“WE’RE ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THERE IS SOMETHING BIGGER; SOMETHING BRIGHTER WITHIN US THAT UNITES US ALL”
Ashley Wiggins and Daniela Hochmuth have been touring around Europe with their Innsbruck-based snowboard and yoga movie ‘Dance with us’. In the interview below they talk about traumatic experiences in the mountains, how to cope with downfalls and that this movie unexpectedly turned their lives around.
But first, enjoy the film!
Dance With Us full movie
Interview with the creators of Dance With Us
Ashley, what was it like making your first snowboard movie?
Ashley: “For me, it was something very special because I’ve always wanted to do a snowboard movie. When I was a kid I had posters of snowboarders up on the wall and always dreamt of going snowboarding, let alone creating media related to the sport. I was massively influenced by Jeremy Jones and his movies ‚Deeper‘, ‚Further‘, and ‚Higher‘ – they really inspired me in the way that I make films. Dani is a Jones rider, and I felt very privileged being able to work with her.”
Why is ‚Dance With Us‘ different to other projects that you are working on?
Ashley: “Creating a movie with a bigger story and very important messages within it, was very special for me. Dani has a very creative vision and it was quite interesting that the more we worked together, the more we realized we had a very similar vision, but in a different way. She had her vision in a spiritual and snowboarding way, where I had it in more in a filmmaking and story-telling kind of way. So the two of us together really gelled in projecting our visions in the making of the movie.”
How did you two come together to make “Dance with us”?
Ashley: “Both me and Dani were going through very hard times in our lives, but we didn’t really know about each other’s issues. One of the biggest subjects within the movie is positive change and the fact that you start with yourself. Whilst filming, we were both changing our lives. Dani stepped down as the president of Protect Our Winters and I completely changed my way of working as well, as I was heading towards a burnout. The movie turned our lives around but we didn’t realize it until later when we looked back at the time. We listened to the story we had no idea we were creating, and that is the weird thing about it. We were learning from each other and the movie.”
Did you have a specific idea or concept in your head before shooting or did the story evolve naturally?
Ashley: “Usually I prefer to create a concept, then write the story and then plan all the shots in advance. This movie was completely different. We both had very little time, so we just went out filming without much planning. The story evolved in the process of making the movie. And even now, the story is still evolving. And that is the interesting thing about it.”
The premiere of ‚Dance with us‘ took place on Nordkette as an outdoor-screening. What was that evening like for you Dani?
Daniela: “It was such a miracle for me, because having the outside cinema at a place where we had actually just filmed the movie felt so perfectly in line. Nordkettebahn in Innsbruck organized everything and we could just come and enjoy the screening. My family and a lot of good friends came to see it, plus the Jones snowboards distributer and many more. And it was the one Outdoor-Cinema without rain [this summer].”
Daniela, you have first-hand experience of how powerful the mountains are, and had a few traumatic experiences too… Did those incidents change something in your perception of snowboarding?
Dani: “I got into competing and riding snowboarding contests very fast and without being really prepared for it. When the accident happened in the contest, I had to make the decision to either take the safe line on the left or the risky one to the right. I felt pressured by the voices around me: You can ride like a guy, you can show them what you got. If you win this you can go to the [Freeride World] tour… So I ignored the bad conditions and took the risky line, because I wanted to show them that I am a strong rider. So actually my ego killed me. I actually always wanted to ride with people and the mountains and not against them.”
You also have experienced something every winter sports athlete fears: you were caught in an avalanche.
Dani: “Yes, I have been in an avalanche last year. Dealing with things like this involves two kinds of processes. When the first accident happened, I had seen the stone coming towards me and I visioned myself falling onto this rock. And I said to the rock: You will not kill me! I focused my mind on the positive and the survival mode. In the film you can see how I crashed and I remember that when I was bouncing back I really celebrated life and just thought: Wohoo I am still alive! But in the avalanche I could not prepare with my imagination, as I didn’t see it coming. And that really f***ed me up, I couldn’t leave the house for quite some time afterwards.
What happened after that, did you keep on riding contests after the accident?
Dani: “I had a massive downfall after the accident and everything that had kept me together was falling apart. All my friends were gone and my dream of winning the Freeride World Tour at 28 was crushed. I still think that I could have done it, but it was just not my path. My path was trying to take care of our mother nature. Riding the tour would have meant to fly around all the time, but I actually just wanted to explore home and enjoy nature. What I’ve learned is, you can do so much with your imagination and the human power is endless. If we only believe in us and in creating, than we can create our backyard and what we are doing. I got hit two times by mother nature and I could’ve been gone. So what has changed for me is that I only ride those dangerous lines when I feel ready and when I am fully in the moment. I actually went to Chamonix and was riding really steep faces there, but if there was a day when I didn’t want to ride, I just went to Aiguille du Midi with the gondola and did yoga up there.”
You have been touring around Europe, screening “Dance with us” on Seegrube Innsbruck, in Vienna at a yoga studio, London, Berlin, Paris, at the Adrenalin film festival in Innsbruck and the last stop will be Hamburg. What was the best moment on tour so far, anything that you will never forget?
Ashley: “At the premiere, a guy came up to Dani and said: ‘I was also in an avalanche. It was really hard for me to cope with it too’ The movie and talking to Dani allowed him to deal with it better in his mind. So this is the part of the movie which I love, helping others. This is the biggest thing for us: The message that is inspiring others.”
Dani: “At the screening in Berlin a guy came up to me and actually thanked me. He was dealing with the big problems that are facing us all, the destruction of Mother Earth, which made him depressive and anxious. He was at a very serious stage of depression. The movie changed something in his mind and helped him to see a way out.”
Ashley: “That is the one thing that I as a filmmaker want: to inspire people. But I would’ve never dreamt of touching people like this.”