurie: Hello. I think I know. Wait a minute. There’s no way I could know who this is just from the hello. Is that possible?
Chelsea: You might.
Chelsea: Do you really?
Laurie: No, I’m not gonna give myself that much credit. And that’s OK. We can toss. We can. I don’t have to know who you are. Go for it. Do you have an agenda?
Chelsea: Do I have an agenda? No. I was calling in to say hi.
Laurie: OK. Nothing in particular you want to talk about. That’s fine. Because I’m Laura Talks. That’s my job to provide entertainment. So what are you doing?
Chelsea: Just got back from a competition weekend. So I’m just readjusting my body to life. [Inaudible 0:01:56] on this Monday.
Laurie: Wait a minute. So you danced literally all weekend.
Chelsea: I didn’t dance. I’m a coach.
Laurie: You a coach.
Laurie: Oh so you had to stand around and make small talk with all the parents and everyone else.
Chelsea: So much talk.
Laurie: You know what the small talk is more exhausting than anything else and more annoying than bad choreography.
Chelsea: Ok yes. So like I’d rather be judging because I’m also a judge. So like after judging like six weekends at around and taking my kids to competition I’d rather be behind the table where I don’t have to make small talk.
Laurie: Thank you. Wait. Here’s a question for you. You judging, are you completely honest?
Laurie: Do you have to sugar coat anything?
Chelsea: We are told not to do certain… We’re not we’re supposed to go below a certain score. But I’m not here to lie to children. So I do what I do and I have to do. And I haven’t gotten in trouble yet.
Laurie: Probably because you’re a breath of fresh air. Now when you’re judging, can you hear the other judges’ comments?
Chelsea: Yes I can.
Laurie: OK. No I was going to say does that make you sometimes tone it down?
Chelsea: No, I usually hear them to listen. Sometimes I don’t know what to say all the time. So I listen to them just for a little advice like oh that was actually a good tip, like I had a girl run off stage and I’ve never had that before. Right. It happened like three times in one weekend. So when that happened, I just said OK. Thank you. And I clicked submit. And then it happened again. But after the first time, I heard my co-worker say you know that happens, it’s OK. She was very supportive about it. And I was like okay I could be like that.
Then it happened then it happened again and I pulled her, and I kept seeing her mess up. I said hey you know we don’t know your choreography. We have no idea what you’re doing. So whatever mistakes you’ve made, we have no idea. You just gotta keep going and keep like keep that energy alive on stage, and we’ll never know. So just keep practicing. When you make mistakes in the studio, don’t stop. Always keep going.
Laurie: You acted like what you told me you just were — a coach.
Laurie: Hello. Yes.
Laurie: Yeah. And so your love of dance is moving your life forward?
Laurie: Is dance in your life the way you want it to be?
Chelsea: No not quite yet but it’s getting there.
Laurie: Do you have a specific goal?
Chelsea: I want to teach more.
Laurie: No no no no. Hold on. I don’t need to know the goal. I just want to know if you have a specific goal.
Chelsea: Oh yes, I do.
Laurie: Do you believe you can achieve it?
Chelsea: Absolutely. I’m on the way.
Laurie: Do you think it will take a while?
Chelsea: I don’t think it’s going to take much longer.
Laurie: and this will be like your ultimate, correct?
Laurie: OK. Tell us. Because you know. Go ahead.
Chelsea: I really want to teach, I want to say like masterclasses because I don’t understand that term so much but just teach and spread the love of dance all over the country, all over the world.
So by having this new chapter it’s actually introduced me to people can make that happen. Like I’ve made so many connections already that like, oh if you’re ever in this state we act like we’ll do something or stuff like that.
So that’s the main goal is to get to all that.
And I also want to own my own convention with all my friends because they’re all very talented.
Laurie: Oh well you know I was just going to I’m going to ask you if convention teaching would facilitate your dream.
Chelsea: Absolutely. I believe it would. I believe so. I’d like to try it.
Laurie: So if you were a convention teacher would you feel like that was a fulfillment of the goal, orr do you want something broader, more different more international. I don’t know. Just more diverse.
Chelsea: I don’t know. That’s the thing I don’t know. I’m travelling a lot now. Like I travel like every weekend. And that’s a little rough. And I don’t know if it’d be different if I was teaching, if I was still more fulfilled with that. I guess I’d have to try it. But think I’m always going to want something a little bit different. I don’t think I’m ever going to just be like this is it. There’s always something more, something cooler. Not cooler but you know because I’m a creative I get antsy.
Laurie: I get it. Go ahead. You don’t think there’s a..
Chelsea: I don’t think there’s like a one goal. I. OK. I am not a one goal, end-all person. I have multiple goals, like I reached this goal. Now I’m like OK well this is the next step, or this is where we’re going to go next. And then this is where we’re going to go. And then that’s where we’re going to go next.
Laurie: Ok. So I think I know you. Your first name begins with the letter C right?
Laurie: OK. So I do know you. You have chutzpah. You have tenacity. You’re not afraid of anything. You’re not afraid of yourself. You take risks. Am I right?
Chelsea: Very true.
Laurie: Yeah. I think how much you’ve grown in like just the last five years to tell our listeners what you think about when you are putting yourself out there because that’s what you do very well. And I’ll have listeners know that you, caller, you’re not the typical dancer look.
Laurie: OK. Yes. So I don’t want people to think that as you speak that, you know, you have the world on your… You know what I mean? That you have certain advantages.
Laurie: How do you press forward? How do you continue to push yourself, to take risks, to try something new to get these gigs because you’re working as an independent? One thing I say is you are good at what you do. And I know you’re a good teacher. So maybe start by telling us how you became a good teacher and then to walk us because hold on maybe one is fulfilling the other. Do you think that you were able to do as well as you did because you were a good teacher first?
Chelsea: I think so. I think I have a good understanding of how… I have a lot of different metaphors to reach people to make things click.
Laurie: Ok here’s a question for you. What if you sucked as a teacher but you still had the same personality. Do you think you would be where you are right now?
Chelsea: If I wasn’t teaching?
Laurie: No, if you sucked as a teacher, if you were just horrible.
Chelsea: No, I don’t think so. I don’t know if anybody would want to work with me if I wasn’t a good teacher and I had the same personality. I think I give results.
I think that’s what people want at the end of the day. It’s part of the game. You have to play like a little bit, but more than that, it’s not traditional teaching, I don’t think. I think I have…. I don’t know. My mom’s a teacher. I think it’s in the genes. She’s a schoolteacher, not of dance.
Laurie: What do you bring that’s unique? What makes you a good teacher?
Chelsea: I’m trying to think about it for a second.
Laurie: Because I walk in, and you were teaching my class at convection.
Chelsea: I am contagious. So I have a like undying love for this and it spreads. People feel it. I turned the studio from like zero tap to 100 percent tap. Right. I just love it so much and I want to share it with people and I think that spreads. I’m crazy about it and it just spreads. I can feel it.
I talked to students like younger students. I do teach recreational kids though and they’re hooked on tap. “The tap classes are our favorite. I don’t know what happened.”
In my head I’m like, I know, I know what happened. I’m crazy and we’re having a good time. I make it fun. But I also take it very seriously, and I tell them, I’m like… This is one thing I do say a lot. I’m like if you’re gonna be doing something whether you want to take this to the next level, like you want to become a professional you want to do whatever. Or if you don’t, just be good at it no matter what. Don’t half ass whatever you’re doing. Just be good.
Look back and be like you know I was so bad ass at dance. No, I’m not dancing now but I really was good. Or take this to the next level and be like I’m very good. I had a great upbringing and I can’t wait to do more stuff. I always say, No matter what, if you’re gonna sell groceries you better sell. You just have to be good at whatever you do.
You have to want to do it.
Laurie: This confidence that you have, do you believe you got that from your mom? Or is it innate? Can anyone have it?
Chelsea: I think I was just born this way. I think I was… It’s not from my mom because my mom always wishes she was like this which is kind of wild. I thought that’s where I got it from. I have another mentor who I just recently kind of reconnected with. And one thing about my entire life, I will go back to what you said about how I don’t have like the typical look. I really don’t. I don’t have a huge Instagram following. I don’t have anything that people think you need to have these days to be successful.
Laurie: You don’t.
Chelsea: I don’t.
Laurie: And you wear crazy hairstyles.
Chelsea: Right. Because I want to, because I like it. So if I like what I’m doing… I used to care a lot about what other people thought I looked. I used to be like, Oh well I should probably be tinier. That’s what everybody else looks like. And that never happened. I’m such a dedicated person. It just never happened.
So then in my head it clicked. I’m the only one who cares clearly. Like nobody else cares. I’m fabulous at what I do. So let it go and just be happy about it and something will change. Like everything shifts.
So I just let that go. I’m like, Okay well I’m not going to be looking like that. I don’t want to. It’s just not like in my cards. I don’t want to have the Instagram following. It doesn’t bring me happiness. What brings you happiness is what I do every day. I get to do what I want to do every day. And if I kept caring about what everybody else thought I should look like or anything like that, then I would be nowhere. I would be stuck doing something else that probably is not fun.
Laurie: Do you have a lot of self-doubt today?
Chelsea: Today? Sometime. Not really though. Not anymore. Like my friend really tells me, just remember, if you’re having self-doubt about anything, like what’s not going right, what’s not going wrong, you’re the only one who cares. Not that you’re not important. Just know that everybody else around you is so supportive and so excited, and you should also feel that and be that way and stop doubting what maybe didn’t go right or what you know what’s gone wrong.
But I have to look back and think of everything I achieved from a degree in dance to various studio ups to an elite level — we’re like an elite level now — to getting a judging gig for dance across the country, without having like anything that you think you should have.
I did it. I got it.
And it’s not luck. It really isn’t. It’s hard work. Like I worked for this my entire life, and it’s finally coming through. To think that for a good portion of my life, I really did care about what other people thought and what other people did and this and that and this and that.
When I first started choreographing maybe like 10 years ago, I definitely cared. I’m like, What do you think of this? What do you think of that? I’m like, who cares what they think. What about me? Do I like it? Is it something that represents me? Does it sound good?. Does it look good? And if I say yes, then it is good. And that’s just the way it is.
Laurie: Well I don’t think anyone can argue with anything you just said. I have one last question. When you said “and I work really hard,” I wonder if some people even know what work looks like. Can you tell our listeners what you mean when you say work?
Let me get you started. OK, so I guess the way I see the work, I see it like you’ve got your emotional work, you’ve got to contribute yourself in public. Then you have to manage your relationships, whether you get with your family or your love relationship. You get to act normal there. Then you have to be with all these studio people and get on with the crowd and not be the cynic. And then you have to listen to what people are telling you about yourself, like if you’re cynical or if you gossip a lie or if you cause a lot of drama and people are starting to tell you about it, you have do that kind of inner work.
Then you have to keep your body right. Then you have to eat right. Then you have to fill your mind with the right stuff. You know stuff that moves you forward as opposed to draining energy. So you may have to break off a couple of relationships, but before you can even break them off you have to realize I’m in the wrong place. And that can take a long time.
So when I talk about work, to me there’s always something to do for ourselves our physical bodies, emotional, spiritual, soulful, everything. What do you mean when you say work?
Chelsea: When I when I say work I mean I’ve always been dedicated to being in the studio and this and that and “working hard” but it’s different. Just like what you said now. It’s very different. I do take a lot of time for myself to meditate.
Laurie: You meditate?
Chelsea: Yes, I have to. Otherwise I cannot not think clearly.
Laurie: Finish your list, but I’m coming back to meditation. Go ahead.
Chelsea: Ok. OK. So besides that, I do a lot of meal prep because I can’t function without food. I can’t be running around all day without proper nutrition.
Laurie: Or driving thru all day.
Chelsea: Yeah. Oh God the worst. I do a lot of… I actually do cryotherapy now. Do you know about that?
Laurie: I do.
Chelsea: Yeah that is a lifesaving three minutes. I love it.
Laurie: Lifesaving? Really?
Chelsea: It’s a giant ice pack for your body. I love it. It’s like a giant ice pack for your body.
Laurie: I’ve heard.
Chelsea: It is good. If you if you are all over the place traveling – standing, sitting, jumping, running… If you’re a human being. I would check it out.
Laurie: I know about it from my colleagues.
Chelsea: Yeah it’s very beneficial. And I also take a day to myself to sit around and decompress. Decompressing is something I’m learning how to do. Very hard.
Laurie: Wow. OK. Keep going.
Chelsea: I like to work out. I do that for myself, so I make sure I do that at least three times a week. So then I’m thinking about something else besides dance, and it helps me connect with different muscles and to stay inspired and stay moving forward.
I actually don’t I don’t follow a lot of tap accounts anywhere. Anyway I actually just dig through the archives, and I watched a very old tap videos. Because that stuff is gold. Like 100% gold. Nobody can step like Gregory Hines, just step to the beat. It’s just full of life. I watched it over and over again to just feel like that is joy. It was sheer joy.
So I stay there so then I can move from there and move forward with joy instead of like what is going on in the world.
Laurie: I love that you have the whole day of decompressing. I’m lucky if I get five minutes. I don’t even know how to do that. OK. Final question — meditation. How did you learn to do it? How often do you do it? How successful are you at it, and what tips do you have? You know what though? I’ve read tips. You just got to figure out how to do it for yourself. Is that the answer?
Chelsea: It is. But also it’s not it’s not a big thing. I feel like with everything that’s introduced to people these days, it’s like, “you’ve got to do it every day. You’ve got to do it all the time.”
No. I do it when I feel like I need it. So if I’m traveling, and I know that I’m going to feel like anxious about something or I just it’s going to be a busy day I make sure to set like not even five minutes, sometimes just like two quick minutes to be just mindful,l be in my calm space, and then proceed with my day. It’s not a huge you know you need 20 minutes to lay down, because if I lay down… I also don’t ever really lay down. It’s usually like go to a bathroom and just like lock myself in there for a second, because if I like that I’ll fall asleep, because I don’t have that attention span either.
Chelsea: That’s a new thing. Meditation is very very very new. And after years of people being like you should try it, you should try it, I finally like okay I’ll try it. It helps. It does.
It gives you a clear mind and I actually let go of a lot of stuff, especially with parents.
Laurie: Especially with what?
Chelsea: With parents who…
Laurie: I thought you said parents.
Chelsea: I did say parents.
Laurie: You’re talking about drama, and your parents are difficult?
Chelsea: Not all the time. I’m actually very, very lucky to have a pretty decent group of parents. But sometimes they’ll get all up in your business. They’ll just be like, hey this issue’s happening. I just wanted to wanted to let you know. Don’t worry about it. OK. Don’t text me like that if you don’t want me to worry about it because I’m gonna worry about it if you’re bringing it to my attention and it’s affecting my team and our vibe, whatever you want to call it. I don’t know. So that’s what happens with my parents. Other than that, they’re great. They’re very good parents and it’s all good. But just sometimes they do that, and I worry about them because I care about them so much. The kids especially, you know, they’re my little chicken. I love them.
And if there’s an issue then it’s going to ruin everybody. It’s a team, and if somebody is a rotten apple, then they’re all going to spoil. It’s just going to happen. So I try to keep it all together.
Laurie: It sounds to me like you’re doing a fine job. And I’m really happy that you called.
I enjoyed learning new things about you, talking to you, and I like the value that you added because so many people are riddled with self-doubt and seeking followers and feeling like they are just not enough, and to hear you tell your story about, hey, just get out of your head and get on to doing something that you love, and you’re right. It’s not easy but in time you can basically learn to love yourself the way you want and then build on yourself.
Chelsea: Absolutely. And people will follow that. People will follow, and they will be like oh wow this person is fabulous.
I would hate for people to follow me when I was trying to figure my life out at 18 like 10 years ago. I would hate that. It would be terrible. I would get lost in that.
I’m so thankful that Instagram was not around
Laurie: I was about to ask you if you were under 30. And I think you are.
Chelsea: Yeah, I am. If I had that if I grew up in this day and age I would also feel lost. I would also not know how to just be ok with being myself and not having everybody else double tap to be like, you’re fabulous. I already know in my head I’m like I’m freaking fabulous. Do I look fabulous today? No, but am I still fabulous? Absolutely. It’s an internal feeling. It is not an outward feeling or not an appearance.
Laurie: You learned how to give yourself that internal feeling.
Chelsea: Yes, yes. People ask about that actually all the time, and I’m like, it will just happen for you one day. And I know that sounds like really cheesy and really awful, but it’s absolutely true.
Laurie: Oh, it is absolutely true.
Chelsea: Yes, something will click for you. You’ll be like, you know what? I’m freaking fabulous. Watch out. And then that’s it.
Laurie: What could help though is to start doing some research on confidence and how confidence speaks to your level of discipline, what you doing in your daily life, your activities, and you can see the big picture of your life through the research. That can help, and honest self-reflection helps. Because once you can see yourself for who you really are, you can see all the beauty that’s there.
Chelsea: Oh yeah.
Laurie: Right. But you can’t get to the beauty if you’re inundated with what everyone else is thinking. And then you trying to put on airs to make everyone else be impressed with you… It just won’t work. It’s a dead end.
Chelsea: You know what it’s like. And this is like totally dance related. It’s like when your choreographer choreograph facials and you can tell. When I watch [inaudible 0:26:35] now, so many, you can tell. I’m like, This is not real. This is so un-genuine. I know you don’t feel like that. I know you don’t.
And then you can see another piece, and you feel it. You’re like, wow this is so enjoyable to watch. It’s like definitely riding over a bumpy road, lots of potholes never get fixed. I’ll fix that later. But what about now? Like get to the destination. Instead of a smooth road that take a little bit longer to build because it takes a long time.
You want to not just skip over that. I’ll be right back. I’ll fix that pothole later. That pothole is a self-doubt that you’ll never be able to grow. And the road will just break. But if you take your time and you build a nice smooth, perfect — not perfect — but you take your time. Just make sure it’s all worked out, it will be better, and it’ll last longer.
Laurie: It’ll last longer. Absolutely. No harm can come to you because your strength is within you. And you alluded to that earlier.
It’s an inside job, not outside. We could go on. Do me a favor, next time you call back, let’s talk about competition critiques.
Chelsea: Oh I would love to. Oh my gosh. I would love to because I… Real quick, one weekend’s out and I’m a first-season judge, brand new to this. I did something, and after I did something, I called my mom and I said, “Mom I might be getting fired, but I just want to let you know that I really stand by what I just did. So we’ll talk about that next time.”
Laurie: No, you cannot leave us hanging. We will talk about that right now. Tell us what you did..
Chelsea: Ok. So I’m on a mission to change the dance world. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Typically I’m not allowed to judge West Coast because I’m from here. And I saw a piece. These are like young women — young not women, young girls. I can’t remember the age, but I could remember that the choreography is really inappropriate, like really inappropriate. And I’m watching, and I’m uncomfortable, and I’m just thinking in my head like gosh, where does this end? When is this going to end?
I know you hear a lot, well [inaudible 0:28:57] like the humping, the thing, and the this, and they always win. And I’m like, I’m going to hit them where it hurts. I’m going to get that choreographer. I’m going to score really low where I’m not supposed to do.
And so as the dance finished, and I say, thank you dancers, and I’m going to do all my scoring, I almost don’t. I hesitate. I almost don’t. And I take like two seconds, and I clicked the lowest score and I submitted it. And I held my breath because we have somebody who will come around or watch our scores, make sure they’re all decent, in the same realm. And nothing happened.
Then I go back to the break room, and I discussed this with my co-workers. I’m like, Listen, I want to let you know what I did. And both of them were like, well, good for you. You know, I’m going to start doing that too. And I’m like, yes, this is where it begins.
Laurie: That is where you begin.
Chelsea: That’s where it begins. Because you know you can’t get mad at the dancers. They’re doing what they were told to do. You can’t get mad at you know whatever costuming they have. That’s teachers. So it’s the teachers that are at fault here for the choreography, for the costuming, and all the inappropriateness.
The thought process behind the teacher was probably, “Oh, they’re young. We can’t really do anything other than this.”
Well I’d rather see a really sloppy top rock. I think it was a hip hop piece.
Laurie: Everything you’re talking right now is your personal opinion. All that really matters to the listener is speaking up when you see something that you want to speak up about. And as a judge, you say to yourself, well I’m sitting here. My opinion must have value because I’m one of three judges or however many on the panel. And so right when it comes to this particular area, this is my opinion, and I’m willing to stand up and support it if anyone gets in my face about it. So, caller, kudos. Hats off. We need more leaders.
The world needs people who are willing to speak up.
It doesn’t mean you’re right but at least you’re willing to have a discussion about a topic, and you have a point of view, and people will respect that. So good for you.
Chelsea: Yes it’s hard but it’s worth it.
Laurie: It’s very, very difficult.
Chelsea: Oh my gosh I don’t know why I thought it would be…
Laurie: You know what? You’re not going to get fired. Listen, stop with that nonsense. You’re not going to get fired. You know why?
Look, if they fired you, then you know the whole game is rigged. They only want scores that reflect… That’s garbage. They need at least one person…
Chelsea: I wouldn’t want to work for that anyway.
Laurie: Thank you. Right. The world needs someone on the panel willing to say what’s what they see.
Chelsea: What’s real.
Laurie: Yeah, what’s real to that one person, because maybe everyone doesn’t see the same thing. So we need you voice. So thank you very much.
Chelsea: No problem. I’m here for that.
Laurie: And God knows when I’m at the judges’ table I’ve been in my fair share of trouble.
Chelsea: I know. I listened to what you say because I know it’s real. I’m like, Well what does Laurie have to say because it’s not like…
Laurie: You’ve heard my critiques?
Chelsea: Heck yeah.
Laurie: Oh God. I’m I mean?
Chelsea: Ok. Well here’s someone quote unquote mean person. No, you’re real. And people will mistake that for meanness or like, gosh she’s so harsh. Well if you don’t want the truth, don’t come through to here. That’s my opinion.
So I don’t think so. I very much respect all your opinions about everything dance-wise.
Laurie: So listen. It’s just an opinion. And that’s what you have, and that’s what move your life forward, when you have a point of view, because then you can blog. Then you can blog. Then you can post because you have something to say. While you may only have a thousand followers….
A, guess what? You can earn a living when a thousand followers.
Chelsea: Can you really?
Laurie: Oh, absolutely.
Chelsea: I don’t even have a thousand. I have like eight hundred.
Laurie: That’s OK. You keep standing up for your point of view and people you will bring people to you just by the mere attraction of your energy, your confidence, your positivity, your willingness to say what’s on your mind, your willingness to stand up and say yes I support my point of view. Because I had someone from the tally table approach me and say, Do you really mean to score this category this number?
And I said, I absolutely did. And if there’s a discussion about it, please involve me because I’m willing to say what’s on my mind and at the same time say it doesn’t make me right. It’s just an opinion.
Laurie: OK. Goodbye, caller.
Chelsea: Goodbye. Thank you.
Laurie: Hey there. Thank you very much for listening to Laurie Talks Questions. I hope you got some value out of that call. And now you see what I mean when I say the conversations are just easy. Yeah. I’ll announce when the phone lines open on Insta Story, Facebook story, and Twitter. And thank you very much for listening. Until next time.
Oh — call to action. Call yourself to action in your own life. Goodbye.