Midlo guy’s dance videos go viral
BY TINA SFONDELES Sun-Times Media December 22, 2011 10:40PM
Kyle Frere (center) stars in silly dance videos shot at the Midlothian home of his Aunt Carol (left) and co-starring his friend Erika Dufour (right). | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: January 24, 2012 9:45AM
Kyle Frere is dancing, if you can call it that.
He’s moving side to side, wildly waving his arms to the pounding beat of techno music in a Midlothian living room straight out of 1978.
There’s a velvet tapestry of a cartoon baby cheetah behind him. His shirt is tucked into his tight jeans. He looks ridiculous. And he’s doing all this while holding a bottle opener that looks like a knife — which makes him look both ridiculous and potentially a threat to himself.
A sweet old woman with unkempt hair enters the room to deliver the hipster — part Napoleon Dynamite, part suicidal ninja — a cold beer. He takes a long drink without missing a beat. Like at any moment his dance moves might be the end of him.
People can’t look away. As of Wednesday afternoon, views of Frere’s various videos on YouTube and Vimeo totaled a little more than 1 million. And his moves had caught the attention of both an indie band and a hit TV show.
What started as a fashion mishap turned into a dream job. Well, that’s the way Frere, 25, likes to think about it. He said he was leaving the bathroom one day and looked in the mirror, his T-shirt accidentally tucked into his skinny jeans.
“I looked like Marty McFly from the ’80s and I just thought, ‘What’s this? What is my life right now?’ ” Frere said. “I just started to dubstep and thought, ‘This is going to be a video.’ ”
He moved to Midlothian from small-town Pittsfield, Ill., for a shot at working in photography in the city. His Aunt Carol, a 79-year-old retired secretary who calls herself a “happy old maid,” offered him free rent. In return, Frere cuts the grass, helps out around the house and looks after her.
“She’s an incredibly sweet woman,” he said. “I love her. We get along really well.”
Her house is like a ’70s museum: knickknacks, animal prints, miniature owls everywhere.
Frere got a job as an intern at a gift basket company in Melrose Park and picked up work as a photographer’s assistant. Life was less than glamorous. Somehow, making a dance video out of frustration seemed like the right thing to do.
And, well, the video went viral on the Internet. So he took it to the next level and made another dance video.
In “Jian Sword Dancing,” Frere’s friend, Chicago photographer Erika Dufour, is swinging and dancing with a “jian” (straight sword) before the two begin a choreographed routine, all while Aunt Carol looks on.
Popular websites Funny or Die and Reddit picked up “Jian Sword Dancing,” and it became a hit. The reggae-electro-house band Major Lazer asked Frere to write, direct and film a video for the song “Original Don.” Then “America’s Got Talent” came calling — offering Frere and Dufour a private audition.
The music video was shot at Aunt Carol’s place in November. Frere actually got paid for it. Diplo, the DJ and producer behind Major Lazer, called Frere’s videos “unique and fun and sincere and weird.”
“The shoot was fun and really smooth,” Diplo said in an email. “It was also really funny (see me laughing in the video when I give them sandwiches).”
Making the video forced Frere to figure out how to keep the joke going for 2½ minutes. For “America’s Got Talent,” “the challenge was to somehow make this be a live act,” he said. “I think we nailed it. Who knows?”
Frere doesn’t want to be a joke dancer his whole life.
“Ideally I want to make this into a video game,” he said. “It’s the only place I can see this going.”
For now, he’ll continue filming in the backyard, where Frere says his neighbors have never uttered a word about his theatrics.
“They’ve seen us out here dancing around and probably think we’re freaks,” he said. “Which is fine because it’s probably true.”