Multidisciplinary Artist Fly Lady Di aka Diana Reyes on Dance, DJing & Visual Art

Toronto born and raised of Filipino descent, multidisciplinary artist Diana Reyes also known as Fly Lady Di has been rocking stages for over a decade through Dance, DJing and Visual Art.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Today’s guest is Toronto born and raised of Filipino descent, multidisciplinary artist Diana Reyes also known as FLY LADY DI, I can relate to that because of course wanted to also be a fly girl and I was often called Lady Di. Anyways, Fly Lady Di has been rocking stages for over a decade through Dance, DJing and Visual Art. Voted Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Design by NOW Magazine, her one-woman dance creation THIRD WORLD presented by SummerWorks sold out a three-show run. As a DJ, she has played events for Dior at TIFF, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Twitter, Reebok, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, SOHO House, AGO, and FUNKBOX NYC. Diana has danced with artists like Jason Derulo, Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Fabolous, Luther Brown, and she was in the movie Honey. She has also had artistic engagements internationally in places like South Korea, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, New York, Los Angeles, Colombia, Germany, Scotland, and India.

I related to you right away because you have many job titles.

Diana Reyes 2:29
Mm hmm.

Diane Foy 2:31
Dancer, painter, DJ, actor, comedian.

Diana Reyes 2:34
Yeah.

Diane Foy 2:36
Did I say comedians?

Diana Reyes 2:39
Yeah, I mean, I’m starting to do some stand up, but it all kind of relates to the show that I’m working on. So all of that is to support my one woman show.

Diane Foy 2:52
Okay, cool. Yeah. So I’m multi-passionate as well. And do you find that people think you’re crazy, because you’re trying to do so many different things?

Diana Reyes 3:03
Yes, I think well, sometimes like people tell me Oh, that’s great. That’s cool. You do so many things. And I think I can hear their thoughts thinking like, What is this, you just do like one thing. And then it’s like, it’s also like my own thoughts as well. Like, you should just stick to one thing. And yeah, but I kind of look, I look to my friend, Amanda Seals who now has gotten a million followers on Instagram, and she’s become very famous. And she’s a multi, multi, multi, multi-hyphenate. And she’s kind of like my testament to the fact that like, you can still do a million different things and successful people matter.

Diane Foy 3:42
Yeah, hopefully, like more and more people are embracing it because they know for a while it was the advice of, okay, you’re never going to make it if you’re going in a million different directions. You have to pick one dish the others and I always hated that.

Diana Reyes 3:57
Me too.

Diane Foy 3:58
I love it all. But I have learned to focus a little bit better and maybe put some things on hold. That way. It’s not you’re getting you’re not giving it up. You’re putting on a hold and focusing on the priority. But yet still a few things.

Diana Reyes 4:16
No, I hear that and I kind of like, like, in the way I am now to what I was like in high school because I was doing a million different things then I was on the, like the art committee and I was in the fashion show. I was like, lunchtime DJ, and I still got straight A’s. So I kind of I’m kind of like I haven’t really changed and if I can, if I could do that in high school that I can do that in my adult life, instead of straight A’s and be like Dallas.

Diane Foy 4:44
Dallas. So, what was your childhood like when it comes to creativity? What first inspired you to want to dance or any what was first, your creative endeavors?

Diana Reyes 5:02
So my dad was, um, he used to be an artist. He was a graphic designer. And then when I was like really small, he used to go to night school to take interior design. So he had all these, like, little figurines of like couches and like a whole, like, furniture set up that he would paint. And then I would look yeah, and then I would like watch him mix watercolor and be so fascinated, like, what is that and I was just so drawn to it. And I want to do that, that’s what I’m going to do. So immediately, I just picked up a crayon and started drawing and like, showing him for his approval and like you need to add clouds like go and add clouds. And then so that was kind of my first love ever because it was something that I saw my dad doing and doing well and like I was just fascinated by the color names like cadmium yellow and like titanium white and just, you know, staring at all the little things like the brushes and the colors and it was like a little like sort of magic or like science. so fascinated by that. Yeah. And then I was extremely shy as a kid, I was really like quiet and I never liked to talk to anyone I would spend like maybe, like a couple days not talking. And so whenever my parents brought me around, like family parties, I would like pick a corner and suck my thumb and just sit there until the food was ready. And then I would eat a lot. Very kind of like really big appetite as a kid. And so my cousins make fun of me because it was like, I wasn’t skinny. I was like, kind of chubby. So and I was the also the youngest cousin. So Lisa loves becoming. And because of that, I was just really quiet and shy because I, I knew I was a target for bullying, like, from a very young age. But then, whenever music came on, something it sparked something in me and I would just start dancing and people went crazy like so whenever Michael Jackson came on. They would yell like, where’s Diana? Where’s Diana you have to get her she has to dance. And so as soon as that happened, they would pull me and they would put me in the middle and I’d go off, I’d start dancing and they would scream, and yell and like laugh and cheer. And like, I knew that was my only language was dance and my like connection to music and like, that’s what I came alive. Like, I didn’t really care. Everything else had gone away, like all my like, insecurities and the bullying. Like it was like a, like a magical power that I had. And then when the music stopped, I would go back and suck my thumb and eat cake.

Diane Foy 7:33
You weren’t, you weren’t Di when you performed a dance.

Diana Reyes 7:36
That was the only time that I didn’t care about what anyone thought of me or any of that. I just was like, it’s me in the music and none of you.

Diane Foy 7:46
That’s that’s pretty much why I never dance. Well, but not in front of other people. Because I’m shy.

Diana Reyes 7:53
Yeah, yeah.

Diane Foy 7:54
It’s like your mind was always more introvert, like photography or I was makeup artist or a long time, and it’s just like more introvert. So now I’m embracing it. So dance has been a hobby.

Diana Reyes 8:07
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Diane Foy 8:08
But I was always too shy to actually perform.

Diana Reyes 8:11
I see. I see.

Diane Foy 8:14
Did you ever go to dance training?

Diana Reyes 8:17
So that’s a funny thing that you asked because I was seven years old and I saw Janet Jackson’s music video for the nation. Yeah, I’m like, 38. And so I was like, Oh, this is what I really want to do. Like, that’s it. Like, I’m decided, I’m going to dance professionally. And then you know, of course my cousins would say you’re too fat. You’re too dark, whatever. And then, so they tried to shut me down but then I was like, nope, it’s gonna happen for sure. And then I didn’t pursue like active training when I was little I was, again really shy because one of my mom put me in Hawaiian or ballet. Again, I would be like, I My stomach hurts my head hurts that I would sit down. She would she never forced me luckily to like, do anything. So sit there. And then I also think like looking back at it, I just had a reluctance to do anything group related because I love to be the star of the show. And so yeah, like, again, nothing has changed. And so and I used to get really bored by like Hawaiian and ballet because its so slow and like I really wanted to like dance like Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. So there was like that kind of difference, right? Like I had no patience to learn, like, like tiny bubbles.

Diane Foy 9:34
Me too.

Diana Reyes 9:36
Yeah, I was like, I just want to learn the fast cool moves. I want to flip my hair.

Diane Foy 9:40
Janet was my inspiration too she still is.

Diana Reyes 9:42
Yeah, yeah.

Diane Foy 9:43
My first things was just studying her music video and studying all the dance moves.

Diana Reyes 9:48
Totally. Like how could you not at that time, like even if you didn’t want to dance like it was just the coolest thing.

Diane Foy 9:53
I want to dance like that.

Diana Reyes 9:55
Yeah, so this day, I mean, like they have like periscope bells choreography, but nothing compares, like technically, and just like, I don’t know, there’s so much magic that came out of that era of like music videos.

Diane Foy 10:09
Yeah, it was all very choreographed too.

Diana Reyes 10:11
Very choreographic, very technical, which is a beautiful thing too. But um, so anyways, I was 13 and I was in school yard imitating Salt and Pepper. And a friend of mine came up to me she’s like, Oh my god, you should come to my dance class they have your first class is free and they would love you, you would love it. And I was like, Okay, why not? Let me go. So it was Attitudes Dance studio on John street in Markham. And so I went, and I, my first eight count that I ever learned was a macarena. Because I’d always wondered, like, how do they know how to organize the moves? How do they know when to move when and then I learned it was from counting. And it was all in a sequence like okay, now I get it and so that I learned how to like, you know, learn choreography and I learned really fast. It was something was almost like, natural. and they recognize that and they were like, Oh, we should put you in, in for already. I was like, whoa.

Diane Foy 11:08
Okay.

Diana Reyes 11:08
Yeah, it never got there because my mom couldn’t afford it. It was you know, like it’s very expensive. It’s, you know, sometimes accessible for people who don’t have that much disposable income and you’re already paying from abrasives, which was already like a huge expense. So I didn’t, I took lessons for a year and then after that, I was just kind of like left to my own devices. so my training was only a year like my technical training, quote, unquote.

Diane Foy 11:37
Mostly you’ve been self taught.

Diana Reyes 11:38
Yes.

Diane Foy 11:39
Or from, I guess, from your fellow dancers and choreographers.

Diana Reyes 11:42
Yeah, mostly, mostly self taught mostly just like hip hop energy.

Diane Foy 11:46
Right, right.

Diana Reyes 11:47
But learning how to count to eight and like learning how to choreograph and learning choreography was a big thing that year.

Diane Foy 11:55
Right.

Diana Reyes 11:55
Yeah.

Diane Foy 11:56
And how did you transition from just, you know, teaching yourself hobby to being a professional? What’s your first break?

Diana Reyes 12:04
So when I was 18, because I like from that, that moment on from 13 that dance class till 18 I was still kind of in pursuit of it I had this like huge show like it was like the spring talent show in grade nine and like, choreographed like five minutes of routine and everyone went crazy. And then my best friend at the time, her brother took us downtown to what was then known as like brand off. Like, just like a dance studio. It was in like, just the school that it was they had their own dance studio where they taught classes public. So he had done that research. He drove driven, driven us downtown. And we took I took my first ever hip hop class, and at that time was ’97. There were only two hip hop classes in the entire city, taught by the same guy and a bunch of like, Raptors dance pack, dancers used to go and so I became like I, you know, I was only 15. So I took maybe like, one or two classes was extremely intimidated, got yelled at for wearing sneakers and meeting jazz shoes and was so intimidated, but just thrilled because I was like, Oh my god, I’m around like Raptors dance pack dancers, like, that’s insane. And then when I turned 18, I started going, like religiously, because, you know, I was older, I was a more able to, like, go downtown more frequently. And it was for the same company. But it was then owned by a gentleman named others who owned National Dance of Canada, which then became after Randolph because I think him and George had like a bad relationship. So they moved to Gloucester Street, which is a young, young and Wellesley. And it was there that I learned that they had opportunities to do work study. So basically, he needed like some painting done in the building. So I painted a bunch of like walls and in exchange for free dance classes, so I literally like I live there. So I would paint Then I would take class like almost every day and I had like unlimited classes. So it was there non stop I was there as much as I could be.

Diane Foy 14:10
And so that’s the benefit of being multi talented.

Diana Reyes 14:13
Right.

Diane Foy 14:14
Be able to paint your way.

Diana Reyes 14:16
I mean it but I didn’t like it was like kind of something that anyone could do like anyone could really like paint roller. So I was there religiously to the point where I got notice from my hip hop and then a young professional who now is pretty famous for being on little for Little Mosque on the Prairie, Tara Hewitt. She saw me this was back when she was the GO GO dancer and model. She was like, Oh, you should you should audition for Blaze. They’re having an audition. It was a dance troupe at the time. That was known in the city for doing like a bunch of like, kind of cool industry gigs. So they gave me the information. They were like, you should go so I went, I auditioned. They loved me. I got it, like right away. And it was from there that they, we started doing shows and then long story short, I went to me go for year wasn’t for me. But I was going to go back. But that summer I was so deprived artistically that I was like, Oh, I need to dance. So I went, got back with Blaze. We started doing shows and then there were a bunch of auditions for music videos, from me first music video with director x, and I passed it, he loved me. And he then started booking me for everything that he was doing, like most of the projects he did that summer of 2002. And because I was in that community, I was around the other directors that were really well known at the time who are, we’re shooting these huge budget music videos, we’re talking like $150,000 a day, back when the budgets were like massive for music videos. And so I was down with a lot of these projects. And then Tara and her friend at the time Donna who became a good friend of mine encouraged me to start go go dancing, which is something that I wanted to do anyways it was like desperate to do it cuz I’m I’m a guy getting paid to dance like what? in a club. And so then I started booking gogo gigs. And that was really fun for me cuz it was like my first time ever getting paid dance. And it was something that I was dying to do. Like, you know, being in a nightclub dancing on a platform was like, that’s all I wanted. Even if you do my asked me to do it for free. So that’s really when I started when I was like, 18 when I was 19, 19-20.

Diane Foy 16:23
Okay, and so, the names on your biography that Jason Derulo,Ciara, Fall Out Boy, were those all music videos?

Diana Reyes 16:31
Um, so Jason Derulo was the music VMAs This was 2015, when we performed want to want me. Ciara was when she was okay. So I was living in New York. This was 2004 and I got recruited straight from dance class. I was like, again, religiously and dance class. And gentlemen was outside like, yo, you’re really good. I was wondering if you would be interested in filming a commercial tomorrow? I was like, Yeah, for sure. So then he gave me the information. We got the set. And it was a bunch of us like elite dancers. And then yeah, that was what, and this is when she had just come out with like, once two step, I think, but this was like, she was big, but she was just still starting out. She wasn’t like six pack abs or anything yet. So it was really cool to see her in the beginning. She was very nice and very young. Like I was it was like 22 at the time. Fall Out Boy again, that was also in New York. And that was such a it was such a weird audition because I was training and house dance really, really like intensely at a time. And my mentor, teacher told me like, oh, there’s an audition, you should come. Everyone’s telling me like come to this audition. So I came. I got to meet somebody, teachers Aegyo Sakeho is a good friend from like, back in the days in the same crew Sake who is a choreographer on the project. And so I met a coo and they’re like, okay, we’re gonna put music on you just gonna freestyle was like, Okay. And it was this rock song and I was like, I thought it was I thought they were joking. I was like, this is a joke, right? Because I was so used to dancing to like house and hip hop. So I just like flip my hair around, do my thing. They love me. They’re like, well, we need more like more people like you. I got booked right away and the rest was history like I no one had ever heard of Fall Out Boy, they were the newest thing on the planet. Like, I was like, yeah, Fall Out Boy whatever. Like it’s gonna be a whatever video and I didn’t had no idea that it was going to be like such a massive, massive video.

Diane Foy 18:40
Right. And who are some of the choreographers that you work with at this time? And, and are there any lessons that you you know, remember learning from them?

Diana Reyes 18:51
So, when I did the movie, Honey, in 2002, I worked with Laurieann Gibson and Laurie Ann was some someone that I really admired because she was she’s from Brampton, Ontario. And she made it to become an In Living Color flag girl, which is something that I Oh yeah, she’s something that was something that I, like, deeply aspired to be. And so when I got to set with her, she was not super kind, like she wasn’t the most like warm and friendly. She was kind of harsh. She was kind of like a ballbuster you know, and like every choreographer is different and there’s nothing good or bad about it, but she was a made me different from what I don’t know pictured in my mind. a choreographer would be because, like, you know, I would see, like Tina Landon, and Paula Abdul and not to say that, you know, they were not all buses. I was never in, like, rehearsal with them ever, but I know she just seemed a little harsh, and she would use words like mediocre and it was Yeah, it was kind of like Yes, very disheartening because she was someone that I really admired for a long time, particularly because she’s Canadian. And so anyways, so that’s kind of something that I learned and then Luther Brown, he’d always, you know, I remember rehearsing with him at driftwood Community Center, which was, you know, like their humble beginnings when he was with dudette. But when he started do that, it would be a driftwood, which is like in a rexdale in the West End. And so I’ve known him for a very, very long time. And I’ve never like worked super closely with him, but he was always kind of around and affiliated with like with Blaze. Um, but he was very, like also very No, no BS. Get to get some, you know, to work. I’m also I worked with, and then there’s like, you know, Darren Henson, who won for N’Sync’s, Bye Bye Bye. He choreographed Britney Spears. He choreographed for JLo and he and I are still really really close. Um, he’s also someone I really admired for a long time. And I guess you know, like, it’s, it’s just like anything right? Everything takes time. You need a lot of patience to do what you want to do. Lead with love, like that’s for me like what I’ve adopted as a dancer, choreographer. Not only love of what you do love of music, love of people. And, yeah, and just work hard. I mean, that that’s pretty much the common theme amongst all of the people that I’ve worked with this like just to work hard focus.

Diane Foy 21:48
What is your advice of, you know, if dancers get on a job and the choreographer’s a ballbuster, how do you handle that?

Diana Reyes 21:59
Oh, you know, I mean, it’s all it’s always going to be different because there’s the choreographers were like super nice and super accommodating and very encouraging. So I just like to think of like, you know, everything is temporary and in I mean.

Diane Foy 22:15
Do they soften if they see that you have a really good work ethic?

Diana Reyes 22:24
There’s, I think there’s a thing of like,

Diane Foy 22:26
They’re like you know, I’m going to be a badass and until you prove yourself to me,

Diana Reyes 22:31
Well, I think it’s a thing of like, a hierarchy as well, right? And especially if you are in the world of the professional industry world, there’s such a hierarchy and there’s such a line between, like, choreographer, dancer like, you have to really be in your role. So as long as you just adhere to their rules adhere to their protocol, you’ll be in a good position. And just play your part. Like don’t try to overstep, don’t try to, you know, go above and beyond. I mean, like, because everyone has their thing that they need to do. Everyone has their role. So as long as you play your role, then you’ll be fine and, and take it with a grain of salt, right? Because like a lot of the times if someone behaves that way, it’s not about you. It’s really about them. So that’s one thing to recognize as well as that. Don’t take it personally.

Diane Foy 23:27
Yeah, good. Just gonna keep going.

Diana Reyes 23:31
Keep going. Just do your job. And that’s all you can really do.

Diane Foy 23:35
Yeah.

Diana Reyes 23:36
Yeah.

Diane Foy 23:37
Cool. What other career highlights from dance and then how did you transition into painting and visual art, did you work with Jessica Alba?

Diana Reyes 23:51
I did. Yeah. So I’m in the scene where it’s after she attends that party with that guy and she refuses to sleep with him and then she suddenly starts getting cut from auditions and blackballed from the industry, which I’ve heard happens. And I think I was told that the story is loosely based on Laurieann’s journey. But anyways, I’m in the scene. It’s directly after where Little Romeo steals the kids sneakers on the subway. It’s like, in the middle of the movie. She’s had an audition, and I’m right beside her 20 year old girl with you can see my panty line.

Diane Foy 24:33
What do you wish that you can go back and tell your younger self?

Diana Reyes 24:36
Oh, man, what a question. Um, okay, well, this is a big one. And this is something that I overcame later on, was that it’s so hard not to let what your family says to you get into your heart because these are people that you like care about. And you care about how they feel you care about how they perceive you, and so for a long time, My parents, particularly like my father and my sister, they would tell me like, oh, maybe you need to work as a nurse, maybe you need a job at Starbucks. And, you know, it was kind of like because they had never seen you know, success of someone like me, you know, as a dancer or whatever. They didn’t have anything to go off. They couldn’t be like, Oh, you’re going to be like that person fine. You’re going to be great. They all they saw was like the struggling struggling person with crazy credit card debt. You know, and creditors and it’s a super tough road.

Diane Foy 25:37
Tough road. Yeah.

Diana Reyes 25:38
Um, so I think I would tell my younger self to not listen to those voices because I really like it and it’s something that I learned later on. Not to do but if I didn’t do it younger than I think I would have taken off a lot more a lot sooner. You like and I’ve had success from the beginning not to say that you know, I didn’t. I’m grateful for everything that I accomplished and was able to do and the support that I’ve received from other people outside of my family. But I think those voices really, they kind of hindered me, especially when I became a little bit older when I was like 25 26 27 because it’s like, oh, your childbearing years were like winding down. And so there’s that pressure of like, you need to pursue having a family and getting married and settling down. And so I think I let that get to me. Right? And then especially when I turned 30, that was like, such a game changer was like, Okay, my eggs are officially dwindling. I need to make moves. So I would just tell myself to not listen to those voices and just keep at it, and go go hard.

Diane Foy 26:46
Yeah, you have to figure out what you really want.

Diana Reyes 26:49
Definitely.

Diane Foy 26:49
Not what other people want for you.

Diana Reyes 26:51
Yeah, and you can’t let their insecurity kind of rub off on you. Because if you’re passionate about what you want to do, and you’re confident that you can do it. There’s going to be, there’s definitely going to be obstacles thrown at you. And those obstacles most likely will be from people that you love and care about. And that’s an unfortunate truth.

Diane Foy 27:12
Yeah,

Diana Reyes 27:12
It’ll be hard. Not Yeah. It’s hard not to listen to them because you love them and you think highly of them. And you know, and so hard to think of like, Oh, yeah, maybe I should be in there sometimes, you know, yeah.

Diane Foy 27:25
Secure paying job with benefit.

Diana Reyes 27:28
Yeah.

Diane Foy 27:29
Full Time pension.

Diana Reyes 27:31
Yeah.

Diane Foy 27:33
But then I think we would be bored out of our mind and not happy.

Diana Reyes 27:36
Definitely. And, you know, you you wouldn’t learn the hard way and that’s, that’s the only way I’ve ever learned anything is the hard way. And I don’t know I don’t regret it at all, you know.You know.

Diane Foy 27:49
So what are you doing these days?

Diana Reyes 27:51
These days? A couple things. So my bread and butter is DJing. I’m fortunate enough to get booked for a lot of corporate gigs and events, semi private events like ticketed, and that kind of thing. Like for example, I did the ROM on New Year’s Eve. And so I’ve been busy with that. And also, I’m still pursuing my one woman show third world which is which a pretty much encompasses all of my skills. And that’s where the comedy aspect of it comes in as well. So I’m doing a bit of setup to work out bits that I want to incorporate in my show, and as well just work on my performance quality, my execution, my eloquence and just, you know, making things sharp and indirect. And then I’m also continuing my training, learning Vogue, which is extremely hard. And, you know, continuing with wacking and house dance and I haven’t really found an outlet for hip hop that I really enjoyed, but I wanted to get back into hip hop, hip hop, hip hop, dancing a little bit. And so yeah, so writing grants for my show and also and then I also act as a in the escape room of escape games at Castle Loma. So I have that as well to practice my jokes. And that’s about it.

Diane Foy 29:17
What’s that? What’s that? What’s this castle?

Diana Reyes 29:20
Oh, so at Castle Loma, they have escape rooms.

Diane Foy 29:24
Yeah.

Diana Reyes 29:24
And I’m an actor in them. So, so these escape rooms, not all people know. Everyone thinks that but no, I don’t. It’s not scary. Okay, there’s a whole narrative in the game. And so we kind of like work with that narrative. And we we help the gamers kind of like we usher them towards success, but in a way, like in character, because, you know, if we weren’t there, they’d kind of be lost and we have to kind of work around a time frame. So we kind of just Usher them along, so that they escape in a timely manner or their able to like, solve things in a timely manner. But we all do it in character. And I’m able to like confuse jokes and stuff like that. So it’s a nice little like testing ground for me. And I’m getting paid. Yeah.

Diane Foy 30:14
Yeah, that’s cool. And do you still paint?

Diana Reyes 30:18
No, I haven’t painted in a really long time. It’s so time consuming, but it is something that I love to do. And when a good friend of mine passed away a couple years ago, I started painting a portrait of them which I should finish soon. But no, I haven’t really painted that much since maybe like 2008.

Diane Foy 30:39
A multi-potentialite coming out, because we have a lot of unfinished projects.

Diana Reyes 30:43
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, not to say that I will never pick up a brush again, because I will but everything has its time.

Diane Foy 30:53
I think that’s what I was saying is like, you know, there’s some things that you just put on hold for a while.

Diana Reyes 30:57
Yeah, definitely. You can’t I mean, you can do it all, but maybe not all at once.

Diane Foy 31:03
Yes, that is the biggest lesson that I learned. Trying to do everything at once. You just never get anywhere.

Diana Reyes 31:10
Yeah, that’s actually very true.

Diane Foy 31:12
That lesson took me a long time to learn.

Diana Reyes 31:15
Yeah, I can now like, okay.

Diane Foy 31:17
Yeah. Focus on a few. What are the priorities? And the rest? You don’t have to say goodbye to it, they’re on hold.

Diana Reyes 31:24
Yes.

Diane Foy 31:26
Do you teach as well?

Diana Reyes 31:27
I have taught I’ve taught for many years. And yeah, so it’s been maybe like one or two years now that I’ve stopped teaching. But not to say that I won’t do it in the future because I do need to keep up with my own training. And I feel like my own training is enhanced whenever I do teach. So hopefully, in the future, I’m going to Vancouver in April, so I’m thinking of starting something then. in Vancouver.

Diane Foy 31:53
Moving there?

Diana Reyes 31:53
Yeah.

Diane Foy 31:55
Okay. Have you lived there before?

Diana Reyes 31:58
I’ve never lived on the west coast. No. It’s going to be interesting.

Diane Foy 32:01
What’s the draw to Vancouver?

Diana Reyes 32:03
Um, so I’ve like I got rent evicted in October. And so I’ve been kind of like transients since then I right now I’m living downtown near near where I still live. But I learned after I moved here that it was only temporary, which is fine. But it happened to be that a friend of mine in Vancouver offered me a place for like really affordable rent. So like, I’m going to take that so and a lot of my good friends are there and you know, there’s a lot of things that I can do and explore. So I thought why not.

Diane Foy 32:37
Cool. Try something different.

Diana Reyes 32:38
So that’s what I’m going to do. Yeah, just different environment, different change of pace, different people. Different people. Yeah, mountains, hiking, beach, some stuff that we don’t have. We do not have that stuff here.

Diane Foy 32:52
I grew up in Vancouver and I came here. And I’m like, I still love Toronto. I would never want to go back but I think it depends on what you want to what you want, or like doing if you’re like, totally hiking and stuff, then yes, beautiful. So you mentioned writing grants do that, because that’s a struggle for a lot of artists is getting funding for what their creative talents are.

Diana Reyes 33:17
I know it really is. So I’ve been really, really successful grants. I’ve gotten grants from the Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, as well as other micro grants like the theater creators reserve. And I’ve also gotten grants with organizations like manifesto festival. So I have a lot of experience writing and receiving grants. However, I still get rejected all of last year, I got rejected. And I recently had a meeting with a good friend of mine who’s a pretty established producer in the city. And she gave me a lot of advice around specifics. So I think I would say the first thing is that, I feel like everyone needs to only consider a grant when they have an idea. Because a lot of the times people start writing grants just because they feel like they have to or like it’s going to legitimize them or give them money, right? But your grant will only really be valid if it’s an idea that’s coming from your heart. And that’s real. Right? And so, I feel like when you have an idea, and that’s burning inside of you that you have, you have to get it out. That’s the only time that you should invest the time and energy to writing a grant and getting money for it.

Diane Foy 34:36
Right.

Diana Reyes 34:36
If you write a grant,

Diane Foy 34:37
the details worked out.

Diana Reyes 34:40
Right, and you have an idea, you have a vision, you have people that you want to work with, you know where your money’s going to go if you do get it, etc, etc, etc. So, yeah, if you write a grant just to write a grant, it’s gonna come off as that right it’s gonna come off. It’s like, Oh, this person just wants the money.

Diane Foy 34:59
Right.

Diana Reyes 35:01
And so they’ll know right away because they’re looking through the jury, I’m afraid to, they’ll look through maybe like one or 200. And so you’re competing with one or 200 other people. And if your voice doesn’t come across as passionate or strong in terms of your vision, then it’s going to translate on the page, and they’re just going to reject it. So it would be a waste of your time in that sense.

Diane Foy 35:26
Right. I find artists sometimes apply for grants and, and funding in a way that will if they don’t get the funding, they’re not going to do it. Whereas I think you have to kind of, you’re doing this, you know, where do you get the funding or not, this is what we’re doing. And maybe if I get the funding, maybe it’ll, you know, I don’t know, how do how do you think that works? Like, how do you kind of say that, okay, I’m so passionate. I’m doing this either way. But how do you kind of say You still need the money, but if you don’t get money, you’ll still, you know.

Diana Reyes 36:04
It’s tricky. It’s very tricky. So it’s funny because that came up as well in my conversation you definitely have to express that you are in need, because if there was no need, why would you be there? Why would you ask for the money.

Diane Foy 36:18
Right.

Diana Reyes 36:19
However, of course, your passion and your commitment to the project also has to come across. But ultimately, the grant is purpose right is is the way you want that money. So you have to you have to make it seem as though your project depends on them. And if it’s an if you like it, this beautiful project won’t get made unless you give me the money to make it. So yeah, you have to make them excited enough. The jury, you have to make them excited and enough to be like, we’re going to give you the money because we want to see this to completion, right. So you have to kind of express that there is a need, and that the need can only be fulfilled with their help. And ultimately, a grant is there for you to pay yourself as an artist and also for you to pay your team. Right, because they look at that more than anything because you know, you can pay for a venue to rent out or you can pay for a tech person, but they really want to see that you’re paying your community and then your community is also very competent, and has a really good track record as well.

Diane Foy 37:28
Right, the level of professionalism and support it that’s kind of what they’re doing is supporting the arts and making sure that the artists get to make a living.

Diana Reyes 37:36
Well, that’s that’s exactly right. And also, it’s you kind of have to think of it as like, it’s a business proposal as an artist, right, because your, your project will reflect them because everything that you put out for your projects, you need to include their logo, right. So in a sense, they kind of Own your project. And if they own your project, it has to speak for their values and their mandate as well. So it’s kind of like a partnership in a in a collaboration because there’s a sense of that. They’re funding your project. So it kind of belongs to them. It definitely belongs to you. But, you know, they if they give you the money for it, and it’s definitely they’re a big part of it.

Diane Foy 38:18
So what what is your WHY?

Diana Reyes 38:21
Oh, man, that comes up a lot and like podcast that I listened to. Yeah. Another excellent question. And it all comes down to four letters, L O V E. And, and this is what I say to everyone. And this is what, you know, I continue to hear from people who are considered greats like Kobe Bryant, rest in peace. But, you know, he works so hard, because he loves basketball like there was no other reason other than the fact that he was really curious about and he loved it. And so, I mean, I don’t just attribute what I do, because of what he said, but I, when I listened to a podcast and heard him say that it reinforced the fact that my why is definitely also because I love what I do. And I love the arts. I always have I’ve tried doing other things I’ve tried, you know, working in offices and you know, having, like, quote unquote, stable life and doing the whole nine to five thing. It’s not for me. And so knowing myself and knowing who I am knowing that I’m 1,000% an artist and accepting that about myself, has been such a game changer and not only has brought relief to myself and my you know, kind of like psyche but you know, for other people also, you know, for them to accept the fact that like, they’ll never try to convert you to becoming an accountant or accounts receivable personnel or whatever. person who works in office. So yeah, It all comes down to my love for people, music and just the arts, really.

Diane Foy 40:08
Yeah, it’s kind of like you can’t not do it.

Diana Reyes 40:10
Yeah, that’s pretty much how I live my life is like I’m an artist. Yeah, and this is this society needs artists, like what else are like who’s going to play the music? When you go to a party? You know, like, then there needs to be that person there. And, and so, you know, I kind of like think of myself in that way. In terms of the ecology of the world. It’s like, I’m needed because you know, who else is going to entertain you?

Diane Foy 40:36
For sure, what would we do without it?

Diana Reyes 40:37
Yeah, artists are very necessary to this world. And me, yeah, and even when I wasn’t working as an artist, say, like a DJ, I was working in still working in my life as a bartender, hostess, server, so I was always kind of like in hospitality. And so that’s also part of it, too. It’s like we need we need someone to bring us our beer.

Diane Foy 41:04
Yeah, that’s very important.

Diana Reyes 41:05
You know?

Diane Foy 41:07
And you need a job to pay your rent.

Diana Reyes 41:09
Pretty much.

Diane Foy 41:10
Your art doesn’t necessarily do it all the time.

Diana Reyes 41:13
Definitely. I remember being in New York selling jello shots as like the last last resort and I made pretty good money. It wasn’t the best job by far stretch, but that I did well doing that. And I remember that gave me a lot in terms of learning how to sell things.

Diane Foy 41:30
Yeah, yeah,

Diana Reyes 41:31
Because $3 for a tiny jello shot, that’s a lot of money. But I was able to sell out every single week. So and it was because of like, that I learned how to use language. So instead of saying, Do you want to buy a jello shot, I would say you should buy jello shots. And right away, they would open their wallets. So yeah, language has everything to do with everything. Strong language.

Diane Foy 41:56
Yeah. And when you’re going that gives you confidence when you’re going for it. job. It’s like, you need to hire me.

Diana Reyes 42:01
Oh, yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Diane Foy 42:03
I’m, I’m the person, I’m the one you need,

Diana Reyes 42:06
Right? instead of like, well, yes because then they’re gonna be like no, bye. Right?

Diane Foy 42:12
Yeah.

Diana Reyes 42:12
Just like think of like someone saying that to you on the street like, do you wanna buy a thing? And you’re like, oh.

Diane Foy 42:19
The auto no answer.

Diana Reyes 42:20
Right.

Diane Foy 42:21
Before you even think about it, no.

Diana Reyes 42:23
Exactly right? And then yes.

Diane Foy 42:25
The person wants something from me, no.

Diana Reyes 42:27
Exactly. So yeah, it’s suggestive. suggestive language is always helpful. Like you should or, hey, you know, like, yeah, the word should is such a game changer, even when I was like, touring with a friend of mine who’s a musician, and she was trying to sell CDs. Right after the show. Hey, you guys should buy a CD and everyone would buy a CD. As opposed to like, do you want to buy a CD?

Diane Foy 42:56
That’s good. Just changing a couple words.

Diana Reyes 42:58
Change your word. That’s it. Yeah and make a sale.

Diane Foy 43:05
Where can people find you online?

Diana Reyes 43:07
I’m all over the internet I’m at flyladydi, F L Y L A D Y D I that’s on Instagram and Twitter you can look at my Facebook fan page which is facebook.com/flyladydi page and also my website flyladydi.com where you can find my email on the bottom flyladydi.info@gmail.com.

Diane Foy 43:31
I’ve definitely been called Lady Di a lot.

Diana Reyes 43:33
Oh yeah, I’m sure you know like, it’s like yeah, Lady Di was my childhood nickname so then I just cut them made it hip hop and edify.

Diane Foy 43:41
Yeah that’s cool. Any final words of wisdom?

Diana Reyes 43:47
Work hard, focus. Remember your why which could be different from mine. I’m always lead with love. Love yourself. Be good to yourself. Take your time. That’s one thing that my teacher has taught me and to this day he’s turning 50 this year he can dance anyone on the planet and I, you know, don’t put it past him he Joe Wilson, look them up on YouTube. He can outdance any young kid, half his age. Take your time, and it’s something that I’m still learning how to do. It’s probably the hardest thing to learn how to do. But it’s excellent advice. Because you could apply it in so many different ways. And sleep get your eight to 10 hours.

Diane Foy 44:38
I average about six.

Diana Reyes 44:40
Well, I subscribe to train podcast, which is by Nike and I’ve been listening on Spotify and it talks about like elite athletes, right? This is a gentleman named Ryan Flaherty. He trains Serena Williams, he’s worked with so many elite athletes in the world and he cannot stress enough with every episode how important sleep is. And for dancers, especially because our work is so physical, we need to repair our bodies, and our bodies needs to recover from whatever stress we put on it. So that’s a huge part that people just regard especially young people, because you know, they’re able to bounce bounce back from like, you know, five, six hours, but down the road, it will have repercussions. So, take your time and get your sleep so important, and eat properly. I should learn I should learn that I know I’m like, Well, I have this cake in front of me.

Diane Foy 45:34
Sometimes we got to take our own advice.

Diana Reyes 45:37
Oh, no, definitely.

Diane Foy 45:39
You also gotta treat yourself.

Diana Reyes 45:41
Definitely well, you know, once in a while is fine in moderation.

Diane Foy 45:44
Yeah, cool. Well, thank you so much for your time.

Diana Reyes 45:47
Thank you for having me. This was great.

Diane Foy 45:54
Thanks for listening to Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! Be sure to join the mailing list at dianefoy.com to gain access to exclusive bonus content, a weekly newsletter and an invitation to our private Facebook group of purpose driven performing artists and industry influencers.