Creatives of Byron Shire
Marissa chats with dancer, yogi, artist, film maker and Hot Stuff dance teacher, Vivianne Frehner. From Switzerland and now based in Byron Shire, Vivi covers important topics such as having a sore ass, why 80s music + dancing are a match made in heaven, and how to expand your aura.
Vivi’s Hot Stuff Dance Class is on Thursdays 6pm @ Moller Pavilion, Bangalow.
Now let’s discover what makes this Swiss dancer tick!
Vivi how do you approach dance, and all of your creative endeavours?
The first thing, is that doubt and fear are unnecessary. I suffered my whole degree thinking I would never get a job as a dancer; and then immediately got work as a full-time dancer with Nanine Linning Dance Company. I would have enjoyed my Bachelor Degree in Contemporary Dance in Amsterdam so much more, if I’d trusted in my abilities.
What’s the secret to dancing beautifully?
Taking classes for sure. Within my Hot Stuff class, I encourage all dancers to move through the space as much as possible. Be bold and literally take up space in the studio. It expands your aura, when you make yourself and your movements bigger. Do so with a sense of effortlessness. Use momentum, and allow your fingers and extremities to continue the movement. The same choreography can look contained and lifeless; or free and spacious. Go for spacious….unless it’s a deliberately tight movement, and then go for clarity and control.
I’m a very grounded dancer. My background includes a lot of Modern Dance and Release Technique. In Holland they also encouraged me to develop my own style. Prior to my degree I did the pre-professional course at Zurich Dance Theatre School, where I trained in Pilates, urban hip-hop, contemporary, ballet barre etc. It’s important to have strong technique, but to also know how and when to let go.
What do you love about The Cassettes?
Contemporary dance is emotionally moving, and is performed with music, but The Cassettes take that relationship of dance and music to another level. Music and dance belong together….especially 80’s music it turns out!
The dancers are what make it. Cassette classes definitely attract special people, you can feel the atmosphere in the air. I think this kind of dance works especially well in Byron and Burleigh, because the locals are so open and friendly. I can see the dancers and characters of Byron have helped to shape The Cassettes.
The Comic Edge
If you tried to run The Cassettes in Zurich, it would not work. Zurich people cannot make this much fun of themselves. We manage it at The Cassettes. My sister came to watch, she was anti-dance in Zurich because she thought it was so pretentious, but she loved this! We are quirky, beautiful, wild and free. There’s not too much worry about what others think. You can be yourself.
What can new dancers expect at Hot Stuff?
You’ll find an amazing vibe as soon as you have one foot in the door. You get sucked into the enthusiastic and friendly Hot Stuff bubble. It’s a fun but challenging dance workout, with cardio and choreography. Muscle shaping happens automatically: that’s the magic of dance.
You can expect that you’re going to improve, if you just give it a go. And then keep giving it a go. Dancing is not about perfection. So don’t doubt. Go for it. If you like something, if you want to dance, the first step is ACTION. The rest will follow automatically. You’ll be astonished how quickly you develop and pick things up.
Is Hot Stuff too easy for super advanced dancers?
Advanced dancers should approach Hot Stuff like any other dance class: always focus on deepening and expanding your dancing, as well as feeling the joy in it. Focus on the quality of the movements, rather than just whether you can “get” the choreography or not. If you do get it, you can be more specific. You also have a chance to make it yours. You could and many ballet dancers do spend a lifetime refining and understanding the simple movement of a plie. There is no final dance destination.
It’s essential as a dancer of any kind to train at least twice a week, maintaining inner thighs and turn out muscles, to work your feet and toes. It’s like keeping a car maintained. Hot Stuff is a very good class to keep the technique you have, the muscles and dancer body, and of course to keep developing and getting better.
That sounds quite hard core.
Yes totally. But also fun, and a chance to dance out our emotions.
What’s it like teaching 80’s Dance at the Cassettes?
I get so much satisfaction when I really feel I can make a difference in peoples’ lives and in their dancing. Both my parents are teachers, and now that I am too, I can see why they loved it. You get a lot back. I can do what I love most, and help others at the same time. I didn’t think I was going to teach, but I had my time on stage so I think I enjoy it especially because of that. I’m sharing my passion, hopefully igniting or inspiring that spark of creativity and dance joy.
I like the dancers at Hot Stuff to be relaxed, yet sharp and clear. To be grounded. To use the floor, and feel that it is there for you. I don’t like stiff. I like melty. I ask them to get rid of unnecessary tension where it’s not needed. I’m a massage therapist and yoga teacher as well, so we bring that in sometimes too.
Does one truly develop abs of steel and butts of solid gold at Hot Stuff?
We have a pain in our butt after every class. You’ll also feel your calves, thighs and core have had a workout. You get toned and develop strength for sure. We also get bendy, stretching, as well as fitness with the cardio work getting the heart pumping and the sweat coming. For twice the hardness of buns, dancers can do Hot Stuff twice a week by also doing Leisel’s class Tuesday mornings, 9:30am at Cavanbah Centre in Byron Bay.
She’s my cherry pie
The Cassettes is the cherry on the top of my journey, of dancing from a place of joy. I now dance for the sake of dancing, not for self-image or representing myself in a certain way. And as a teacher, I have this wonderful freedom now at The Cassettes: the gift of not taking myself so seriously. As I prepare my classes, I think, “I’m gonna put on funny times”. That’s pure.
Gogi: Dance on Screen
Over the last two years, Vivi has created a stunning short dance film, called Gogi. Shot locally in Lennox Head, Gogi is about to be pitched to (dance) film festivals all over the world. It’s therefore not officially open to public viewing just yet, however all Cassette dancers are invited to a private 1-hour screening of Gogi this Wednesday at Brunswick Picture House. It’ll be the first time Vivi has seen it on the big screen! What a gorgeous venue to do it in. Gogi was the nickname of Vivi’s Great Aunt; Vivi says it is thanks to her that she is still dancing, and still in Australia. Gogi also stars dancers Alyssia Harvie, and Ashleigh White.
This Weds May 31st, 5-6pm @ Brunswick Picture House, an intimate screening, open to all Cassette dancers.