Today’s episode is a conversation with Rachel Bertone. Rachel shares the importance of choosing joy every day and how that can be a powerful mindset to start your day. She & Dr. MC also discuss what it means to develop your emotional technique and to see help when needed.
As always we love to hear from our listeners! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or topics you’d like to hear about on future episodes.
Speaker 1 00:00:26 Welcome to another podcast episode of Dr. MCs self care cabaret. I’m Theresa Melito-Conners, a PhD level self care expert in the greater Boston area with a passion for helping others take control of their health and wellbeing to find their spotlight. Today’s episode is a conversation with Rachel Bertone. Rachel Bertone is an award-winning director, choreographer and professor of theater and dance. She has staged more than 50 musicals and has garnered an international student base credits include award-winning productions of cabaret in the Heights, carousel, the wild party, gypsy kiss of the spider woman, Billy Elliot, little shop of horrors showboat hair, west side story. My fair lady and guys, and dolls. Just the name of you. She recently directed a digital piece of theater for Kate Kerrigan and Brian Lauder milks, musical of the mad ones. Upcoming Rachel will choreograph van Gogh, a new musical, which she helped co conceive, and she is choreographing little black book, an original pop rock musical about the life and times of Heidi Fleiss. She has served as a faculty member at Boston conservatory at Berkeley American repertory theater Institute at Harvard university, Emerson college and long island university. I met Rachel years ago as we grew up dancing and performing together and we stayed in touch over the years. I have taken Rachel’s musical theater dance classes and have been a big fan of her work. It has been amazing watching her career unfold. I am thrilled. She is here with us to chat today.
Speaker 1 00:02:20 Welcome Rachel to the Dr. MC self care cabaret podcast. I’m so excited to connect with you and have you here with me today.
Speaker 2 00:02:28 I’m so excited to be here.
Speaker 1 00:02:30 And I think, um, Rachel and I, oh gosh, I don’t know. We were little when we met inside of dancing together, maybe elementary school,
Speaker 2 00:02:39 Elementary school sounds correct. Yeah, it was maybe like fifth or sixth grade.
Speaker 1 00:02:47 Yeah. So late elementary school, maybe I might’ve already been in middle school, but anyway, a long time and I’ve been watching Rachel grow into a phenomenal, uh, performing artist and dancer choreographer over the years. And it’s been awesome to watch this unfold. So I’m excited to chat with you. So we’re going to dive right in question one, you work as a full-time, award-winning performing artist, director, choreographer, professor, and more, and I’m wondering how you balance everything and find time for self-care along the way.
Speaker 2 00:03:19 Woo. Always self care. You know, I’m going to start with the second part first, actually, you know, it, I preach to my students and to my actors all the time that we need to be balancing, you know, it’s about our heart and our minds, right. Just as much as the work that we put in. Right. And that takes self care. And a lot of times we don’t put that first and I’m a big advocate for actually for therapy. I say to a lot of my actors that it’s really important to be in therapy. And so when I actually used to go to therapy, my therapist would always say, you need to literally schedule in your self care time because as a driven type, a slightly OCD personality, I,
Speaker 1 00:04:07 I don’t know anybody. That’s like, I’m the total opposite.
Speaker 2 00:04:13 You know, it’s, it’s challenging we as, and, and I’m sure you can relate to this as women in the, you know, in our business and leading like busy careers. We, we want, we, we feel like there’s, this need to be perfect at everything and to keep working and to feel like we’re, we’re always busy, we’re always active. And oftentimes our own personal health can go, go to the wayside. So my therapist actually taught me to just schedule in self-care time, if that was even just going for a walk, if that was sitting down to journal, if that was even sitting down to just like color, you know, as an artist, obviously I find joy in artistic things, but just time for me. Um, and so that is, that is truly what keeps me balanced. I think when I go into my work, because then I have a clear mind, I have a clear mind to get as much done as possible.
Speaker 2 00:05:12 I can start my day off. If I start my day off with a journaling or meditation or something for me, I feel like, okay, I created that space for myself. Now I can really throw myself into my work fully joyfully. And then, and it doesn’t feel like I’m being pulled in all these different directions in terms of work. I, but that’s taken a long time. That’s, that’s yours, that’s years of practice. So I, the pandemic definitely taught me and reminded me of how important that self-care is. And, um, I was, you know, it, it, that quarantine time was a bit of a blessing in that way where I truly put myself first and now as I go, as we go back into the theater industry, as theaters opening back up, I am learning. Now I just put up a show a week ago and I was reminded, okay, Rachel, you can’t forget your self care time. You will not be as productive and you will not be, um, you won’t have the joy unless you can balance. You know, I always say body heart, mind.
Speaker 1 00:06:18 Absolutely. You bring up several really good points. One, you know, no shame in working with a therapist. I work with a therapist also and have for several years now. And I definitely suggest that strongly in all of my sessions when I’m working with folks in encouraging them to really have that person you can talk to and build that relationship. Um, it’s very important, but also, you know, scheduling the self care because, and you, you said it you’re more productive when you do. And that’s the piece. I feel like people don’t quite understand. They’re like, well, I don’t have the time. It’s like, yes, but if you make it a priority and you make the time actually will free up other time because you’re better focus. You’re able to be more creative. You’re able to like, just function better as a human, but it’s fascinating people don’t under,
Speaker 2 00:07:06 They don’t. And I often find that instead of using that time for yourself, you’re going to use that time being anxious about something else as a part of your day. So if you can clear your mind ahead of time, maybe that anxiety won’t even come up possibly or better. Or as I say, you’re better equipped to handle that moment when the anxiety and the stress pops up because you’ve taken that time for yourself. And like I said, much easier said than done, but
Speaker 1 00:07:36 Of course it’s actually the whole reason I got into self care. And I’ve told this story before, but just to give a cliff notes version, I, at first I thought it was, you know, something special just to me, that I was feeling really burnt out, working in this really fast pace, um, intense environment. It was a therapeutic high school with, with students with lots of social emotional needs. And it was difficult to process all the information coming at me and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I didn’t even really know what that meant, uh, fresh out of grad school, you know? And, uh, but I thought this was unique. I thought, oh, I must be the only person who have ever experienced this. And so I started studying it for my own benefit, turned to the works of Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer and those folks. And then I realized, wait a minute, this is not the special to me. There’s a whole, this is a problem, which is why then when I went on to further my education with my, uh, PhD, you know, this made sense to me to, to really study this and how I can help people do better with this, because it is important that we put our needs first. So it’s excellent.
Speaker 2 00:08:40 I feel, I was going to say, I feel like people also don’t realize that there are, there are tools and skills and, and, and professionals who, who done the work already for us. And so, you know, sometimes there’s a stigma with, oh, let’s go to this self care section at the bookstore and pick up the, and no it’s, and they’re all preaching the same thing or very similar ideas of the same thing. And it’s, you know, for me, it was life changing when I got ahold of those books and those, um, those experts in the field.
Speaker 1 00:09:14 Do you have a favorite? And I’m wondering, um,
Speaker 2 00:09:17 I mean, I have, I’m trying to think of all the books I have of a Wayne. I love actually I highly recommend, um, uh, by Gabrielle Bernstein, Bernstein Bernstein,
Speaker 1 00:09:30 Not a hundred percent sure. I know who she is. I’m not sure if it’s Dean or something. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:09:35 Super attractor. And so, oh, she obviously, she’s a huge, I don’t know if she studied underweight or what, like once again, like, um, she has lots of her own mentors and it’s very much pro you know, practicing, you know, the law of attraction and how to take care. So I dove in, uh, delved into that during the pandemic this past year. And I became a huge fan of her work. And I also am a big fan of Julia Cameron who, um, the artist’s way is another,
Speaker 1 00:10:07 Oh, nice. That’s on my, that’s on my to read list. I haven’t gotten there yet though.
Speaker 2 00:10:12 It’s on my recommended texts for all my college students.
Speaker 1 00:10:16 Oh, there we go. Professor Burton’s recommended reading.
Speaker 2 00:10:22 I love it. That’s
Speaker 1 00:10:24 Awesome. Well, and it’s true too. I mean, our society doesn’t promote this, right. Our society wants us to burn the candle at both ends and where being a workaholic is some badge of honor it’s. So it becomes a bit of an act of resistance. It’s a bit rebellious to be like, no, my needs first, but it’s so much better for us. And so much better, you know, to be healthy and happy and productive in
Speaker 2 00:10:47 The long run a hundred percent. I couldn’t agree more
Speaker 1 00:10:50 Recently. I noticed you had a post on social media about your mindset, and I love this and I thought it was so beautiful. And, um, it was about choose joy, how you choose joy every day. So I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share a little bit more about that and how you kind of came to that specific mindset and affirmation or realization, whatever you want to call it.
Speaker 2 00:11:12 Absolutely. So I was a junior in college actually, or a senior. And, you know, I struggled with a lot of people who were close to me who took on the mentality of being a victim who took on just accepted toxic, um, cycles, surrounded themselves with toxic people didn’t know how to break that cycle. Didn’t know how to get out. And I actually started reading the artist’s way. That was a book recommended to me. There was a time when the secret first came out and I love
Speaker 1 00:11:46 This
Speaker 2 00:11:48 Thing. And everyone’s like, what’s the secret? And I remember I just got so excited about all of this positive psychology. And I started just reading. And I remember I was, I was in that toxic cycle. I didn’t, I wasn’t motivated to, I went to the Boston conservatory for college and I wasn’t motivated to get up and go to classes. And I just felt, I don’t know, I just was, I was in a rot and I just remember a mentor said to me, you know, what, if you can just wake up, just wake up in the morning and just choose. I don’t know if she exactly said choose joy, but she’s like, I’m going to get up and start my day, like hello world. And it was a little cheesy for me at the time. Of course, anyone who knows me now knows I’m very optimistic and positive.
Speaker 2 00:12:33 Um, maybe two positive, positive Pollyanna. Um, but I, I started just embracing that and I would wake up and I said, I can either choose joy or I can choose to be a victim. And I, every day I just woke up and I would just throw the covers off, no matter how tired I was or how defeated I felt. And I said, I’m choosing joy. And I got up and I, it doing that every day. It’s like practicing those affirmations practice, positive affirmations, practicing mantras. Uh, it truly changed my life. And I talked, you know, when I talked to my students, now I remind them, I say friends or not remind them. I tell them this isn’t who I am now. And my mindset is not how I used to be. I had to teach myself, I had to practice this mindset. And so choosing joy, I mean, what, I mean, if we’re not choosing joy every single day, I don’t know why we live every day.
Speaker 2 00:13:33 And if we can’t bring joy to other people and I, you know, as a teacher, as an educator, as a director, um, I always say to my actors, if you’re having fun on stage, if you’re embracing joy, the audience will feel that joy and the audience will have fun. And I believe law of attraction and it’s contagious. Joy is contagious. So I believe if I can emit joy, then I hope that I can touch other people’s lives with that. And it’s just become a life mantra for me. And, but it’s, once again, it took practice and commitment to that. And that’s really hard. And I can’t say every day walk, I get out of my bed and I’m like, woo, can’t wait to start today. You know, a lot of us had a very, this past year was traumatic. I, and I personally went through a lot of difficult circumstances, um, and a lot of grief and it was very hard to choose joy on, you know, for the last several months.
Speaker 2 00:14:31 Um, uh, and just, you know, for viewers to know listeners to know, you know, I recently lost my mom. So that was, you know, that that was difficult, but I’m slowly starting to remember that there can still be joy in life, even amongst grief and there, and there are those silver linings and just reminding myself that is helping me to slowly, slowly get back a little bit onto that. So, but that, you know, that’s from years of work too. So it goes like, you know, you S you’ve set that foundation so that in these moments it’s like as dancers, we build technique so that when we’re sick, when we’re injured, when we’re not emotionally there, we have our technique that we can always hang on to. And so for me, I feel like this has been like, it’s like my emotional technique. And so, oh, I love that I can hold onto that foundation. I’ve, I’ve, that’s the first time I’m ever saying that. So I’m going to, uh, and
Speaker 1 00:15:31 We might brand that maybe emotional techniques that might be the podcast episode title, we’ll call it emotional technique, choosing <inaudible> like that. I know it’s really important. And I think, and, and I think what struck me a lot too, is that I saw that post, you put up with this gorgeous picture and for our listeners, um, you know, if you, if you see I’ll put up a headshot of Rachel, when we see it, she’s gorgeous. So was beautiful photo. And in this choose joy. And I knew privy to the information that she did recently, um, experienced a tremendous loss, and it really struck me. It was like, here’s this young woman with the choosing joy in light of everything else going on in, in a very, um, tumultuous time where choosing joy is not easy. Certainly. Um, the last several months, year, I don’t even know where we’re at now, 15 months or so has been, um, very challenging, let alone, you know, then losing a loved one on top of it.
Speaker 1 00:16:32 So I just admire you for that. And I think it’s really important. And, and of course, not every day is sunshine and roses, but we have a choice and you can choose to be a victim. You can choose to be joyful. You can choose all sorts of things and maybe joyful isn’t the right word for someone listening to this, or maybe it is. But I think it’s really important and something to think about, and we can, I know I can think of people in my life that I’ve crossed paths with, who definitely live in that cycle of toxicity in that kind of victim mindset and allow themselves to spiral in that. Um, and then they can’t, they can’t get out of it. And I also promote the secret when I’m presenting in my workshops, who I love it. I do warn people that the documentary is a little cheesy, but the teachings, the teachings though, and what the messages is very real of what they’re teaching you and telling you to do. So I definitely, um, like that the laws of attraction and all of that work as well. Lots of fun.
Speaker 2 00:17:26 Awesome. And just to say something off of what you said, you know, um, something I’ve been learning is maybe you said, maybe it’s not a joyful day. Um, I said to my dad, once, you know, I don’t re I don’t say, I hope you have a, I hope you have a good day. I say, I hope you have an adequate day. And I, and this isn’t a super attractor. It’s grabbed the lowest hanging fruit in those moments, even if it’s the lowest hanging fruit, and eventually you’ll get a little higher, but at least try to get the lowest hanging fruit. And then eventually you work your way up that emotional scale. Um, and so right now, you know, my family and I are having adequate days and that is better than bad days, which we’re going to have bad days too, you know, but, um, and it will change over time. So yeah, I just want to,
Speaker 1 00:18:20 No, I like that. And I think that’s important too, because somebody may be listening and thinking, well, I don’t, I don’t want to choose joy. What else you got? Like, I need something a little less like, so maybe you can choose let’s have an adequate day to have a, or maybe a productive day, or just try to find something that went well that day, even if the whole day maybe wasn’t, but maybe you can find one, at least one thing.
Speaker 2 00:18:43 And that intention of I’m going to breathe today. Maybe that’s, maybe that’s all you can, I’m going to breathe. I’m going to take a one hour at a time. That’s okay. That’s, that’s better than not getting out of bed.
Speaker 1 00:18:55 Um, a hundred percent awesome. So I know, you know, that the performing arts was, you know, hit particularly hard over the last 15 months or so since COVID hit. So I’m wondering, you know, many folks in the performing arts had projects put on hold or even canceled altogether due to COVID. And I know, um, you know, you were affected with that. Of course. So I’m wondering, you know, how did that affect you? How did you, how are you overcoming that? And is there anything specifically that you’re looking forward to kind of restarting or getting back into when it’s safe to do so?
Speaker 2 00:19:32 Absolutely. So for my directing and choreographing, I had, I think six, five or six shows that summer that I had already, you know, we were about to hold auditions. We were already starting casting. And one by one, you know, in the theater, we were holding out for a while. Oh, maybe we’ll have, let’s push it back a month, let’s push it back a month. Let’s push it back. And eventually, you know, very quickly as, as I’m sure you can gather by now I am an optimist, but this past year I immediately became a realist. And I just said, you know what? It’s okay. You know, and, and I felt very privileged. I felt privileged being able to say that I would be okay with the arts returning, because I’m also a professor. So I have a part-time, I’m an adjunct faculty member. So I, I knew I still had a paycheck coming in just to be very clear with that.
Speaker 2 00:20:28 Um, but as for all of my shows, those all got canceled and I, and I have my own business. I thought, oh gosh, I won’t be able to teach in person. I won’t be able to hold my workshops. How am I going to as a freelancer? How am I going to pay my bills? And I am I, I chose positive mindset. And I said, how am I going to flip the script? How am I going to find the silver lining? And I immediately moved my business to zoom. Like as soon it was like pretty much early on day one. I was like, Hey friends. You know, I reached out to my community online, the beauty of social media. I said, who wants to take some zoom classes? And people were hungry for communal experiences and to keep training. And so I was very blessed that my personal business actually grew in tenfold.
Speaker 2 00:21:20 And I, you know, some people were, were like I say, privileged, because that wasn’t the case for a lot of artists. A lot of artists are, are still struggling. A lot of them are my friends and it’s been a very challenging time. And it was very hard. Um, at times to get motivated, I have friends who it was very motivated if you didn’t have a project to work on, how do you get yourself up to do anything? Another answer that I immediate, I immediately threw myself into collaborations and I, I actually now have four new works as across, oh my God, we’re new works for new musicals that, um, I’ve been working on over the past 15 months that are now actually really starting to launch. And so I really, I really hope that those turn out to be something and it’s going to be, you know, looking back, wow, we started that during a pandemic.
Speaker 2 00:22:14 And it was just so important to like, to moat, to keep ourselves motivated. We, I needed accountability. And I found that key, having friends too, like, Hey, we’re going to meet on zoom this week seven o’clock, let’s see you there. And that kept us driven. That kept us committed. That reminded us that we are artists, no matter what we can keep creating no matter what. And that’s just, and that’s very my mindset. That’s, you know, Hey, how do I, how do I make this work for me? And I it’s this foundation that I’ve established that really let, I’m really grateful for that allowed me to say, okay, I’m stuck at home. How do I make this work? I am still an artist. I am still going to create, but I did just recently get back. I did have my first gig last week and I directed and choreographed a production.
Speaker 2 00:23:05 We staged in five days and I’m actually going back next week to go back to tech and open the show. So I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel going back. I actually just wrote a story on Instagram. And, you know, with the reminder that it’s still okay to say no, that we just went through a very traumatic year, that you might not be ready to go back to work, especially as a theater artist, you might not be ready to. It’s a very emotional experience. And, and so it’s okay to say, no, you don’t have to say yes to every opportunity knocking at your door. I obviously really wanted to work with this theater company and getting into the room and working with my actors. I just thought, oh my God, I am so lucky that this is what I do for a living.
Speaker 2 00:23:49 And that I didn’t leave the arts over the last year. And that was one thing I have so many friends who said, Hey, you know what, I’m going to shift gears. I want to start doing this. And that’s totally okay, too. If that’s what brings them joy is leaving the arts and pursuing something else. That’s amazing. But for me, my journey was I ha I, I have to stay in the arts no matter what. And when I put up the show, I thought, okay, I can still do this. Okay. So, um, I just can’t, I can’t wait to just be in the rehearsal room again with, with a whole company. You know, this was a smaller cast because of, you know, transitioned back into theater and COVID, but, um, I can’t wait to be in front of like a 50 person cast again. And just,
Speaker 1 00:24:38 I got an, a full hot performance do a full house. It’s nothing like that. Energy
Speaker 2 00:24:42 In yours. Yeah. So the energy, it, it was, it was quite emotional being in the rehearsal room for all of them. Oh, I’m sure it was. And we’re paying tribute to that in the show. You know, I think it’s important to acknowledge the times we’re in and w why are we coming? How can we use theater now to heal? How can we use theater now to make change? And I feel like I have an even bigger purpose now returning to theater.
Speaker 1 00:25:08 That’s awesome. I’m so excited to see what, what comes out of this and for what’d you say, four or five shows in kind of the creative process, that’s all movable.
Speaker 2 00:25:18 So you’re working on last year. Yeah. I had four, I think four shows that I was supposed to do. I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re all going to come back, unfortunately, but
Speaker 1 00:25:30 Well, no, the ones you said that you’re like working on developing like new work.
Speaker 2 00:25:34 Yeah. So I have, yeah, I have about four. Um, one, one is about, um, Vango. And I was
Speaker 1 00:25:41 Going to ask you about that one.
Speaker 2 00:25:43 Cause you mentioned about a, a sizzle. Um, it’s it was originally going to be a dance play. Um, but now we’re turning it into a musical and we just brought on board a lyricist and a librettist. And we, I just, I was, I just came from a meeting for that and we’re developing that. So, and it’s going to be told through the eyes of Joe Vincent sister-in-law and his brother’s Fios wife. So very excited for them that’s in the works. And then some other projects I can’t reveal just yet, but that’s
Speaker 1 00:26:15 Okay.
Speaker 2 00:26:16 But hopefully you’ll be able to hear about them in the future.
Speaker 1 00:26:20 Oh, that’s really awesome. And I love too that even with COVID happening, you were able to kind of look at it and say, okay, we can turn this. We can still teach on zoom. And I think, you know, like you said, you’ve even been able to reach a broader base of students now and students from all over the world probably now can find you and join your classes and train with you. And that’s so cool to have that outreach. It’s really
Speaker 2 00:26:43 Cool. Yeah. I have friends in Hawaii and Germany and it’s, it’s pretty magical to be able to stay connected to all of my friends and former students. So in that way, it’s been a blessing. I mean, nothing as I’ve said this whole year, nothing will ever take away from a live in person experience, like no, nothing, but in terms of access affordability, which I’m big on accessibility and affordability, this has opened up the eyes, especially in theater, on what can we do to make theater more accessible.
Speaker 1 00:27:19 Yeah, no, that’s awesome. I love it. So I’m wondering, you know, you also in your work as a professor, of course you work with many college students and young adults and, you know, hoping to pursue careers, ultimately in, in performing arts, I’m assuming that’s the goal of many of them. And so I’m wondering what is one piece of advice you have given to students? And you’ve mentioned a couple already, but I’m going to see what your, what’s your number one to how to help them navigate these challenging times and embarking on careers in the performing arts, which can be unpredictable at best.
Speaker 2 00:27:50 Absolutely. You know, I have a lot of sayings that I say to my students, I sound like a broken record, probably I guess, a similar mindset. You know, I always tell my students, if not now, then when, and I think I really try to practice what I preach. I really, I really do. So, you know, when, when the, when the pandemic hit, I thought, okay, I’m not getting any younger. I have to keep my career going. I have to keep finding joy in being creative. And I found those ways. So I always try to teach, I always try to instill in my students, like, how can you continuously grow as an artist, but more importantly as a human being. So if you’re not doing this self care work, if you’re not doing the work on yourself as an artist, all of this is for not right.
Speaker 2 00:28:38 So, so I said, okay, great. Use this time, use this past, use this time. Okay. Last year, this whole past year to, you know, yes. Like grow your business, you know, you know, if you’re doing your branding, yes. Do all of that. But do the self work that you need now that we usually never have never have time for. And so now I’m like, and I’ve said this over and over again. If, if you were privileged enough to be safe in your home and be able to continue your work, like you were not able to find time this past year to work on yourself and to take care of yourself, then you wasted this time. Now I know that not everyone was in that position. So that’s why I consider it a privilege to have been able to work on myself. So I’m always trying to tell them to like, do the, the heart and mind work that you need to do, because you can have all of the technique in the world. You can be the most amazing performer, but if you don’t have that, the drive, the positive, the sense of joy that you need, this business is too hard. And I, you know, and I have great respect for artists and we sometimes we do the impossible, but we are also not, you know, with all due respect to my artists, like we’re not performing brain surgery. So this should be, uh,
Speaker 1 00:30:00 Should be
Speaker 2 00:30:00 Fun. It should be fun. At the end of the day, it takes a lot of work. I’m not saying it’s not years and years of work, but we need to be finding the joy. And if you are not finding joy, coming to class every single day, also theater school is way too expensive. So me doing that, so just that you want to be doing so. So I’m always trying to help them just get in touch with themselves and figure out who are you as an artist. And more importantly, who are you as a human being? A lot of times artists just interchange, you know, it’s so much a part of their identity, which isn’t bad. I think it’s a beautiful thing as artists. I feel like that’s just a part of our DNA, but a lot of us restrictive that. So now who are, you you’ll be a creative person. Absolutely. Maybe your creativity was just using a different way. And so I helped my students and a lot of my artists, like how do you continue to bring in an income? How do you continue to wake up each morning and get motivated to go work out? How do you get motivated to take the class online? And once again, it comes, it always comes down to the self and the self work. And so I think I answered part of your question.
Speaker 1 00:31:14 Well, it was, what was the piece of advice that you would give students, help them navigate these challenging times? And I think you did, you did
Speaker 2 00:31:21 Hit upon it.
Speaker 1 00:31:24 Well, I think it’s important, especially with, you know, we’re talking about performing arts and this is something obviously that I have a lot of experience in. And for folks that don’t know my undergraduate degree is in theater. I was been dancing since I was three. That’s how Rachel and I met you many moons ago. I do have professional credits to my name. I though had to make a decision. At one point it was, I was not finding joy in it. And I was not, I was traveling back and forth to New York for auditions. I was working on feature films in Boston, choreographing community and professional productions locally, but it was not, it wasn’t enough for me to do it full-time and it wasn’t, it didn’t feel stable enough. So, I mean, that was a really hard decision to make truthfully to decide, you know, what?
Speaker 1 00:32:11 This is taking the joy out of something. That’s very precious to me. And I still love to dance five minute dance parties, my favorite Lizzo song or whatever I’m vibing on that day. Like, like that’s still, it’s still where I turn for joy. Dancing has always been something that has been a safe space for me and something that I do for my own wellbeing. So when I realized it wasn’t going to be something that felt, um, safe to pursue at that level, you know, it was like a full-time thing. It was a very difficult decision, but these are also the point I’m trying to make. These are transferable skills though, to what we’re talking about. Like people sometimes say to me, they’re like, oh, you’re so good at presenting or, you know, your energy and even on zoom, like you come across, it’s like, yeah, well, that’s, that’s actually years of training like that.
Speaker 1 00:32:59 Wasn’t by accident. That was my mom spending a lot of money on dance lessons and performing and costumes and everything else in an undergraduate degree from Emerson college. I mean, sometimes I joke and I’m like, I have an undergraduate degree in acting like I can do this, you know, and I make a joke of it. But because now working in education and being the self-care expert, I mean, it’s not necessarily a traditional trajectory that one may have found themselves on, but it makes sense. And these are though transferable skills. So for your students, you know, if they don’t go on to win Tony awards and perform full time, like these are still skills, they can use
Speaker 2 00:33:34 A hundred percent. And, you know, I say this even about, I mean, think of all of our friends who danced with us growing up who are incredibly talented and stopped after high school or stopped after college. And my, you know, my younger sister who we danced with too, you know, being a dancer, being an actor, being in the arts, there’s so much discipline there. They recently ranked dances, I think the most, what was it the most? Not going to say it correctly. I don’t want to say strenuous, but I think like the most physically demanding job, like it was number one dance, maybe choreography actually got number nine, which I was shocked about. It is incredibly challenging. Mentally, physically, emotionally, we have to deal with rejection early on. We have to as
Speaker 1 00:34:19 Caught near constant.
Speaker 2 00:34:21 I mean, we are developing very thick skin at a very young age. I don’t think any child or young adult who does the arts and then leave, decides to leave the arts is suddenly at a disadvantage or suddenly like, oh, well that was a waste of all of that money and years of training. Absolutely not. I look at so many of my artists, friends who have gone into so many different careers and I’m like, I see that performer and it’s made them that much more successful for it. I believe I am a better teacher and a better business woman because I’m an artist. I, you know, I absolutely, I teach that. I teach that in workshops on like, and the same for, you know, you get it. And, and I think it’s also, it is incredibly difficult to, to say that out loud, like what you did to say, you know what, to pursue this as a full-time career to, to actually say that as an artist saying, you know what, this isn’t bringing me enough joy.
Speaker 2 00:35:20 It’s not bringing enough financial stability, whatever that might be for someone to be able to say, I’m going to go a different direction. And what I teach my students a lot. And I say this as I, you know, I always thought I’d be performing. I thought I was going to be in a ballet company. And then I was like, oh, nevermind. I won’t be in a ballet. I’ll be a theater performer. Oh, oh, now I’m a choreographer. Oh, now I’m a driver. I never took me a long time to realize this, but those were never failures. Those were just detours directing me to my ultimate true calling.
Speaker 2 00:35:53 And the path you went on was guiding you to your true calling. And I, and I just, well, we can learn from our decisions, but I never necessarily, I don’t necessarily believe they’re like wrong quote, wrong turns. We take on this journey called life. It’s all teaching us more and more skills it’s teaching us about ourselves. And, and so I don’t regret any choices I made along that, you know, journey of my career. And, and, and that’s a really difficult, especially for young artists. That’s a hard thing to be able to say, oh, I’ve done this my whole life. This is what I, this is the only thing I know. I can’t leave it. And sometimes people stay so unhappy and they stay in it and I’m like, Hm. But look at what you said, which was so beautiful. I, you still turn to dance for joy. It doesn’t mean it always, we will never not be artists. And I, and I believe that of so many different professions, you know, um, but especially artists that’s, um, it’s just a part of our DNA. I always say, you know,
Speaker 1 00:36:53 Oh, a hundred percent. And you went, I might get emotional telling you this. But so I was presenting back when we could see people, I was doing an in-person workshop and at a pretty big conference, I was pretty proud to have gotten this, this gig. And I was presenting on self care and it was one of my early ones. And at the end of the session, I kind of was like, it was, it went really, really well. Like the, the, the audience, the, the participants were like all about it. I think I got a round of applause at the end and it just, it felt so good. And I called my mother afterwards and I said, you know, this was a really roundabout way to ensure that I still get to perform. And it was in that moment that I understood that actually what I am doing is so still related to my performing arts skills, even though it’s like a very non, non linear path.
Speaker 1 00:37:42 And there were definitely some detours along the way, as you said, but it’s really, those skills will never hurt me. And I had someone years ago, someone close to me to make a rather fresh comment about I was going to get my master’s in school counseling. And they said in a super supportive way, oh, so what’s going on with that theater degree? I guess you’re really not using that. Huh. And I thought, Ooh, ouch. First of all, I am. And like, but in maybe in a different way, like somewhat horrified, but you know, um, I’m sure I said something sassy back in the moment I don’t re I don’t remember exactly. And it might not be appropriate for my podcast listeners, but I remember though in that it actually stuck with me though. I was like, wow. But like, but I am using those skills and education is never bad.
Speaker 1 00:38:27 And these are transferable skills. And they helped me all the time. I mean, in, in meetings with different folks where I really have to like stand up and express myself, or if I’m going to stand in front of a crowd of people and get their attention and entertain them and teach them like, these are skills that are all things I draw upon that I learned through that, you know, dancing and that discipline, man, people need more discipline. Like we got back in ballet classes back in the day and at Boston ballet too, like, you didn’t mess around you. You didn’t have any, um, no wiggle room for messing around.
Speaker 2 00:39:03 People have, people am generalizing of course right now. But a lot of people underestimate the demand of being in the arts and being an artist. And for I’ll relate to, to your story in the sense that, you know, right. Being a quote dancer, people, often people associate dancers as not being as smart as actors. I learned as I went into musical theater and I want to be like, dancers are so smart, don’t even start. But as I continue to quote, climb the ladder, becoming a choreographer, becoming a director, I had great imposter syndrome over the years because I went for dance. I didn’t go to school for theater. So, so much of my training over the years was assistant directing and assistant choreographing, you know, Broadway directors and, and being in the room and self-teaching myself. And I got a, I got a lot of, I got several of those snide comments over the years. I remember the first I ever directed someone on my team and I’m paraphrasing, uh, said, w w didn’t want to talk to me about something with the design? And she said, um, well, I mean, you wouldn’t understand this anyways. You’re only a dancer.
Speaker 1 00:40:29 Oh,
Speaker 2 00:40:31 No. Rachel now would have had a fantastic comeback for that. But Rachel then was still learning, was still finding herself. Um, I was still, I was much younger and I’ve learned, you know, being a younger woman in this industry has definitely had its challenges. And, and then the stigma of, so I used to hide being a dancer. Like I was always getting caught. I was always getting hired to direct and choreograph because that’s a skillset. Not a lot of people have. And I should find that as like, when I, when I was younger, I should have found that as like, oh my gosh, look, look at how much you can direct and choreograph Rachel. But I often found that I was like, oh no, I don’t want people to associate me being a dancer because then they will think I’m a directors and actors director, or they won’t think right. And I had to. And I, and I, I just committed to myself to say, get those noises out of your head, get those negative thoughts. They were just noise. It was noise, noise, noise, noise,
Speaker 1 00:41:30 And lots of
Speaker 2 00:41:31 Noise, lots of noise. You know, whatever that might come from. And I said, no, you’re doing the work, Rachel, you deserve this, you’ve earned this, do the work. And I’m so glad I did because it’s resulted in now in it. But you know, my career as a director and choreographer, so it’s, and now, now I embrace my dance. I know that being a dancer and a choreographer makes me that much stronger of a director and absolutely come full story is that there were several directors who, who don’t understand stage pictures, who don’t understand how to move and how to breathe and how to feel the tempo of a scene. And I know that so much of that just inherently comes from my training. And so once again, even though it’s still in the arts, I sometimes it’s just amazing that I tried to block that part of me out for so many years. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. That makes me a stronger artist. And that’s hard for, and so many people deal with that on so many different,
Speaker 1 00:42:39 Right? Again, I feel like that’s really transferable to even, you know, our listeners who aren’t in the performing arts maybe have never done anything in the, in the performing arts don’t consider themselves an artist in that way. And definitely though these are very real transferable experiences,
Speaker 2 00:42:56 A hundred percent
Speaker 1 00:42:57 That was beautifully put, thank you. You’ve shared so much with us today. I love it. I wasn’t sure where the conversation would go. It’s always fun to see where it goes. And I want though, before we go you to say your contact information, folks want to reach out and take classes with you, or just follow all your beautiful posts on social media. What can we do that?
Speaker 2 00:43:17 Um, so I have a website, Rachel bertone.com where you can find different services, professional development services that I offer. Um, one-on-one training. Like I said, workshops, um, on Facebook, I have a group called musical theater with Rachel Bertoni, which is where I post all of my open dance classes that I hold, um, soon to be all through my website, but that’s still being under construction a little bit and on Instagram, which is where you found the choose joy. I think, um,
Speaker 1 00:43:52 It was either Instagram or Facebook.
Speaker 2 00:43:54 That’s Rachel Dopper tone and always happy to, I love meeting new people. I love expanding my community. I love being able to help, you know, young artists, but like you’re saying, you know, maybe it’s someone I’ve worked with people who just want to develop more confidence in their speaking skills who want to develop more confidence. I have a lot of friends who have started their own personal businesses, you know, or they’re selling products. And just like, how do I, like, how do I express myself? How do I, how am I able to get in front of a group of people and feel, and engage and with them. And so I love being able to help and mentor in that way. So this has been such a joy.
Speaker 1 00:44:35 That’s awesome. Yeah. Thank you. I really appreciate you
Speaker 2 00:44:39 Being a part of this. I think it’s so I think it’s so incredible what you’re offering, uh, your community and beyond. And I’m, I’m so excited to share this with my community because it’s so important. Self-care is so important. So thank you for your work.
Speaker 1 00:45:03 Oh my God. It was so great to connect with Rachel. I can see and hear so much of myself in her story as well. And I love that she found self-help books and the tools she needed to take care of herself at a young age and recognize the importance of it. In my work. I hope to reach more young folks and engage them in the importance of caring for the self. It is so true that when you make that shift and you prioritize yourself, it actually makes you more productive and more able to care for others. I know that seems backwards, but you will just have to believe me on it or better yet. Try it for yourself. And I love the term emotional technique. It really is as artists and dancers, we know how important technique is, but your emotions are so, so important too.
Speaker 1 00:45:52 And they can be complicated to unravel and manage how you react to stress rejection and more. Self-care allows you to build these skills and your emotional technique and see if you can practice choosing joy, make it a conscious effort to choose joy. If joy is too strong, try something else. Some days will be better than others. And that’s okay. And remember, there are no wrong turns in life, but maybe a few detours along the way, embrace the journey and enjoy the ride. Thanks for listening to this episode. Remember to subscribe and rate this podcast on your preferred player, the ratings help us grow and share the message of self-care. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, please reach out directly by emailing podcast at Dr. MC self care.com that’s D R M C self care.com and come join the cast party at Dr. MCs self care cabaret on Facebook and Instagram at Dr. MC self care or on my website, Dr. MC self care.com. Be sure to like subscribe and love me across all my social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on self care. Thanks. Be well and do good.