Ep. 157 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 157 Transcript

Dr. Chelsea: Do you have much experience with dance outside of your own culture? I know growing up as a studio dancer in the US, I was not exposed to the incredibly diverse culture of dance around the world, and since it's International Dance Day, I want to take today's episode to focus on dance as a source of heritage and identity and how it can truly connect us across our different cultures, but I can't do it alone. So my guest today is four-time Emmy Award-winning host and executive producer of the show Bare Feet, Mickela Mallozzi, who is on a mission to experience the world one dance at a time.

Mickela and I talk about the need to be vulnerable when you're learning something new and how we have to let go of perfection so that we can genuinely be curious and learn from other cultures and experience dance through their eyes. She shares her views on the various cultural foundations of dance that are not often taught and has some great stories like learning the dance with the people of the Garifuna who survived exile only to maintain, thrive, and grow their cultural heritage, including their native dances. Please join me on this cultural exploration of dance and let's be sure to celebrate International Dance Day!

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[Motivational Music]

Hi, I'm Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and mental performance coach. I know what it feels like to be a passionate dance teacher who cares about your dancers, but you want to challenge them and help them be their best, and I also recognize that some traditions and teaching practices in the dance world are harmful. So I'm on a mission to change our dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers using positive mental skills.

When you understand how to help your dancers with their confidence, how to find their own motivation, work together as a team and more, your dancers will unlock new levels of competitive success and happiness. And it's not just about them; you deserve the same. So we'll talk about how dance teachers can use positive mental skills to be more confident, resilient, and motivated as well.

Be sure to hit “subscribe” wherever you listen to podcasts. There are new episodes every Thursday, and each week you'll hear from me and my guests with advice and actionable tips for building mental toughness, covering topics about mindset, motivation, resilience, and building a community. Passion for Dance is a show designed to help dance educators like you have a positive impact on every dancer you teach.

[Motivational Music]

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Dr. Chelsea: Hi, Mickela. Welcome to the show!

Mickela Mallozzi: Thank you, Chelsea! Thanks for having me.

Dr. Chelsea: Of course. I'm excited to get to talk to you. You have such a wonderful, unique perspective on the dance world, especially a cultural view that we don't often get to have.

So will you just share a little bit about your dance career highlights and why you're now focusing on that cultural exploration of dance?

Mickela’s Dance Story – 2:45

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, it's been 14 years of really focusing on the cultural exploration of dance, so it's been a big chunk of my life right now. But I started as a dancer as a kid, you know, the typical going to ballet, jazz, tap up until I was about 18. And I was also a musician growing up, so I chose to pursue a music career and worked in the music industry for about ten years and then quit cold turkey. I loved it, absolutely loved it, but got burnt out. I was working in a creative industry but not being creative myself.

But I had a lot of travel in my work. I worked in music management. I used to work for a management company. One of our bands that we worked on was Slipknot, right? So I was like in this crazy, amazing metal scene. I learned so much from that job and worked in other aspects of the music industry and then found dance again back in my life.

I became a dance teacher here in New York City, then was a performer, and when I would travel for fun throughout all of this journey, I would find that I would use dance to connect with people when I couldn't speak the local language, whether that was taking dance classes or dancing in celebrations or holidays or street fairs. And from those dances came these magical moments of being invited into someone's home for a family meal or being invited to a brother's wedding the next day. And so, dance was this key that kept opening this door for me everywhere I went.

Granted, I'm a trained dancer and also a musician, so I have a very good rhythm and I imitate people very well. That's my kind of superpower, because I've met other dancers that they have a hard time doing what I do as well. I think it's really this way that I approach people in a humble yet, at the same time, curious way of wanting to learn something about their culture, and I had sort of an “aha” moment.

I woke myself up in the middle of the night back in 2010 and was like, “I'm going to make a TV show about this!” Fast forward 14 years later, here we are, and it's an Emmy Award-winning travel series, and it's a beautiful way to connect with the world. I'm super proud that we're in production now for season seven. It's kind of a miracle that the show even exists. Thank you, and season six is out now along with all the past seasons, and we're on PBS, and we're on a bunch of different digital distribution platforms, and it's just been a dream, literally a dream come true. So, that's my dance story!

Dr. Chelsea: That's so wonderful. I love hearing from people who — you know, we all have a lot of similar childhood stories, traditional kind of dance upbringing, but it can go so many places.

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah.

Dr. Chelsea: So I'd love to drill into what you were saying about that authentic connection, because I think, as dancers, that is usually how we view our work onstage is we're trying to make a connection, but that's true offstage, right, and even maybe more powerful in kind of these cultural approaches to dance.

So will you talk a little bit about how you feel like dance is able to help you have that authentic connection? Like, what is it about dance that is so powerful that way?

Why Dance is a Powerful Point of Connection – 5:51

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, and I want to be very clear to your listeners too. It's in every interaction, cultural or not, right? But what I like to do is think of the context of the dance, the why. Why are we doing this? So I've danced with like Ballet Hispánico and Dance Theatre of Harlem and some of these companies that are considered, you know, the basis of institutionalized dance, and I’ve also done dances that aren't considered that, which are just as virtuosic and beautiful.

But why I think so is because dance is a universality, right? We all, in every culture, people dance. They make music. There is a synchronicity that happens with someone's body, right? When you're dancing with someone, you're completely in step with that person, and you're literally speaking a language, you're communicating without using words.

So that's what I think is really special about dance in particular. And I think especially for what we see in mainstream media for the dance world is there is this idea of perfection, and as a dancer growing up, you're always striving for perfection – the perfect turnout, the perfect arabesque, the perfect performance. I think what's beautiful about my approach in the show is making dance accessible, but also I don't mind if I show my vulnerability and show me messing up. I think that's why people enjoy the show because it's a little more human. It's a little more vulnerable. Like I like to say, It's showing the real parts of travel, even through dance as well.

A lot of what we see in media is the So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, America's Best Dance Group, which is incredible. It's an incredible level of dancers and choreography that people have strived for their entire lives to be able to perform on those stages, and it's unbelievable to watch. But on top of that, dance can be accessible.

I think, as a dancer, I know I meet so many people that have the same background as me that grew up dancing and then stopped dancing after school or they go to college, and then it's done, and then they miss it, and they wish they had it back in their life. And it's sort of like why? Why do we tell ourselves or why does everyone else also tell us that we can't keep dancing as an adult or as a non-professional path?

And so, I think this show, from messages I've gotten from fans and running into fans and people just coming up to me, like, “I started dancing again because of your show,” or “I never thought I liked dance, and now I love watching it.” So it's making it this accessible, attainable, aspirational idea and way of approaching the world, communicating with other people, and just having it in your life and not having to go to a ballet barre or being in a studio. I think that's the beauty of it. 

Dr. Chelsea: Yeah. Oh, I agree, and I’ve felt it as someone — like, “If I'm not professional anymore, then am I still a dancer?” And it's such an identity question, right? Like, “Yeah, I can still be a dancer. I can still use that sense of identity even if I'm not onstage anymore.” And we tend to put pressure on it even if — like, I do this if I'm at a wedding and they're like, “You're a dancer. Come on out.” I'm like, “But that feels weird. It feels awkward!” I'm like, “Why does that feel awkward? Because it's not structured and choreographed? And can't I just enjoy the movement?” And it took me a while into my adult life to find that again as well. So I love that that's part of your message to just keep dancing in ways that are different and the accessibility of it. Yeah.

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, I mean, there is that pressure as a dancer. Like you said, I'm always the first person to be on the dance floor at a wedding, which is funny enough. But at the same time, I've been in so many situations now where people are like, “Dance, monkey, dance,” you know, because they know I'm a dancer. I'm like, “I love to dance. I love to dance for fun.” But if you watch the show, I'm never the expert. I'm always the perpetual student. So I'm like, “I'll follow you. Show me some dance moves,” you know? Again, I have incredible dancer friends, but it's that idea of perfection, that idea of performance that holds a lot of people back in the dance world.

And then non-dancers, I think it's just holding people back of, “What if I look ridiculous? What if I stumble and fall over?” And the worst that could happen is maybe you do look ridiculous, but you're having fun and, no, one's going to laugh at you. They're just going to dance with you. That's kind of like worst case scenario. What is the worst-case scenario, and is that really that bad, you know?

Dr. Chelsea: Right. We're all just enjoying it. And I think what you're talking about, the vulnerability of it, the just enjoying it, letting go a little bit, it comes to mind, one of your episodes I was watching (and I'm not sure how long ago this was to you when you actually experienced it), but it was the episode in New York City when you were taking a voguing class.

And the vulnerability of that was so powerful and what the teacher was talking about and how you seemed to experience that, and he did talk a lot about that, how voguing is supposed to be for all backgrounds, sizes, shapes. Everyone participates. Everyone enjoys it. So I think I would love to hear a little bit more about that experience for you and that ability to be a little more vulnerable, whether it's that experience or any of yours.

Mickela’s Vulnerable Experiences – 11:14

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, that's in our season premiere of the current season six and our Empower NYC episode. That was a hard segment for me because I'm okay being vulnerable if I mess up on the dance, but to sit there and pretend to feel — or not pretend, but to feel beautiful and sexy and on, that's just not my personality. And so, to let myself eventually get there was a big ask, and I put so much trust into Cesar, and I genuinely felt it by the end, and it was really powerful and empowering and important, right? It's an important way to feel. Everyone should feel that way at some point in their lives. It was hard. It was really hard for me to get there because as much as I love — I mean, I'm the host of my own TV show. Of course I'm like an extrovert, I love attention, but at the same time, I don't like that type of attention, right? And it's good to step out of your comfort zone because, again, you realize, “What's the worst that could happen?” “Oh, the worst that could happen is I feel amazing, right?”

Dr. Chelsea: [Laughs] Right.

Mickela Mallozzi: That was the worst of it. The best of it was like, “We all are feeling amazing together and empowering each other, and I'm learning I am allowed to feel that. That's the best.” You have to kind of trust yourself. You have to trust the people around you, but it was hard. It wasn't easy at all. It wasn't easy at all, and even my crew, they know. They can read me. We've been working together for years, and that's when they dig in. That's when they see me being kind of a little uncomfortable and they're like, “Oh, this is going to be good. This is going to be real good.”

Dr. Chelsea: Keep going. Yeah.

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, and I love that too. I love showing that part of me too, because I think that's when people feel really connected to the show, to our mission of the show of connecting, of connection in general, and it's real. It's real. There's no BS in our show, yeah.

Dr. Chelsea: Yeah. Well, I think that's why it connected with me because I am similar. If I know what mask I need to have, I will be that on stage, but it's very different to internalize it and to really kind of own it. And I talk a lot about, you know, confidence and being confident for dancers, and for many of them it’s like, “Oh, I'll be confident when it looks good,” or “I'll be confident when I can do it right,” and it's like, you have to do the action first, and I think that's exactly what you're saying and what you were doing in that episode is like, “I don't feel comfortable, but I have to just do it. I have to keep going. I have to keep trying.” And I'm glad your crew stuck with you and dug in a little bit because you could see that transition to where it looked like you actually did feel it. You got to the place of like, “Oh, this was a real emotional shift,” but that doesn't happen if you sit in back of the class and watch everybody else do it and say, “Oh, you know, maybe I'll feel that confident in my next class.” It's like, you have to do it. You have to go there.

Mickela Mallozzi: It's flexing that muscle. It's just like learning choreography. You have to flex that muscle of being confident. I don't like to say fake it ‘til you make it. I hate that.

Dr. Chelsea: Agreed. I don't either

Mickela Mallozzi: I hate that idea because that's not going to help anybody because you're still not feeling good in your own skin or confident enough to do the things you need to do. And if you're faking it, then you're lying to yourself and you're lying to the world. I'm a very outgoing person. I'm a very gregarious person. I'm such an extrovert, but it's come from years and years and years of gradually pushing the boundary of feeling more comfortable with strangers and feeling more confident in my work, and that came — again, this is 14 years later.

When I started this project, I had no TV background. I had no hosting background. I was not a trained journalist. I was an okay dancer, you know? I'm not a phenomenal dancer. I was an okay musician. I'm not a phenomenal musician. But I realized that the stories are really going to drive this, and I know these are really important stories to have. But building the confidence and the skillset and the muscle of doing it. So the more I kept doing it, putting myself out there, talking to random people, dancing with random people, interviewing them, and this started with me, a camera myself, right? Or I would ask people if I'm dancing and at a festival, I'd be like, “Can you hold my camera just for a second and just get me, you know, dancing with this group?” And it would be lopsided and blurry, but we got it, you know?

Dr. Chelsea: [Laughs] Right

Mickela Mallozzi: And that was the most important thing. Again, what's the worst that could happen? That was always the thing I would ask myself is, “What's the worst that could happen in this moment?” They could say, “No, I don't want to dance with you,” or “No, thank you.” That's it, and then you move on, and it's practicing that muscle of getting up in front and, you know what, you probably know more than you think you do, right? You probably know the choreography better than you think you do. And if you mess up, fine, do it again. It's muscle memory. Some people pick up choreo way better and faster than others.

I pick up certain choreography quickly, and then it leaves my head all of a sudden. Forty-five minutes is when my cup is full. If I'm in a class or I'm filming, at 45 minutes, I can't retain any more information, and it just kind of oozes out of my brain, right? And that's when, even with my crew, we're like, “All right, we're done.” I just can't get any more information. But it's, then, doing that again and doing it again and doing it again and realizing, “I know I could do this,” and each time it gets a little better, it gets a little easier.

It's not that people aren't talented. Yes, there are people, there is talent, but it's the years and years and years of practice of not just the choreography or the dance, it's the being onstage and performing, it's the getting into character when you're onstage. That's part of the performance as well, and that doesn't just come because you have beautiful feet or long extensions. That doesn't come with that. It comes with training and practicing and working on that.

There's always a why, right? This goes back to why are these dances done? What are the stories they're telling? What is the legacy that they're leaving? Why are they passing them down to their families and their children and their grandchildren? And why now are a lot of these dances are part of the cultural identities of these people? Most of the time it was because for generations people weren't allowed to do these dances or speak their own language or express themselves freely, right? It's this way of maintaining a culture, preserving a culture, and then promoting that culture in a beautiful, positive way to the rest of the world that is necessary. 

Dr. Chelsea: I love that thought, and I just want to reiterate how much learning happens in just keep doing and just keep doing. I think so many dancers, like we approach a project as, “It has to be perfect, and I'll be proud of it when it's perfect,” and, you know, waiting for that moment to happen. And so much of what you're sharing is that need to just keep practicing and just keep doing and be okay when it's not perfect. And that's how you're going to continue to grow. Like, just keep doing the hard thing. And yeah, just that message that I want to keep reiterating because I fully agree.

I would love to switch topics a little bit because it's something that I think your show does so uniquely. Consider that type of dance where it is identity. It is who you are. It's who our heritage, my family, who I can pass down to my children, you were saying. So I think it was that same episode that had the Native American powwow and how they were passing down that and talking about why that was so important and how many people had come back together because of it. It was really amazing. But I think the key that he was talking about is how dance is an identity and how we celebrate that identity. It's like it's not about being perfect. It's about celebrating that part of your identity. So will you speak a little bit about dance as your identity or how you've seen it present in cultural identities that you've worked with?

Dance in Cultural Identities – 19:25

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, especially in cultures, you know, going back to cultures that are of oppressed people or formerly oppressed people or historically oppressed people (which is a lot of people in this world), dance was the only way that they could communicate. Music was the only way that they could, in a coded way, honestly, preserve their traditions, their cultures, their language, their rhythms, their music. They had to adapt and evolve because, if they were fleeing a place or had been displaced forcefully into another place, they couldn't bring the instruments with them, so they had to adapt and create new instruments that mimicked the other instruments that they used to have and create rhythms. So it is a legacy. It is truly a legacy of culture. It is truly a legacy of family.

When I started Bare Feet, it was for purely selfish reasons. I come from a family of immigrants, so I really connect with the immigrant story. My parents both came here in the 60s. They both have pretty strong accents when they speak English. My father never went to school here. We're living the “American Dream” of having a better life and education than they had, but at the same time, it's like I identified with so many other immigrant communities that I was surrounded by, whether that was Indian American, Greek American, whatever that may have been, Caribbean American, and that was always that driving force for me in the show of there is this commonality in that story, but there's also this commonality in every story of people wanting to share something that they care about, share something that they love, share something that is so close to them.

And that's what, as dance is being part of cultural identity, I grew up doing The Tarantella and dressing up in this costume. And my family and the people from the same town are so proud of this. It's a sense of pride of something that has been preserved and passed down. And so, when you go to these cultures, all cultures, that sense of pride comes with the fact that not only is this all gorgeous and beautiful, the music is stunning, the dancing is stunning, but that it still survives. The fact that it even still survives, whether that's in immigrant communities or if I'm going to international destinations and learning these dances within the communities right there, it still survives. It's a miracle sometimes, you know?

One of my favorite episodes, and I think one of the most important episodes I've ever done is in season six called the Garifuna episode. The Garifuna are a group of people that are almost relatively unknown, right? They are people who their history is never told. A quick overview of it — and I hope you all watch this episode — but it is about, in the late 18th century, they were the Black Caribs, so they were people from the tribe from the Kingdom of Mali in Africa brought over to the island of St. Vincent, and were mixed with the local Arawak people, so known at the time as Black Caribs.

British colonizers were coming and were going to enslave them, and so, in protest, they fled (they were exiled, actually) on a ship, 5,000 of them that were left that survived. Half of them perished (so 2,500 people). They negotiated with Spain and were shipped off to Roatán, Honduras.

Now, 225 years later, there are 250,000 Garifuna living in the Bronx. I think there's about a half a million in Central America (Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala), and then they're all more sporadic spread around the United States, but the fact that they even survived is a miracle. Their language, their food, their dancing, their songs, their music, all of this is still vibrant and alive.

So that in itself is like talk about perseverance, talk about cultural identity. It's a perfect example of that, and it doesn't have to be that extreme, but that is an extreme example of why these dances are so important, why these stories are so important, why legacy is so important to pass down these traditions through dance, through music to their children, to their grandchildren, because they know their history, and the fact that these grandchildren exist is a miracle, right? Like think about that from 2,500 people.

Dr. Chelsea: That's beautiful.

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah. So I started Bare Feet so that I could learn as many dances and go to as many countries in the world and dress up in as many costumes. It was completely selfish. And then over the years of really finding these important stories, there's this heavy sense of responsibility that I now carry with our show. I don't take any of these stories lightly. I do all the research. I reach out to every single group myself. I am the executive producer, creator. I do all the work because I care. I really, really, really care about these stories, and I think they're important to share with the world. But it’s, again, the years of practicing and learning and realizing how the evolution of our show changes, right? It's not about me just having fun. It's really there's something bigger going on, and our audiences see that too.

So, “Can I connect with the people that I dance with?” But then the feedback I get from audiences is like, “Oh my gosh, this is so powerful. I feel like I'm there with you,” and so, it's like, okay, I want to keep doing that. Whatever we're doing, that's right, let's keep doing it, but let's do it better. Let's tell these really deep stories. The responsibility of giving platform to other people to share their stories, it's a huge responsibility that I hold, and I don't take it lightly at all. I have fun, right? Like, I have a lot of fun. Yeah, I mean, I still have a ton of fun, but it's important. It's important to remember that.

Dr. Chelsea: It is, and, as I said, it does come across in the show that there is a deep respect for the cultures that you are experiencing, which I would like to think they probably wouldn't let you in as much if that wasn't there. You were allowed in because of that respect, which is wonderful, and then giving them a platform. Maybe you just answered it, but I was going to ask you if there was a cultural experience that had the most kind of profound impact on you as you've done this work?

Mickela’s Most Profound Cultural Experience in Her Work – 26:01

Mickela Mallozzi: It's all of them, to be honest. It's really all of them because there's always something I don't know about the culture. There's always something that's an element of surprise and delight and emotion.

In our Morocco episode in season three, I'm crying in half of that episode because of so many different reasons, but one of them I'm dancing to Gnawa music, and I went to another place. I don't know. I can't explain it, but I went to another place and just was in tears with this man who saw that. He saw that transformation, and when I was in Guadalupe Islands for Carnival, I'd never experienced a carnival like that, and the marching that these like hundreds and hundreds of people in the streets marching in unison to this drumming was so powerful too. And this idea of empowerment, of self-identity, of Blackness, you know, in a region of France, in the Caribbean was very powerful, very powerful.

So it happens all the time dancing with the Gitano in Utrera, Spain, right? And they're Roma people, but they're self-identifying as gypsy or Gitano, and they're very proud of that. And it's, again, usually marginalized, oppressed people who have to fight harder to have their voices heard and to keep their traditions alive, and it's incredible. It's incredible that they let me in, like you said. They do. I think they see that I genuinely care, and I genuinely have this respect and curiosity for their culture, and I'm never going in thinking I'm an expert in anything. I'm like, “I am here to learn. Please teach me. I'll learn whatever you give me. I'll take whatever you give me, please,” you know? And they see it. They see this like hunger in me to keep wanting to learn more steps and more rhythms.

And it's really fun I think for all of us (my crew and I) when people just open up to me because I get the steps fairly quickly, so they push it a little more. It's not like I'm awkward and completely awkward and not getting the steps. The show is not about let's be silly and make this a comical moment. That's totally disrespectful, and when I see travel shows or any shows that do that to a culture or to a person, it's disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting, and it’s like how did that get approved by anyone? I know it's clickbait. I know, you know, people are like, “Oh, it makes for good TV,” but it's awful. It's awful, and I think we should stop doing that. I really do. I really do.

Dr. Chelsea: Yeah. Oh, I agree. Your honesty and your curiosity I think is contagious in that too, because I went down a rabbit hole, and I hope others do too, of watching some of the shows just like, “Aha! I've never heard of that one. What does this look like? And that dance looks amazing,” and just getting out of, you know, what many of my listeners and myself are in, you know, a very traditional, studio, professional, ballet-school environment to step back about what dance can really mean and why it exists before it was a commercialized experience.

There's something beneath that, and I get the sense from your work and what you're saying that there's such a strong belief in the need to learn more about the cultural foundation of dance, and I don't think we do that. I don't think we talk enough about those cultural foundations, and so, I love that your show is at least starting that conversation if people are willing to go there with it.

Mickela Mallozzi: Thank you. Yeah, it's been amazing because of a few things. During COVID, the New York City public school system, within their dance programs, reached out to me and were like, “Help us!” Because we all thought things were going to be closed for like a month, right, at the beginning of the lockdown. We didn't realize it was going to be a year-and-a-half/two years in this ongoing pandemic. But they used episodes of Bare Feet in their curriculum as part of virtual learning, which was incredible. So you have all these kids having a different idea of what dance means and then inspiring them that they see that their own culture is represented on television, but also the idea of traveling doesn't seem so foreign anymore.

Number two, I started teaching a course at NYU. It's been a dream of mine since I started Bare Feet was to kind of create this dance anthropology program. And so, this spring semester I started teaching, and I wanted to open it up to non-dance majors because I thought it was really important to make that idea of dance is accessible in this idea of cultural context, right? It's interesting. I have a wonderful group of students. It's been an absolute joy to teach this course.

Two of the students in my class were competitive dancers and stopped dancing in college, and I'll be honest, those two, they're wonderful dancers and wonderful people and wonderful students, but they're the most apprehensive, honestly, when it comes to letting it go.

Dr. Chelsea: I bet. Yeah.

Mickela Mallozzi: Because, especially as competitive dancers, they are the ones that are like, “I need this to be perfect.” Because I have guest teachers come in and we did Puerto Rican Bomba. We've done Balkan dances. We're going to be doing Argentinian Tango, and we're going to be doing Filipino Tinikling. I've done some Italian Pizzica, and it's giving context to these dances, why these dances are done. And those two students, it's been really, I think, the hardest for them to understand that it's okay if they don't get it right away, and no one's going to be judging them literally, right?

That's been, I think, a really good eye-opening experience for the both of them. And, for your listeners, I think it's okay to understand dance doesn't have to be perfect. We'll say this ‘til the cows come home, but even for me, I grew up in a studio. My happy place is at the barre. To this day, when I am feeling really run down, I'll go back to my teacher, Dieter Riesle, in Stamford, Connecticut. He does an adult class. He was my teacher since I was seven. He's like my therapist, right? I like to go in there. I'm at the barre. Even though I'm 42 now, I just had my birthday, and you just heard my knees crack. I have injuries, but the  barre is where I feel really good. But I also feel great doing all these other dances, but I came from that very strict training.

But there's more to dance than just that, and I think it really helps you open up if you're a choreographer or you want to be a choreographer, it's really beautiful to get inspiration, again not a cultural appropriation, but get inspiration from ideas of how people process movement and how they express themselves through movement in other cultures and in other communities but also in your own community, right? Like, what does that mean? What does that mean to be a dancer? In a lot of these destinations where I go, they’re lawyers, doctors, taxi drivers, chefs that are incredible at their jobs, and then they’re virtuosic musicians and dancers, right? It's not a separate part of their everyday life. It's really part of celebration, joy, home, family. It's incredible.

So there are so many definitions of the word dance, and it depends on where you are and who you're with, and I think we need to remember that. I think we need to remind ourselves dance isn't the three, right? It isn't ballet, hip hop, and contemporary.

Dr. Chelsea: Yeah. That sounds like an amazing class, both on the two sides. The one of feeling the representation for some people in class and then for the competitive dancers to have to step back and look at dance differently, and I think that could be a wonderful way to challenge traditional studio competitive dancers to do what we were talking about before, take the confident action and just try this new style that you've never seen before and understand where it came from and what's the story behind the movement. And I think that would be a really beautiful exercise. I love that you've created a whole class around that. That's awesome.

Mickela Mallozzi: Thank you!

Dr. Chelsea: Well, I certainly love the show, and I hope others hearing are a little inspired to take a different cultural look at the, at dance. Will you share, before you go, how to find the show and how to find more about you and your work?

How to Connect with Mickela – 34:48

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, if you go to www.travelbarefeet.com, you can sign up for a monthly newsletter. I do live events, mainly in New York City, but throughout the country. Throughout the year, we're in pre-production for season seven. So we start filming in May through the end of the year. But if you go to www.travelbarefeet.com or you can follow us on Instagram and all the socials @travelbarefeet, and you can watch us for free on the PBS app. So if you go to www.pbs.org or if you go to your smart TV and look up the PBS app, you can find Bare Feet there. We're also on the GoTraveler app. We're on Amazon Prime, but we're going to be soon on a bunch of other different platforms. So just search Bare Feet. But PBS is our go to. We love being part of the PBS family, and you can watch all six seasons of Bare Feet for Free on the PBS app and www.pbs.org. But everything's on our website.

Dr. Chelsea: That's wonderful, and how amazing for teachers who are listening. I have a lot of teachers who listen. That could be a wonderful resource for them to be able to, as you said, expose their students to this idea. 

Mickela Mallozzi: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, that's the idea for being part of the PBS family is it's educational, informational, entertaining programming that we want to make accessible, including no barrier to entry for paying. There's no paywall, and we just want people to be able to see these important and beautiful stories. So thanks, Chelsea! Thank you for having me, and I hope everyone listening is inspired to dance a little differently, you know?

Dr. Chelsea: Of course! Yes, absolutely. I am, for sure. So thank you, Mickela. I appreciate your time today.

Mickela Mallozzi: Thanks, Chelsea!

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[Motivational Outro Music]

Thank you for listening to Passion for Dance! You can find all episode resources at www.chelseapierotti.com/podcast, and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more high-performance tips at @dr.chelsea.pierotti. This podcast is for passionate dance teachers and coaches who are ready to change the dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers. I'm Dr. Chelsea and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.

[Motivational Outro Music]

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