Skip to main content

Hip Hoppin’ with Fred Vassallo

12/26/2016 11:00AM, Published by Laura Christman, Categories: Recreation, In Print, Today, Community



Gallery: Hip Hoppin’ with Fred Vassallo [4 Images] Click any image to expand.



Urban Connection

January 2017
By Laura Christman
Photos by Eric Leslie

It’s a bit after 7:30 am at Sequoia Middle School in Redding and students are crawling like alligators across the auditorium stage. Soon they start moving like inchworms.

“Hands walk out, feet walk in,” instructs Fred Vassallo, their hip-hop dance teacher.

That’s just the warm-up. The 14 students move on to the routine Vassallo is introducing. They snap and turn wrists and make box-shapes with their arms while jumping, bending legs and crossing feet.

“I can’t do it,” someone moans.

“You can do it,” Vassallo says. “You can do anything you put your mind to.”

That’s a key message in Vassallo’s classes. There’s more to hip-hop than mastering a cool move. It’s about getting fit, fitting in and building confidence. 

“I want students to be transformed by the experience,” Vassallo says. “I want them to feel empowered — to know they are valuable; they have a beat, a sound, a purpose.”

Since moving to Redding from New Jersey four years ago, Mr. Fred has brought hip-hop to hundreds of Shasta County youths. This year he’s teaching at Sequoia, Bethel Christian School and Redding School District’s community day school. He also offers private classes. He’s taught after-school and in-school programs at schools throughout the county and through Redding Recreation. His students range from 3-year-olds to adults.

Vassallo was choreographer for “Come Alive,” a video music project that, in October, earned the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award for best children’s album of the year. As part of the team for the Bethel Music Kids production, Vassallo had youths dancing on Diestelhorst Bridge and other Redding locations.

The 38-year-old hip-hop teacher easily connects with kids, says Devyn Lewis, intervention facilitator at Sequoia.

“He has this chill demeanor. He has really helped a lot of kids who wouldn’t have
been participating in any extracurricular activity. He pulls them out
of their shells and builds confidence.”

Eighth-grader Kyliegh Towery is in her third year of hip-hop at Sequoia.

“I was really shy in sixth grade. I’m not that shy anymore. This is like a safe place that I can be myself,” she says. She enjoys the style of dance. “I like the movement in it. It’s energetic.”

“It’s fun,” sixth-grader Korbin Pena says.

The urban-style dance is done to a strong percussive beat and is great exercise, Vassallo notes. On top of that comes movement control — from fast moves to slow or completely still sequences. That’s especially valuable with at-risk students. 

“They’re developing a sense of self-discipline. I’m teaching how to control physical impulses,” Vassallo says.

Learning a sequence or a dance move builds confidence, he says. And dancing together is a great way to learn to work
in a group.

“It’s not all about you. It is about all of us,” Vassallo says. “When we focus on all of us, then you shine as well.”

Vassallo sees layers of pluses to hip-hop. It helps kids physically, emotionally and socially. Unfortunately, it is often associated with violent and sexual themes. Vassallo says such commercialized hip-hop doesn’t reflect authentic hip-hop, which is rooted in “community and expression and creativity.”

When selecting music, he screens “not just for bad words, but what the song is saying.” And he stays away from suggestive moves. “The grinding and all of that, to me that is the cheap dance vocabulary of hip-hop.”

Vassallo’s love for dance began as child growing up in New Jersey. He mimicked breakdancing on TV. By his teen years he’d taught himself many moves. He attended a six-week workshop in New York City at age 14 that led to joining a professional dance company.

Vassallo was trained by some of the pioneers in hip-hop dance. He got roles in stage productions, commercials and music videos, including a commercial for Nike and a performance on Paula Abdul’s TV reality show “Live to Dance.” He completed a three-month program in movement therapy focused on using dance to help with physical and emotional healing.

He and his wife, Dominique, a singer, songwriter and composer, had a hip-hop theater production company on the East Coast. They visited Redding in the summer of 2011 for a summer music program and moved to Redding a year later. They have three daughters, ages 13, 6 and 4.

“We have a desire to just continue to work together — her music, my dance, doing films and stage productions,” Vassallo says. “We want to do what we can do to impact people’s hearts.”


www.fredvassallo.com



Fred Vassallo


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/24/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Healthy Eating and Being Active Class

    04/24/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Looking for FREE classes on tips for healthy eating and being active? Then this is for you! Cla...


  • Point S Tires Show N Shine

    04/24/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Annual Kool April Nites Show and Shine. Point S Tire & Auto Service- Formally known as Redding T...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/25/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/25/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/27/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/27/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Shasta Bike Month

    04/27/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Location: Brandy Creek Marina Boat Ramp, Whiskeytown Lake Several courses available (challenging...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/27/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/28/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Shasta College Gender Equity Conference

    04/28/2017
    09:00AM — 01:00PM

    REDDING, CA – Join us for the Shasta College, Student Center Stage for our 2017 Gender Equity C...


  • Gender Equity Conference

    04/28/2017
    01:30PM — 03:30PM

    Following the Gender Equity Conference, there will be a LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Workshop from 1:30pm-3:3...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/28/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/28/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Race begins at 9:00 am at Brandy Creek Marina (boat ramp) 26.5 Mile Long Course 20 Mile Interme...


  • Mosaic Rock Class

    04/29/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    When: Saturday, April 29, 2017 Time: 1-4 pm Place: Strawhouse, Big Flat, CA (20 miles west of...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/29/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tours

    04/29/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Redding Community Contra Dance

    04/29/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    What is contra? Contra dance is the American cousin to Scottish and English Country set dances. I...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/29/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Plant and Community Ecology Walk

    04/30/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Ever wonder what the name of a plant is or why the plant is growing where it is along a trail? Or...


  • Bike to Pint

    04/30/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Wildcard has partnered with Shasta Living Streets to bring you a great bike friendly event. Meet ...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/30/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/24/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Healthy Eating and Being Active Class

    04/24/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Looking for FREE classes on tips for healthy eating and being active? Then this is for you! Cla...


  • Point S Tires Show N Shine

    04/24/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Annual Kool April Nites Show and Shine. Point S Tire & Auto Service- Formally known as Redding T...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/25/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/25/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/26/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    04/26/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesday and get $3 off a growler fill.


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/26/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/27/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/27/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Shasta Bike Month

    04/27/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Location: Brandy Creek Marina Boat Ramp, Whiskeytown Lake Several courses available (challenging...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/27/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Past & Present COLLIDE

    04/28/2017
    07:00AM — 06:00PM

    Great artwork from LOCAL artists that is available for purchase . Featuring art work of classic c...


  • Shasta College Gender Equity Conference

    04/28/2017
    09:00AM — 01:00PM

    REDDING, CA – Join us for the Shasta College, Student Center Stage for our 2017 Gender Equity C...


  • Gender Equity Conference

    04/28/2017
    01:30PM — 03:30PM

    Following the Gender Equity Conference, there will be a LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Workshop from 1:30pm-3:3...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/28/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/28/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Race begins at 9:00 am at Brandy Creek Marina (boat ramp) 26.5 Mile Long Course 20 Mile Interme...


  • Mosaic Rock Class

    04/29/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    When: Saturday, April 29, 2017 Time: 1-4 pm Place: Strawhouse, Big Flat, CA (20 miles west of...


  • Art Roster 5th Annual Forgery Show

    04/29/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Forgery Show is an annual art exhibit featuring the work of Mt. Shasta's ArtRoster Atelier pa...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tours

    04/29/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Redding Community Contra Dance

    04/29/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    What is contra? Contra dance is the American cousin to Scottish and English Country set dances. I...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/29/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Plant and Community Ecology Walk

    04/30/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Ever wonder what the name of a plant is or why the plant is growing where it is along a trail? Or...


  • Bike to Pint

    04/30/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Wildcard has partnered with Shasta Living Streets to bring you a great bike friendly event. Meet ...


  • Marvin's Room

    04/30/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who i...


  • Shasta Bike Month

    05/01/2017
    07:30AM

    Enjoy the security of valet bicycle parking while you shop, eat and play at the Redding Farmers’ ...


  • Healthy Eating and Being Active Class

    05/01/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Looking for FREE classes on tips for healthy eating and being active? Then this is for you! Cla...


  • Mornings with Mommy

    05/02/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    Mornings with Mommy isn't preschool and it isn't childcare. It's something different. Mornings wi...


  • Jason Michaels is a professional speaker and entertainer with astounding expertise in the arts of...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    05/03/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesday and get $3 off a growler fill.


  • At Minds Matter, people can connect with local resources that provide mental health and wellness ...


  • Minds Matter

    05/04/2017
    02:30PM — 08:00PM

    Dealing with mental health challenges, big and small, can be tough. But there is help. Join us ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Vinyl Night

    05/04/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us downtown the first and third Thursday of every month. We are going to ditch Spotify for t...


  • Pints with Purpose

    05/04/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Wildcard wants to highlight some of the amazing community leaders and non-profits taking our comm...


Enter to Win!

 

Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living
Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors