Looking for the Next Opportunity: Hope Jackson

Samantha StoutJune 29, 2020Ballroom Chat: Episode #11
Ballroom Chat #11: Hope Jackson
This week, we talk with Hope Jackson about her start in the dancesport industry, her time dancing on the television shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars, her latest endeavor teaching as an instructor with Dance Vision, being a brand ambassador for Aida Dancewear, and balancing her additional activities in modeling, dancing, and hair and make-up.
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Show Notes

Episode Transcript

SAMANTHA: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat. I'm your host, Samantha with Love Live Dance. And today I'm joined by Hope Jackson. She is a professional Latin dancer and coach. She is a brand ambassador for Aida dancewear. You might recognize her from her two seasons on So You Think You Can Dance as well as Dancing with the Stars collegiate competition. She's a model, a mother, and she recently began creating content for Dance Vision as an instructor.

Please welcome to the episode Hope Jackson.

HOPE: Hello everybody. Thank you for having me, Samantha. I'm excited to be here.

SAMANTHA: Thanks for being on. I'm excited to chat with you. So, I like to ask every guest that I have on kind of the same standard question to start, which is how did you get your start in the dance industry?

HOPE: Well, I started in the social dance program actually, because, you know, in Utah, all the schools have a social dance class and you can take it instead of PE credit. And at the time I was an elite level gymnast. And so to be in school and have a PE class, you know, for me, just felt really like overkill when I would leave school and then go straight to gymnastics for five hours anyway, five days a week.

So, after talking it over with my mom, she kind of looked into the school options and she said, well, you can take a dance class as an elective. And so I took a social dance class in seventh grade. And, you know, a couple semesters at that is having a lot of fun. One of the requirements was to compete at the national competition at BYU.


HOPE: And I was just hooked. We went and we competed, I think I took sixth place in the newcomer swing division, and I just had so much fun in watching all the other competitors. I was just like, I have to do more of this. So the rest is history.

SAMANTHA: Awesome. So, dance through middle and presumably high school. And then, at some point you were given a dancing scholarship to UVU, is that correct?

HOPE: Yeah, that's right. So after that first semester in seventh grade, I decided to join the team in high school. So the high school I was at had a performing team, ballroom performing team, and there was one class during the school day and then an afterschool program as well. I did that for a semester and then I took a semester break and I was a cheerleader and I did back and forth for like, a year and a half before I just full on committed to doing ballroom.

At some point in my junior year, I wanted to do concurrent enrollment at my local university rather than just finishing at my public high school. So I went to a charter school to finish high school. During that time, I did concurrent enrollment working on my associate degree, and because I was technically enrolled as a college student, as well as a high school student, I could join the team. And so I started on the backup team, just commitment wise. I knew that would be better for me. And I had a great experience of Chris Witt and I decided the next year to audition for a scholarship. And, I was awarded four year scholarship for the tour team.

SAMANTHA: That's amazing. For those that maybe aren't familiar, when we refer to UVU, we're talking about Utah Valley University. It is one of two very large universities in Utah County, Utah that have actual ballroom programs. They compete globally, internationally. Am I correct in thinking that you've been to Blackpool a couple of times, and maybe there was some Asia competitions in there as well?

HOPE: That's right. Yeah. So UVU, Utah Valley University was a great experience for me because my time there. I went to Dancing with the Stars twice and performed on national television. And then we went to Blackpool just the once, but it was the same year as all the Dancing with the Stars opportunities as well. And we took fourth there, for our formation Latin team. And I think our standard team as well took fourth, and then actually I graduated and the following year they went to China.

SAMANTHA: Okay. missed it by one year.

HOPE: Yeah, I was, I was okay. At that point, I was like, I've done enough. I've seen enough. Enjoy your China trip.

SAMANTHA: Fair enough. Yeah. Cause I can imagine that that traveling with a team can also be incredibly stressful. I would believe because you're dealing not only with jet lag, you're also dealing with the stress of preparing for your competition and all of those different personalities, because you're on a formation team team that has to be a, that has to be a very unique experience.

HOPE: It's really fascinating actually, because I look back and my team experience as an adult was so rewarding. And like you said, challenging because essentially we're acting as professionals, but along the way, a lot of us are young adults. And for a lot of us, it's our first team experience. So like, even though I did team in high school, cause I grew up in Utah, there was kids who were from Jersey or from Russia who had never danced on a team before.

We have to travel with all of our lights, with all of our props, with all of our costumes and, you know, eight standard dresses are really heavy. All of us have this role to not only fly with them, but also we have to bus around Europe with them and they have to stay in people's rooms. If you've ever been in a hotel room in Europe, you know that a large suitcase takes up most of your room. So yeah, definitely a lot of tension, but I love working on a team because you really get to see people give their all. I think in life, you don't get that very often. You don't see somebody just like really trying, so for me it was very enlightening, very rewarding.

SAMANTHA: That's those life moments that you look back later and go, wow, that really shaped who I am today and how I think about things. So you brought up Dancing with the Stars. I mentioned in the intro that you were a performer on So You Think You Can Dance, seasons 9 and 14.

So Dancing with the Stars, that was related to their collegiate competition. Am I correct in thinking that they took the top four teams from Ohio Star Ball that year and then invited them to be on the show or was there a different process involved?

HOPE: At the time, the tour team was under the direction of Scott Asbell and I think essentially they had called. Dancing with the Stars had this production idea to host this competition for the formation teams, and I think they might've picked them from Ohio Star Ball, but our team had actually never been to compete at Ohio Star Ball. Our backup team always does. So I think they might've gotten word that we did have a team and they contacted us that way. But yeah, I mean, they called Scott and they said, we're interested, please send us an audition tape. And so we, as dancers on the team actually had to audition to be on the audition team.

So he said, if you're interested on being on this team, bring your best, show me, you know, kind of 30 seconds of an audition. After we auditioned and he picked the ones he wanted to audition for the position, they call us back and say, yeah, we want to pick you. And we have three other teams. And one of them I think was Rutgers University, Purdue University, and I think it was another West coast, California team. We went and did kind of like an elimination. So we went against one team, then the winner would move up in the bracket. It was just super awesome. I had never done anything like that before.

I've been on local TV with formation teams and stuff, but this is totally different because they take care of everything. They fly you out, the feed you. If you're on set, you have to do lighting, checking. I mean, we've all seen the show. So as 18, 19, 20 year olds, it was pretty nerve wracking, but also really exciting.

SAMANTHA: Yeah. I can only imagine. So just kind of my personal tie to all of this craziness. The semester that you guys did, I guess it was in the spring semester, that you were on the show, that was my one-year anniversary with being on my collegiate ballroom team. And because of that section that they did, because they brought on the colleges and did formations, and we had competed against some of the other schools at Ohio Star Ball, we decided for the first year to put together a Latin formation team because our coach was like, maybe if we do it and maybe if we do it well, we'll be asked next year.

Of course, they never did it again.

HOPE: That's the wonderful thing about it though. When you have an opportunity like that, then you have choices and more people come together and create. I love that.

SAMANTHA: It was a big push at least for our collegiate program to really think about, okay, is the formation idea something that we want to do because we had never done it before. It was just fun to see kind of how all of that links up.

So, what was your biggest either challenge or best memory being part of the So You Think You Can Dance experience? What was the best or the worst. I'll let you kind of decide which way you want to go with it.

HOPE: Yeah. That's a really interesting question. Full disclosure for me. So You Think You Can Dance. I went to Vegas week the first season, and then the second time I went, it was Academy week at that point because they were no longer in Vegas. The first time I auditioned, I auditioned with my husband, Trey Jackson, and I was so full of like this young confidence. I really thought that there's no way that I'm not gonna make it. I was nervous, and I had no experience, and all these other styles I had been exposed to, but I wasn't necessarily a high level dancer as far as the cross-training went.

The experience was grueling the first time, for me in particular, because I was not sure what to expect. I think the show does that on purpose. The producers are in charge and they wake you up early, they keep you late, you never know what's coming next because they really want to catch you in a surprise moment. It's all about the element of surprise.

I love performing, so for me, probably the best part of the experience in the moment was being able to be on stage dancing with my husband. That was an amazing feeling. Then being in Vegas week, I actually was cut Vegas week in the ballroom category.

I laugh about it now. You can imagine how I felt at the time. I remember the director. The producer who cut me, I mean. They're all sitting there, right? All the judges, but the one who was actually speaking to me hosts a show called Burn the Floor or Ballroom with a Twist. But anyway, he said to me, it's good, but not good enough, and I was excused. And I just thought, God did this really just happen? I was in shock because I was so young, and I just thought there was no way I could get cut, but if I did get cut, I was sure it was going to be in hip-hop. So I'm like, I got this.

My husband, he was in the group right after with his partner because we weren't allowed to dance together. They told her, you were the best girl out there. For some reason, I just remember feeling so personal, but I had never auditioned like that at a high level. I started dancing really late and I had never really auditioned for anything before in my life. This was like my first big audition.

I went home and I was completely crushed, just devastated. Honestly, that's probably the best thing that could've ever happened to me. That's probably the best thing that came out of that whole experience. I mean, it was so fun, looking back, but I remember just feeling so devastated and then having to in later months and years to come work through that and analyze why it mattered so much and look back and think, what I would've done different, not in like a regretful way, but in like a, when this happens again -- because it's going to happen again -- how will I show up? It really shaped my whole career now.

So if that hadn't happened to me as a young dancer, I wouldn't be anywhere I am now. So I'm grateful for that experience.

The second time around when I went, I wasn't actually going to audition because I had kind of told myself that the experience the first time being on set, where they wake you up at five thirty for the call time, and then you never really start till 10:00 AM or whatever. I was just like, I don't think I can do this. I had this idea that I wanted to be on Dancing with the Stars as a professional. And then after being on set, I was like, I don't think I could live that life where you're just kind of always hurry up and then wait. So I had decided I'm not going to audition, but I went with my pro-am student, and theylooked at a couple before us and they said, if you guys aren't both auditioning, we're not going to take one.

So all the ballroom people, you better both audition or else you have no shot. I'm here with my student who is so talented and worthy to be on the show and he really should have made the show. So I just decided, okay, fine, I'll audition. At this point I have nothing to lose. I've been here before, you know, and it was much better the second time around. They were a lot more gentle. There was no real harsh criticism like the first time. I think the show had kind of evolved to have a better interaction with the dancers. It's always fun to be on that stage regardless and to see the talent. I remember just sitting in the stands and watching so many fantastic dancers get cut and excused from the show.

SAMANTHA: First and foremost, it's a TV show, right? So from a casting perspective, from a producing perspective, it's through the lens of what is going to be interesting and intriguing to watch on television. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to have the highest quality of dancers. Who is going to perform well in front of the audience and the framework that they're creating for themselves. I think it's interesting, go ahead.

HOPE: Sorry. I was just trying to chime in because it's true. the producers actually were really upfront about that. They would say like, you guys are all good dancers. That's why you're here, but why should we pick you? We want to know your story. We want to see your vulnerability. A lot of people go home. They're very upfront about that, which I think was really interesting.

After I got cut, my teacher said to me, you're not very commercial. At the time, I had like white hair and it was shaved. I was a little different. I remember thinking, I'm not going to change just to have this opportunity. That's the young rebel in me. Now I'm like, yeah, I do that all the time. I sit whatever, because I'm here just to create. But at the time I remember feeling like, if they need one kind of person and I'm not it, then what am I supposed to do? You know?

SAMANTHA: I think that obviously you've taken that lesson and have run with it. I feel like for young dancers or young performers coming up, the biggest thing when it comes to casting decisions, it is, it is very rarely about you and your ability. It's very much about what the director or the producer or the casting director is looking for.

That has nothing to do with who you are as a person. It has to do with, like you said, your look. Do you look too edgy? Do we want to move more commercial? Are you too tall? Are you too short? Are you too curvy? Are you too thin? It's what they have in their mind for the part that they're looking for and you take whatever feedback or whatever lessons you can learn and move on and decide whether or not you want to hold onto that information.

We've got a couple of people in chat. Hello chat. Morgan Wissel, I believe it says, I'm here. Hello, Hope. We've got Dance Vision in the chat. Excellent. We are going to talk all about Dance Vision here in a little bit. Pat Hansen says hello, and then, Matthew says the average viewer probably can't tell who's really a great dancer. They can certainly tell who brings drama and attitude though. Yeah, I think, I think that also with some of the reality TV, who has a compelling story that they need to tell. Who's the will-they won't-they couple of the year.

HOPE: I have a lot of friends that have made it very far on the show who are also very talented and absolutely deserved it, but they did have something special, like an all around package where, you know, it really works to progress in the show.

SAMANTHA: Yeah, definitely. And looking at your season, it was season nine, I should say, as I'm quickly scrolling through to remind myself who was on that season You had Witney Carson come out of that season. Lindsay Arnold. Both of them have gone on to Dancing With The Stars. Nick Bloxsom-Carter, who's also a Utah native.

There's obviously a huge Utah component to these shows as well. Did they specifically reach out at the university or the high school level for ballroom dancers in Utah or did it just happen that everybody tried out for it.

HOPE: I think both. I know that they specifically did reach out through the colleges and high schools because what happens in Utah is all the little kids because there's so many kids, there's so many programs to be after school or during school, you know? a lot of the kids are cross trained at a young level.

I know specifically like Lindsey and Witney, I worked at the Vibe, which is the studio. We all danced out with Rick Robinson and, they were brought up being cross trained, you know, music lessons, jazz, ballet, tap ballroom. and so they had already this kind of experience, auditioning being on stage and a lot of the kids do. It's an amazing hotbed for talent because it's the norm there. All the kids go through these programs and I know, in particular, these girls, beautiful people inside and out. They had worked with some of the judges before. I think Nigel had a show called, it was like a fairy tale show that the girls had done when they were little.

So they're familiar with the people in the industry already and the dance world is really small. That's what makes it so fun. You can know some of your idols, like in real life and you grow up with them. Then Utah of course has a great environment cause it's a religious environment. A lot of the kids are very, I don't know how to say they have good manners, you know, they don't have to worry about these kids getting in trouble or having a rough, you know, they're not worried about this one on air. They know they're good kids.

SAMANTHA: Awesome. Kind of taking some of the lessons that you learned through the audition process, how did you then apply those -- Or did you apply them, I guess I should say -- to the modeling career that you have now, the performing aspect that you are continuing to do as a dancer, all of your lovely hair and makeup artistry, like, for moving from that like edgy look that you were talking about in your first season to now a little bit more commercial or, you know, opening it up to be a little bit more multifaceted, shall we say. How do you see those two interlocking?

HOPE: Yeah, I did. I think I kind of experienced everything a little out of order, which I don't know if there is an order, but for me it was like I had this huge national television audition opportunity. And I'd never done an audition before in my life. I had started dancing competitively as a 16 year old in the amateur line division. And so I never had a junior youth, you know, I did that one newcomer event. And then it was like three years later, I was doing five dance championship level, you know? And so I always kind of felt like I was playing catch up.

I never really knew what I was doing. And then the same year that we went to Dancing with the Stars, of course, on set that your hair and makeup. And I had already been fascinated with this glam life since I was a little girl. I mean, I love it. I'll try any hairstyle. I love to mess around with the makeup and the hair. I remember watching a miss America pageant. I was probably like five years old and just. Looking at their eyes and being like, how do they make them look like that? Like from an artistic point of view, and then the staring at my sisters as they do their eye liner, you know, like how do they do that? And then when we went to Blackpool the same year that we were on Dancing with the Stars, I did the makeup for the team.

I don't even know how it happened. I just kind of like had some gear and I was like, can I try this on you? And then the director Scott Asbell at the time was like, let's do that look. And so then it was my first time doing. Dance makeup for like competition eight dancers. They all had to look the same and it looking back, it's probably one of my favorite best looks, and it was the first time I'd ever done it. So it was kind of like, I've always just kind of felt like I've just been thrown in and like, Hey, are you going to sink or swim? And I totally sank at times, but then when I sink to a spot, it's like, I figured out how to kind of like live there for a while and so I can figure it out, but absolutely like being cut from So You Think You Can Dance was so intriguing. At the same time, it was devastating. I was picked up by a modeling agency a year or two after, and they were friends with my sister and reached out to my sister who was working with them at the time and was like, does your sister want to come and get headshots? We have a photographer. And I was like, yeah, that'd be great because, as a performer, you always need stuff like that. Even if you're not really actively working, people just want stuff. I've been teaching already and just doing my competitive stuff still. And so I showed up and she convinced me to sign with her.

Then I got some commercial jobs because actually of my look, I had like the short kind of brown bob with bangs. And it was very marketable because it looked versatile. I could be any age, any ethnicity, and I worked for a Marriott commercial, and then later, Hallmark with another group. I was dancing because, you know, as a dancer, I could, I could get some work.

So anyway, it did wind up like pushing me that direction. I'm not really sure how that happened, but I have this theory now that I've come to understand where it's like, if you need to go East, you just start walking East and before you know it there's somebody passing you that's heading East too. And they're like, do you want to ride?

And that's kind of what happened. I auditioned for the show, got cut, and then I met a bunch of people that also were kind of still going that direction. So I just kind of got pushed along and that's honestly been my whole dance career. It's been amazing to look back at it because it's like I can flex so many different muscles in this industry and it's been so enjoyable to see what my deficiencies are and what my strengths are and where I like to create and where I kind of fall short.

SAMANTHA: Absolutely. It's something that I want to kind of hit on. There is this idea in improv they say "yes, and." In the dance world, I feel like one of the responsibilities of the follow is to be open and receptive and then to take whatever the lead is giving you and build on it and create something beautiful to live in that moment.

I think from a career perspective, you're talking about just that, being open and flexible to the "yes, and," and saying, okay, I thought I was going through this door. That didn't look like that was the path for me. So I'm just going to keep walking and see what else comes along and then say yes to that and see where that takes me.

So I think that's great, and I think that's a good mindset, especially for young dancers in the industry or young performers in general. Just be open, have a plan, but plans change, adapt, and completely redirect at certain times.

HOPE: Absolutely. I love that. Hearing you talk about that gave me chills, because I didn't have that clarity of insight when I was in it, but it's true.

If I could say anything to myself back then, it would just be to stick to your stuff. If you're a dancer then just be dancing, because you're going to have more options when you're just working on your craft. Like you said, one door's going to close, but see if it'll still open, like give yourself more tries.

I had that one audition where I got cut and in the moment, I just thought, Oh, I'm never going to do this again. This is a horrible feeling. Then what wound up happening is I did a ton more times, I kept doing it. I don't know if I'm just a glutton for punishment, but I love that now. I love that feeling of people being like, no, and I'm like, well, watch me do it twice and I'll take the pictures. I'm going to do it.

So yeah, I think that's so accurate.

SAMANTHA: Awesome. I want to talk a little bit about both Dance Vision and Aida. We'll start with Aida.

So you are a brand ambassador for Aida Dancewear. If you are listening to this podcast and you're not familiar with them, please look them up. They have some of the best shoes in the industry. Not that other brands aren't fantastic. There are many shoe brands that are great, but I feel like at least from a marketing perspective, Aida has done really well. How did all of that come about? How did you partner up with Aida?

HOPE: So, as a teacher, I have the responsibility of helping my students be better dancers. Like you said, I mean Aida, just the type of shoe that you can put a brand new dancer and you can put a competitive dancer and it's totally handmade customizable. So if I have a dancer with really narrow feet, or really wide feet, you know, Ilia is my man there and I literally just have him in my cellphone. I could just call him and be like, can I send you a picture? He's probably got a thousand foot pictures. He's able to help me out. I had my own studio in Utah for awhile, and I would order probably 10 pairs of shoes from Aida like every two months. So we just got a good relationship and then he's always vending at the competitions.

He's a young guy, he's a fun guy. We became friends pretty fast because he's actually a great marketer and I have a degree in communication. It's always fun to talk to another professional. It just kind of happened that I always had this desire to be an ambassador, because that's one of the things I like to do actually. Promote brands and people that have this passion for whatever it is they're doing. I like to be around creative people.

He reached out to me just saying hi do you need anything? Can I help you with anything. And at the time I had moved to California from Utah. I was still teaching, but not to the level I was. I don't have my own studio. So I was like, you know what, no, but how can I help you? Because you know, we're friends and we just kinda got talking back and forth.

Before I knew it, he was like, okay, I'm gonna send you a free pair of shoes. You're going to be an ambassador, create content, thanks for the conversation. I was like, oh, what just happened? But I wasn't gonna question it. I was just like, yes, sir, you got it. Like, let's do this thing. And so it just kind of started from there.

For me, it's a great fit because I love to create content. It's just fun for me. The shoes I love because I'm a foot-work person. I started late and I just remember that the dancers I enjoyed watching the most were the ones that had such articulation and the foot just had this mobility. I just thought to myself like that is what makes a good ballroom dancer is your feet. So for me, I have kind of this obsession, I guess, with shoes. So it's a great combo.

SAMANTHA: Oh, there you go. I feel like I've been watching your stuff on Instagram for a while. I feel like a lot of the original content when you first started working with Aida was exactly that, I'm in my shoes, I'm doing my foot work. I'm doing practice or I'm doing swivel drills. And, it was kind of like, okay, I'm going to show the shoe at work. Last week, or this weekend, you posted a video about how to break in the shoe. So was it a conscious decision for you to switch to more of like, these are tips - If you are going to be a shoe owner, how to make the shoes work for you.

HOPE: Yeah, I had kind of this idea. Aida had asked everybody to create a commercial about why you love Aida, and before I was ever an ambassador, I would buy the shoes. For me, they're the longest lasting and I really beat mine up and I have to really break mine in because my foot is unique. I have a wider foot, it's more muscular. I really want to be able to work through it. I always get blisters.

So anyway, the commercial I created, one of like the little clips I added was me treating my blisters, cause I get crazy blisters in new shoes on like the first two days. I've kind of figured that out now it's more of a fit, and luckily Ilia's been able to help me kind of get the best fit. But I just thought to myself, there's a lot of dancers where it's uncomfortable, you know, even you can have a great comfy shoe, but when you're in it for five hours trying to practice, you know, how can we make this perfect straight out the gate.

As a gymnast, we have this process with our grips, like on the bars. So I've been treating leather for a long time. Even when I was little, I soaked my leather grips and we wrap them, same kind of thing. And so I started doing it to my shoes and I didn't really know anybody else that did it, but I had somebody actually reach out to me when I posted the commercial and say, how can I make the shoes more comfortable. So I just thought I'm just going to make something. After I posted it, the Aida team actually reached out to me and they were like can you send us the original video so we can post it too. And I was like, oh sure no problem, it's been really fun to work with them because they kind of just let me do whatever I want, and then we just kind of work together. It's been fun.

SAMANTHA: That's the best business relationship to have. And something that I took away from that, which is interesting, you've wet down the leather, correct? That is something that I have been told my entire dance career, don't put water near your suede shoes because it will ruin it. So it was so fascinating that you were like, yeah, no, this is how you break them in.

HOPE: Yeah. Well, to be honest, I'm not a shoe expert. But, growing up doing gymnastics, if the leather is dry, its stiff, but when it's wet, it's malleable. Then when you're working into it continuously, you're shaping it. Right. So I just learned it from gymnastics. We wet our grips and we chalked them. And, so for the dance shoes, I was just like, what do I have to lose? I mean, 200 bucks, but I have to buy a new pair eventually anyway. And I mean, I've danced on shoes before that were broken, slick, missing a heel. To me, it's like, I'd rather experiment than play it safe. I'm nervous now to be like, do it this way, because it'll work and somebody be like, I just wasted $220 ruining my shoes. But for me, it's always worked. So that's all right.

SAMANTHA: Absolutely. And if you are willing to experiment and play with it, you might find a fantastic way to do that, and clearly you have. I think it's fantastic when you are willing to break with conventional wisdom to be like, alright, what's the worst that's going to happen? Oh, this actually broke in my shoe. Fantastic. Now I've got, you know, comfy feet. Yeah.

HOPE: Yeah. That's always been. I think my kind of like go to I'm that way too.

SAMANTHA: I like it.

So let's talk now about Dance Vision. So, I've mentioned Dance Vision and DVIDA a couple of times on this podcast. They are the curriculum that I like to use and rely on most with my students. Because of quarantine and just because they tend to work more in the digital space to begin with, we're seeing a whole lot more online content come out of Dance Vision. This month or at least last week, they did a full slate of online courses. You had a stretch and conditioning class that was in the mornings Monday through Friday.

So what was the process like becoming a teacher for Dance Vision and what do you kind of see as your role within that family of instructors?

HOPE: I feel like so blessed because it just took me by surprise. I looked back and I realized that it's actually a lot of my hard work that got me here, but to me, it's just like such a surprising blessing. I know Wayne, who owns Dance Vision and DVIDA and runs a couple of competitions, and I too tested as an instructor with DVIDA years ago, me and Trey got our certifications to teach through DVIDA. So we're obviously familiar with that, and I always just kind of had this hope in my heart that I would one day create for Dance Vision, because it is like the standard in my mind, I think to a lot of ballroom people, for how to learn the syllabus.

So I had gotten an opportunity to teach when I first moved to California. A great studio called the Brea space. They produced some of the most amazing jazz, modern, lyrical dancers, and they have a ballroom class, and Lacey Schwimmer called me and said, I usually teach it, but I can't be there. Can you substitute for me? Didn't even know she had my number.

So I showed up to teach and they do all their own inhouse filming and they had filmed the segment. And so they had given it to me and I posted it, and Morgan at Dance Vision reached out to me and said, this is really beautiful. I would love to do something with you in the future. I work for Dance Vision, and I was just kind of like, okay. I met her at California Open and she's a beautiful person, and the more I started working with the company, just kind of like doing the live for their social media during quarantine, when we were all shut down, it taught me a lot.

They were really responsive and just the way their whole company works as a whole way. Jason, Ariana, Morgan. Ashley, Rosie, they're all just so conscious working with Sean. He's helped me out with the past week. They're all so kind, they all care so much about not only what they're doing, but about people. And they've taught me so much when it comes to teaching classes and, just how to connect and how to be just really real. It's given me so much confidence, and I've learned so much and the process was great.

They just take care of me. They treat me like a baby. They're just like, here's everything you need. What do you need from us? And I'm like, Honestly, I just love you guys. It's been a dream, honestly. The past week, they launched their Dancevision.live platform and I got a package in the mail from Wayne and it was a microphone, receiver, all the stuff I need to hook up into the lights, broadcast, and to teach, and interacting with their students has been beautiful. Well, because a lot of the students aren't high level competitors, I think maybe some are, but a lot of them are social dancers or just, you know, pro am competitors and they just need to they're students, and I always have considered myself a student as well. So just sharing that creative space with people, and I mean, it's just been so rewarding. I can't say enough good things about them.

SAMANTHA: That's probably good news because we have a "hello Hope" from a Wayne Eng in the chat.

HOPE: My people. I love these guys.

SAMANTHA: Thank you guys so much for tuning in. This is fantastic. That has 100% been my experience as a student of Dance Vision as well is just the community around it is so lovely. I feel like Wayne and his team are so good at reaching out to the instructors that know how to communicate at every level. I've been going back through their, their bronze and their silver and their gold syllabus, especially with the updates to the smooth stuff. because I'm working with students that are pro am and they're thinking about competing and, and whatnot, and just the understanding on the part of the teachers that they have chosen to change the way that the information is given at every single level to make sure that if you're a beginner, you're only getting the information that you need at your level, but it's going to build so well when you get to the next step. And when you, you get to the next step, we're going to add on a little bit more information and then, go to gold and then finally to, open, then you get those benchmarks along the way.

HOPE: And just to add to that, it's been amazing to watch them evolve because I tested, you know, my exams were years ago and now to work with them in a professional capacity and I hear the conversations they have, like, how can we make this better? How can we make this more beneficial? How can we reach all levels of student and teacher? It's so inspiring, honestly, to work with them. So, yeah, I'm really happy. I'm really happy to hear your feedback. Cause it's similar to my own as a teacher with them. been great.

SAMANTHA: What was your process like to choose to do strength and conditioning rather than syllabus or choreography?

HOPE: Right.

Well, I had multiple cases, associations with Wayne and I always love seeing him call me cause I'm like, what, what's it going to be? You know, what are we going to do? It's always exciting. Cause he's a creator, he's a creative person. And so we had a couple of conversations and he just said, well, what are your strengths? What do you like to do? You know? And I was like, well, you know, I'm a professional country dancer, so we could do some. social stuff, you know, country two-step line dance, whatever. And he's like, okay, and what about this? And what about that? And we finally kind of landed on the strength and conditioning cause the more we talked it out and the more he kind of filled the need in his demographic for everything else.

My background has always been athletics. You know, I was a gymnast and growing up in gymnastics, you train hard maybe 45 minutes on each event, but the rest is drills. And strength and conditioning and your body has to be able and you cannot do five hours a day, just knocking it dead and come back the next day. I've noticed an undervalued area in ballroom dancing in particular of warming up, cooling down. We don't necessarily see a lot of people treating it like athletics. We treat it like art or something, you know? And so I really just kind of wanted to share with his community, this idea of mental health. Physical health when it comes to, you know, being agile and mobile and just creating. Because I actually have teachers conversations too in the studio as far as like, okay, we have to be more fluid and more graceful. And their students are like, how.


HOPE: And a lot of times it's just ability, you know, like I don't necessarily know how, but if I'm able to, or if I have a similar feeling that I felt in the past, I can connect the dots. So for me, I wanted to explore that and I had so much fun doing it. It was really beautiful.

SAMANTHA: Yeah. And I think that's a good reminder again, to dancers at every level. I know as an instructor, I am. The worst about setting aside time at the end of my lesson day to cool down and to stretch and to just recenter before I go home, because after teaching for five, six, seven hours straight, I just want to take off my shoes, grabbed my bag and get into my car, and you're right. The times that I've taken 20 minutes before a lesson to stretch and warm up and I've taken 30 minutes or 40 minutes at the end to cool down and relax, my body has felt so much better the next day. If you're a student that's listening to this, really do take to heart. When your instructors say show up 10 to 15 minutes before your lesson, because we're saying that for a reason, just do you know, rumba walks do some standard line drills, do something to get your body into the mindset of dance.

Yeah, we've got a bunch of comments from chat.

HOPE: Yeah.

SAMANTHA: Oh, Wayne has said "Hope is fabulous and she's going to be successful in anything she does." Pat Hansen, Pat Hansen says it was a great class. Morgan says I so agree. Hope. I don't think I've ever had a group class start with a good stretch like I've done in contemporary or other styles. Yeah. Our group classes, just speaking from an instructor mindset, I think, we go into group classes with a mindset of we've got 45 minutes or 50 minutes to get through information. We want to fill that class with as much information as possible, so we don't want to lose five or 10 minutes in the beginning of class to warm up.

We're putting the onus on the students to arrive early and do that for themselves. Maybe as instructors, we should switch our mindset when it comes to that.

HOPE: yeah. That's okay. Just as an instructor point of view too, I think it's so necessary to teach the value because I think we, I know personally I worry like, will they, will my students feel like they got all the time they needed in class today. If I spend 15 minutes of a 45 minute class warming up or 15 minutes warming up and cooling down separately, you know, it's like, but I really do believe that. It's up to us to start teaching, you know, if we want longevity and the beautiful thing about dancing is we see 91 year old people dancing. You can dance forever as long as you have the health and the ability for it.

So I agree. It's something we kind of have to teach and make a priority.

SAMANTHA: Definitely definitely. And then a Dance Vision also posts. "I know we're all in here, but no pressure. this is a great stream by the way. Very professional, very clean." Thank you guys.

HOPE: I promise they're all my own words, I'm not being paid to say anything.

SAMANTHA: No, I think, it's a very nice surprise to have as many vocal people in the chat. so we appreciate that. I try to keep this podcast as casual as possible when it comes to conversations. Totally off the cuff. Totally your own thoughts and opinions when it comes to the topics that we're discussing.

Anything else that you wanted to talk about about while we've got a little extra time? whether it's from your experiences as a dancer, From your experience as being now an instructor, performer, model, a brand ambassador, anything else that you wanted to talk about today?

HOPE: You know, I didn't really think that far into it. I was excited to talk to you about a little bit about my experience, but I've noticed that that's kind of, my personality is I have this rough plan of where I want to go. And it's fluid. I now have learned young to allow myself to change because I was convinced as an eight year old while I was probably five, but I was convinced I was going to be an Olympic level gymnast. And I did, I had this plan that I had, my parents had created with me. They helped me kind of like take the appropriate steps. And then in seventh grade it changed because I changed. And it's been really interesting because we've all been the past couple months in the same situation where life has completely changed.

What happens is when you have change, what it really is, is opportunity. I've been really exercising my thought process to be this way. Rather than change means it's over. Rather change means you are free. You can do anything. And I love. Now my life. When I think of it in that frame of my mind, like you have so many more options, you can always have a new choice. You can always move on into the next thing. And what I love so much about. Being in the ballroom industry in particular in the dance industry is you have all these options and I mean look at us here, you're a dancer, a teacher we've worked in a studio together. I've seen you teach your group classes and yet here you are on a professional level doing something totally different, but it's totally related.

This is one of the things I love the most. I would love to judge. Eventually one day I would love to do some emceeing or some presenting. And every time I get an opportunity within the dance industry, it teaches me how to do. Something else. If I just make the parallel teaching taught me how to be a good business person owning by own business taught me how to be a good mother.

You know, it's like, you know, you can make all these parallels. And so that's been really enlightening and enjoyable for me.

SAMANTHA: Yeah, I love that. It goes back to being open to where life takes you and then making all of those connections along the way. I like the fact that you said, you know, being a dance teacher made you a better business person. That's 100% the topic that we had last week with Michael Johnson, being a better business owner or being a business owner then made you a better mother that wraps back around to some of the conversations I was having with Krista several weeks ago about. Learning to balance life and motherhood, and also professional responsibilities and wanting to see that professional growth.

I love that. And change can be scary. I think, Morgan, just put that in the chat. "beautiful words, Hope. change allows growth. It can be scary though". It can be scary to say yes, and to take that leap of faith and to, to shift gears, but it can be so rewarding

HOPE: I have this idea where if you are scared of something. Do it like right away. In gymnastics we call it throwing it. If you have this scary trick, the idea is like, just throw it. It doesn't have to be pretty, but just like throw yourself into it. And it is terrifying. That's kind of what makes it fun. Right? It's definitely a little adrenaline.

SAMANTHA: Yeah. Going out into the unknown and being like, okay, can I catch myself if I do this? Yeah, absolutely. Couple of questions from Matthew. He says even in something like weightlifting with a personal trainer, the first 15 minutes always has to be stretching and conditioning in his experience. So yeah, perhaps as instructors, we need to take a little bit more responsibility to make that a priority with our students. Also, where do you see the future of the industry? Post COVID? Is it going to be moving more towards online streaming?

HOPE: Yes. It's been really interesting, especially working with Dance Vision because I think every instructor has always used online tools. And what happens is like I've talked to some of my friends and when they can't be in the studio with their students, we actually kind of, we can be a little bit more productive, but maybe not so much more hands on. It puts a lot of the responsibility on the student. And I know also as instructors, it allows us a little bit more freedom with our day. We don't have to be in the studio eight hours a day, teach lessons. We can kind of structure it. I don't know where this is going to go, to be honest. And it's not that I'm not trying to think about it, but it's not my personality to necessarily, I have no control over it.

I'm the type of person where if I can't control it, I'll just focus on what I can control. And right now it has been moving to online and, For me, it's really fun as a student because I can take a class from somebody in Russia with a thousand other people. And we all get this information where normally we couldn't all go to that camp.

I can't travel to Russia or, you know, it's four, o'clock my time, but it's 11. O'clock my day. You know, somebody else's time or something, you know? So, I don't know where it's going to go. I know that dancing is so interactive and I do miss the studio environment at the same time though. I love that I have so many more opportunities to learn as a student. It's been really fun for me. So I hope the online continues. Even if we still are back in the studio. I personally love taking an online class because as a mom, I don't have to actually go to the class. I can just listen in my pajamas while I drink coffee, I pick up information and I'll apply it to practice later, you know, so for me it's been great.

SAMANTHA: Yeah. And I would kind of echo that as well. I've really been enjoying the online classes that everyone has been putting out. I've been able to take classes from instructors that I would never get to work with in person at all. so to learn from them, In this online format has been so fantastic, but I think there is also that that element of our industry is kind of rooted in this hands-on. You are with a partner. You're in a space with another human being. A lot of our instruction is around how does it feel? Let me look and let me move, you know, your shoulders or your head weight, or reposition your arm in a certain way to make it more balanced. And that really can only happen in a traditional studio environment.

It's very hard to translate that online. So for me personally, I think once, once we get the all clear and we can all kind of life goes back to normal, whenever that might happen, I think you're going to see a continuation of online learning. I think now that we've kind of stepped into this frame and the technology has gotten so much better. I don't think any of us are going to want to go back, but you're always going to have a reason for people to be in the studio and to dance in person and to get instruction in person.

HOPE: Yes. And I'm so excited for that time. I will say, as a teacher, it's been really interesting because I'm one of those hands on teachers where I'm like, okay, well let me try it. Let me see how it feels. I need to kind of feel it. And it's challenged me to be more articulate and to be more thoughtful before I speak, like, what is this really that I need to say? Or what am I missing here? So it's definitely been a very teaching teaching moment for me.

SAMANTHA: Yup. 100%. I'm exactly the same way. If I'm working with a couple and something's not working with the lead and follow up. Yeah. All right. Let me dance with each of you and feel what's going on and exactly as you put it, I'm now having to go. Okay. Tell me, is that what pressure thing is it? Yeah. Tell me what you are feeling, which is really good too, from a student perspective, because that forces you to be a little bit more aware of what's going on with the partnerships.

HOPE: And then your partner hears what you're saying. You know, like, I think a lot of times between the couple, the lady's like he's not working or it's not working for the man. And then you're like, okay, well let me fix it for you. And instead of you're like, okay, well, as the teacher, let me ask you, what are you feeling? And the partner is hearing it. So the communication changes, it's really interesting process.

SAMANTHA: Definitely. Along those lines, something that we didn't talk about is when you were competing amateur, you were dancing with your husband.

I have worked with couples that are married and are learning to dance. It can be an interesting experience. For you dancing with your partner who is also your life partner, How did you two navigate the communication elements that ballroom dancing has? Or did you find that it worked perfectly every single time?

HOPE: It's interesting because my favorite lessons to teach are the wedding couples. Cause you're like, okay, you learn pretty quick, you know, who's in charge and how they communicate and how they handle each other, you know, which I love. I find it fascinating me dancing with my husband. it it's, I think it's challenging with working with another person, no matter who it is. First of all right. Cause you have two different mindsets, two different perspectives, two different sets of experience the communication between Trey and I has always been like, we're both saying orange, but he's pronouncing it different. And I'm like, no, it's pronounced this way. And when I was young, I wasted so much time, probably just arguing with him over stupid things.

As an adult and as a professional now dancing with other partners and Pro-Am gave me so much perspective. Your partner's job is not to make everything good for you. Your job is to make everything good for you. And to be open to communication with your partner, because doing Pro-Am, you know, you are responsible for yourself and for them, but in order to make them feel free, you have to be free and in control at the same time. So that was a lesson I wish I had learned before trying to dance with my husband. but you know, the thing with Trey and I was. I had so little experience being a competitor and a ballroom dancer in general.

He had just moved home from New Jersey where he was training with Gary and Diana McDonald, and he had been at Rogers for a couple of years and dancing since he was a little kid. So, I think our dynamic changed as we got older, we were partners and he had a lot more experience. So I kind of deferred to him. As I started to get more experience and get a little bit more of my own opinion, our dynamic changed, and then we got married and that changed. And so it was constant battle of just trying to navigate, you know, what we want and what our priorities are.

He eventually went on. He has a business. He has a degree in economics and finance, so he eventually moved on to do more of that. Where I found kind of a career here and I can happy to stay here. But, yeah, I don't think it's ever a very easy to communicate unless you have a good understanding of a common goal. And as long as you can kind of recenter yourself and come back to that, like, we both want the same thing, right? This is how I think I'm going to achieve it and take accountability for myself and they can come to the table as well and say, I also think in order to achieve it, I have to do this. And then you go together. The hard thing is, is that unless two people can come together and do that, you have to have a third party, a coach, or maybe even more a coach, a teacher, a mentor, a parent, all, it takes a team right. You like, remember this is the agreement. Stick to it. Don't get sidetracked, stay focused.

SAMANTHA: Oh man. If that's not a metaphor for every relationship you will have in your life, I don't know what it is.

HOPE: I know it that's just the thing. Right. It's it's just a, it's a hard working relationship. So yeah.

SAMANTHA: Any tips or tricks to making a separation between what happens on the dance floor and what happens once you get in the car and go home?

HOPE: I honestly believe that you shouldn't separate it. I think that if you're walking on the floor with your spouse and your lover, like that's who you're performing with, because I've seen that performance be so authentic because you know, the relationship is so. They're showing you their relationship. And I've seen like disputes and things like that on this floor too.

This is what I will say about that. I've been at so many training camps with high level dancers as a competitor, among them as a peer, but then also as a coach watching on the sidelines and I will be so enraptured with their performance and their beauty, and I'll see them mess up and I don't care, but as soon as they mess up and they care, I'm like, Oh, Dang. And so really I want dancers and performers to realize that. It doesn't ruin anything for me to see it be real in life. We miss it. There's missed handholds there's miscommunication. And if you can just be in that moment and just let it be, let it go, pick it back up, you know, apologize. Forgive each other.

To me, that's so much more enjoyable to watch then this fight for perfection. And like, we can't let anybody see who we really are and that we're human. Right. You know, fight on the way home, fight off, you know, like, I don't care. Just stick to your stuff, you know, like stay in it for the love of it, and if you're frustrated, it's okay. But it's not about the other person, you know, it's like, bring it back to yourself. I guess that's my 2 cents on it.

SAMANTHA: I think that's fantastic. No, yes, absolutely. Everything that you just said.

HOPE: Yeah,

SAMANTHA: Yeah, authenticity on the floor is everything. And no one cares if you mess up. We care if you tell us that you mess up.

HOPE: Disappointment, you know, it's like, you can be messed up and just laugh it off. It's okay. It's art, you know, like sometimes the biggest mistakes are the most beautiful creative opportunities. It's just like roll with it, you know?

SAMANTHA: Definitely.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Hope for being our guest on today's episode, you can follow her at Mrs. Hope Jackson on Instagram to see all of her lovely dance related makeup related and life related posts. If you want to find a list of her upcoming classes online, you can go to dance vision dot live and see the full slate of online instruction available there.

Thank you so much Hope for being a guest on today's podcast.

HOPE: Thank you so much. It's been my pleasure. I appreciate it.

SAMANTHA: I've been your host, Samantha from love live dance. You can find this and all of our other podcast episodes at ballroomchat.com or lovelivedance.com/podcast/, and you can follow us on social media at ballroom chat across all platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you are interested in finding out more about lessons, either in person or online, you can find that out at lovelivedance.com, and if you ever want to be part of the conversation live as we're recording these podcasts, you can find that over at the love.live.dance YouTube page. Please do take an opportunity to give us a thumbs up, share and subscribe depending on the platform that you are listening to this on and consider giving us a review. Those stars really do help us.

Please stay positive, stay safe, and we hope to see you dancing.