'In the Labs' with Jose Soto
‘In the Labs’ is a new blog series of personal interviews and podcasts showcasing artists and go-doers in their natural habit. We find out what goes behind the scenes when they are working in the lab. Today, I have the pleasure to interview Jose Soto about his struggles and his mindset of everyday life.
(Forewarning: For email interviews, I encourage my guests to write freely without worrying too much about grammar/spelling mistakes in order to grab the most authentic response and to make this interview seem more personal. Please excuse any mistakes you may find!)
Jose Soto is a teacher, choreographer, and a performer located in Arizona and travels around to many different studios and states inspiring others to do what they love. Let’s explore what goes on in the lab with Jose and why it’s important to follow what your heart says.
Dan: “Don’t Think, Just Feel <3!” - I admire this quote every time I see it in your videos and posts. How did it come about? And why is it so important to you?
I started telling my students ‘turn off your brains but turn on your heart…' - Jose Soto
Jose: As human beings, we overthink sometimes and lose the effect on a lot of things because we tend to let our mind wonder and start questioning everything because we hide behind our minds sometimes and forget that we also have a heart. You can say it started with questioning feelings.
Some question 'should I love'? And some just 'simply love!’. So I took that inspiration from my regular life and applied it to my dance life and my art and I started telling my students “turn off your brains but turn on your heart to the fullest capacity you have and just let go”. It's important to me because it’s this symbol <3! It’s a reminder to just feel whenever I get nervous or a bit scare I look at my tattoo on my wrist of that symbol and it reminds me to just let go and love what I do.
Dan: What most people see on social media are pictures of the end results or videos of finalized production, but would you mind exposing what your typical work day is behind the scenes? What are some things you do everyday to progress yourself in this journey of life?
Jose: I love this question! I would not be opposed to be posting videos of me before and after. The only problem is that I always forget to record. Our mistakes makes us who we are. We learned from every single one of them. A ballet dancer didn't get that good in one day. It took many falls, bruises, tears, blood, and some doubts to make the end result look effortless. It's important to let people see that you go to struggles as well before your triumphs.
Things that I do everyday is to thank God for giving me another day of life, my strength to keep going, and my health to keep pushing. Most important I remind myself I'm here for a reason and I'm here to make an impact on anyone's hearts who wants to learn from me.
Dan: Everyone goes through tough times and obstacles throughout their career. What would be the biggest struggle that you’ve faced and how did you manage to overcome it or if you’re still in the struggle, how are you handling it?
Jose: Struggles will always be there, big or small. It all depends on how we see them we have the power sometimes to make them little or big. All my childhood, teen and adult life, I have been illegal in this country till recently, 3 years ago. I was able to apply for the dream act thanks to President Obama. This gave me the chance to apply for a working visa. It took a lot of patience, help and money to receive it but it was at least something.
Not having documentation and trying to pursue a career in the arts was hard being an adult but God didn't make me weak, and so I stayed strong regardless of the outcome. It's been 3 years since I've been more legal than before. I have a license, social security card, and now I'm able to travel and teach to different states in the U.S. All these things I couldn't done before but my motivation stayed strong even in my hardest hours and once I got a green light, nothing stopped me. There are a few struggles that I still need to face, like for the next step is becoming a citizen but it's all in Gods hands and my determination to make that happen.
Dan: We’re all artists. At times, we all need inspiration to help us grow and be creative. How do you go about finding it?
Jose: Different artist need different fuels but we all need is our hearts. Music is a huge part of my inspiration and also life itself. We are going to have our happy moments and our hard moments and that's fuel right there to create, well for me it is. Also my students are a huge motivation and inspiration in my everyday life. Sometimes when I get lost and want to find myself I will go to a studio and shut my brain off and just feel the music and let go, that will be the quickest reminder for me of why i love what I do.
Dan: We all have our procrastination days but in the end we all have that drive to continue working hard. What motivates you to do what you do?
Jose: Some people need medicine or therapy to keep them motivated, strong, and sane. Well, that's dance for me. If i stop everything will go dark. My motivation is my faith and my heartbeat. As long as I have both, I have a reason to live everyday and hope to make a difference in someone's life.
Dan: As you may know or seen that most of Dualistique’s designs are left to be vague allowing the person to define the meaning behind the apparel. What’s your favorite design so far (don’t necessarily have to own it) and what does it mean to you?
Jose: First of all I think pandas are the best thing ever! But my favorite shirt, I own and that I love dearly from Dualistique’s design is the simple white v-neck shirt that has an ice cream cone that says “Stay Humble”. It's an amazing message and some people in this industry seem to forget sometimes, so thank you for that reminder.
Dan: Any advice to up and coming people that may want to pursue a similar career as you? How can they get started on the right track?
Jose: My advice to them will be to love what you do and do it for the right reasons. If you're going to become an artist than listen to the rhythm of your own heart and be your own leader and motivator. Stay grounded and always be willing to learn and grow. Never stop and never get comfortable because there will always be room to be better. Be true to yourself and stay strong no matter what but please love what you do or just don't do it at all.
When it gets complicated, stop thinking and just feel even if it's a white piece of paper to draw your random feelings, or a tune that just pops into your head and can't stop singing because you simply feel it or if you find a song in your heart and you grab whatever instrument is near you and just play it because you simply feel the melody then do it. Thinking complicates things sometimes but don't disregard it completely :)
Thanks Jose! Truly inspiring and very relatable. It seems a lot of us within this generation keep forgetting the simple mantra of 'loving what you do'. Sometimes we get overburdened by the pressures of society of having to survive, and living paycheck to paycheck forgetting that we do need to take that time for ourselves to work on what we truly love.
For those that want to continue to follow Jose's story and see more of his art, dances, videos, please check him out on social media. It's always been great to see his positive posts on the timeline with all the chaos and mess in the world recently.