Emma Stone and Ryan Heffington’s dance smash
Emma Stone illustrious guest of Sweatfest
Already from the first days of quarantine, the American choreographer Ryan Heffington has found a way to make his followers feel good, in mind, body and spirit. “Let’s face this moment dancing together” reads his post of March 17 that launches Sweatfest – a cardio workout based on dance steps spread via Instagram live. What started as a good mood dance class for about 75 people (the ability of the dance classes of his Los Angeles studio The Sweat Spot), has become a global movement, with 8,000 people attending it live from all over the world during the 24 hours in which lessons remain available, from Belarus, Japan and Australia.
If you haven’t tried Sweatfest yet (what are you waiting for?), Heffington’s bubbly choreographic style may have already infiltrated your subconscious through music videos like Chandelier by Sia e We Exist by Arcade Fire (for both he received a Grammy nomination) or for his work as movement director in the Netflix shi-fi series The OA.
In addition, she attracted many famous followers: in addition to being a Sweatfest host, Pink posted a video in which she follows Heffington’s dance steps during the quarantine, and Reese Witherspoon described the virtues of her lessons at J.Lo in his Instagram Live series, Shine On At Home.
Recently, however, Heffington has had a very special online guest: Emma Stone. The two met when she appeared in the song’s video Anna, a Will Butler single from Arcade Fire, choreographed by Heffington. The dancer and actress have remained friends ever since.
“I understood from the first moment that Ryan was a special person, brilliant, with a great talent and a wonderful heart,” says Stone to Fashion. “When I heard he was doing it Sweatfest, I tried and fell in love. The spirit is that of his choreography and his way of directing the actors – open, loving, fun, free, festive, honest and totally unique. “And he adds:” His is a very useful service in a heavy moment like this, a how people can let go and have fun for an hour, and I can’t wait to see how the community that is following them will grow. “
Stone didn’t think twice when Heffington asked her to attend a part of the lesson in lip-sync and together they took the opportunity to raise funds for a cause close to the actress’s heart. “Child Mind Institute is an organization in New York that helps children, teenagers and their families with free psychological assistance,” says Stone. “I felt that helping them by collaborating with Ryan was perfect – Sweatfest is a free and fantastic resource for adults, teenagers and children, and its ultimate goal is to release endorphins, creativity and help us feel good. The impact on mental health during this period has been enormous, and both Ryan and the Child Mind Institute, in different ways, are doing everything they can to help ease the burden that people feel. “
From his home near Joshua Tree, California, Heffington describes how the Sweatfest movement was born and in which direction he wants to take it.
What inspired you to start Sweatfest?
“I felt the need to move and I lacked my community of dancers. Besides, it was for a while, before the lockdown, that I had been thinking about how to make many more people dance. I knew that I should make the lessons more accessible than I did to The Sweat Spot. So I simplified the steps and made them even more theatrical and fun. “
“I really wanted to shift the attention of us human beings from the gray area in which we find ourselves now. Dancing is my medium and being a little childish gives us freedom, even if we don’t have great physical spaces. Thus Sweatfest was born. “
How do you create the steps for each lesson – is it as spontaneous as it seems?
“In the evening I spend one to three hours looking for music, so as to create a sort of fun curve in the playlist – each of which has about four pieces. It is important that people laugh now, so the movements are quite basic and not too specific. I write down the steps on sheets – I now have about 85 sequences for 85 songs, five of which ended up wallpapering the walls of my bedroom. “
What do you look for in music to create this “fun curve”?
“In Sweatfest music there must be a certain level of energy. Even if a piece is slow, it must be heartfelt and generous. If the musician seems too selfish, it doesn’t work – you need something that is offered naturally and freely. “
Why do you think dance, especially the way you move, is so good for people right now?
“Science maintains that through dance a greater release of endorphins is obtained compared to other types of sports. Sweatfest is used to make people move, to make them feel free and carefree. In every second of lessons you are distracted by music or mine voice, so there’s never time to sit still and think about what’s going on. I don’t want people to think they’re wrong so I always say, ‘If I’m going one way and you the other, perfect – let’s have fun.’ “
“We move, our heart rate increases, we sweat, we do some strengthening of the core and yoga. Then we do lip sync on some of the most incredible pop songs ever written. The most important thing is not exercise, but take advantage of cheerfulness and expressiveness – we don’t do it enough and it’s a winning combination. “
Her feedback on Instagram is fantastic. Is there any particular message that affected you?
“There is a nurse who is taking long shifts and is unable to attend morning classes. Then she keeps the phone in her pocket, puts on the headphones and listens to what we are doing – energy helps her get through the day I have received messages from people who are treating themselves from cancer. Many members of the deaf community participate in the lessons because my choreography is regular – I do repetitive movements that always follow the same rhythm, which remains constant. “
He is using his platform to raise funds for dance teachers who work at The Sweat Spot, and also for charities such as the one chosen by Emma, the Child Mind Institute. Do you want your lessons to always have a philanthropic trump card?
“I couldn’t be more excited about the great support we received from the people attending the lessons. The videos remain available for 24 hours and we receive donations from all over the world. I think people are simply grateful that they have something so positive to connect to. Emma is on the board of the Child Mind Institute and therefore the funds raised from last Saturday’s lesson were donated to this charity. Now I want to raise more funds for medical supplies and first aid services, so we will start supporting new causes “.
Will Sweatfest go on even after the end of the quarantine?
“Holding these lessons has changed my life. I am in better shape than ever, I can share dance with many people and the connection with them seems authentic and, I hope, lasting. There is also an exciting news: the 17 teachers who work with me they will offer lessons on The Sweat Spot’s Instagram feed, everything from training, to rock’n’roll and classical dance. “
“I will definitely continue these lessons after the quarantine – the results are too positive not to do it. As adults, we take on so many responsibilities. Now, there is room to shake them off and have fun. This is my goal.”
Sweatfest is online from Tuesday to Thursday and every Saturday and Sunday on the canal Instagram of Ryan Heffington