Politics and Purpose - Tony Nunez

Samantha StoutJuly 12, 2022Ballroom Chat: Episode #58
tony nunez ballroom chat

Tony Nunez returns to the Ballroom Chat podcast to explore the importance authenticity and inclusivity in ballroom dance. Tony and Samantha discuss the balance between politics and purpose, and Tony shares his philosphy of leading with gratitude.

Tony Nunez is a World WDSF Professional Smooth Finalist, US-WDSF 9-Dance Silver Medalist, US-WDC 9-Dance Finalist, World and US WDC Mambo finalist, and World Salsa Vice Champion. Tony is also a Pro-Am instructor and a member of Infinite Flow.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Samantha: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat, the podcast dedicated to sharing the dance journey. I'm your host, Samantha with Love Live Dance. I know it has been a very long time since I posted an episode, but, the world and life has been crazy. so we are back today with one of my favorite guests from very early on in the podcast's journey, Mr. Tony Nunez to have a heartfelt, conversation about politics and purpose in dance and his journey, his exploration of finding his own voice and his own path in dancesport. And, uh, some things that we'd like to see potentially changed, or at least addressed in the dancesport world to make it even more beautiful and wonderful and inclusive than it already is. So, thank you guys for tuning into the podcast. I'm so glad to be back and enjoy my conversation with the one and only Tony Nunez.

Well, thank you, Tony so much for coming back on the podcast.

[00:01:12] Tony: Hey, I'm so happy to be back with you.

[00:01:14] Samantha: I am so excited to get to a chance to talk to you again. I don't know if you are aware of this, but I cite our original conversation as the moment that the podcast changed for me.

[00:01:31] Tony: Really?

[00:01:31] Samantha: On a personal level, I came away from your conversation absolutely just shaken. I'm like, oh my God, we can actually do something with these conversations, that mean something to someone. So like you, you are the person that I enjoy talking to the most. And I'm so glad that like we got back to this,

[00:01:51] Tony: Thank you so much. Yay. Thank you so much. Like that's so sweet. Like I just, I love talking to you too. You give such an easy approach and, um, you just like, let everybody just really express themselves authentically.

And so anybody, anytime anybody gives that space to people, I think that's such a powerful position to hold, um, because you really help facilitate some really good conversations. So it's awesome. Awesome.

[00:02:21] Samantha: So, um, a lot has happened in the world at large and the dance world since we last spoke. I know we there's like no way to do every single topic justice today, but just in talking a little bit offline with you, I feel like the topic for our listeners today is really gonna be like politics and purpose in dancesport, and figuring out how those two balance with each other, where those two are in conflict with each other and kind of, a little bit about your, your take on how to find a way through the industry in a way that is, you know, recognizes the politics in it, but also is, you know, self-fulfilling and, and a positive, um, just message and vibe for, for your own existence. So, um, where do you wanna start, Tony? Where, where should we dive in?

[00:03:22] Tony: um, I, you know, that's a great question. Um, I, I guess, um, the last conversation that we had, you and I were kind. We kind of fell into that, this particular subject, um, inadvertently I think you were just kind of doing it more interview style, and then we kind of fell into this, um, subject. And I think one of the most, important things about understanding the dance industry is to understand yourself fully first. And if you're not in a complete understanding of yourself, you know, then there is a higher chance for you to get swallowed up by this industry and for people to put their own labels and their own, um, uh, You know, um, kind of just, they cloak you and whatever they want you to be or think you should be.

[00:04:19] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:04:20] Tony: according to traditions, culture of the industry, um, you know, history, all of that. And so it takes a lot for people to, kind of rise above that and not be pigeonholed into any one thing, but also be really explorative with their identity within their dancing, because after all this is an art, even though we call it dancesport, it's art first.

If we can't individually express ourselves in art, then what are we doing it for? Right. So, uh, it takes a lot, but that first step is to have a full understanding of who you are and what you are willing to. negotiate with, but all the things that you are not willing to compromise, like, you know, or sacrifice, I should things that you are willing to compromise, but not sacrifice.

[00:05:11] Samantha: Yeah. And I think that's, that's such a hard thing as an individual to do at any level is to find your voice and be able to stand up and say like, this is who I am. And, and these are, these are the lines that I'm not willing to cross for myself to say to stay true, true, and authentic. But I think it's also really, really, really difficult in our industry in particular, because we have so many people that are starting so young before they're prefrontal cor cortex is even fully developed.

I mean, your brain doesn't stop forming until you're 25, 26. So how, how is it possible to know who you are and how many other voices and influences have you heard about who you should be or who you need to be before you even know what's true and real for yourself.

[00:06:03] Tony: Ah, I love that question so much. Um, you know, so I think that we get, um, we are always under the impression that we eventually grow into our eventual selves, except my, um, belief, my personal belief is that we are already are who we are right from the womb. Like you can see certain babies, you can even see it in animals. Sometimes just the look on their face. Like you can see like, okay, there's a soul and a person in there that is completely, they've got their own agenda, their own, you know, personality.

They, they, they are who they are already. And what it tends to ensue after that in life, uh, is a programming, right?

[00:06:50] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:06:51] Tony: and our programming comes from institutions. So therein lies the problem, right? Our first institution that we are in contact with in the physical form is the medical institution. Right? Then the second one is the educational institution. Both of which fundamentally are flawed. They are not inclusive and they really mess with a lot of people. So if the first institutions that you come in contact with are fundamentally flawed, you're getting fundamentally flawed programming that takes you and pulls you away from your actual true self. So that's why a lot of therapists come back to okay. You know, um, find your authentic self, who was that little boy or that little girl at four or five years old that you remember, and the, what did they like to do and what da, da, da, da, and going back to your inner child and healing your inner child.

That's why that's a very popular concept because that really is our true selves.

[00:07:52] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:07:53] Tony: right. I mean, I can go way further into that, but I'm gonna leave that there for now. So now we fast forward and put it into the application, into our dance world, dancing is a beautiful art form. The way that our industry is set up is still fundamentally flawed. And so that fundamental that those flaws are programmed into young dancers and then programmed into our older dancers or adult dancers, and then judges eventually when they become judges. And then that tradition is laid in there. Right. And so what I TA what I saw, um, during the pandemic. And during the, the black lives matter was we had a lot of dancers with a lot of interesting opinions and I was very shocked and surprised of how, um, not inclusive so many of those opinions are, you know what I mean? I, I don't even like to say, you know, liberal or conservative, like blah doesn't matter to me, the, the fact that the matter is, is that certain opinions are inclusive. Certain opinions are not inclusive. And many of them in our industry were extremely not inclusive.

Um, and which was very initially I guess the feeling for me was like, okay, this is disheartening. But then I really understood, like, This is what we all signed up for. Not necessarily knowing that we signed up for it because this was the programming and we all bought into the programming, just like our students.

[00:09:32] Samantha: Mm-hmm,

[00:09:32] Tony: just like, you know, we, we all bought into it. So it's not a surprise when we hear of and see giants in our industry, making really broad, very, not inclusive. Um, Opinions and, um, and influencing young dancers. However, the juxtaposition is that as much as our institutions are completely fundamentally flawed, there is a very interesting dynamic with this new generation of not just young dancers, but just gen Z kids in general.

I don't wanna say kids, but gen Z people in general. Right? Um, they're, they're really, you know, they have their issues like any other generation, but one, the, the most phenomenal thing about them is their idea of planet and inclusivity first. They are being brought up in this culture within their social media, where they are particularly drawn to that.

[00:10:35] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:10:35] Tony: so we were just in, um, Um, we were just in, um, um, Constitution, no con no, no, no, no. Um, in Boston, in February, um, um, Marcus Nocera's competition, ah, Eastern, sorry. My mind went blank for a second Eastern and they had the team match

[00:10:54] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:10:55] Tony: and the kids all came out and they were like from Canada, they were from new, you know, New England. They were from New York, New Jersey. They had different teams or whatever, and the kids came out and everybody does a, a presentation of their team first before the team match actually commences and all and almost every team did some type of like, same like gender neutral dancing role reversal. Um, they had voguing they had, you know, like just fun, just party, pride music that they were dancing to.

And it wasn't, it wasn't that the kids were, you know, Gender fluid or, or sexually fluid or whatever it wasn't any of that had nothing to do with that. It was the trend was inclusivity. We include everybody, and this is how we celebrate. And we use our art, these young kids using their art when you gave them free range of, of doing whatever they want to do to make that happen.

So even though our institutions are giving us a programming, these kids, Ugh, these people, I keep saying kids, these people are definitely in this generation, you know, fighting back in their own way. Like this is what, who we are and what we want to be, you know?

[00:12:09] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:12:10] Tony: So it was really phenomenal for me to watch cuz you know, five years ago I wouldn't have, we wouldn't have seen that, you know, um, even five years ago. Right,

[00:12:19] Samantha: right.

[00:12:19] Tony: And so this was a, just, it was, it was, it was, it was great for me. So it just kind of. It was a nice response to a lot of the things that we're seeing today. You see these big giants in our industry who are making these opinions and not being inclusive and being very weird, um, and awkward. But then you see these kids who are just like, just soaking up every bit of everything that they can in terms of incor, including everybody.

[00:12:52] Samantha: Well, and I wonder too, if it's, you know, folks like to blame the internet for a lot of things, but I, I kind of like to celebrate the internet in this case. I think if you see something for the first time, you can either have two opinions of it. You can either go, oh my gosh, what is that? Like? Don't show me that. Or you can. I didn't know we could do that. And I think that's what gen Z and, and younger millennials, and hopefully older millennials like myself and the older generations will become more embra, uh, embracing of is this idea of, I didn't know that we could do that. So let me do a lot of that, so that people five years from now will just think, oh, that's normal. Right? So, so you mentioned the idea of gender neutral partnership, and we kind of talked about it a little bit last time about the fact that there are these giants in the industry that don't know how to judge it when they see it on the floor or don't know, or, or claim to think that it's comparing apples and oranges and have this like gut reaction that says, I, I don't know what this is. I don't know how to react it. So I'll just place it lower because it's different.

But I think the more that we see it and I look at European competitions, especially in the youth categories where they don't have a lot of boys that are competing and you have girls competing with girls all the time in the youth categories. I look at that and say, okay, we know what this looks like. we just need to change this narrative that we're pushing on people, this programming that we're pushing on, people that says you have to look like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in order to be successful. That's not the only story that we see in our daily lives.

So it shouldn't be the only story that we see on the dance floor. And I think the more that we see young couples and older couples. Pushing that, that story that you can have multiple relationships, you can have different stories within your relationships. You can have different, um, conversations with each other. Dance is in art form. It's a sport. It's a, it's a language that we speak with each other. The more that we can show those different conversations on the dance floor, the less apples and oranges were gonna feel about it.

[00:15:15] Tony: Amen. Yes Samantha. Yes. . I love that so much because you are a hundred thousand percent correct. As artists we have to represent real life. There are so many more than one type of story in the real world. So much more than one type of story in the, in the real world. And so many more different stories of relationships.

Why can't we show that? For instance, we do it all the time in ProAm right? You dance with students who are older than you. I dance who are with students that are older than me. Nobody is, we're not fooling anybody thinking that we're in a relationship with our students on the floor. We know it's ProAm, you know, we might be able to get a nice mom, son relationship dynamic, or a grandma grandson relationship dynamic out there, but we're not getting this romantic, you know, Story heteronormative story out of it. Right?

[00:16:12] Samantha: And it looks weird when you see it. I think everyone would agree when you see a couple, not age shaming, anyone, because there are definitely age differences in real relationships.

[00:16:23] Tony: Right? Right.

[00:16:23] Samantha: But you can tell when it's a Rumba that has been choreographed for a ProAm versus a Rumba that was choreographed for a pro that is now being danced with a ProAm student.

[00:16:37] Tony: Yes, absolutely. And you're like, Hmm. Right.

[00:16:40] Samantha: Mm-hmm ,

[00:16:40] Tony: you know, what is appropriate, which leads into my other, the, the follow up point to what you just said about the multiple kinds of stories and that all stories absolutely deserve to be told on the floor, you know, um, you know, whether you wanted to dance with your mother or your father, literally you should be able to do that and have the appropriate choreography and be able to say that story and express that story on the floor or a brother or a sister or a cousin, right.

Those are still viable relationships, not just the romantic ones. Right. So, um, the follow up to that is we need to stop sexualizing partner dancing, you know, as a. Uh, as a Latino, of Caribbean, you know, culture, I grew up dancing since I was four years old. And, you know, we did a lot of our folk lyric dances, like Plana and Bomba we did, um, uh, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata. All of those things from a young age, except we would watch our, our families do it at the family parties and gatherings and we would just do it. Nobody at four or five years old is thinking, okay, yeah, there might be moving your hips, but nobody's thinking like it, of it sexually, right. They were just dancing to express joy to, um, be a part of the community. We were just dancing to be, you know, together. And that was our story, our family story families dance together. Right.

[00:18:12] Samantha: Mm-hmm .

[00:18:12] Tony: And so, um, for me, when I entered into the ballroom dance industry, And it was always so sexualized, you know, like the man had to be like this and the, the, the woman had to be like this as a follower. She's criticized. If she's not soft enough, he's criticized. If, if he's not strong enough, you know, and, and, and projecting these really toxic heteronormative, um, ideals onto an imagery onto a couple was really what, um, kind of where our programming really kind of messed with us. So it doesn't, and, and, and, and it's interesting, like I've had, there's so many gay people in the industry about the same percentage of gay people that are in the United States. Right.

But like, I've had a number of gay coaches who are like, yeah, of course I'm gay, but I still, you know, I still did this as a leader and I still did this as a leader and I still did this. And I'm like, yes, I think that's a wonderful attribute to be able to act

[00:19:16] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:19:16] Tony: and, you know, substitute and, you know, um, I think that's a wonderful tool because every, every, not every actor who's gay is gonna play a gay role. Right.

[00:19:27] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:19:27] Tony: That's a, so it's a great, um, attribute. However, at the same time, how can you fully play that role? When you are never given the opportunity to actually have a, a role that's closer to who you are as well. Right.

[00:19:43] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:19:43] Tony: not saying instead of, but how about as well? You know, I love dancing with women. I danced with them my whole career. I also love dancing with guys. I love dancing with my husband when I competed with him. I love dancing with, you know, uh, I have several same sex students, right. Um, I have a professional, male partner now that I'm, um, doing some projects with. And so those things are very fulfilling to me because obviously they're a lot closer to who I am as a person off of the dance floor and I get to express that story. And that story is just as valid as any other story on the dance floor. Um, but, um, it's funny how most of like a lot of our, uh, a lot of our, I would say our, our judges and coaches who are gay, they had to subscribe to a very specific programming where they had to fool people, or they had to at least make it look like they were being, even if people knew they were gay or not,

[00:20:46] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:20:46] Tony: you know, and it wasn't quite 35 years ago in our lifetime or in mine anyways, I'll say in my lifetime, where in the UK final, you were not allowed in that UK final, unless you were married to your partner. So therein lies a huge generation of dancers who were forced into marrying their partners, women who couldn't, you know, who couldn't find true love and men who were never going. I mean, they might have did it on the side, but they couldn't, you know, really be forthcoming about who they were and their relationship and the, and as people and as dancers. I think that was so tragic and sad. And so now therefore it, it, it really cascaded into decades of programming where we completely lose touch with like humanity, uh, and the art of expressing humanity.

[00:21:38] Samantha: Well, and I wanna, I wanna circle back to something really important that, that you said, which is we need to stop sexualizing dance. We need to, we need to stop sexualizing dancesport, and that's both in, um, sexuality. If you are gay, straight, bi, lesbian, queer, asexual

[00:22:01] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:22:01] Samantha: omnisexual anything

[00:22:03] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:22:03] Samantha: what, however you wanna identify yourself as. We have, that is a serious component where we need to see, you know, art is art, stories are stories, relationships are relationships, but also just from a dancing perspective, it would be really nice if we could stop seeing dance as a vertical description of a horizontal desire.

Sometimes it is. I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes it is. And that is okay, but it's not always that. And that's, and this is where it comes back for me, that dance partner dancing is both in art and sport and also a language. It's how we communicate with each other. It's a nonverbal version of communication. And in the same way that you, I would like to see a future where if you are sitting at the bar having a drink and having a conversation with someone. The assumption is not, well, I'm gonna call a cab and we're gonna go home. It's I'm enjoying this conversation. And maybe there is an ending that ends up in the bedroom and maybe there isn't, but I'm not gonna assume which way this story is gonna end. I would like to engage in more dancing that has that same non assumption to it.

Right. Um, I, I think we briefly exchanged text messages a a couple months ago where I had a, a student that came in and was talking about their experience in west coast swing. And they were at a competition, um, which west coast swing is pre predominantly Jack and Jill dancing. So you have

[00:23:45] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:23:46] Samantha: individuals that sign up as leaders and individuals that sign up as followers, regardless of gender and sex. Um, And he was watching two professionals dance with each other that happened to both be men and the person that was in the role of the follower, winked at their leader. And the leader came off the floor and nearly threw a tan temper tantrum because he was straight and conservative. And that was just icky for him.

[00:24:15] Tony: Mm-hmm,

[00:24:16] Samantha: cut to two rounds later his wife is dancing with a female follower because she signed up as a lead and the female follower winks at his wife and not a darn word was said, Okay. Why did you think that the guy was hitting on you and that was creepy and weird, but you didn't think that the girl was hitting on your wife?

Well, maybe it's because you could desexualize the partnership with your wife, but you were putting on this sexual tension that didn't need to be there because you were working through a bunch of things on your own.

[00:24:56] Tony: Very, that very, that (air horn noises) boom. Thank you for Samantha's Ted talk. that was excellent. Um, no, you're absolutely right. What I, I mean, I was grinning the whole time because that brings up another valid point. I mean, look at the Dancing with the Star, same sex couple. They made sure it was a female sex, same sex, couple. Louis's been on that show for years and seasons, right?

[00:25:27] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:25:27] Tony: Everybody knows Louis's gay and he's, you know, married with his husband with wonderful, beautiful children and all that stuff. And, you know, the closest thing we got to like gay dancing on there is like he had a, he had like, um, a, a, maybe like a, a routine with Niecy Nash and she had like a rainbow costume on that was kind of fun. And it was kind of, you know, paying homage to, you know, saying sex dancing and all that stuff, when the, the, um, marriage equality act was passed. Um, cool. Except as a society, men have always made it acceptable for women to be, you know, with other women in their heads. And it never has been as acceptable for men to be with other men. And that is that spilled over into dancing. Right. So we, you know, with Jojo Siwa and all that stuff. And, uh, and, and, and it was interesting because as she's dancing with her partner, they made her partner very, very, um, like everybody knew who her partner was married to.

Right. He was also on this show and they made sure that those comments were, you know, and then they were back and forth, you know, it was, it. They didn't necessarily sexualize that partnership.

[00:26:45] Samantha: Right.

[00:26:46] Tony: Right. And that's how they went about it, which was fine, you know, but I mean, I think it would be very difficult for them to want to cast two men. Right. The way that other dancing with the stars have done it in Europe and stuff like that. Right.

[00:27:00] Samantha: Yeah. Let's, let's definitely give credit to the other dancing with the stars properties. I know strictly

[00:27:04] Tony: right.

[00:27:05] Samantha: Uh, strictly come dancing just had, um, a male male partnership that was gorgeous. Oh my gosh.

[00:27:11] Tony: Mm-hmm

[00:27:12] Samantha: gorgeous.

[00:27:13] Tony: Yes.

[00:27:13] Samantha: Dancing.

[00:27:14] Tony: Beautiful. Mm-hmm absolutely. Um, so with this particular franchise though is cut and, um, this is, is, is, um, For the American public

[00:27:26] Samantha: mm-hmm .

[00:27:26] Tony: And so in the American consumption. So, um, like I always say dance dancing as an industry, especially partner dancing as an industry is like a microcosm of the United States. You know what I mean? Like whatever's happening in the United States is the same ideology that's happening in this sense. Um, and so it's funny, like I was going back to the Jack and Jill, I don't want to disrupt the system for the sake of just being an asshole. like, I'm, I, I, I want it so that people, I, I wanna do it so that people can just can get used to seeing it

[00:28:03] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:28:03] Tony: and normalizing it. So that way the kids behind me don't have so much of a struggle.

[00:28:09] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:28:09] Tony: the way that I did. Right.

[00:28:10] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:28:10] Tony: or still do at times, you know? And, uh, we, you know, um, Palm desert had a beautiful, like it's always at, at a beautiful venue in that Marriot, um, the, um, desert classic, um, competition with Irina Suvorov and Igor. And they always put on a great event. And every time, um, every year they do a professional Jack and Jill. Every year, which is fun because it's like an opportunity, like for you to just like dance with a, a pro who might be dancing right now or whatever, but that you never in a million years would be, be able to. So you're like, yeah, cool. Let's do it. Right. So of course. I was the only male who signed up as a Jill and, um, I was like, yeah, of course I'm gonna do this. And I, um, uh, lined up with my, one of my friends, really good friends, Matt, and it was a blast. We had a blast, like it was really, really fun. So, um, and there was a lot of couples, there was like eight couples.

And so we were like third place or something like that. Right. Um, but it was funny because afterward everybody would come up to us and be like, oh, you guys should have won. You were this, you were, that you were this, you were that. And it's funny, even for something as casual and fun and relaxed as the Jack and Jill in the ballroom industry,

[00:29:31] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:29:31] Tony: there's still that implicit bias that people don't even realize that's going on in their head. You know what I mean?

[00:29:39] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:29:39] Tony: Like it was so funny. Somebody, somebody, one of the judges came up to me. and was like, um, you know, yeah, you guys dance really well together, but you know, Tony, you need to learn how to follow better or whatever, and you can't back lead. And I was like, oh, that's so interesting. And right next to me was the people who got second place. And the girl was like, well, thank God I back led my partner because he didn't know any of those dances. And then they, but they got second place over us. You know what I mean?

[00:30:08] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:30:08] Tony: So this is where the implicit bias comes in. People don't even realize. And so when they don't even realize, and they just, they have to justify it, they come up with something really fast

[00:30:18] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:30:19] Tony: And so I, I thought, you know, um, this is why like, and the conversation gets very difficult because it's more than unconscious bias. It's implicit. So because it's implicit and that programming is so deep in there, you automatically have a defense about it when somebody's gonna mention it to you.

[00:30:40] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:30:40] Tony: you know, so it's, it's very, um, it's very, rather than having a verbal conversation, I thought the statement of me being a Jill was just, was in and of itself the very necessary thing that needed to happen.

[00:30:55] Samantha: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Well, and I wonder too, um, how much of that, how much of that bias comes from the fact that we are judging something that is now decently removed from the thing that we are actually experiencing right? There, i, I think it's a, I don't think it's a controversial thing to say that competitive ballroom dancesport is not the same experience as Jack and Jill, social dancing, where you just dance for fun with a partner to a style that you don't necessarily know. To a song that you don't necessarily know. And it's a conversation between two people.

Um, on the topic of back leading, I think it's much easier to call out back leading in competitive dancesport, where the, the, the roles are very clearly defined for you. Now there's a conversation to be had of, do we still need those roles to be defined in that way, but for those of us that teach social dancing or work with couples or work with groups that they aren't gonna be competitive dancing, the leader - follower thing gets a little bit more murky and it's more of, I think you even shared, um, an article a while back about an interview where we, we, uh, the, the terminology was changing to initiator and reactor, which I thought was so fascinating.

And I've started using that language myself. It's a back and forth conversation. So is back leading really hijacking the lead? It can be, or maybe it's just changing the tone of the conversation that you're having with your partner.

[00:32:40] Tony: Mm mm, absolutely. Absolutely. This is where, um, Equity comes into play. Right?

[00:32:51] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:32:51] Tony: because conversations should just not are like good, good conversations are not dominated by one side. Right? Like it is always a back and forth. And so when you do initiate and then the other person reacts those that's just two people having this communication and that is going to switch and, you know, reverse. Dancing is no different.

It's always an unspoken communication. So absolutely. Why not? I mean, I know there's a trend in a lot of European couples. They do a couple measures of, of, um, role reversal. You know what I mean? Um, just in some of their, in the Latin, uh, some of their Latin routines and stuff like that. And then, um, I, you know, started doing that with my last partnership.

Um, you know, like why, why do I always have to be the one who starts the, you know, the followers, you know, uh, reaction to something, you know, like, you know, why can't the follower be the strong, you know, starter of something and our story, you know? And so that's why we did a lot of shows like that. Um, and we did that also in our competitive routines as well.

And when people were talked to us, um, they would say, oh, You know, your dancing is not clear. And at first we thought, okay, well maybe it's the technique. So we would just clean up the technique and there's sometimes we would just be so on fire with like, you know, connections and everything. And like, there was like, there was no, like we'd watch our own videos.

We would see it. We would compare ourselves up. We could see ourselves in conjunction with the other couples where like, that is super clear dancing to me. Like absolutely. But what we eventually, like after we were done dancing together, what it hit me was it wasn't that our technique wasn't always clear after we improved it as a couple.

It was that our story was not traditional enough for the judges to understand what was going on.

[00:34:49] Samantha: Mm.

[00:34:49] Tony: They didn't really want to put a. Stronger image on a, on a woman

[00:34:57] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:34:57] Tony: and they didn't wanna put a softer image on a man. And that was just the reality. And both, you know, of us had both strong and softness to us, and we did those things at different times, but that, of course, you know, obviously it's clear in a show

[00:35:16] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:35:16] Tony: but when you're seeing a massive other leader, male leaders, female followers, strong male, female soft, and on the floor in a quarter final, and then you catch us, you know, they either like for a second, you know what I mean? Because that, you know, so that's where the non clarity, I, I really understood. Kind of where the non clarity was. And for me, it just made it that much more important to keep it on the floor, to keep it, uh, norm normalized where people could just consistently see it.

[00:35:50] Samantha: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and I, I appreciate you sharing that because that's one of the conversations that I'm now having with my pro partner.

Um, since, since we last aired this podcast, I now have a pro smooth partner. Ah, um,

[00:36:06] Tony: yay.

[00:36:07] Samantha: and, and that's one of the conversations that, that I keep coming back to as we're developing our choreography and kind of finding our voice as we are a new partnership is okay, in this moment, am I chasing you? Or are you chasing me? And what are we chasing ourself? You know, what, what am I chasing you for? And where, where are we in this story that says why we're doing the thing that we're doing? Um, but we do have moments where I'm, I'm going to him and starting the movement. He's not always initiating the movement just because of that's, you know, we're friends, we're, it's a partnership.

It's not like he's chasing after me to save me from the dragon. Like, that's not us, that's not real. But I also think we've given ourselves the freedom to do that because we are a new partnership. We are both in our thirties

[00:37:04] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:37:05] Samantha: and we have no illusions that we are gonna be world champions. We're doing this for us, and we're doing it because it's fun. And because we wanna express ourselves. And because we think we have a story that we can share with the audience, and if the judges react positively to that great. But as long as we come off the floor and we feel good about the performance we gave, that's our primary goal. And I don't think that's. I, I think that is something that has come with time and experience.

I think if I was jumping into a pro partnership at 19, I would be afraid of playing the politics more. You know, you, you and I kind of were talking about this before, and I, I wanna pivot this conversation now to more your purpose and, and, and what your goal for your dancing is. Um, but you were talking before about, you know, there's only so much that technique and great performance and great execution is going to do as far as points and, and judges scores and recalls there's. There is a game that we know that gets played off the dance floor for better or for worse. It, it just. It is, there's a whole conversation about whether that should be the case, how we can change that from being the case, but at the moment, that's the reality that we live in

[00:38:28] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:38:29] Samantha: so how do you prepare for an event? How do you prepare in your partnership? How do you prepare in your practices to say, okay, this is what we are setting out to do with this event and the rest of it, let the chips fall where they may.

[00:38:44] Tony: Yeah. Um, so that's an actual, that's a great intro into that concept because you know, you there's so much in this world, we don't have control over. Right. And there's so much in this, not just the dance world, but in this country that we don't have control over. Like apparently you don't have control over your body anymore. Sorry. Like, this is, this is America now. Um, but this is a similar situation. There's gonna be things that are just awful. Right. But we still, again, there's, you know, a lot of us through our programming still continue with, um, with the industry based on we want to express ourselves right. In, in a, in, in our, in our dancing.

Right. If you go in understanding that your expression of yourself and your story is priority. And that the execution of it to the best of your ability is priority. And you have gratitude because of the opportunity to present your story. When you fill your heart with gratitude, just from the act of doing something, um, there really is little room for other things, right? And it's not to say that things aren't gonna come at you, like people aren't gonna throw hate at you or, or, or things aren't gonna discourage you. But number one, I think a really important thing that, um, dancers need to stop doing is they need to stop looking at marks. They just, I mean, I mean about who marked, who, you know what I mean, if you wanna look at your marks as like, which dance does better, you know, okay, that's fine.

But don't, don't look at who, who marked you, right. That's number one. Um, because you don't know what could be going through their head right then and there, you know what I mean? Maybe you came out of the bathroom, like, you know, just kind of like whatever, and you passed a judge and, and you didn't acknowledge them and they're like bah or something, or, you know what I mean? But having nothing to do with your dancing. Right. You know, that's a, that's a moment that you had didn't even know happened. So there's so many, you can't control the, the going ons in judges' brains and why they do what they do, uh, whether it's good, whether it's bad, whether it's for you, whether it's against you, that is just, you're never gonna be able to control that.

You can control your perspective going into it, which is a perspective of just having gratitude for the opportunity to tell your story now where you can oftentimes get disappointed is if you conform to a certain extent to like you were talking about when we're 19 in a partnership, we do a lot of conforming cuz we don't know, you know, you know, a lot.

So we, you know, in the professional world like, boom, they, you know, they tell you, this is what you should do. So you do, you conform, you conform. But when you conform and sacrifice so much of yourself and your story, and then you don't get the results, this is where the crossroads comes in, you know? And we all kind of hit that crossroad at some point, we're like, oh, okay. Like, do I, um, Go double down in that direction and conform even more and become this robot dancer that every, and, and, and wear this dress and this hair and this makeup, because everybody, you know, tells me or this team tells me that I should, or do I continue to find myself and see how this works within, right? Or, you know, within this structure and understanding that if you go, if you double down in this direction, it doesn't also, it doesn't always guarantee you the mark, but you know, it's, it'll get you closer to it. If you go in this direction of the, you know, self discovery direction, um, you absolutely cannot do it for the mark. You, you know, you might just, you just walk in, you might be surprised. Chances are not. You know, like it's not gonna happen, but you have to understand that the gratitude comes in when you fully are able to tell your story. And you have that venue to do it. And that, that exciting atmosphere to do it. That's when the gratitude comes in and that's all that you can control.

[00:43:07] Samantha: So what is, what is the direction that you are walking? I, I mean, I know of those two paths, which direction you're walking, but, but what are you walking towards? What is your current purpose and mission for your dancing?

[00:43:22] Tony: Um, That's an awesome question. So, uh, my particular, um, direction is very, that I've always, I've never not been who I am or been able to, I've never had problems expressing who I am. Right. Um, in my last partnership, I definitely made a choice myself specifically to not follow traditional programming and traditional concepts and mindsets and story and, uh, and, and mindsets and stories, um, of the, uh, heteronormative ballroom world.

So I, I took that path. Now I'm continuing on that path. I have several different projects with several different partners of inclusive storytelling and how ballroom dancing. Um, again, It is fundamentally flawed as an industry. Like any other institution that we come in contact with. Um, you know, it's, it's a form of colonization.

It's a form of, you know, MIS underrepresentation. It's a form of, of, you know, cultural, uh, appropriation. It's all of that, right? Like it's, all's fundamentally very flawed. So I am not trying to change the world of ballroom dancing or the industry of ballroom dancing by, you know, you know, conspiring anything.

What I'm doing is I'm just merely showing the validity and value of multiple kinds of stories on the floor and hoping that, that it reaches enough hearts and minds that the kids behind me don't have it so hard.

[00:45:04] Samantha: I love that. I love that. Everything about what you are currently doing and what you are currently putting out into the world. Um, we spoke briefly last time about your work with Infinite Flow. I love the fact that you are continuing to work with them. It feels like in a, in a larger capacity or at least a more, much more visible capacity from two years ago. Um, you, uh, released a dance video with an amazing partner whose name I am forgetting at the moment. And I apologize for that.

[00:45:36] Tony: Mark, mark,

[00:45:37] Samantha: mark. Um, was that specifically for, uh, pride month or did the timing just happen to. uh, to line up that way.

[00:45:49] Tony: So, um, that was for an actual PayPal project that we were doing Infinite Flow, um, was doing. We get a lot of really fun gigs and projects as, uh, an organization. It's a lot of fun to be a part of infinite flow. And it's just, it expands, it's expansive in so many ways like me as a dancer and a choreographer, my brain, my body, it's just, it goes in so many different directions with it. And so I I'm so grateful to be a part of, of that.

Um, and however that grows and develops and, and, uh, I'm just happy. But with mark, um, we have been dancing together for about four years and we have, um, you know, we have several routines and, you know, all and, and, um, you know, shout out to Marisa, Infinite Flow, by the way. Um, she does a really good job of making sure that we always have our routines, like professionally videoed so that we have content for the websites and, um, all of that stuff.

And so, um, that was part of, uh, the PayPal project last year, but we, or earlier this year, but we were definitely trying to make sure that we, when, when it comes to Mark and I's stuff like the previous year we had did a Chacha, you know, that we released on, on, on during pride month. We try to do it around pride month, so that way it, it, the impact is coupled with, you know, inclusion, uh, in more than one way. So

[00:47:19] Samantha: yeah,

[00:47:19] Tony: the what, I'm what I love about the direction of Infinite Flow and working with them, at this point is that there's a lot of intersectionality and intersectionalism. And initially it started out as a disability awareness dance company that highlighted, you know, um, disabled dancers, uh, and partnering them with able bodied.

Um, but now we are doing a lot more layers to that. So the intersectionality of, you know, same sex dancing was brought in with me. Um, also, um, you know, the, you know, I talked briefly about the, uh, colonization aspect of ballroom dancing. we have two amazing dancers, on our, or in our team. One is a professional hip hop dancer named Shaheem. He's deaf, completely deaf

[00:48:14] Samantha: mm-hmm .

[00:48:14] Tony: Um, but he's like, phenomenal. He's like an amazing, he's been on Ellen. He's been on the sun sound of metal movie. You know, he was at the Oscars. I mean, he's, he's got a very prolific career and he's just a phenomenal, uh, dancer and person. And then another, uh, dancer that I dance with sometimes, uh, her name is Natalie Trevonne. And she is, first of all, she's gorgeous, but she's, um, a blind fashion blogger

[00:48:42] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:48:42] Tony: and she's the only like fashion blogger that's blind. And she really is an advocate. She's a dis disability awareness, um, advocate. And she advocates for a, love, for disabled people to be fashionable. And why not? You know what I mean?

[00:48:56] Samantha: Mm-hmm,

[00:48:56] Tony: like, and, um, that's just one of the, the elements to her work, but they, um, I danced with both of them and then I had this idea. I was like, you know what? I feel like they need to dance together. Like, this is a thing, like, I think, you know, so we, uh, started working on this Bolero, uh, to a really cool song that they both loved and, and, um, you know, and Shaheem loves, he's so excited about picking up new styles and, and Natalie is just, just she's you throw her in any situation, any setting, and she just does it. She's like, goes for it. and I love that the imagery of a blind black girl and a, uh, deaf black guy getting together, doing, taking back something. You know what I mean? Like from a, a, a fundamentally colonized, you know, art form like it really, it really made a big impact on me as I was choreographing it

[00:49:53] Samantha: mm-hmm .

[00:49:54] Tony: And then as they were dancing it together, like it just, it kept and it gets better and better. It kept blowing my mind. So that's, I love, I love the direction of our organization and how we are able to take multiple kinds of disabilities, multiple kinds of marginalized groups, multiple kinds of concepts, and really put it out there and take back partner dancing as, uh, something that is for everyone.

[00:50:20] Samantha: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and, and again, it kind of circles back to, the more you see it, the less foreign it feels right. The more you see it, the more you realize it can be done. Um, I, as a, as a fellow teacher, as a fellow instructor, I love the fact that you did put two people with opposite in a lot of ways, opposite disabilities, right?

[00:50:46] Tony: Mm-hmm

[00:50:47] Samantha: together and create choreography and have them dance. Um, I, I wanna totally dive into like the logistics of you teaching and, and how that works because I've also, I've worked with, um, vision impaired. I've worked with hearing impaired and I've also worked with, um, an amazing veteran, uh, who is wheelchair bound. Um,

[00:51:10] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:51:11] Samantha: and we worked on a fantastic first dance for them. And I've worked on, on couples dances before with, with differently abled people. Um, mm-hmm, , we're getting into July, which is disability awareness month, I believe

[00:51:24] Tony: mm-hmm

[00:51:24] Samantha: um, so, you know, The population of the United States is varied. And there are many people with varying disabilities and we don't see enough representation in the dance community because either you have people that think, well, I can't do it because, or you have teachers that say, well, I can't teach you because, or we are teaching it behind closed doors and we're just not filming it and putting it out on the internet and saying, Hey, look, you can do this thing.

[00:51:57] Tony: mm-hmm,

[00:51:58] Samantha: tell me about your process. Tell me like the logistics of teaching someone who is differently abled and what your process looks like.

[00:52:06] Tony: yeah. Number one, the, the platform of, of, of Infinite Flow is a huge help in terms of like getting content out there. You know what I mean? Like, and, and especially in the professional way that they oftentimes do it. They, um, so that is that's awesome. Um, number two, as far as teachers go, you know, I think most dance a lot, I shouldn't say, I should say a lot of dancers teach because they have to. And then they're, but there is a percentage of teachers who teach because they, they love teaching and they, they have a connection to it and learning, you know, they're also, you know, connected to their own learning process.

So when you're, first of all, I think it takes that type of a professional in order to communicate and be able to take on such assignments. Um, but not, it definitely, obviously, you know, there's other profe types of professionals that are just they're doing it because they have no choice cuz they, if they can't compete otherwise if they're not teaching. Right.

[00:53:13] Samantha: Yep.

[00:53:13] Tony: So got it. Cool. But when you evolve then you get to a place of like understanding that your teaching of dancing is impacting your students in more than one way and the layers that it impacts them. Um, then your style of teaching does start to change. Therefore your style of communication starts to change.

So specifically with my, um, Um, so with Shaheem, I do sign a little bit, you know, I dated somebody back in the day who was deaf. So like I had him make sure that like, could at least flirt a little bit with him. So, so he's making me, you know, Shaheem is making me go back into, uh, a lot of my assign language that I used to have back in the day. Uh, it's not as good as it was before, but it's getting better. The more, uh, Shaheem and I hang out.

Um, Natalie is such an interesting, um, uh, creature because when you work with her, you know, she's, you know, she's, you know, hands on, completely hands on and she's feeling okay, this leg is tight here. And then, you know, I have to make this line here. She's feeling it on you. So you have to do it, dance it, make her feel it with you, you know, lead her through it, but also make her feel her part like

[00:54:27] Samantha: mm-hmm

[00:54:27] Tony: so it's very, it's a, it's a very like. Like my brain by the time I'm like done with a session is like blah, with the two of them, because there's so much like stimulation in ways that like, I'm not used to, you know, but it could not be any more rewarding and impactful for me.

I feel like I'm the one, like, even though I like I choreograph and I'm teaching them to dance, like, I feel like I'm the one, who's the biggest student in that room. And I'm the one absorbing so much, I mean, so much. I mean, just the simple fact of like, you know, people with different abilities moving past the point of PTSD with them, you know what I mean?

[00:55:12] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:55:12] Tony: you know, cause you know, not everybody was born with that disability sometimes, you know, like Natalie, she didn't turn blind until she was 18 years old. And so that was that, those types of things, you know, Obviously are impactful. They create a lot of trauma and, and, and PTSD and, um, to have that, not stop them and to have them get up every day and just not just do normal stuff.

We don't want to like inspiration porn, this like, oh, you can brush your teeth. Oh, congratulations. You're amazing. But to actually do things that number one was not designed for them to do and was not intended for them to do.

[00:55:53] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[00:55:54] Tony: those are the things that we need to praise these people about that have that, you know, that, um, that drive and ambition to do that. And, and, um, I always look at them and I'm like, God, if, if they can do it, like I'm not stopping, I can't stop this train. You know, like we can all do this, you know?

[00:56:15] Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and it, it, yeah, Ugh. So much, so many different ways that, that I, I wanna like cling onto that information. Um, yeah, like, so you've on one hand, you've got multimodal learning and the fact that probably more of us instructors should be trained and crosstrained in multimodal learning.

And then this wonderful, beautiful idea of even as an instructor, even as a professional, even as a, um, A a resource. We still need to be students and we still need to learn, and we still need to be open to new experiences and, and absorb as much new information around us as possible because that's really the only way that we can grow and learn and teach better for our students and be a better human being is if we are open to the information around us, um,

[00:57:13] Tony: yes.

[00:57:13] Samantha: And then just the

[00:57:14] Tony: amen,

[00:57:14] Samantha: the beauty of people achieving more than they thought they could achieve, right. Or that society thinks that they can achieve and getting out there and saying like, I can do this. You know, whether that's someone that has a disability or whether that's someone that maybe, um, Did not grow up under the best circumstances and has risen above that or someone that's, you know, 85 and was walking on with a cane or, um, a cart, you know, it's five years ago. But because they started coming in with dance lessons, they no longer need the cane and, and their posture and their balance has gotten better. So the amazing world that we get to be a part of

[00:57:58] Tony: yeah, I know, like, you know, we, we take the good with the bad, but yeah. How do we progress it? And that's where this is where this comes in. You know, there's so many beautiful parts to this world, so we don't wanna throw the baby out with the bath water.

[00:58:15] Samantha: Yep.

[00:58:15] Tony: Right. We, but at the same time, we have to be a lot more conscious and consciously active about pushing the boundaries of this world to be everything that it has the potential to be.

[00:58:32] Samantha: Yeah. Um, I wanna end on potentially a controversial question. Um

[00:58:40] Tony: okay.

[00:58:41] Samantha: But, but it is coming from an authentic place and that's kind of the root of this question is I would love your opinion on how to be authentically you in a world of social media, where our business is our branding and our branding is our business.

[00:59:03] Tony: Mm-hmm,

[00:59:05] Samantha: how to celebrate inclusivity and differences and building a better world around us without coming across as expletive or inauthentic or just doing it for the likes or et cetera. I feel like when I, I, I feel like I've gotten to know you over the last couple years. I feel like in watching how you interact with your business and your branding and your personal experience, I feel like there's a continuity between all of it that comes across as true and heartfelt and, um, and, and real.

And I always wonder, I always worry being a middle class, white woman. Mm, how can I make sure that when I am posting something about a same sex, couple that I'm teaching in wedding lessons

[01:00:07] Tony: mm.

[01:00:07] Samantha: Or someone that is learning differently, or that has a disability or something that it is not see, I can do the thing, but it is, oh my gosh, how awesome is it that I get to work with such a wide variety of people in our community?

[01:00:22] Tony: Mm, yeah, absolutely. Um, so I think that that's a very important question in terms of, um, you know, and it's a very layered question.

[01:00:38] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[01:00:38] Tony: and, but at the end of the day, what you kind of just said, sort of, kind of sums it up, um, when you take. You have to watch how you're putting yourself into the equation. Right. So if you're posting something right, rather than it being like, Hey, look at what I did. I am inclusive too.

it's more so, uh, it's more, so look at this beautiful experience, this is what I'm learning and picking up from this experience, right? So you, you have an authentic moment of like what you are getting out of it as you are displaying the work that you're doing.

[01:01:20] Samantha: Mm.

[01:01:20] Tony: You know what I mean? And I think that, that, that's where the authenticity comes in, regardless of the package that you are, is that, are you being honest about how it's impacting you or are you being vulnerable about how it's impacting you? Can you be vulnerable about how it's impacting you versus look what I did?

[01:01:39] Samantha: Mm-hmm

[01:01:40] Tony: I'm jumping on the inclusion train, right? I mean, there's, there's a lot to say, right. It, a lot of people are jumping on the inclusion train, like, uh, in technology, a lot of the technology companies, um, you know, they have CEOs and CFOs and now they have, um, chief inclusion officers, you know, and, and it's only a matter of time. And, and why is that? Well, because they understand the demographic of the young people that they are trying to aim technology at, who is gonna be the masters of these, of these like devices and, and concepts, uh, toward where they are at. They're trying to meet them where they're at. And so then, so they have to get to that place so that they started that. So it's only a matter of time before, um, corporations do the same thing, you know, Infinite Flow. We get booked a lot of corporate gigs, um, because of, of our, um, our dance program. We, we talk about it, you know, um, being something that is a jump start to help companies become and organizations in general, whether they're nonprofit or profit or, or a Scholastic academic, of being more inclusive and, and, and, and incorporating DEI into whatever thing that they are.

It has to start with like incentive and motivation and inspiration. And that's where we kind of come in. Right. Um, but at the end of the day, when you do work with something like that, whether it's a same sex couple, or whether it's like a, a different able person, um, you, it. It does impact you in more than one way, you know, and when you're vulnerable about the expression of how it impacts you, you know, that type of content is exactly what people are looking for.

You know what I mean? Authenticity oftentimes happens where people who are courageous enough to kind of bear their soul a little bit, right. Rather than just using keywords and key phrases. Of like, oh yes, you are being inclusive. Oh yeah. Happy pride month. Oh yeah. Happy, you know, disability awareness month.

Oh, yay. You know, black lives matter, instead of the key that, that we hashtag and trend, instead of repeating those things, you know what I mean? I think that that's, that's, that's a lot, that's a lot for me when people do that, the, the, the multiple hashtags of the keyword

[01:04:04] Samantha: mm-hmm

[01:04:05] Tony: so that they could get, you know, I understand they wanna get the likes and they wanna get, but, you know, that's where it becomes a little bit like home. If the message is just like a simple short, and then you got a ton of these hashtags, you know, so definitely avoid that.

[01:04:19] Samantha: Right.

[01:04:20] Tony: you can have a couple in there, but make sure your message is definitely authentic and vulnerable.

[01:04:26] Samantha: Yeah. The hashtag thing. It kills me anytime. I post so little these days because I just don't have the bandwidth for it anymore. But when I do post I'm like, okay, do I use no hashtags? Do I use five hashtags? Do I use all the hashtags? I want this to go out to as many people so that

[01:04:50] Tony: right.

[01:04:50] Samantha: For all of these reasons, but I also don't wanna seem needy. When did teaching ballroom dance mean that you are also a social media manager and everything else.

[01:05:04] Tony: Well, when did, when did any industry that anybody's in also mean that you're a social media manager and it is a separate job?

[01:05:11] Samantha: Yeah.

[01:05:12] Tony: You know, it is a separate job. Like people need to understand. It's like, obviously we all, when we try to do it, we under a lot of us understand how not easy it is, you know? Um, it is a really different thing, you know? Um, But, uh, you know, at the end of the day, we are trying to make an impact.

[01:05:30] Samantha: Yeah.

[01:05:30] Tony: Right. This is part of the thing that makes the impact. We have to do it to the best of our ability, um, and to a, a place that we're comfortable, uh, with like, You know, when it becomes more than tedious or, um, antagonizing or anxiety, you know, um, driven then obviously we chill out with it.

We need to re we need to pivot and, you know, revamp some things and kind of think about it in a different way. But I do feel with my posts in general, they're not super frequent, you know, like they're not like an organization where it's like BA BA BA every week, every day, da da, da, da, da they're. But when they are, they are, I, I say exactly what I want to say, you know?

And I think that's the hardest thing for a lot of people. They're so busy thinking about what people are gonna think of them if they say this, but if you like, you know, Number one, you cannot doubt who you are as a person. I think that that's the part, the, the biggest point and take away of whether you're ballroom dancing or whether you're posting about it.

Like, you cannot doubt who you are as a person. And this world is designed to, uh, uh, convolute that and make us so completely like distorted of our origin story, where we're going, you know, how we're gonna get there, who we are at this moment. Like so much of that, right? You know who you are. We all know who we are.

You know, that that four year old in the playground is still the person that you are today, you know, in the sandbox is still the person that you are today. That person didn't never had any bad intentions, right. That person never had any malicious intentions. Trust that about us. We have to trust that about ourselves and we have to go and understand that when we express ourselves, we are always gonna be coming from that place. And there should be no guilt or shame associated with that. Right. Doesn't mean we're not gonna make mistakes, but mistakes don't define us. If we have an oops, like, Ooh, oh, that went out. I shouldn't have done that. Maybe I'll edit this. Oh goodness. You know? Oops. Then we'll correct. It we'll acknowledge the error, but now we acknowledge the error. We move on that oops, no longer becomes a part of who we are. Mm-hmm like we can drop it then because we learned from it. So they're not mistakes so long as we learn from that. I like to just say that they're experiences.

[01:07:58] Samantha: Yeah.

[01:07:58] Tony: Like, okay. Let's pivot that experience and let's try something else. Right? Yeah.

[01:08:03] Samantha: I love that. I love that we came full circle with that and I think that's a great note to end on. Thank you, Tony so much for being guest today on the podcast.

[01:08:12] Tony: Thank you. I'm so happy to see you again. And I'm so happy to, I can't wait to see you in person on the floor.

[01:08:17] Samantha: I know.

[01:08:18] Tony: And it's awesome. It's so awesome that you get to, I know you've been wanting this for a while, so I'm really happy for you.

[01:08:25] Samantha: Thank you. Thank you. And yes, we, we need to talk offline about our competition schedules and we need to find each other in a city sometime.

[01:08:33] Tony: exactly, exactly.

[01:08:35] Samantha: Thank you once again to Tony for being an amazing guest on today's episode. If you want to follow his dance journey, give him love and support, or just find out more about him links as always are in the description box down below if you have not already done so. Please do make sure that you hit the like button, subscribe, follow, whatever the correct button is on the platform that you are, um, watching or listening to the podcast through.

If you want to support the podcast. we actually did a little follow up video over for our lovely patrons on Patreon. You can go to, the Ballroom Chat page on Patreon and support the podcast and you'll get exclusive content. I'm going to make more of, a point of doing that in the episodes to come. So go over and support us on Patreon as well. And you can follow us on social media at Ballroom Chat on Instagram and Facebook.

As always I'm Samantha, I'm your host with Love Live Dance. I am so excited to be back. I am so excited to actually see a lot of you and meet a lot of you in person at upcoming events. So if you have an event that you are going to, that I am at, please come up, say hi, let me know what you love or what you wanna see more of on the Ballroom Chat podcast. Cuz I plan on doing a lot more of these episodes in the weeks and months to come. Stay safe, stay positive and I hope to see you dancing very soon.