We have an intention in which we want our life to resemble. Some develop a path after passions are solidified, while others realize their path traveling through opportunities. For Carmichael Simon, martial artist-dancer-motion capture choreographer, his career evolved out of both passion and seizing the moment.
“I do believe in purpose, however it comes with much preparation and timing. I have always been a music lover and movement is the way I expressed myself through my career. I was fortunate to meet a few people who introduced me to opportunities at the right time,” Simon adds.
Simon is a man who throughout his career has reinvented himself all the while staying the same person at his core. The fluidity that he executes through his humanity mimics the grace that he conducts himself in his vocations. Dance and martial arts are significant components of his self that he created his own dance-martial arts studio called The Academy of Martial Athletes in his professional life. It’s a logical evolution between the two, especially when a vast majority of martial arts have a background in dance, but for Simon it goes beyond just interest into the art form.
“I have always been inspired by 70s Kung Fu films and grew up in a generation of martial arts b-boys and house dancers. All dance movement come from Shaolin and all Martial Arts derive from Shaolin,” Simon explains. “It’s quite simple to marry it since it’s rooted in culture and philosophy. I have learned everything is a variation of some other style, however my contribution is about defining the transition.”
It’s not hard to share in his excitement as the passion he has for both fields seeps into your conscience. You thrive to be more educated in the fields he excels in. As that education grows, the reality of what Simon has accomplished and is versed in, is striking.
He builds off of this knowledge to create a whole new realm of elements; like the style he teaches at his academy which he gained inspiration from Shaolin Groove, or the knowledge of the influence that Animal Styles has on dance. These, in turn, were the catalysts for the creation of the academy. He’s also a pioneer in other ways. In the beginning of his career, he was a trailblazer in the sport of martial arts by completing a 720 degree hook kick. As it is in Eastern philosophy, the things you take in are required to be sent forth into the world.
“I believe in giving back and producing talent, if that be with business, technology, health, or philosophy. As much as we live in a virtually social world, The LIVE element and interaction can never be duplicated,” Simon says. “I actually enjoy when one doesn’t have talent, you have the ability to grow the uniqueness of that individual. The more one knows, the more confused they become attempting to interpret past teachings with the new.”
At the academy, his fellow instructors and himself pass their knowledge onto their students, but they also manipulate those teachings based on the individual. They strive for a balance between the strengths of the student, to elevate their skill by infusing new technique into their talents for “a happy medium between past and present,” as Simon describes.
One of the most impressive things about both dance and martial arts is the way the body is manipulated to utilize the world around. However, with Motion Capture, the world more often than not, is created after you perform. For Simon, someone who has mastered physical movements, motion capture was an unexpected release.
“The great thing with Pre-Viz (pre-visualization) is that the animators visualize our movements as they work through their storyboards for each episode,” Simon adds. “The space works to our advantage. The Mo-Cap system is equipped to gain all angles holistically and we have the opportunity to render in real-time to review our sequences.”
There is a freedom available to performers that allows their individual talents to strive. Without the habitual worries that plague artists, the mind is able to focus on the creative and not on the practicality. The area may resemble a square, but the mental space is infinite.
“The fact is, the movement doesn’t have to be perfect! As a live performer, you think about positioning and audience perspective. In film, you think about safety of the stunt players and camera angles,” Simon explains. “For Mo-Cap, it’s just a simple waiting game for animation to release the footage. The Rooster Teeth animation team is amazing and they have the ability to manipulate anything from speed/timing to angles/levitating.”
This ties into the self, the one true motivator of our destiny. We’ve discussed that Simon’s passions had led him down an interesting path, but one must remember that our passions are the manifestations of our core. In being true to the person we are we will find our authentic path. It’s only reasonable that Simon’s journey has been parallel with spiritual growth.
Simon is a practitioner, of Jhoon Rhee (Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster) philosophy of the Seven Qualities of a Champion (Power, Posture, Quickness, Timing, Endurance, Flexibility, and Balance), which advances conditions beyond the physical into the mental. When we focus on our minds and not just our bodies, that s when we are truly healthy. It’s one of the things incorporated into “The Kinetic 7” at The Academy of Martial Athletes and will be unleashing onto the world soon.
Simon has learned a lot through his journey, the most important being how to better yourself through your work. The multiple avenues he has traveled has made him a well-rounded athlete and entertainer. There’s a difference between Persona and Personality, and if you can distinguish between the two, your expressions onto this world are genuine.
“I’ve learned empathy for others through individual movement and compassion for continuing as a student of life, and the more aware I become, the less I know,” Simon adds. “I personally have a methodology I use based on Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom (word, first page, chapter, entire book). I have been fortunate to develop as a Master in a few creative art forms and always seeking these 4 aspects for continued growth.”
The list of projects Simon works on continues to grow, and each project exudes passion in a way that surpasses conventual entertainment. Carmichael Simon captivates the world and those around through his individual self and the productions he works on.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Carmichael Simon