The Way We Get By: Taylor Rice Has Been Taking Virtual Dance Classes

The Local Natives frontman talks Ryan Heffington’s livestreams.

Ryan Heffington is a dance choreographer — he’s based in Los Angeles and has a studio in Silverlake, The Sweat Spot. He’s probably most well-known for some amazing projects that he’s done, one of the first ones being the choreography for Sia’s “Chandelier” video. He’s been Sia’s choreographer in general since then. He also choreographed this Spike Jonze Kenzo ad that Margaret Qualley danced in — it was shot at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and it’s one of my favorite dance videos. He also did that Apple commercial that FKA Twigs danced in.

I’ve just known him from being in the neighborhood; I’ve lived down the street from his studio for 10 years. He hosts dance workout classes there, and they’re super amazing, intense, incredible. He started livestreaming his dance workouts in quarantine, and it’s been really beautiful. It’s gotten bigger and bigger each time. The first time, there were maybe a couple thousand people, then there were three thousand. I finished one today and there were 5,500 people streaming it live — then it stays up for 24 hours, so I’m sure even more people were doing it after.

He does it by himself in his studio and streams it on his Instagram. I haven’t gone to any of his classes in person — it was something I always wanted to do between tours, for years, but I never got around to it. I actually have a gift certificate for Sweat Spot that my sister gave me for Christmas two years ago — that’s how much I talked about it. So this has been really amazing. I’ve finally gotten to do his classes because of the quarantine, so that’s a small plus!

The first time I did it was a couple days ago. It’s been so difficult in the quarantine time to not be very obsessed and focused on how our world is falling apart — what’s happening in our personal lives, to our loved ones, to our parents; [wondering] how long we’re going to be in this, attached to the news, glued to our phones. The dance was a moment of pure release, being completely present and in your body. I did it with my wife, our infant son was in his bouncer, and it was just a really incredible moment we had as a family. We were so happy in the midst of a lot of anxiety. We’ve even been doing Zoom hangouts with a group of friends where we all livestream it at the same time and dance together which I high recommend. It’s been a beautiful thing for us.

A lot of workouts are livestreaming right now, but with dance, it’s such an incredible workout but it doesn’t feel like it in any way — which I always think are the best workouts. You’re not just slogging through something because you know you should. It’s a joyful experience from start to finish.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the release of Local Natives’ critically acclaimed album Violet Street, the band will release a curated remix album with a coalition of eclectic DJs, electronic artists and producers digitally May 1, via Loma Vista Recordings.

Taylor Rice is the vocalist and guitarist for Local Natives.

(Photo credit: Nathanial Wood)