How a Film Grad's Dance Music Video Went Viral

A one-off project led to Major Lazer connections and an audition for "America's Got Talent"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Kyle Frere joked that a video of him dancing at his Aunt Carol's house would go viral. After all, the only promotion he did was on Facebook. 

    Two months later the video -- titled "Balisong Dancing" and starring Frere, 25, dance-sliding and knife-flipping for 37 seconds -- has about 330,000 views. Another, "Jian Sword Dancing" fetched 695,000.

    It was enough to catch the attention of DJ duo Major Lazer, who asked Frere to whip up something similar for their song, "Original Don."

    And unwittingly the makings of a viral hit began to brew.

    Frere graduated from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale in 2009 with a degree in Cinema & Photography, and he doesn't seem the type to do film projects half-heartedly.

    Instead of duplicating "Jian Sword Dancing," he called in his crew: Chicago photographer Erika DuFour, cinematographer Brian Schilling, Chicago-based Odd Machine and equipment man Andrew Benz. Together they nailed a beer-slipping, boom box-blaring, jian-slicing bit of choreography in a '70s-inspired Midlothian home.

    "That's my great aunt and that's her house," Frere said. "All the things that are in the frame, that's her stuff."

    The video stars Frere, DuFour, Frere's 79-year-old Aunt Carol and her Jack Russell Terrier, Reggie.

    Frere and DuFour do some bouncy kicks to the beat with weapons in hand. Aunt Carol watches on, and at one point randomly gets up to bring in the pièce de résistance. Reggie tries not to get hit.

    It caught people's attention. In a month, the video grabbed more than 827,000 views and even drew an invite from "America's Got Talent." Frere and DuFour find out in late January or early February if they made the cut.

    "It was a challenge figuring out how to adapt it," Frere said. "We did, it was fun."

    As for another video, he's holding off for a bit to ease the stress on his aunt and to develop his career. And he might even turn the theme into a video game.

    "It was just a fun little project," Frere said. "I was joking it would go viral."