Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mustard Seed Sessions: Motivated Movers

Dance class, performances, and auditions can be brutal on more than just your feet. Your soul and self-esteem can wind up pretty bruised, too. Based in New York City, Motivated Movers saw a need to create a positive, loving space for dancers and performers to rekindle their love of dance and feel good about what they were creating.

Check out my interview below with the two co-founders, Jesse Palmer and Elise Hearden, and start feeling a bit more, well, motivated :)

Mustard Seed: What's a day in your life like? 
Elise: A typical day begins with coffee.  Usually becomes a hectic day running around the city creating, implementing, and communicating in this lovely arts industry. More coffee. Encounters with lovely new faces and of those I hold dear.  More COFFEE.  Work from home on the multiple balls in the air I'm juggling. Wine.  And time with the man I love. Days with motivation, inspiration, and caffeine.

Jesse: Generally, my day begins with the generous use of my snooze button (though i'm trying to break that habit!). Once I am up, I try to create at least 30 minutes where I stretch, make coffee and read a few blogs before I officially start my day. Then-- I hit the ground running with a venti iced coffee in my hand (Can you tell Elise and I are caffeine addicts?!? alot of love and caffeine runs Motivated Movers!). Auditions, teaching, coachings, emailing, blogging.. you name it, I am doing it. 

M: What prompted you to start your business?
E: As a dancer who has spent time in my life struggling with confidence as I learned to sing, I recognized a common ground with many of my friends who are learning to dance.  A desire to give to them, in a class setting, what I was blessed to find in private vocal coaching arose.  Safe space, motivation, patience, working at the pace one specifically needs, pedagogical understanding, and a sense of community.  As artists, we all deserve this no matter what part of our craft we are growing in.  Recognizing that need + my gifts as a dance educator + my beautiful partner, Jesse Palmer, coming into my life = the birth of Motivated Movers NYC.

J: Yeah, Elise hit the nail on the head. My impetus to approach Elise about teaming up for MM was very similar and equally as serendipitous. I went to a university where dance was not the primary focus or talent of many of the students (though through my time there that changed greatly!).  Because of my extensive dance background, I was given the opportunity to choreograph for both main stage productions, student recitals and student-run theater productions. Instead of simplifying my visions, I decided to take the time to teach my casts as well as choreograph. It was such an amazing and fulfilling experience to witness the growth of my friends and colleagues through these productions-- and it stuck with me. FLASH FORWARD to life in NYC. I would frequently be contacted to coach friends on combinations and be an ear for advice before big dance calls. In talking to my friends and through my own observations, I was saddened by the "lack of self worth" issues we all deal with and the fact that we don't really have an outlet to deal with those things (other than therapy.. which is great!)  It became glaringly apparent that the New York theater community needed a safe space where actors & singers could go to do the work they wanted to, without fear of judgement. Then Elise and I met and.. well the rest is history!

M: Is your business/art your full time job? If not, what else do you do?
E: Motivated Movers is not my full time job, though it certainly feels like.  We are only about a year into operations so it will take some time before there is return on our investment of love.  With that said, it will likely always be one of a few jobs in our lives.  I currently am also pursuing a career in arts management, am applying for masters programs for just that, and am constantly diving into other projects within the arts industry. (Most recently worked as Assistant to Artistic Director at the Hangar Theatre.)  Oh for money to survive you mean?  I nanny.  I spend my days nurturing and educating children and making sure they are growing with an appreciation for the arts.

J: Motivated Movers is not my only job currently...though it is a full time job. Hopefully in the next year, it will be my supplementary job to my acting career.. and I can retire my server hat forever. Currently, I work for Motivated Movers, a LOVELY restaurant in Washington Heights and personal assist for a budding life coach. 


M: What would you tell your 20-year old self? 
E:Stop planning so much.  It's all about to change anyways. 

J: Be true to yourself and stand tall and strong in that truth. I've spent a lot of time doing things because I think I should or that someone would like me more. Those thoughts will never serve you or your dreams. Just be you and do it.

M: What's the worst job you've ever had?
E: Hard actually, because I think all have my jobs have taught me something or brought someone wonderful into my life.  However, always the least favorite would be catering.

J: I agree with Elise-- but I've worked in a few restaurants that for a myriad of reasons could be classified as "the worst". I try to just remain grateful that I am no longer there, take a few nuggets of learning.. and keep it all in perspective. 

M: What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
E:"You can only do the best you can do with what you have at any given moment."  - My mother.  And a constant reminder that my best today could mean something different tomorrow, and there is just no way I can ever compare my best to someone else's.
J: "What is meant for you will not pass you"-- this is a mantra that my dear friend Megan shared with me a few years ago. It has really helped me cope with this crazy lifestyle we lead. I truly believe that there is a higher design for all of us. This mantra really allows you to tap into trust and patience... Good stuff. 

M: What's the hardest part about pursuing a "non-traditional" career? The best part?
E: For me, the hardest part is the lack of structure/routine.  It is always a struggle and balancing act to create something consistent in my day to day life.  As a planner, I crave structure. 

J: Oh goodness. Yes the lack of structure is a big one for me. Also I struggle with trusting that everything will be ok.. or even more than ok.. GREAT! That I'll be able to pay all my bills, that I'll book a show.

The best part? 
E: I have more adventures, chance encounters, and memories in a week than most have in a year. (Another reminder from Mom.)

J: The excitement. The rush of adrenaline and joy that I get when I'm on stage or teaching a great class or watching a student conquer something and succeed. Being of service to others in all the different capacities that I am able to be.. is a truly beautiful thing.  It is also one that I am so very thankful for :)

M: What inspires you?
E: People.  People following their passions.  People making a difference.  People cultivating an inspiring community.  The power of community.  The community I belong to.  The beauty of the arts.  The possibilities yet to come. 

J: I am inspired by the love I see in every ordinary places. I am inspired by the amazing people in my life and people I have just met. I am inspired by people who are living their authentic life with out apology. Joy. Love. Art. Community. Possibility.

Thanks Jesse and Elise! I'm sure by now you're all scrambling to get up on your feet to dance, and if you're in the NYC area you can take class with Motivated Movers and find your joy! 

You can learn more about Motivated Movers by visiting their site, Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.

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