Kathy Wood talks about hard work being the key to success in her career as the founder and artistic director of Fly Dance Company. Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/FlyDanceCompany and https://www.instagram.com/flydancecompany/

Andrea (1s):
Hello and welcome to Dance talks. I’m your host Andrea Cody. Today is October 16th, 2020. And my guest is Kathy Wood Kathy Wood is the founder and artistic director of Fly Dance Company. Kathy welcome to DanceTalks. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Yes, me too. Where were you born?

1 (20s):
Orange. Checks is during the war. My daddy was working on ships for the war,

Andrea (27s):
Which war? World war to the war. He was a, what,

Kathy (31s):
How old are on the ships? And I was born there. Where’s the orange near Beaumont. And I’m texting from birth to death, I guess. Never lived anywhere else, but Texas.

Andrea (45s):
Yeah. What’s your first memory dancing?

Kathy (50s):
My sister now, my mom and dad dancing, my dad played in a Dance fan all up like Bob wills. And I remember them out on the floor dancing and they could really Dance well, and that’s at first and we danced at my house all the time because they practice the band practice there and we had a big O upright baby grand piano, and my sister played the piano. So we danced a lot, also a lot.

Andrea (1m 23s):
Tell me about your training. Well, it was so the tongue twirler, you know,

Kathy (1m 27s):
In high school and we did what was innovative. It called Dance Toro. We danced and twirled the same time. So I started with that. My sister taught me the first twirling routine I room learned. And then we start taking Tori from a lady named Arnold Dean Bolton in Henderson. And she became director of the ranch, her EDS, which I was also member of under guessing Al Davis. But I got a lot of my training from Arnold vain. And then I started teaching at that point.

Kathy (2m 9s):
Didn’t have much opportunity to perform first two years in college, was it from that point on, I was teaching and I wish I could have performed more. Cause I loved it before. I’m a natural performer. I perform all the time or even at home. Umm, but you know, there just wasn’t the opportunity. So you did what you could and to stay in it in a, became a teacher. So there, from that point on, I got married and had a baby and then I decided to go back to school and get my teaching certificate so I could have girls drill teams and that’s I started doing that.

Kathy (2m 51s):
I did that for 16 years until I got totally burned out. Cause it takes your heart and you’re so you have to give and I retired and I saw some guys dancing in a Westheimer arts festival on the street and I started talking to him and I just built a studio in mantras and I invited him over to rehearse and we started collaborating and I decided to enter them in the Dance coalitions, adjudicated concert. And just, I said, just you

Andrea (3m 29s):
For experience. Cause there were 30 groups

Kathy (3m 32s):
And I said, we’ll never make it not in the modern dance. And not only did we make the concert, but we got finale position and that started Fly dance company. It wasn’t called Fly. It was called Coro, which was their street name for their crew. But after a while we had to have a professional name and I like the word Fly and it was short. I won something kids can spell easily so that they could recognize it right off. And that’s how he came up with the name Fly it started from then.

Kathy (4m 14s):
And we start with young audiences doing school shows and the guy son had died and gone to heaven. They were making them $75 the show and they thought that was, you know, being wealthy.

Andrea (4m 28s):
What year was that? I would say nanny 91, good money, good money in it.

Kathy (4m 37s):
And especially since a lot, two of them were in school. So that was good for him. Cause they couldn’t work and do this too.

Andrea (4m 45s):
The car’s to get around to all the schools. No, no, no, no.

Kathy (4m 50s):
My it’s hard to my Bravo is what they went in. We met at my house and then we’d go in my car. I don’t, I didn’t trust him back then to get their own time. So they had to meet in my house about an hour ahead and then Our, I’d pick him up at school. So no, I drove, we were still learning discipline back then. Yeah.

Andrea (5m 15s):
Cause there were, you know, free spirits,

Kathy (5m 18s):
No one had ever told them they had, you know, be professional. That was a new concept in, it started out a hard lesson, the alarm, but they did. And they did quite well. We did over 110 shutters the first year we’re with yeah. It says, well, yes. And that’s why we were doing three and four shows a day. Yeah. And that’s hard work

Andrea (5m 43s):
All school levels. Tell me about the show. We started out.

Kathy (5m 49s):
How about doing the history of street Dance and we included a, a peace to music, Antonio Vivaldi to show them that the movement could be done to anything. And that always surprised everyone and they love the teachers, especially loved it because we included classical music and we had to be very careful to keep the music claim. Cause back then it was all gangster out, you know, out of cuss words. And so we had to keep it clean and they were delighted when we’d come out and this violin, you know, and so it was very popular.

Kathy (6m 31s):
And then we developed an anatomy show, fell, no bones about it. And then we developed a black history month show and a classical Fly, who we danced to our client school near the sea. And so we have, you had about five shows that we did different weight. And then we graduated to Dallas, they hired us. And then we went to new Orleans and New Jersey is the hardest allot when it comes to go, we’d go to APAP our booking conference in New York and then we’d go do show us in New Jersey and that would pay for our trip to the booking conference.

Andrea (7m 13s):
Okay. And that’s the association of producers and presenters? Yes. In New York every year to what? January. Very cool. How long have you all been doing that? Would you say, when did you start? We started about five years.

Kathy (7m 27s):
How about, I don’t know. I can’t remember. Yeah. We still go.

Andrea (7m 34s):
When did the company start? 20 years ago, 25, five, 25 years ago.

Kathy (7m 40s):
Awesome. And it, my, my husband did the business park and he came up to me one day and said, do you want a nationally known Dance Company? And I said, yes, why is that Christmas morning by any chance? And he said, okay, then let’s go for it. And we started going to national looking code and our first break, we went to Texas commission on the arts, had a big conference every year and we went there and performed and because we were on their touring roster and we got a standing ovation and we said, okay.

Kathy (8m 27s):
And then the next thing is we went to Western arts Alliance, which was in Phoenix and that’s a big conference for the West coast. And we performed there and we got a standing ovation now to get a standing ovation from presenters who are the people that book you in the theaters, they’ve seen everything in the world. Right. And to get that kind of recognition from them was phenomenal. And one guy came up and said, I’m in come to this conference for 30 years. How many times I’ve seen that? And my husband said no, because of it, it was pretty naive.

Kathy (9m 11s):
And that he said never. Yeah. So at that point I had, I sit the guy’s out in the lobby to check hands and meet and greet and people were running back to our booth to book is wow. So we did over 65 concerts that, that spring. And that’s what we really got her

Andrea (9m 37s):
Nashville.

Kathy (9m 38s):
And it was pretty phenomenal. We were just, you know, shaking our heads saying we didn’t realize when you were up, but I was gone 25 weeks.

Andrea (9m 48s):
It’s a year on tour. Wow.

Kathy (9m 53s):
It was never home. And when we were home, we had to rehearse because we had to have a season here for the grants that we were getting here. So we had to rehearse to do new material, right. For the concerts that we were going to do in Houston. So it was a lot hard for anybody thinks that the money you get off of touring is gratis. I got news for you. You it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. And after five years I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to stop to her because it was, and I was though, I mean, let’s face it. I wasn’t young enough to do it.

Kathy (10m 35s):
So it was hard. Yeah. And I was the only one old enough to drive the car. The van. I didn’t realize it until we started renting dragons that only someone, 25 years and older could drive the van. And guess what? I’m selling one old enough to drive the pen, went to Europe. I kept thinking, yes, they can drive the van because then you’re, you don’t have to be 25 minutes. Well, it would go there. And the only vans that were available were standard shift. Oh no.

Kathy (11m 15s):
And none of them.

Andrea (11m 18s):
Okay.

Kathy (11m 19s):
Because they were under 25 years old.

Andrea (11m 22s):
Exactly. Sign and drive again. Yeah. How did you get to Europe? Plane?

Kathy (11m 31s):
I mean, Oh, how does it get you to Europe?

Andrea (11m 35s):
Someone,

Kathy (11m 36s):
Some German came over and booked us for tour. And yeah, we went to Europe about four or five times. We went to Paris and Astonia Nancy Tonia was the trip. We were the only company there. And that was the first concert we ever did. And I didn’t realize that I needed to fill the gaps between pieces. I only had four guys. So it was a pretty rough concert. Never very patient was the theme of the theater festival. And nobody spoke in English, but they, they thought were pretty in depth, but we stayed in the small little town and it was just a real experience because everybody in charge of everything was under 30 years.

Kathy (12m 31s):
So because they’d thrown out all their older bureaucrats and the camp, the country just broken away from Russia. So it was a lack of brand new country. So it was real eye opener kind of. Ooh. Yeah. But it was fun. Lot of fun and they treated us well, but I would never do that today in jumping into an unseen, you know, stable country, lack that. Wow. Yeah. And the guy’s went to a Montenegro this last year and several other, you know, countries that don’t have all the stability than 18 and they went on a long, long tour of Germany.

Kathy (13m 24s):
So they’re still moving and grooving. Awesome. Yeah, for sure. So Mike’s amazing. Yes, he is. How did you meet a blind date? Yeah. Yeah, we met, so I was invited to be a guest of the white Oak high school band to go to come and teach their twirlers and then go on a trip to Norfolk, Virginia with the band. So while their, someone got me and David with Mike, he was a senior aquatic and we went to Tyler, state park swimming.

Kathy (14m 8s):
And anyway, that started the romance. And then about six years later we got married. I knew he was the one I, I was going to steady with some guy and I went, went home, broke up that guy. Yeah. Second date night. Awesome match made in heaven. It is 50, 55 years. So,

Andrea (14m 33s):
And when was your daughter? Jennifer born?

Kathy (14m 35s):
66, I think. Or six. Yeah, 60 to 65. So

Andrea (14m 41s):
When you tell me about raising her, she’s, she’s a choreographer too.

Kathy (14m 46s):
So yeah.

Andrea (14m 47s):
How I guess how was her childhood like different and the same as yours and how is she in different?

Kathy (14m 53s):
She to go with me all the time to rehearse rehearsal. And when I was doing I D I worked with Baton twirlers here to Houston Lamar high school, man, she’s to go with me. And then I had a group of her age, little girls that I used to take to competition and she used to dance a lot and she took dance classes and she was in my draw, same at Memorial. And it was a lot of fun, but you know, we didn’t have much money, so I couldn’t pay to have someone coming and babysit with her, Suffolk, her with her.

Kathy (15m 40s):
And she was a sweet kid and she didn’t bother me much. You know, she’d sit and play. She used to go with me to visit with one of my colleagues and we’d sit and talk for hours and Jennifer would just sit there and draw and listen to us. And so she, her up pretty much knowing ropes when you say that. Yeah. Being exposed to it. And when we built the duplex, the place in mantras, that was a studio theater with sort of launched both our dance companies, their, she did piece’s for the show.

Kathy (16m 25s):
And I did, I was working with hip hop then, but we were both developing our own dance companies at the same time. It’s been kind of fun, but we’re alive, but separate. She has her own ideas and I have mine and I respect that as an artist, but we call on each other when we need help. Like she had theatre the barn of elder and we didn’t have rehearsal space. So we were her there and she’s called on me to help costume wise and other things.

Kathy (17m 7s):
So, yeah. Awesome. Yeah. It’s fun having a kid that does the same thing you do. Yeah. It’s a great friendship here it is. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrea (17m 22s):
So tell me about how you would describe the style of Fly Dance Company

Kathy (17m 29s):
I think it’s the attrical hip hop. The movement part is they’re in the ideas and the staging and all his mine and combined it’s a good combination. I don’t try to put my movement on them cause they look terrible doing it. So I decided early on that I wouldn’t change them in a lot of people have really been only to get them in ballet class.

Kathy (18m 9s):
It would ruin them. I cannot get them in ballet class, then tear up that teacher inside of five minutes. But the thing is they have such unique movement and it’s a physical, his, it has a physical strength that I can’t duplicate. And when you come across this kid, that’s just absolutely fascinating watch when he dances, why would you do something different? Make him look different years that it’s like finding a found object that in art, when you find the found object that you’re fascinated by, do you use that in an, in the design of the painting?

Kathy (18m 57s):
That’s how I look at my choreography. It’s, it’s a piece of art where the beginning and ending and you know, you know, places found objects yeah. Within the design of the piece. And I do Follow Martha grounds that Martha Graham, the arts Humphreys checklist have a great opening and your ending is 40%. I try to remember that that ending is the most powerful part of your deaths and you better in big or clever.

Kathy (19m 38s):
Our unique, for instance, we did a piece at the Jewish community center and I’ve got one kid that can do phenomenal headspins and I’ve been wanting to use it a bit. Everybody just, you know, puts them out there and lets them do the HeadSpin. Well, our ending it’s sort of faded out the music. Then you put him doing a head span. All the rest of the guys are crowded, ran him and then they just melt. And back in the, you know, in the darkness he continued on in a Spotify. It was, it, it was touching it.

Kathy (20m 19s):
It was so, you know, I kept saying, I love this to slap this. And it was so strong for the audience and audience, just the nuts. And it was something better than him just getting out there and doing heads me, it gave it context in, in the piece. So you have to look at these little things. I’ve got kids that can do flips and everything, but I, you know, I don’t really want them to just go out there and flip across. If they get a flip, it’s got means something, it’s gotta be a part of the choreography or the site of the piece. So yeah. It’s hard.

Kathy (20m 59s):
I enjoy that. Training them to move. Yeah. Cause I taught Dance one for 25 years and a height. Dance what I did. I had to teach ballet with Pash is so boring to me. And I look at that as something I wish I could overcome, but it’s just, it’s like a basic drying, you know, I’ve been there, done that. I don’t want to do it anymore. So it’s nice to have guys are students who come with a movement vocabulary that I can use.

Kathy (21m 44s):
And that’s what hip hop has done for me. It’s allowed me to continue to choreograph and not have to. The movement is I can plot things to have them to use. How do you do that? What’s your creative process with them? Well, I put on some music, watch them dance for awhile. And then I say, okay, we’re going to start when we, I usually have a beginning and an ending and I do skeleton, we’re move here, moved there. And then we start putting in the juicy parts, like their little cherry in some chocolate chips or something.

Kathy (22m 27s):
But as I say, you to let you get over there, I wanted to 30 to count anywhere. And I want you to move from there to there. And I want some floor work, but I want you up and doing some wide Sheraton, they’ll come back with the most phenomenal thing you’ve ever seen. And I said, I could not think of anything better than that, you know? And I may say, okay, instead of facing front, I want you to face the diagonal. And I may change a little things like that, but basically their better choreographers of the movement than anybody I’ve ever seen.

Kathy (23m 16s):
And it’s because their thing is doing something new and different and they use a lot of, you know, strong, physical stuff that I’ve never done in my life. Much less thought up. So there’s a source it’s like digging in his bag and cutting out stuff. You just throw in there. Yeah. So I use it and I, and I don’t take credit for the choreography by myself choreograph by Kathy Wood and the answers I said there, they’re not good at that.

Kathy (24m 2s):
Right. Okay. And so I put it into context, but to me it’s like, New found object art. So

Andrea (24m 12s):
It makes me think like, when you talk about just turning on the music and watching them freestyle, like they’re in there doing this personal, you know, very spiritual, connected interpretation of the music expression and their feelings and their ideas that like you said, you know, their innovations and then you come from the outside, you come from the audience perspective, you, you know, more like, yeah. I mean, you’re, you’re putting together like a collage,

Kathy (24m 49s):
Okay.

Andrea (24m 49s):
Translating like that. What’s in their heart, out to where people can see it and be really engaged and intrigued by it.

Kathy (25m 0s):
A lot of times we have done a piece and there’s a little trick or pop in the music and they add automatically without me, you know, saying a word or anything though, you know, do something. And I, I always add that in because I want them to feel like it’s their, you know, to it’s their piece of choreography. And it only makes for a better performance from them, if they can feel that little thing and music.

Kathy (25m 44s):
And sometimes it’s a point, you know, it just adds the comedic, fun characterization that I love. And yeah. Why didn’t I think of that. Totally. Yeah. So it’s, it’s fun to, to watch them develop a piece almost, you know, and I’m the driving force. Get up, let’s do this again, go for it and everything. But I don’t look at myself as the person who does all this by herself. Yes. It’s generally my idea of the piece and yes, the driving force behind it, but they contribute a lot, a whole lot.

Kathy (26m 32s):
Do you always pick the music and the costumes? Yeah. Now when I give them choreographic credit all by themselves, they can to me, but have to pass it by me. Okay. I don’t go for music’s is not interesting. It has to be interesting. And I’m talking about someday is not just totally repetitious from beginning to end. It’s got to have some how Hodson was I I’m very music driven. It’s I don’t like the music. It’s not going to happen.

Kathy (27m 12s):
Yeah. So your dad was a musician. Yeah. I played in the band. I played saxophone in the band so I can read me and say, look, I’m sort of a musician, but yeah. Music’s what, you know, my maiden name was music. No. Yeah. Spell in the us. I C K Kathy Sumi. Is that cool? Yeah. Cute name Kathy to me is enough. Kennison is very cool.

Kathy (27m 52s):
Well, I know you were involved with the Houston Dance coalition and Texas Dance educators association, which came first screen coalition. Okay. When did, did you start it? Did you join? You know, the president was Jeff Salzburg. Yes. You heard his name, but I, he was head of the Cody theater out at U of H and he left and, and when he left, the coalition was very, very much in debt bills that weren’t paid and so forth and on.

Kathy (28m 32s):
So I was the only one left and saw it, took over a presidency to get us out of debt. And we did a few fundraisers and got ourselves out of debt. And then Nancy, you can’t remember her name and tracks Hendrix took over. Okay. And I left and she’s still running Dance salad, but that’s a separate organization. Yeah. She’s using the coalition’s nonprofits. Is she okay? Oh, it was. Oh, I see. So Dance soar started a separate organization.

Kathy (29m 15s):
No Nancy and Christina over the nonprofit. Okay. And then that’s because they had two big projects and I was not an interested in running the coalition. So they were Dance salad, which was an international dance festival that came in Houston once a year, evening of contemporary dance at Miller outdoor theater, which was kind all of Texas

Andrea (29m 42s):
Contemporary Dance.

Kathy (29m 44s):
So they, those two to cover. And then I think Christina dropped out or something, I don’t know.

Andrea (29m 53s):
Oh, okay. So that was after your service. Yeah. And,

Kathy (29m 56s):
And when I was teaching at Friendswood start in 76, we about three years later, five of us directors decided to start the Texas spins educators. And it was Texas Dance Realty and directors association. Okay. At first they changed it to Dance educators. And we started it because we found out that we didn’t have the same budget as athletics, nor the same salary.

Kathy (30m 42s):
And we were working twice as hard. So we wanted to get away to get together and compare things, you know, sort of a lobby or backup group for all these directors. And a lot of them were just young girls that didn’t know any better. So, and were Tim and had no courage. So we sort of give them, you know, backups and well, Debbie Haskell does this for their director and friends who does this for their direct. So that’s how the idea got started. It’s grown into something really big.

Kathy (31m 23s):
It has really big, we start out with 13,

Andrea (31m 28s):
Between people in the school

Kathy (31m 30s):
To like 700 or 900 people. Yeah.

Andrea (31m 34s):
Amazing. In the way

Kathy (31m 37s):
To bring about a thousand or so kids every year. And then we have all these vendors, it’s a big, big group now. And the five of us are founders and we get honored every year. Yeah.

Andrea (31m 53s):
It’s kind of fun. And TDA has been very supportive of Dance Houston thank you. That’s good. Yeah. It’s a wonderful way to connect with teachers. And you know, when we have something to share, it’s always really well received and appreciate it.

Kathy (32m 8s):
Yeah. And the father of us started advocating Dance education for these directors. Because up until we got involved, it was an English teacher. Might be the drill team director and know nothing about Dance or the PE teacher. So we started advocating that in Joanna Friesen got involved and she pushed tea, takes education association to Institute a Dance certification.

Kathy (32m 49s):
And that’s how all that, and glads Keaton up North contributed also. But that’s how we finally got it. Dance certification. Wow. Push through the tea tea, texts it in today.

Andrea (33m 7s):
It was on your watch. Wow. Just assume it was always there. Yeah.

Kathy (33m 13s):
So when I left Friendswood to go to Memorial, to teach, I had to get a Dance

Andrea (33m 22s):
You weren’t a good grandmother. Did you?

Kathy (33m 25s):
Sam had to go back to school and Joanna was my teacher at that time. So she helped us by saying, have you had ballet class of four? Yes. Okay. Give me credit for ballet, mine. And that’s it.

Andrea (33m 42s):
It’s so crazy.

Kathy (33m 44s):
But anyway, that’s the history of that and it’s, it’s really grown. And the, the educators have become more knowledgeable because of the Dance certification and it’s an emphasis in it and push them. Dance now they have dance classes other than drills. And some of them may even have boys classes, which Fly Dance Company started that at Lamar high school. Awesome. Sharon Roberts was there and she hired one of my dancers to come and start a hip hop program that spread all over the state.

Kathy (34m 30s):
Now a lot of skills have separate boys, hip hop twice. So that got started with Fly New

Andrea (34m 40s):
Okay. So what is up with that? What like boys do hip hop and girls do ballet.

Kathy (34m 46s):
Well, I was something girls are strong enough to do hip hop. I don’t all the extra body in it.

Andrea (34m 53s):
Upper body strength, kinesiology.

Kathy (34m 57s):
Now, if the girls would take them the popping and locking, I think that’d be great. Yeah.

Andrea (35m 4s):
You see it on world of dance. There’s there’s funny. I want to get caught up. It’s pretty fun. When you run out at the end of the internet during this downtime, maybe you will get arrested. I don’t know.

Kathy (35m 16s):
And you want, I don’t like the fact that they do death defying tricks just to get attention. It’s I think that shouldn’t discourage that. Hmm. It that’s not New

Andrea (35m 30s):
There. Yeah. There was a guy who like broke is something on this season. Yeah.

Kathy (35m 35s):
Well what gets me, kids see it on TV and they’ll be trying and write. And I just don’t, I don’t ask her

Andrea (35m 45s):
When you say you fractured his knee, but I’m not entirely sure. But again, I mean, I think from what the video showed and less, it was like, you know, not the real moment when it really happened, but I mean, they were like on concrete, you know? Yeah.

Kathy (36m 1s):
Well, I’m just, I just think that the, there is a better way to show real Dance. I mean, we did some pretty athletic things. Totally. But I usually have a spotter or, you know, you just don’t do things like throwing people around in catching. I just can’t handle it. Cause there’s there’s enough. Good. Dance going in that I don’t need to do that. Let’s have an acrobatic competition. That’s what you going to do, but stick with Dance. But I understand the got to sell on the show, but

Andrea (36m 47s):
Yeah. I’m not gonna watch. Right. So rewind them. Okay. So boys do hip hop. Why don’t boys do ballet? Well,

Kathy (36m 60s):
Boys do ballet, but the ballet is a feminine form of dance. Always has been from the very get go. It’s been about dancing on point in the man’s at Support

Andrea (37m 15s):
And bar and

Kathy (37m 17s):
Yep. And Aye, the things that the men do and ballet are very athletic and they’re not considered great. And unless they can jump white, some of them, you know, men do, but I just at the lineup, get in position here, leap across a floor, run back, get in position here, Lee cross floor. It’s just so boring to me. I love to see the athletic, the size of it, but it could be choreograph better ethic.

Kathy (38m 2s):
I don’t know.

Andrea (38m 3s):
You see you guys on hip hop just really, you know, they’re the center of attention. Start on the show, you know, and they’re really able to show off like their, their strength they were born with.

Kathy (38m 15s):
And now we have performed it with ballet dancers. It clarified cool. They were in point and yeah.

Andrea (38m 24s):
Oh yes. It was a collaboration with Amber Thornton now. Okay. Yeah. I remember her working with them. Okay, cool.

Kathy (38m 30s):
And Amber couldn’t choreograph, the guys she’d known what to do with him. So I helped you do some things like that, but I knew both sides. I could do both sides, but she was only able to do one side. Yeah. And I, I, I felt sorry for her because I’m just working with one, one medium of Dance to me it’s is limiting yourself.

Kathy (39m 16s):
I’ve had to study all the light, jazz tap, ballet, African hip hop. And people said, well, how do you do this? And I said, because I’m getting exposed so much that I can use draw from all it. Even the term twirl in his, help me in Dance because you put something in my hand, I know what to do. I can, you know, maneuver it and do stuff with it. And a lot of people just go, ah, you know, and it’s because I have been exposed to so many different things that I can choreograph and it doesn’t daunt me.

Kathy (40m 4s):
I mean, I, I look at something, for instance, a tap dance. I’ve had maybe six lessons that as well, when I was teaching in toddler, we went to this tap festival, Dallas, we were invited to, and we did a jazz piece and there were so enamored with the kids. They said, we want you back, but can you please tap me? And I said, listen, this is a free program. My kids don’t have tattoos. They can’t afford him. I said, we’ll bond for you. So the Baltic’s tab will Dance for shoes. So here I am, we didn’t get the shoes until two weeks before performance, I was teaching tat with no shoes.

Kathy (40m 52s):
And we did, you know, a great tap dance. It was very beginner because I told them my kids are going to be beginners. But because I have the background I do of never letting something discouraged me. We went out and we did a good tap dance. Now I did some count flush were, you know, you do tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap to the side. And then the back knows her basic warmups. Well, I had this little girl who was a champion dribbler with, so guess what music I used for that Harlem you know, Warren buffet.

Andrea (41m 45s):
Yeah.

Kathy (41m 47s):
And here’s this little girl to people through her to balls and she’s out there in the front and nobody noticed the kids. Weren’t doing great chat. Dance that was just one of the pieces magical. Yeah. We had three pieces and at the end I taught them a ton step one time step. But you know, you just, you just do things like that.

Andrea (42m 12s):
It was in here one time. She called one time. There you go.

Kathy (42m 22s):
Shuffle step to step up, you know, in the kids ate it up. But cool. It was just so basic that,

Andrea (42m 31s):
So when you say you trained and you, you think you said you had, you know, at some point investigated these different styles. I mean, I feel like today people just grow up seeing it. It dawned on me the other day I was looking through our archives that Dance Houston started before YouTube when it was like, you know, no wonder, I thought it was such a huge need to have a festival featuring all different dance styles because there wasn’t a place to see them. And at that time in 2003, you know, and in 2004, I think it came about, I think YouTube start in 2005 or so anyways, I’m, you know, now people just grow up watching it are they, are, they all exposed now?

Andrea (43m 12s):
Can we expect them to all kind of know what’s what all these things, our, as they grow up,

Kathy (43m 18s):
It didn’t matter that all these things are out there it’s whether or not you seek them out and, and watch him. I’ve got kids. They’ve never seen the full ballet. Right. And I’d even the Nutcracker. And don’t know a lot of things that, because they’ve never had the opportunity to experience it in real life. I remember taking Fly guys to see stop. And I told him dress up. Cool. I said something nice.

Kathy (43m 58s):
Yeah. And one of them shows up in a brand New Jersey and sweat pants and say, that’s not what I’m in. I want you looking a little bit nicer. And that was the beginning of when we took them to booking conferences that I told them they had to look nice and no jerseys are what are, you know, jerseys. They have no idea of what it takes are what do, unless they physically go through the motion, watching something. When you say, look nice.

Kathy (44m 39s):
We’ll look nice too. This kid was a brand New Jersey pants, shoes that weren’t dirty because that is his world.

Andrea (44m 49s):
Yeah. And the kids are not learning anything else.

Kathy (44m 53s):
Other than what’s in their little tight world. I don’t care what the seal on TV did. Did you emulate somebody on TV when you were growing up? I didn’t. I didn’t know. I mean, all we had resolved all of Lucy and come up with things. We only had two TV stations when I was,

Andrea (45m 16s):
When I was growing up the, I mean the most popular girls were like Debbie Gibson, who didn’t really Dance, but I would sing her songs and Madonna. And after lucky star, I wasn’t emulating. And you know what that is. Well, lucky start with like a pop tune from, you know, in 1985 or six, like I was five or six years old. I loved Madonna. And then she went in this direction that was shocking to me and my family. And it definitely opened my mind up to issues and ideas and perspectives. But I mean, I wasn’t gonna do her. Dance that wasn’t

Kathy (45m 54s):
Me. I was watching Jane Kelly, Fred Astaire, since she raised Debbie Reynolds

Andrea (46m 3s):
And Miller,

Kathy (46m 5s):
It was people. Those were the people I saw my mother sell tickets at the movie theater. So every night I had to go to the movie with her, I wanted to do so I saw movies 10 or 12. 10. Right. Wow. So I have some movies totally memorized for sure. And I guess that, that was a big part of my loving shove is right. Because I love that performing aspect.

Andrea (46m 40s):
I think so. And I think, you know, that separation from the silver screen, you know, it’s like, you’re looking at, I mean, not separation now what I’m saying, it’s like your seeing it, you know, you really got to see it and spend 12 times seeing. So you were able to really appreciate, appreciate the perspectives and staging and production value and that presentation element of it. Yeah.

Kathy (47m 2s):
And that’s what we didn’t have Civi at that time. This is before to me.

Andrea (47m 7s):
And I realized that that happened. Yeah. Right.

Kathy (47m 12s):
You had a TV, it was black and white and we could only watch two channels, one really. And it didn’t have much on it. But I remember going to that station, we did tell Dance. Yeah. As of today to our, or we used to go into our own, my junior year, one of our members came down with polio and she was in an iron line, the rest of her life.

Kathy (47m 52s):
And she’s a senior in high school

Andrea (47m 55s):
And getting sick. And,

Kathy (47m 57s):
And because her mother didn’t have her vaccinated, It was really sad. But we, we went over and told them that story and we were prominent in their production and their promotion, but we used to do things like that, you know, and that was a big deal to be on TV.

Andrea (48m 21s):
So

Kathy (48m 25s):
I dunno, all of that played a part. The only performing gigs we ever did we’re for the ban at half time in high school or sad, townships is cool. They were pretty bad, but we did those. The then college came in and it was different. I was introduced to ms. Chavez, guessing L Davis. She is incredible. Incredible. I still use some of her philosophies today. Can you share one with this?

Kathy (49m 5s):
Yeah. Always leave the audience, wanting to see more

Andrea (49m 9s):
Good one.

Kathy (49m 11s):
And you use music that people can sing along to find, or, you know, identify with, are in there.

Andrea (49m 20s):
Sure.

Kathy (49m 24s):
Always keep your chin up when performing cool. She instilled something in those girls, then I’ve never seen a woman do before she made you feel like a real important person.

Andrea (49m 42s):
And how so

Kathy (49m 43s):
You have some pride in what you’re doing. No matter how talented you are. She kept saying, if you’re not talented this way, you’re talented that way. And I never was a very good performer. I wanted to be, but didn’t have it. So I made myself useful. You have, by being, I had a great memory when I was younger and I can remember everyday and I can remember the first dance I ever learned today. Wow. I remembered stuff from high school. I remember things. And I taught not all of them, but some of them, but she made me realize that just because I wasn’t a good performer, then I could go on and, and, and be a part of that.

Kathy (50m 31s):
And be important is a contributor to Dance. Yeah.

Andrea (50m 39s):
In your own words, how have you

Kathy (50m 41s):
To the field of Dance well,

Andrea (50m 45s):
Mmm.

Kathy (50m 49s):
In Dance drill team, I think I contributed the idea that you don’t have to be a slap your thigh high kicker, that you can actually Dance in this modern and contemporary and opened the door for new ideas. I think I contributed to the hip hop world is putting them on stage. And that’s what I set up to do on the first song. All of these young men need a place to happen.

Andrea (51m 25s):
What year did you do that first? That first year.

Kathy (51m 28s):
Well, I think

Andrea (51m 31s):
91. Wow. Somewhere around there is a long time ago. So in 91, I’m trying to think. I mean, we had hip hop on MTV and that’s very much, you know, it’s entertainment, right.

Kathy (51m 46s):
To put it on stage means something different. Yeah.

Andrea (51m 51s):
It’s art.

Kathy (51m 54s):
Yeah. They’re showing hip hop is a gang related, something to do with gangs. And we, we battled that when we went into schools because principals thought because they had on hats and baggy pants that they were gang related in. What we were doing is doing, talking about lot of skills.

Andrea (52m 17s):
You can’t have a Baldy. And

Kathy (52m 24s):
The guys like we had coaches that would approach us when we went young audience shows, come in and said, get that head on striked. You know, they’d have a little crooked, well then make them straighten it up. I mean, just ridiculous stuff like that. One coach, we were at Texas commission on the arts, their big convention. They wanted us to come down and do and talk about the dance in schools. Well, the guy’s got up and taught him, talked about how they’d been mistreated in school.

Kathy (53m 5s):
George talked about how the coach has to run your mouth to the gym at lunch. And they just wanted on the corner and to practicing. And anyway, talked lots about, you know, to not having a place to happen in schools. Well, this coach came up to afterwards and he said, I mean, he was practically in tears. He said, I just didn’t realize I’ve thrown these kids out every day for coming in, trying to practice in the gym. Oh wow. He said, I just didn’t realize. He said, I’m going to, I’m going to tell them they can have this section to practice in.

Kathy (53m 50s):
And I just thought to myself that all by itself, that one guy was worth it if nothing else. But if we change that one month and to give some other kids a chance, but it’s been about building these kids up and teaching them how to get along in life and that they are important. They’re not throwaways, I’ve fed more kids and picked them up. And some of them have moved in with us and it’s been hard. But I mean, I believe in him.

Kathy (54m 30s):
I believe they’re extremely talented. And I believe that there is a path for them if they want to work hard enough. And that’s what I tell them. Good things come through hard work. You don’t. If, if we got a competition and we come in less, I just sell. We gotta work harder. If you win. I tell him we gotta work hard because that’s who you work as hard as she can. And winning and losing takes care of itself. That I don’t, I don’t put myself up against anybody and just put myself up against me.

Kathy (55m 13s):
And if we don’t do well, then we gotta work hard. And that’s it. That’s it? No hard. Work’s the, the thing.

Andrea (55m 27s):
Well, I want to dig into some of these materials that you have brought some from the archives. So for those of our listeners who would like to join us for this next section, please go over to YouTube. Cause we’re gonna hold up and show you some of Kathy’s memory, memory books.

Kathy (55m 47s):
And this is from the Virginia arts stuff. Yeah. This is something we went through Alvin Ailey. This is the program. Here’s the Alvin Ailey. Here’s Fly Dance, Company in the same program

Andrea (56m 12s):
With ballet Hispanico. Yay. Very cool.

Kathy (56m 17s):
Virginia arts festival is, is an article about here’s the program. We have a lot of that because we thought is important. Here’s the Vail international dance festival in the program. It’s all ballet international ballet. And Fly Dance Company as the finale. No, no, no. Just closing night. Yeah. Very cool. That’s just, that’s the Stonier. Wow. And it went, this was Paris hip hop festival.

Kathy (56m 57s):
This all really happened. More hip hop ClearLight in contemporary ballet. There’s Fly cool. I don’t know what this is. Oh, this is a black Dance festival in Austin. And Dance this is in New York. This is in Reno. Right here. There we are sweet. This is a Dance Nath festival in New York. This is what they passed out, which I thought was clever passing out bookmarks to advertise.

Kathy (57m 38s):
This is a program. Great idea. But we Dance stuff in Cooper. Union hall where Abraham Lincoln gave the famous speech in New York. Awesome. Yeah. This is sin, Mexico Monterey, Mexico streaming do or a festival here is extremely dirt to, and this is a long one gardens in New Jersey. It’s a home of some famous wealthy guy, but it’s just fascinating. The whole thing is those are just festivals. This is a, the cue sheet that The Kennedy center did for us.

Kathy (58m 25s):
Okay. We’ve performed 10 concerts sold out concerts there. They did this for us. Amazing. Did all the writings and everything. The Fly Dance Company wow. What year was this? 2004. Awesome. Okay. 2005. This is a half page article in New York times. Got it. Got it here.

Kathy (59m 1s):
Somewhere. They, here it is the actual moose pack pops in lox to set, to buy it. Yeah. And the side of the newspaper was the city. That’s the most people

Andrea (59m 24s):
Company we got four colored photos. Are you sure did? Amazing half page. Yeah. Very cool. I see Javier Garcia, George rock Williams. George Casco.

Kathy (59m 42s):
Cool.

Andrea (59m 46s):
Here’s Josie. Yeah. Cool. Love it. I thought that was,

Kathy (59m 56s):
And then getting, and this is just a piece of advertisement that we had is, is that Dance and issue a at that Christina,

Andrea (1h 0m 13s):
Christina JIA. Nellie. Yes. Well, a weekend of Texas contemporary Dance yeah.

Kathy (1h 0m 20s):
And this is just a postcards that we sent out more postcards. This is, I dunno what it all is more con this is advertisement stuff that we sent out. Nice. Oh, you got them all in suits. Yes. Fly this is interesting. This is a booking calendar and this has all the booking dates for a year.

Andrea (1h 0m 54s):
Okay. The, so this is from APAP and I see it’s the association of performing arts presenter.

Kathy (1h 1m 1s):
Yeah. If you look on there, you will see how busy we were.

Andrea (1h 1m 6s):
Oh my goodness. Wow. No wonder you couldn’t get out of bed. Keep coming. Oh, wow.

Kathy (1h 1m 17s):
Wow.

Andrea (1h 1m 21s):
Awesome. Every year we got 2004, 2005, 2006, 2003. Oh my goodness. Here’s here’s the first one too.

Kathy (1h 1m 35s):
Yeah, this is not, not is this last one? Yeah. Yeah. Not as filled up. Yeah. Good work. And I’m like, Oh, this is Dance magazine. And this is an article about Fly and Dance magazine. Cool. Okay.

Andrea (1h 2m 9s):
That’s our national magazine here in the U S

Kathy (1h 2m 13s):
Yes. And it was about hip hop and we got an, a, what year was that? 2004, 2004. This is the Kennedy center. New

Andrea (1h 2m 36s):
It is straight out of Houston. Yeah.

Kathy (1h 2m 40s):
Cool. This is the Kennedy center news. Here we are nice. This shows how much money we started with and how much we ended with. And wow. And I retired. Right? So if like, from nothing to

Andrea (1h 3m 10s):
Very close to half a million a year in annual revenue. Amazing. How has, how did Houston support you?

Kathy (1h 3m 19s):
Houston down. It started out with a $40,000 grant and arts Alliance contributed, but not as much. They always thought that we took their money and spin it out of town. But we had a full season here in Houston. So we tried convincing them that we spent that money on the season and history. And I was adamant about having a season here in Houston because I didn’t want us just to be, you know, at turn Company I wanted it.

Kathy (1h 4m 5s):
I wanted to go to company B to B down in Houston. So this endowment helped. And then the art salons and I think target gave us a couple of grants that not a big Wood that much money. We should have been Claire declared a major, you know, like,

Andrea (1h 4m 25s):
Oh yeah. Especially in 2005.

Kathy (1h 4m 28s):
Right. But they said you had to make money here in Houston. Oh, I see. They changed the rules.

Andrea (1h 4m 35s):
Yeah. But see, that’s true. That’s tough. I mean, Houston is a town that’s very steeped in tradition and they can change the

Kathy (1h 4m 44s):
Yeah. Yeah. But we should have been moved up to major. Yeah. They changed the rule. And although we were doing the full season, as much as Houston ballet was doing here in Houston, they still didn’t declare us major. So yeah.

Andrea (1h 5m 5s):
My, our first grant writer, Ernest Lewis, he said, there’s just two people, two kinds of people who want to fund you. Those who do, and those who don’t.

Kathy (1h 5m 12s):
Yeah. This is sort of the highlights. Mike did this piece and Oh, cool. Okay. It talks about 64 concerts, outstanding of Asians, 104 outreach programs and workshops sold out seven to a hundred seats for four busting concerts or the way in Saint Paul. And this is just in the year, 2040 to 2005, one season Jacob’s pillow inside, out colonial theater in Pittsburgh, Pittsville they’ll international Lincoln center, summer tour’s in Germany. And then 2004 year before 61 concerts standing ovations 110 outreach programs, 10 sold out performances as the Kennedy center.

Kathy (1h 6m 5s):
First pops concert with a symphony orchestra. Congratulations. It’s amazing. And things like this presenters I’ll have to retire from the arts committee. Now, since I will never be able to find another program to top Fly comments, Fly dancers stay in school, listen to your teacher’s work hard and surround yourself with posse people. So it’s George Casco in taking it through the streets. Cool. So tell us about George he’s right now taking care of his father, but he’s, he’s been active in resurrecting.

Kathy (1h 6m 56s):
The Company after I retired and moved to Tyler and we moved back and he’s basically running the company. Now, I’m just doing fun part choreographing in rehearsal for you and he, and couple others working on the booking in the, the mechanics taking care of costumes. I don’t do that anymore. I make the costumes, but they take care of them. So as Tom that’s, I’m not going to do that work anymore to, Oh, that’s cool.

Kathy (1h 7m 37s):
He’s are you a big birthday party last year? Yeah. That was fun. Fun. It was. Yeah. I love to get all those guys together cause they tell so many funny stories and totally, you know, I have a lot more, I could tell, but I don’t. Yeah. You all know? So how did you meet George? We did a show at his school Springwoods he came up to me and gave me his phone number. Cool. And then I did a pilot program at spring shadows and his little brother Danny was in the program.

Kathy (1h 8m 22s):
I was teaching hip hop instead of them going to PE class that I could come to hip hop class and George came over and said, I’ve got three other guys. Will you work with us? And I told him, I’d give him 30 minutes twice a week. But they gave me any lip or whatever. They were like, I want to go work. You know? Cause I was usually pretty tired by the end of the day that I worked with that group. So I started working with them and I got a grant for Colin Powell. So America’s promise. And there was a big deal about going to Mars and they were all promoting it.

Kathy (1h 9m 9s):
NASA was promoting it big time. So I got the $6,000 grant, but the dancers had to be 18 and under. So I couldn’t use Fly Dance Company so I got, I recruited George in his career. Cool. So all summer long, we did this piece called the Mart, the journey to Mars and I bought him sandwiches and I paid him $400. I thought that died and gone to heaven. When about costumes and everything.

Kathy (1h 9m 48s):
And the day I told him, I could only pay him 400 George thought it was 400 for all five of them. And it was 400 piece. And he said, I remember taking the check home and give in to my mother and she accused me of stealing it.

Andrea (1h 10m 9s):
Oh man.

Kathy (1h 10m 10s):
And does it never made that much money?

Andrea (1h 10m 13s):
He was not even 18. You know, he was young. Yeah.

Kathy (1h 10m 17s):
Then we performed at the children’s museum for the mayor and whole bunch of people. And it was pretty incredible. They, I hadn’t Mars costumes. I had wow, big black robes and they had stretch hats with pipe players, going out with ping pong balls on the end of it. And then see-through mask. And they changed him to Martians, you know, but after they landed on the planet and I had orange fabric going in so that you have, and they had chairs off to one side of the stage.

Kathy (1h 10m 59s):
And then when they, when it started with, Oh, by the way, we did it music from the planets and we use Mars for the music. So it was classical music, but they did a grad job nearby was Stan because it was these high school kids being in this production. So it was kind of fun. But that’s how I got involved with George. Show us the last items here. Oh, this is inside our hearts, Michael and me show you. Oh, that’s beautiful. Our ad. So we weren’t playing around now.

Kathy (1h 11m 43s):
This is just the Kennedy center. This is a picture of the gas. How awesome.

Andrea (1h 11m 51s):
Good. That’s George. Yeah. Nice,

Kathy (1h 11m 57s):
Cool. Publicity shots. Cute. More of the, the Q shape. This is the playbill for the charity center. Oh, I don’t even want to touch it.

Andrea (1h 12m 12s):
It is Mike’s past guest artists past Mike Wood. Yeah. Very cool and amazing.

Kathy (1h 12m 25s):
You all did it. We did we sure did. And now that they’re doing symphonies, like we did the symphony on the Cincinnati symphony, which is a major, major symphony and we did five concerts of them the last year and it’s big money. Awesome. The form of them.

Andrea (1h 12m 57s):
That’s great. You can, Support the dancers. Good job. Who is this lovely lady

Kathy (1h 13m 4s):
To me as the Dallas text in. Cool. What is the Dallas, Texas Dallas tech. San was a professional drill team, twirling drill chain for the Dallas Texans who became the Kansas city chiefs. When they lost a coin flip with the Cowboys, there were two professional teams in Dallas and they decided that it have enough market for both chains. So they flipped a coin in the Texas had to leave and they became the Kansas city chase. But for three years, I was in this group and we performed in polo grands in New York.

Kathy (1h 13m 45s):
We went to the cotton bowl like every other Saturday, Sunday in the fall and perform there. So that was my uniform and how it looked. And I was a sophomore, junior, senior, no junior senior, her first year in college. And this is my ranger it picture. I was, I kill the ranger in it for one year. I was in the band that kill her for one year and then Roger it for one.

Kathy (1h 14m 27s):
But I learned more from this lady guessing Al Davis being in the ranger Ritz. And I’ve learned from anybody. She was a phenomenal woman, really a professional and always had good things to say about girls. I really respected her for that because at that time in the sixties, so we weren’t too strong, you know, but she was very strong. I feel like I’m losing my voice. I haven’t talked this much.

Kathy (1h 15m 9s):
Speaking of we can wrap up soon, but how are you handling things since the pandemic came in? Pretty good. I, I thought I had it. I went and got tested, but it’s negative. I came down with a little fever and a cough and I was scared, but I’ve gotten over it. I think it was just allergies. And I’m trying to stay in, I’m sewing the lot of soda fountains to everything I’ve got at the house. I 12 jackets. So think in a bunch of jewelry cases. And so I’m doing Our item.

Kathy (1h 15m 49s):
I’ve got a piece I want to choreograph about the co the pen down it, but you want to tell us a little bit about your well, I, I want them all in white and I want to use Barbara Streisand’s and imagine, and it goes into Louis. Armstrong’s what a wonderful world. And when I wanted to do go slide cannons for the first part, and then when it goes into one for world, I want to change colors on their costume. And I’ve figured that out where they changes that Dance, I did a piece of drill tunes, magicians magic scarfs, and to change colors.

Kathy (1h 16m 37s):
It’s the same premise of changing their shirt collar. And I wanted to do that cause he talks about it in the piece, the wonderful colors and blue the sky. And, and so I’ve been wanting to do that and it’s, it’s really a stepping out for hip hop to do something like that. Cause it’s the slow piece, but I’ve been wanting to do it. I’d love to see it. Yeah. Well you might get to, yeah. Later on, I can’t, I still choreograph in my sleep a lot and I imagine stuff and I’ve got it all ready to go.

Kathy (1h 17m 21s):
I just need dancers. So after that, after this, we get back to rehearsal. Maybe I’ll get to do it so

Andrea (1h 17m 31s):
Well. You’ve already given us so much and I know you’re a very generous person. So I just have to ask, would you like to give us like one more words of wisdom, keep working? It is

Kathy (1h 17m 43s):
Sorry. She can, it’s the only way to achieve and keep looking forward and be positive.

Andrea (1h 17m 55s):
My guest today has Kathy Wood Kathy Wood is the artistic director and founder of Fly Dance Company Kathy thank you for being a part of Dance talk to me.

Kathy (1h 18m 3s):
Welcome panel. I enjoyed it.

Andrea (1h 18m 6s):
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe and share our podcast and reach out to us on social media. If you’d like to talk to Support DanceTalks donate to Dance Houston talk to you on Monday.