Read the transcript of the podcast below.
Dan Schack (00:00:09):
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Dan Schack (00:01:39):
And we are rolling super for today’s guest, a very special guest, a coworker friend, peer mentor, et cetera. So many words. Everyone help me welcoming Vincent Thomas, Vincent, how are we doing today? That bright and early on Saturday?
Vincent Thomas (00:01:58):
Yes, I’m doing quite amazing. Thank you and yourself,
Dan Schack (00:02:01):
Doing great. Doing very well. For people who don’t know, if you could just, you know, talk to us about your background you know, both professionally as a teacher in the marching arts, just how did you get to Vincent of today?
Vincent Thomas (00:02:16):
Hmm. I I’ll try to do this in a couple of sentences, but first I have to give respect and honor to one my ancestors. And secondly, to my upbringing in my small town in South Carolina, where movement in was a part of what I did because it was part of our community and social fabric. And so dancing in the living room with TV shows like soul train, solid haw Lawrence, we show American bats and I, and those amazing movie musicals back then singing in the rain seven brides of seven brothers. Like all of these things were influencing me and I didn’t even know it. So when I looked back, I really, really pay tribute to that. Before I even stepped into a formal dance class in college, I was already involved in like I was playing trombone in the middle school band and nice singing in the choir.
Vincent Thomas (00:03:40):
So, but that singing in choir was coming from singing in my church in South Carolina, Southern Baptist church. And so I feel like I’ve always been involved in the arts this way. Even I’m sure with my head on my grandmothers and my mother’s wisdom, but especially my grandmothers, because she would hum and sing these spirituals and songs from the church. So I think for, from a very small age, I was, I mean, from the beginning I was being introduced and grew roomed into the arts. And so going into high school, there was show choir and marching band and jazz band and concert band and concert choir, like all these things and student government, student council. So I was not knowing then I was working on this social justice, social awareness per political side of who I am as well. So I was drum major in, in high school band.
Vincent Thomas (00:04:47):
Nice. And, you know, as drum major, you get to see the you see everything well you’re conducting and queuing all this stuff. And so the, the, the flags and that was, and rifles was a big interest of mine because it was part of this visual thing that I felt like the music was supporting and vice versa. And so I asked my band director then if I could I do some of that stuff. So, and I don’t know why I thought I could teach that, but he said, well, sure. So I would pick up the flag and stuff and learn all that stuff on my own time and ended up teaching choreographing for the, that fall show during my senior year. Never knowing that what that was gonna turn into. So I get to USC and was a music major, a, a voice major and joined an indoor winter guard.
Vincent Thomas (00:05:54):
And it was called 3 0 8 because that was the space that the gym that we rehearsed in and under chase Mullins another ancestor and he was a Madison scout. And so through chase and that interaction, I was just so introduced to a war role that I didn’t even know, you know? Yeah. And so that’s how I came into the pageantry arts and you know, took my very first formal dance class in college. And that just kind of kept spewing out into Western neck thing. I can do what’s the next class I can take, you know, and then started teaching color guards, high school color guards during the summer, and eventually was asked to be the color guard, caption head for Carolina, crown, a new drum in Bule Corps, out of Charlotte and North Carolina. What year are we talking about for that?
Vincent Thomas (00:06:57):
That was fall of 89 because the court premiered in 1990. And so it, the staff was all of these, just all of my friends from the USC music department, band Matthews, Don Taylor, Don flu, Cecil Aly, like, oh, these amazing musicians and educators I’ll say and people. And so I spent five years there and then I left to go dance during the summers and said, okay, I’m gonna put this on the side while I dance during the summers at American dance festival during North Carolina. And so from there, you know, it was like, okay, this dancing is calling me. So what do I do next? And I was teaching music in South Carolina in Columbia and decided to after some referrals and references in conversations to audition for Florida university dance department and they accepted me. And so I started my MFA and dance at Florida state.
Vincent Thomas (00:08:12):
And then, you know, just started teaching other drunk core Southwest, I mean, south, so wind from spirit of Atlanta. And then the list kept going. And then I found my way back to crown. I think it was in 2017 and then went back to cadets and Boston and some others, and then went back to crown right before the Penn demo happened. And so I was there for the December camp doing some movement stuff, and then of course the pandemic and the rest is that type of history. So, yeah. So I’ve been involved, you know, in the activity with WGAR, I teach Mason world and Onix world and consult with a host of other high school units and independent units as well. So, you know, between that, and I have a dance company, BT dance.org is my company BT dance. And so that keeps me extremely busy. So it kinda limits my time to really be with an indoor unit full time. Right. So yeah, so between that and all the other things I’m doing and teaching at a university, it’s a, it’s a busy agenda. The plate is full.
Speaker 3 (00:09:34):
I wow. A lot going on. That was, that was awesome to, to hear how it all started. And it, it’s similar to kind of my, I guess, situation where, you know, my dad was a a Broadway actor as a child. His mom was very much that stage mom, they were, they lived Rockaway beach outside the city and she pushed him aggressively into that space probably in an unhealthy way. But you know, he he’s a pianist. He, he went to Julliard for a year and then ended up I think he got his music degree at Manhattan school music, and then ended up going in the direction, actually the culinary arts and went and got a degree in that. But him and my mom met when she was working a restaurant with him and she was a dancer you know, modern dance in ballet, in a company as well in the city. So you know, it, you don’t realize, but like, I feel like very much a spawn of that and that it was like semi, you know, know inevitable that I would go in the direction of whether it was music, the arts, you know, creativity, what have you. But I, I, I wonder, do you feel like these, I don’t wanna say skills, but do you feel like movement music that they are inherent, that they are inherited that there’s something that you’re born with?
Vincent Thomas (00:10:59):
You know, I I’m, I have to say yes. I, I feel like in our DNA is a lineage that we’re yet to continue to unearth. I know it’s in my bones to, to the music and movement is in my bones. I just have to access it and allow it to come out and to, to reside and to be yeah. With me. But I, I do, you know, that’s a, that’s a question that could take a whole podcast as well, but I, I, I do feel that we all have that in us and at different levels, but I do believe that it, it is in all of us and how it comes out in expression and personal expression varies. And that’s a great thing. That’s a great thing. And so yeah. Thank you for asking that question.
Speaker 3 (00:12:13):
Of course. So one thing I was, I was looking at I, I was watching a bunch of the stuff that, that you’ve put together and it’s all very relevant. It’s socially oriented. You kind of brought that up in, in your upbringing about the kind of justice, social awareness side of things. And I I’m interested in your perspective, like how the arts movement specifically are able to express some of these difficult, nuanced, tough, emotional type of situ that we’re in as a society, or even just emotions that people go through. How do you feel like movement is more equipped to handle that perhaps than another medium, another form of expression. And I certainly don’t mean to like rank anything. So it’s not about that, but I feel like movement is specifically in interesting because it’s not a novel where you can say the words, it’s not even a song where you can sing the lyrics. It’s, it’s something else. So I’m really interested because that seems like a corner that you are not just invested in, but you’re drawn towards
Vincent Thomas (00:13:29):
Yeah. Giving this description. I’m what comes into the forefront of my mind and my thinking like a beating drum, like a bass drum keeps repeating. This is I, I think about how we’re, how we come into the world. We come into the world quite ex expressive before we are able to speak to verbalize, to form words. So this emotional landscape that we dive into as babies as even starting in the womb, that is that powerful expression. You can, you know, when you look at a baby and they’re happy or sad or confused or intrigued or curious, so our receptivity to seeing physical, emotional things is heightened in it’s that heightened form of movement and dance gestures. Like if, if I do this and I lean forward, then the person wants to reach out and hug or so, so there, there, there are G things as we enter the world and, and, and learn about the world that we do before we start speaking that communicates that in case so fast forward to, you know, movement, the power of movement, it just connects so much to what we were doing when we were in the room and came out of the room.
Vincent Thomas (00:15:26):
So that’s my answer to that question. I, I, I, yeah, I think it’s quite powerful. And I think people understand, you know, I think you understand the body, you understand the body, the body is a vessel of narratives, a vessel of truths, honesty emotions like a vessel, all of these things, and the list goes on and on and on, but it’s a, it’s a vessel of truth. You know, I asked my modern three students, this question yesterday, as we were at the beginning of the class, and we were reading an essay in dance interactive from James pillow, which is amazing resource, if you don’t know it. And they were talking about the body and how much history is in the body and how, and so my question to them was it was a, a free writing exercise on a postcard.
Vincent Thomas (00:16:38):
And I said, my body is a vessel of dot, dot dot, and just gave them a chance to just really write and they could write, however they want narratively poetically, a list. They could even draw an image, you know, whatever that came, how that expression came out for them. Then to have a discussion around that with a small group of others, just to verbalize this, to put it in the air, the universe, the space and how it changed and shifted their dancing that for yesterday. And hopefully for points their after, because they’re thinking about the powerful vessel that we inhabit and that we bring into a space.
Speaker 3 (00:17:20):
Yeah. I, I keep thinking about body language when you’re talking, there’s intuition there, different, you know, we speak different languages, cult across cultures, or there’s different cultural MOS. But there are certain, you know, modes, modalities of expressing meaning that don’t require verbal language. I think that’s really so interesting like this versus, you know, leaning in and listening this versus this you know, closed fish, open fist, open hand, the hand this way, the hand, like, there’s this, I, I, I it’s, it was, it’s interesting where you go to pre be pre Bo. We’re not even born yet. And there’s meaning being inscribed into us. And it’s not necessarily psychological either. And I, I wanna ask you, and this, hopefully doesn’t sound weird, but like, what it, what is it, what is it like to lead your life through something that is neck down? I mean, I feel like so much of like what I’ve done in my jobs or in my, you know, in schooling has been up here, it’s in my head, or it’s like on that level of consciousness, how do you feel like approaching your, I mean, your life through something that is a completely different means of expression, how has that shaped you or changed you? How does that inform you as a person?
Vincent Thomas (00:19:07):
Well, what, what and, and I think I have to respond first to what happens up here is continually connected to what’s happening down here, right? So you, you say below the, you know, the neck down, no, for me, I operate in this symbiotic relationship of the head, the heart, the lens, the, the, all my entire body. So I could have justice thought in here and it could come out in this arm and it’ll have some meaning. So they’re very connected. I believe, like, I, I don’t try to dance and move without conscious thinking and awareness and my, my heart moves and it, it, it, it, it informs and invites my body to move based on how it’s connected to the head space. So we could even, wouldn’t it be interesting to consider that our brain is not only in this cranial space here.
Vincent Thomas (00:20:36):
Yeah. But our brain also is in this space, our brain is in our pelvic space. Our brain is in our arms, our fingers, our hands, like, so those inte are vast. Wow. Yeah. So yeah. So how, you know, I, I the, I talk a lot about when I’m teaching in, in dance O I you know, some people, oh, I see, well, O I is organization integration and coordination of the body of the body, the brain, like whole body, how it’s organized, integrated, and coordinated, so it doesn’t leave the brain out. So I, I, I, I carry that with me daily, every moment by moment, and a deep desire to live with a high level of integrity, accountability, responsibility, and standards of excellence in everything that I will do, you know? And, and I’m gonna try to have that standard of ex excellent. Not only when I’m dancing and choreographing, but also when I’m cooking or when I’m doing laundry or cleaning. And when I’m with friends, like when I’m even with you, I’m, I’m, I’m holding myself accountable for a high level of excellence, because that’s just, that’s one, that’s what I want to be my motive.
Vincent Thomas (00:22:30):
So, and, and so what you’re getting from me now is what you will always get, you know? Yeah. even if we’re sitting down having a glass of wine, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna have a high level of excellence sipping on that glass of wine and laughing and telling stories and, you know, being, yeah.
Speaker 3 (00:22:55):
How, how do you show up like that to everything? And I, I get that sense from you. I mean, I remember meeting you in just like the warmth. I think there is an exuberance of warmth from you. And I remember just being like, you know, like we, we could think about all the ways we’re different, but I feel like you come to people with the ways that were the same. And that, that a driving factor of like empathy and understanding, oh, it sounds amazing. I’m, I’m just like, I’m, I’m radiating in it and it’s so, and you can feel it, and it’s authentic. How did you get there? Because is tough to do, it’s tough to wake up and choose that path. We all struggle with it. Even people who are excellent, even people who have put the hours, the 10,000 hours, how do you, how do you come to things like that? How have you
Vincent Thomas (00:23:44):
Gotten yourself there? Oh, well, and you, you, you know, you, you even answered it because you said we choose to do, you know, and, and, and it, it, it’s hard, you know, we are human. So I’ll say this, that, you know, I, I think back to my grandmother, I think back to my great grandparents and even the great, great grandparents that I don’t didn’t even know, but I feel them. I feel them through my dad and my sibling things in my, my mom who transitioned three years ago. Like, I feel, I feel that connection of that lineage and knowing that the time that they grew were were on this earth living and the challenges and the things that they persevered and like all these things. And I’m thinking to myself, I gotta show up for them.
Vincent Thomas (00:24:53):
You know, I, I gotta show up for them because they would want me to, they, they require me to, to be excellent. They require that of me. Yeah. So I think about them every morning, I open my eyes. And so going back to this, what you answered, you said, you know, to make the choice. Yeah. So there, there might, there might be a day I wake up and I’m like, well, I’m so tired, you know, but, and I, I want to just sleep another 30 minutes and then I choose to get up and go to the gym and get myself moving, you know? Yeah. I, I think, you know, choices, it’s an interesting thing, you know, and there are multiple, you know, this not a binary thing, but a lot of times I, I know that I choose joy. I choose to have, you know, I, I kind of stop saying, I’m doing good when I know I’m doing so much better and doing good replied with that is a socialized way of responding.
Vincent Thomas (00:26:11):
Yeah. When, you know, no, I’m, I’m doing great considering this and this and this and this, I’m doing great. So, and if I can put that out and then how am I gonna live up into that for my myself? And it doesn’t mean that I don’t have days that are challenging and hard and where I struggle, but I’m going to try to be real with that moment. I’m gonna try to live in it. I’m gonna also try to be curious about it and how and how, and what can I do to change the narrative, you know? Yeah. What, and how can I do to change the narrative for my next step? You know, if you are walking down the sidewalk and you’re walking and you see a pile of, do you just walk and step in it or do you choose another pathway? So, you know, we, we’re so good about choosing and we do that improvisationally as well. Yeah. You know and that creative play, you know, I wanna live a life where I can creatively play. You know, I always say dare to be fearless in your serious play.
Vincent Thomas (00:27:41):
And, and, and for me that, you know, it gives me fuel to not just do the Okie do and be okay. It’s like, no, I I’m gonna have serious fun in this serious play. And I wanna be fearless. You know, we live in a world where so much mediocrity, I don’t want to add to it, you know, basically. Yeah. I don’t wanna add to it, you know? So I think about what, what, what type of world do I wanna live in on a daily basis? And then how, and what can I do to create that?
Dan Schack (00:28:24):
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Speaker 3 (00:30:07):
It’s, it’s, it’s very inspiring. I, I think to hear your, your mindset about the autonomy you choose to, to believe in I think that that lead to accountability and responsibility, I’m responsible for my choices and my actions. I’m not gonna excuse my actions or my attitude on my situation. My situation is dynamic anyway. We’re not stuck, right? And some people are more stuck than others, but it’s important and not to get stuck in being stuck. And, but it starts with, you have to be looking at the ground where the is. That’s a thing is the part that you didn’t start with was when I walked down the street and I choose to step in it, or I don’t, it has to start with I’m looking for it. And I feel like a lot of us, and maybe the world at large has, has informed us to go like this.
Speaker 3 (00:31:04):
And it’s like, only look this far because of who you are and where you’re from and what you have and what you don’t have and who your friends are and what your job is. And like, so this becomes your your focal point kind of gets narrowed. And I’ve think it’s so interesting to hear the way you talk about things, because it’s, so without the restrictions of, I am this I’m, this I’m this and this. And therefore I see like this, right. And I, what came up for me was like age, like, you know, I’m 31 now I’m turning 32 next year. And it’s like, sometimes I feel like I’m doing things or thinking things that aren’t for me because of that. Or like some sometimes I, I think, like I can’t be thinking or feeling a certain way because of, of some other node in my identity, for example.
Speaker 3 (00:31:54):
And it’s like, that’s not real at all. That’s not a real thing that is a complete fabrication or fiction that’s we, we are embedded in or is, you know, engraved in us because of factors, multiple factors. And what I wanted to ask you about I’m super curious is I was looking at, you know, the Towson website where you’re a professor and I was looking at the one of your areas being movement skills for men. And I, I was like, so intrigued by that because, you know, I, my background is, you know, I was a drummer snare drummer drum set, obviously playing a jazz band, you know, doing all the things that you were kind of reflecting on in your own background, eventually going in that very, you know, like drummers go. And they just like go in that direction. And I almost feel like you have to do that to, to, to get to the level that I wanted to get to.
Speaker 3 (00:32:49):
And like, honestly, never even envisioned getting to, but in, in going in the direction of that or going in the direction of various that, you know, I’ve done or whatever, it really doesn’t afford you, the certain modes of expression, or it doesn’t give you the opportunities to express that way very frequently. You know, I, I stumbled into situations myself you know, eventually pursuing an English degree and then eventually kind of being pushed with like women’s studies, women’s gender, sexuality studies, which I did both in my undergrad and graduate degree being the only straight guy in an entire department, the women’s studies and in those situations are where I feel like I was able to go into this space that you are capturing without fear to speak, without fear to engage or negotiate ideas, without fear to write poetry and let things be the unconscious come forward so much more than you get to do in the day to day.
Speaker 3 (00:33:57):
At least that I feel like I, I carve out time for, I don’t always feel like I go there anymore. And it’s like, I miss doing that. You know, I miss, I miss being with people who are so different, but we, we find the commonality right away and you’re like, no one is that different than you. I, I sometimes feel like we, we are in a, a time where it’s like, it’s cool to identify differences and then like polarize yourself from people be because of that, like, that’s very hip right now in a way, or at least I feel like it is. And I, I wanna get back to, to what I was asking is, is like this, this expression and movement skills for men. What is this about? Like, I know it’s not like, you know, men, women, like, we’re not gonna get super like, like, I, I don’t, I don’t want it to just be about gender, but like, for me as a man, as a straight guy, right. Like, I don’t feel like, I feel like I need this. You know what I mean? I feel like there’s something in there that could really help me unlock some of these unconscious things that have been buried because of what I’m supposed to be. So I’d know. I don’t know if that’s like a coherent question, but hopefully you, you understand what I’m getting to.
Vincent Thomas (00:35:06):
Yeah. It it’s, it’s interesting the labels that we invite or put on ourselves, even with you, just you saying you are a straight male. Yeah. I, I don’t need that. You could just say I’m a male. Yeah, yeah. You know, and so with one these identifiers, I think we’re socialized to embrace. And in this particular class, it’s called movement enhancement skills for men. And it’s a course for males on, on campus. And it’s a movement class. They are the ones that say I’m taking a dance class. I say, we’re in a movement class because I know the preconceived notions and thoughts are around thoughts of a guy taking a dance class. Yep. So, so there’s a lot of words shifting and, and recalibrating of words that happen with, but also you know, they basically learn about their body and moving their body through this idea of OIC organization, immigration and coordination.
Vincent Thomas (00:36:28):
And at the same time we are unearthing this word masculinity, you know, yes. From, from day one, from moment one, we stand in a circle and we look around, wow, this is a space filled with males with men. And what does that say? It mean to you, knowing that we’re gonna be moving our bodies and, and doing things you probably thought wasn’t masculine or male, you know? And so it’s about breaking down and melting a lot of those ice cubes for them so that they can understand that their humanness, their humanity, that their human being is at the center of what my work is, you know? And so, yeah, it it’s, it’s I always say that you will be challenged, but we’re gonna have so much serious fun in this challenge, and you’re not gonna be alone. We’re in here all to together doing the challenging thing.
Vincent Thomas (00:37:44):
And so one of the aspects of this, what I’ve been doing is I used to, I have this workshop called father sons and other guys. And then this workshop is, is an interactive workshop that really ex debates, this word, masculinity of how you define it, you know, how did you learn it? Where do you want it to be? And so what I’ve just, what I’ve started doing was taking a day to in the semester to do that workshop with them. And it has been one of the most as profound things for them, because I can see it and read it in their writing. I can see it and hear it in the way they communicate and talk with each other. I can see it in how they hold their bodies up differently, without fear. And so it it’s quite amazing, you know, but throughout the, every day in the class, they’re learning movement, dance concepts, moving across the floor, you know, all these things that we do in a dance class, but having a lens and of critical analysis, not judgment. Cause those are two different things of, of critical analysis about this word that we are still curious about. And so therefore agreements that I offer to the space and that I post so that they can always see them. And, and they are one to be full of your value and free of judgment.
Vincent Thomas (00:39:25):
And we talk about what judgment is and what having a critical analysis is. One is healthy. One is, you know, the second one is to be curious about my learning. So we might do something that we’ve, that you’ve done before. How can you be so curious about that, that you unearth something new about your learning. We might do something that you’ve never done before instead of retreating and having fear about it, be curious about it and step into that. The third one is to acknowledge the many faces, names, bodies, minds, experiences that are in the space. And to know that each and every single one are valid and valued.
Vincent Thomas (00:40:16):
So, you know, I’ve had a class where there was a transgendered male in the space. I have classes where they, where there are gay straight by you name it. And it’s not about judging those labels, but it’s about acknowledging that identifier of self and finding the true value of the human being, not the label, the true value of the human being. And I’ve had a young man who was blind this, and now I have a young man who has one arm because his other arm was, you know, was taken off, you know? So, so it’s a space for these young men and myself to grow daily in who we are. So that’s what that class is about. And I will invite you any Tuesday or Thursday to come up and join the class and just experience it. You know? I have a live musician, a, a percussionist who’s in there. Yeah. So one day you let me know which Tuesday or Thursday afternoon you can come and spend the afternoon
Speaker 3 (00:41:38):
With me. I’m super down. That sounds, that sounds cool. Did you go, I know you said there was like four oh, oh. And
Vincent Thomas (00:41:44):
The, the fourth one is to have serious fun. So those are the four.
Speaker 3 (00:41:52):
Yeah, no, that sounds awesome. And I would fully do that because I need, I need that, that sounds like so important. And honestly, like, it really actually answers a question that I asked you earlier, which was about the way that we can express difficult social issues or ideas through movement. I’ve feel like one of our major issues or, or our frictions right now, at least in America is around masculinity. Totally. And we might call it some other things, or we might, I don’t know how to say this. We might pre scribe people with different intentions, but I ultimately think that it comes down to the way men are being socialized is not really functional or healthy or, or healthy. And it, it comes out looking like this attack. You know, we look at misogyny, white supremacy, racism, ableism, all Theisms, and it looks like this directional thing.
Speaker 3 (00:43:07):
And what I feel like is it is a issue that’s inside because masculinity, modern masculinity is not a sustainable or necessarily healthy identity that we, we grow and crawl inside of. And I, I, I can think of moments in my own adolescence in high school and college where it’s like, man, like what the? You know, it’s just like, it’s, it’s, it’s not any it’s, it’s not so insidious that it’s like someone telling you how to be. It’s insidious in that you, you grow this armor where it’s like, I can’t express certain things or I’m like, I’m like, I’m walling things off, or I’m like acting in a certain way. And then those symptoms come out as some of these like really massive issues that we see. And, and whether it’s the way masculinity represented through our politicians and our president or the way that it’s represented through our home life, it’s threaded everywhere.
Speaker 3 (00:44:17):
Though, like I I’m, I’m very attuned to the issues that are befalling marginalized people. And especially historically the way those injustices still remain throughout different structures and institutions. That’s, that’s very real. And I believe a major root of that is ma masculinity. And it’s hard to talk about this because it’s like Boohoo guys, like, oh guys, you know, on the totem pole, you’re at the top, you know, it’s like, whatever, it, it really, in a way it’s, it’s, it’s tough because you want to actually get to the root of these issues. And in a, in a way I think we’re alienating men and we’re not allowing us to excavate some of these very deeply embedded issues and men that would help move past the isms. And it, I just, I see it as this perpetual issue where it’s like, you’re a guy, so you, you can’t talk on this, you know, you can’t speak on this.
Speaker 3 (00:45:23):
And it’s like, well, you’re really pushing those individuals into the areas that got us here. And I, I just wonder about, I think what you’re describing about this class is like what we need socially. We need a, a social program that’s that’s movement and expression for men because we are, you know, it’s like the, the, the enlightenment era dualism of like, we, we’re leading with our head and not out with our hearts. And, and you said it off the jump is it’s not binary. It’s, it’s way more integrated. And I just, I wish there were outlets to break down this wall that we have put up as men.
Vincent Thomas (00:46:13):
And, and there, there is. So I I’m all about actionable steps. So I would say to you, well, let me just say to a comment you made earlier about this totem pole and men being at the top of this totem pole, if that is. So if, if that is true, let’s recognize this strength of the totem pole and who’s underneath those men probably strong, powerful women that we stand on their shoulders as well. But I would also say that that totem pole is each, each layer is gender differently. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (00:46:57):
That, you know, that
Vincent Thomas (00:46:59):
Totally. I mean, if, if that is a, that part construct to, to entertain and to visually use as a metaphor. So I just wanted to say that, but actionable steps. So, all right. So I will come the Mason drum line and give me an hour and a half and we’ll do this workshop. How many do you have all, is it all males or is it females in there too?
Speaker 3 (00:47:27):
Yeah, we have, we have a mix it’s, it’s predominantly identifying
Vincent Thomas (00:47:31):
Males in the drum line. Okay. So I would do an an hour and a half with this workshop with them, you know, because otherwise, if we’re not doing something about it, we’re enabling bad behavior or bad systems that are not conducive to healthy living, et cetera. Yeah, I appreciate so much of all what you said, you know, and what’s, what’s interesting, you know, that is permeated and so many things that people take in from social media, music, religion, church. Yeah. Like politics, of course, like looking, look, what’s happening in Texas with this abortion law. Yeah. Like who’s at the top making those decisions. Are they really putting that decision solely in the hands of women to come to the table and decide, and this is how top behaviors and isms come into to play, you know, and how we allow them to, how we allow them to come to play. You know? So any chance we, where that type of con like that particular con conversation comes up, I don’t care who I’m in the company with. And I hope it is with politicians. I’ll say males, shouldn’t be deciding that this is not their body, you know? Yeah. You said so many things that I, I had thoughts about that those are some of the few that
Speaker 3 (00:49:14):
That’s, that’s absolutely an example of, of what I’m talking about. It’s just like, why do people feel the need to exert power over someone’s, you know, body autonomy, it’s
Vincent Thomas (00:49:27):
It’s power. You said the word again, it’s power, you know, and that fear of losing power, power, and the fear of losing power in placement on the totem pole placement in the race. So maybe the race doesn’t the, the, the, the race doesn’t finish like first, second, third, fourth, fifth. But maybe the race finishes all of these people together. I mean, I think we, we, we do those, how we buy into these systems that are inevitably also breaking us down. And so that we feel helpless in so many ways, but shifting the narrative and, and in our daily work, in our, in the ways that we can. And some, a lot of times those are small acts and the small ways eventually will make big impacts.
Speaker 3 (00:50:40):
This is there’s a lot to it. It’s, it’s hard to, it’s hard to nail it down. I, I, I don’t, I, I I’m worry about the way that the labeling is. So it it’s almost like the thing that can’t be spoken it’s, it’s like, you can’t get to the problem without putting a word on it, or a label on it. And in doing that, you’re defining it. That that becomes part of the perpetuation of these like, strict ways that we have been formulated. And, and you’re, you’ve said it a bunch of times, and I I’m. So with it is like maybe the totem pole is not a vertical. Maybe it’s a pile and maybe the race isn’t a race. Maybe it’s, maybe it’s a relay race. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s in the water. Maybe it’s over the mountains. It’s not linear. And I feel like, and the action actionable steps thing, I think is just massive.
Speaker 3 (00:51:49):
It’s like, what can, and you actually do to break out of some of these constraints that we feel like we are sort of embedded in. And I, I just feel like the language and that the need to use language at times, it reifies and strengthens the label. It reifies and strengthens the definition inside of it when that’s not the intention. So it’s, it’s very, it’s very difficult. It’s difficult to break out of using language, right? It’s like this idea, one, one of these idea, we’re go, we’re going in crazy directions, which is, this is just like so much fun for me. But it’s like this idea that femininity and Matt masculinity are not stable, and they’re not only available to the, the person in habits. Them, I’m a guy. So I’m masculine and women’s feminine, whatever. But as you move across that spectrum, it’s very hard to break out of those structures.
Speaker 3 (00:52:52):
If I want to identify as someone else, something, some person else, different human it’s like you have to move across these lines that are prescribed. It’s very hard to get out of that. So like, obviously an example would be the way I dress. Like I, I am very interested in clothing and the way I dress myself and like, it’s something that I care about. It’s not necessarily masculine, but does that mean that it’s feminine? Does that mean that it’s over on that side? It’s like, it’s like you can’t. And, and I get, like, I catch for it. You know, like in a, in a daily way it’s, oh, you care about shoes and clothes and whatever. And like, that’s weird. And it’s like, well, I do, but it doesn’t mean that I’m any less masculine or that I’m not in touch with my masculinity, or it doesn’t mean that I’m feminine, but it’s like, we, we, we only have the reference points we have, I guess, is what I’m trying to say to make a actual cogent point is it’s hard to step outside of it at all.
Vincent Thomas (00:53:57):
Because of what you don’t know. Yeah. But you know, what’s, so what’s so interesting hearing you talk about that and your clothing and that, that excites me. You know what I mean? But we are, we are, we come into existence with all of these qualities. You call them masculine and feminine. We, we, I have, you have those, we all have masculine and feminine qualities, characteristics in us. And so caring about what, how you’re dressing and what clothing you’re wearing does not, should not comment on one’s social, you know, socialized construct of masculinity or femininity. And so the issue is not with you. The issue is with the person making that judgment, because they haven’t done a critical analysis of that word and why they even got to that point to say that about you. So you can’t hold onto their. You step around that.
Vincent Thomas (00:55:14):
Don’t step in it. Yeah. Let them stand in it because that’s their work that they have to do. And they have to realize that they also have feminine qualities within them too. You know? And that’s why I, I really believe that this workshop is so powerful because these young men in, in my class, they realize they realized from the get, go, how they were socializing themselves. And they were able to release that and say, oh, talk. But then they, they would be able to the next moment be in a better place. Yeah. I, I, I totally embrace those characteristics of myself that swing on a continuum of humanity, of humanity, not just masculinity of human, but of humanity. It’s a human thing. You know, when you come out of your mother’s womb, they used to show this in movies where the doctor would slap the baby’s butt to get what reaction.
Speaker 3 (00:56:29):
So cry, right.
Vincent Thomas (00:56:31):
Crying is an emotion. And then, so if that is acceptable at that moment, why would man a father say to his son, boys don’t cry? Well, the, you tell that to the doctor who hit me when I came outta my mom’s, you know what I mean? Yeah. Or why did they try to evoke that emotion out of me? So it is quite interesting to really unpack that and to even, you know, bringing thinking about out the pageantry arts, how does those show up in the pageantry arts and how can we not enable that with our language or our way of being, and those are small, actionable steps that we have. I feel that we have to do, you know, because some of those systems were created by overly masculine thought. And, and how does, I mean, does that serve, how does that serve the activity and those young minds that are coming up in that, and then they’re either buying into that situation or they’re helping to change it, you know? And I feel like we are change agents. You know, we have to be,
Speaker 3 (00:57:58):
If you’re teaching, there’s no way you’re telling the students to just do the exact same thing they’ve been doing. It’s it’s inherent in our relationship with them is to it’s the AB you’re teaching them that they can change. It’s not about playing faster or pointing your toe with more articulation earlier, late it’s, you’re actually coaching them and teaching them that they are capable of change. Maybe the example is technical, but the overarching concept is you are able to change, or you must be able to change to be teachable. And if you are not, that shows up in all these different places, all these areas that we are taught. So I, I love that. I, the relationship with the marching arts is, is so much that because our relationship with the students is it’s very intimate in a way I would say we ask them to do things that are out of their comfort zone to perform, to inhabit spaces in a different way.
Speaker 3 (00:59:07):
And, and that has a resonance in the way they show up. Like you’re talking earlier to the other areas of their life, knowing that they have changed and that they’ve experienced change in an explicit and nameable and actionable way. And I think that is it’s, it’s not about telling them that this is wrong, or this is right. Like you were talking about boys not crying. It’s like, Hey, but if some boys don’t naturally cry, it’s not like that’s wrong either. And I feel like telling them, you’re a meathead dude. No, it’s like the way you express yourself, any way you express yourself is okay, let’s not limit what it can be. That being said, we know when things are painted as the average is what it gets weird. When, when it’s about the statistical regularity, when it’s about, it’s like the IQ thing that is a measure of one tiny GRA of a person, but we make it about it’s so much bigger. So it’s like the standard is, I think what we’re talking about, oh, we have to abide by a standard of this. And we’ve identified that the standard in society maybe has been limited to a particular type of person, particular identity. And that’s just not the reality of, of almost anyone’s lived experience. Yet. We constantly try to get, we are influenced to go back there. I need to be Tom Brady.
Speaker 3 (01:00:57):
It’s like, you don’t have to be Tom Brady. You can be anyone you want, but, but it’s that narrative of fulfilling a role I need to, you know, I need to step into my role as of this. And it’s like totally bad from almost everyone. And it’s not actually real. Even those people that inhabit the perfect identity, that’s the standard of, of being, if the totem pole was actually vertical, those people aren’t actually experiencing it like that. So it’s very much about interpretation. Like, I think you nailed it when you’re talking about the interpretation happens from the, from a person seeing, not from me absorbing it, the absorption of someone’s interpretation is, is he allowing it to take shape when the reality is a person’s negative or is an interpretation from their eyes out. It’s really only toing them. It doesn’t have to go out and, and kind of be the, the smoke that just kind of, I can’t see that it’s there anymore.
Speaker 3 (01:02:06):
That’s very much the, the metaphor, I would say. It’s like, we, we don’t need to allow it to get smokey. We can just see through it. And I, I think it is very much like not allowing that to get absorbed into your being because interpretation is totally, it can be passive. It’s not, I think when we talk institutional structural level, it actually, it becomes a smoke that we can’t see anymore and that we can’t smell on our clothes anymore and it’s there. And I think we’ve started to identify it. And I think parsing out the moments when I have a decision around that is really important. I’m not gonna allow your interpretation to have anything to do with me, or you identify, you’re actually exerting a power influence over me or students or an organization that’s negative or positive. So I, that’s not really a question. It’s just, just response. I, I appreciate that
Vincent Thomas (01:03:04):
Comment and that response. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (01:03:07):
What a direction we went in. We’re we’re at our hour. I hate to say that we, we are at our we’re at our time for that was, that was a, that was one of my favorite ones that, that I’ve done.
Vincent Thomas (01:03:18):
It was great. You never know what you’re gonna get out of a cracker
Speaker 3 (01:03:23):
Jacks box. I know, I know I have this list of questions. I was like, I don’t really use any of these, but one, I need to get down to this this session at Towson. So I’m gonna follow up with you about that. Yeah. Two, I need to follow up with you about coming into Mason. I like, and, and I’ll talk to you about our show on the side, but it’s so perfect. It’s so perfect for it. It, the show is embodying a lot of what we’re talking about. I would just say that on a human level, it’s, it’s a human idea. It’s not a, this, that, whatever, it’s, it’s a human idea. And I think what you’re talking about is it’s really needed for anybody. It’s not just men. I think it’s it’s for everyone too, but I I’m gonna, I’m gonna get you in there. And this has been just so much fun and it just went by, like, it went by so quick and we could, we’re gonna have to follow up on this and do another episode. Cause that was just like inspiring and just very, very fun and very activating. Like, I feel very inspired by our conversation. Yes, me too.
Vincent Thomas (01:04:25):
Yeah. Now we can, we should do another week.
Speaker 3 (01:04:27):
We can do another one. All right. Part two, everyone. We’re gonna, we’re gonna come through. We’re gonna get more than an hour on a Saturday morning, but this was like, so, so worth it so fun. I’m glad we could work our schedule out. So everybody thinks we’re listening. If, if you have not yet check out VT dance, check out. Vincent Thomas’ work on the website, VT dance dot word, like he mentioned. And thanks for listening and Vincent, thanks for jumping on here with us. Thank you. See you later, everybody. Bye.