Three-time World Dance Champion and Emmy-nominated choreographer Louis van Amstel is best known for his nine stunning turns on the smash hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars.” When not tearing up the dance floor on TV, Louis continues to grow his highly popular dance fitness program, “LaBlast“, which is spreading rapidly and currently available in multiple cities worldwide. Louis recently partnered with leaders in the fitness world New Evolution Ventures and fueled by Crunch, to expand the LaBlast program both domestically and internationally.
Louis has an extensive background as a professional choreographer, coach and trainer. He served as a choreographer on FOX’s dance hit show “So You Think You Can Dance,” marking the first time any “DWTS” talent had crossed over to work on both shows at the same time. He has also choreographed for Fox’s “Lie to Me” and he trained the contestants on ABC’s reality show, “Bachelor Pad.” Additionally, Louis served as choreographer, creative director, and performer for the immensely popular “Dancing with the Stars” live stage show in 2006 and 2007, bringing his unique teachings and edgy style to millions of dancing fans around the U.S. Louis’ artistic and inspired choreography brought ballroom to the people and his creative vision helped to make the “Dancing with the Stars” tour one of the most successful live shows.
Louis established himself as an expert on achieving fitness through dance after helping to transform the bodies of past “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity partners Kelly Osbourne, Niecy Nash, and Margaret Cho. As a longtime passionate advocate of healthy living, Louis created LaBlast to promote fitness and make working out fun- all through the power of dance!
Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Louis’ dance life started at the age of ten after his family decided it was important for his social skills to learn ballroom dancing. Louis’ grandparents were competitive ballroom dancers so it didn’t come as a surprise to many that he followed in their footsteps. From the age of 15 Louis was traveling abroad representing his country in major dance competitions in both Ballroom and Latin. He got an international partner, moved to England and therefore stop traditional school at the age of 16.
During the summer of 1989 he started a whole new roller coaster in life with his beloved British dance partner, Julie Fryer. Louis went on to receive three world Latin Dance championship gold medals in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Louis felt the urge to do more, so at 26 he stopped competing and in June of 1997 moved to New York City. “I took the risk and followed my intuition once more. I packed my two suitcases, bought a ticket and moved to the Big Apple leaving my home country. A new chapter of my life had begun, and I had no idea what was in store for me.”
In that summer he had the pleasure of working and coaching many amazingly talented dancers that are now colleagues on DWTS like Tony Dovolani, Karina Smirnoff, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and his brother Val.
I have been a fan of Dancing with the Stars since the very beginning, you could say I was and am a little obsessed with it. Probably because I was never put in dance but always looked up and admired the girls in my school that were. I appreciate the process of the show and think it is incredible to see these stars transform week by week. I think the professionals are all incredible and Louie is one of my top picks. There is just something about him that deeply speaks to you when you watch him dance, teach and choreograph. There have been many celebrities that he has coached where I have had my heart warmed watching his compassion, dedication and love play out in each dance. I would have to say that watching his partnership with Sabrina and mostly Kelly was remarkable, the way he dug deep and nurtured delicate emotions, just beautiful. I still can replay his performance with Kelly, my eyes fill with tears and I become overwhelmed with emotion. Dance has a way of touching your core and evoking such strong emotions.
When I found out that I was going to have the opportunity to sit down and interview Louie for this piece, I was over the moon ecstatic. I wondered if he would be as lovely in person that he appears on television, well…… he completely blew my mind. Upon meeting up with him he had this calmness and ease that made me feel right at home. Louie had a full day with classes, interviews and tv appearances, I was his last stop yet he put all his focus and attention into our meeting (despite having a long day). We sat and talked like two friends catching up after not seeing each other for some time. As I sat and listened to him answer my questions I began to realize this wasn’t just any interview, I was gaining perspective and learning about how beautiful life can be. I didn’t know that my interview with Louie would give me some concrete direction and fed my soul. Louie has a huge heart, wonderful outlook on life and shows that one person can make a difference. It was an honour and I feel truly blessed to be able to share this interview with all of you.
BB411~ When did you know you wanted to be a dancer?
LVA~ Well at 10 it wasn’t my choice, it was my mom’s choice. My Parents thought it would be good for social purposes. At the end of the season you’d have a medal test with judges who marked you on your performance. I made it into the top 3 and won. I had no idea, I was just dancing and I liked that feeling. So by 12 I knew I was going to be a competitive dancer, then my international career started when I was 15
BB411~You left school at 16?
LVA~ It was actually illegal for my school principal to let me go, I had to officially stay for another year (or half a year). It was well thought out, my parents (especially my dad) said go, let him do it~why not if he’s talented like people say. My mom had a bit of a harder time. In 94 (8 yrs later) we became world champions, we had a celebratory event and they invited my principal to come. He made a speech and said I could have lost my job but being part of this journey was so worth it. I couldn’t keep it together, it was a full circle moment!
BB411~If you weren’t a dancer and could be anything in the world, what would you be?
LVA~ A Pilot. If I make a lot of money and have a lot of time on my hands I will become a pilot. I have always dreamt of flying a plane. I love speed~ I’ve had a few of tickets (laughs). The freedom to fly through the air like a bird. I love it!
BB411~ Being a part of the Dancing with the Stars family, what has it meant to be on the show and what was your fondest memory to date?
LVA~ There are a few~ My first one is season 9 with Kelly Osbourne and that journey, it wasn’t one moment it was the whole 3 months watching her grow. If I had to pick one moment with Kelly it would be our last Viennese Waltz, it was the dance we started the season with and ended it with (same dress). It was a corset dress and over the months they had to keep tightening it, there was so much ribbon at the end as she lost so much weight. We had to do an interview and we could not keep it together. We talked about the journey and how much it affected her, me and us together as a couple. The interview played just before we danced, tears were running down, she started crying and we had to go out and dance. It was a mess, there was not a dry eye in the house. That moment was like becoming champions in 19994 again. Second moment was the Rumba with Sabrina this season, that was a similar experience. That girl opened up that week, she was a great dancer to begin with but her level changed. For a good dancer to become even better and the reaction from the audience was incredible. We touched a lot of people through that dance. This season overall was great as everyone got along so well. The season finale we had so much fun from beginning to end. I wish there was a camera backstage during rehearsal because people would have had jaw pain from laughing so hard.
BB411~ There is such raw emotion that you bring out in your partners that is such a beautiful thing to watch. That’s what makes you different. I have to throw this out there, if there is ever an opportunity where they have Dancing with the Stars for us regular folks I’m applying as your partner!
LVA~ Awwwwww, thank you. We’ve all suggested it, we want to do a season like that. Canada (CTV) should do it. I love education and if I see talent I want to bring it out, I will do anything it takes. I have a lot of patience and if I don’t get it out one way I will find another. Whether it’s sitting down talking, because often times people block growth, emotions, expression because of something that happened in life or fear of something. I always go there, I try to see where does that fear come from and then along the way I ask questions. I don’t intrude, if they want to talk about it great and if not I will wait. Then a few weeks later it comes up, you have to wait for the right time. I have a passion for that, it seems to work.
BB411~ Kelly Osbourne is my favourite transformation that happened on DWTS. She is so graceful, elegant and stunning.
LVA~ She is so well spoken and the real deal
BB411~ Tell me about La Blast?
LVA~ It’s like what we talked about with the effect that happened with Kelly, my love for trying to bring out the best in people and educational dance. I just figured there are so many viewers that would love to dance that they think they can’t, they’re clumsy, uncoordinated and overweight but want to. These are self-proclaimed titles from people who bully people into thinking they’re fat, stupid, etc. I believe that there are no clumsy people, you just have to get it out of your head, start moving and the more you move bit by bit your going to learn it. The proof is in the pudding! After Kelly, that’s when I realized I’m going to turn this into a program. La Blast is partner free so you don’t have to worry about being in a group setting, having to go to the gym or class to participate. It’s an affordable alternative, the workout is in disguise. Also there are a lot of people who would never go in a group setting so I thought let’s make some DVD’s. One thing that I have done with the DVD’s that is revolutionary that no one has done before ( I insisted on it), I have turned my back to the camera so the people are all watching me from behind. It’s the easiest way to learn. If you learn in mirror and you see someone doing the right foot and you say the right foot~it’s confusing. In the tutorials in the DVD its done so anyone can learn, even the most absolute beginner. Then theres level 2 and 3 where you can challenge yourself. DVD 4 and 5 are all about if you only have 15 minutes to work out because you have a busy lifestyle or you want to focus on certain body parts (waistline, upper body, etc) we have merengue for the upper body, Jive for the butt and twists for the waistline.
LVA~ Yes but the nice thing SNSC did was offer training for instructors that are from other clubs and allowed them to teach somewhere else. Soon Vancouver will lots of La Blast, along with Holland, Russia and the United States. We are looking at expanding in England, Ireland and Germany!
BB411~ Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
LVA~ On top of the hill in Hollywood flying my plane lol, no really with La Blast and developing my brand ~ that everyone in the world learns the skill of dance and uses La Blast for what ever goal they would want to fulfil. Just the enjoyment of dance, to get into the best shape of ones life, bonding with people. I have people in hollywood (the most diverse people in my class) that you would never put in one room because of social status or career status. They become friends and we go on La Blast vacations together. I have a La Blast vacations coming up in June to Cabo San Lucas. No matter what, every day we do a La Blast class and lose weight on vacation. I am also in the process of working on a clothing line for those that are wanting to get into shape and need help. A lot of companies out their right now have sizes that are good for people already in great shape. Why can’t someone who is needing to lose weight wear something flattering, colourful and comfortable.
BB411~ What inspires you professionally and personally?
LVA~ When people are passionate about what they do, if they achieve the goals they want to achieve. It doesn’t matter if its professional or a hobby, you set a goal and work through it. I was teaching a class today and I said I would rather teach a bunch of women that want to do this and are struggling to get through it and see them achieve what they want. The smile on their faces says it all. Someone who doesn’t believe who becomes a believer, you can’t put a dollar sign on that.
BB411~ What charities are you involved in that are dear to your heart?
LVA~ If you want to make big changes you have to open yourself up, so anything that focuses on anti-bullying especially for those that get bullied for physical appearance (acne, glasses, race, etc). I recommend watching the movie Lincoln, he confirms everything I believe in. I am openly gay but support organizations that cover everyone, that fight for everybody. I love how the Heart Association really fights to fight obesity. Obesity is the #1 disease in the world, beating cancer. I thought wait a minute I’m part of the #1 show, why not use dance to get obesity off the 1st place. I received a golden heart from the Heart Association on my involvement with them on our work against this fight. We are trying to connect with Michelle Obama, she’s very active with the cause.
BB411~ I loved her when she appeared on an episode of The Biggest Loser.
BB411~ What does it mean to give back?
LVA~ It’s about the smaller things that make a difference. I am actually teaching a class tomorrow where it’s by donation. You can come and take a La Blast class but you have to bring something for either the Food Bank or Toys for Tots.
BB411~ What does beauty mean to you?
LVA~ Inner happiness. It sounds so cliché but it’s true! A person can be beautiful on the outside, but if they’re not happy on the inside (having blockage and unhappiness) it reflects on their true beauty.
BB411~ If you could tell your younger self something you now know (a lesson learned or wisdom gained) what would it be?
LVA~ Wow, I must say I’m glad it doesn’t come up quick, I’ve lived my life. One thing that I would change, but am also thankful for is what has happened because of other people in my life that has effected me and has put bad memories from the past into my soul. At the same time, if it weren’t for those negative experiences I wouldn’t be the person I am today and help people who are bullied because I was bullied.
BB411~ Favorite Color?
BB411~ 3 words that best describe you?
LVA~ Rebellious, Loyal and Honest
BB411~What is your skin care regime?
LVA~ Elaborate~ Kiehl’s face wash, Kiehl’s scrub I LOVE Kiehl’s they’re great and affordable. At the same time I love my La Prairie Cavier serums. One thing I would tell young people in the entertainment industry, start thinking about creams and taking care of your skin because in the end skin is still skin (Botox aside).
BB411~ On DWTS the cast gets spray tans?
LVA~ I have never had a spray tan, I don’t get them. In the trio dance with Kelly and Val, I had shimmer on~Val challenged me to go bare!
LVA~ Bert’s Bees Lip balm
BB411~ I have a perfect lip balm I want you to try, will send one your way
BB411~ Do you have any best kept beauty secrets that have been passed on down to you from either your mother or grandmother?
LVA~ No, none that I can think of except cucumber slices under your eyes when they’re puffy and tired (for those early morning call times). I do have this book on how to stretch your skin on facial exercises, it works.
BB411~ Do any certain scents remind you of your childhood?
LVA~ Lavender in the garden (reminds me of Holland)
BB411~ Favorite Cologne?
BB411~ Fun fact your fans may not know about you?
LVA~ I come across as very serious on the show because I take my job serious. But I’m actually a goof ball.
BB411~ Favorite Quote?
LVA~ Its more of a description “Lets be thankful that we’re all different, what would this world be if we were all the same~boring! So lets appreciate each others differences~ Louis Van Amstel”
BB411~ What advice would you give individuals/entrepreneurs following their dreams?
LVA~ One door might close, it doesn’t mean the end. You’ve just got to regroup and two doors might open, three doors might close but four others might open. You’ve just got to keep knocking at that door, every door gets you a step ahead. If you try to achieve your dream in one step ~ don’t even go for it. You must be willing to work hard because dreams are to be drafted, they are not given to you. If they’re given to you, they’re not dreams. So many people in your life would love to give you good advice, I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved now by not listening. If I listened to all the good advice I would still be in Holland and I would not have followed my dreams. People are fearful, they don’t see what you see so they will try to talk you out of it because they “care about you”, but in the end there’s a lot of jealousy behind it. If they can’t do it then you shouldn’t either, because if you can do it then they look like a failure. A lot of times parents (out of caring) want to protect you, but protect you from what-trying, jumping off an emotional cliff. I say~ jump and swim in the ocean to see if there is an island.
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