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Sep 1, 2016

He The King of Waltz ~ She The Crown Princess

Floating Over The Entire Vrijthof

He is the king of the Waltz, she the crown princess

Kimberly Smith from Maastricht managed 150 ballroom dance couples who transformed the Vrijthof area during the concerts of André Rieu into a large magical Viennese dance floor.

Maastricht by Vikkie Bartholomeus: Whether or not he himself can waltz? Of course André Rieu can waltz. She has already danced with him during a CD presentation." And that went fine, perfect. The king of the waltz waltzes very well!" Kimberly-Kim Smith says laughingly, although she is actually too tired. In the past weeks she has been responsible for 150 ballroom dancing couples who will be waltzing over the Vrijthof during André Rieu's summer evening concerts. She had goose bumps when she first saw 'her' dancers float on the Vrijthof. "It was magical. Magical is also the word André uses a lot to explain what he wants."

He first made contact in February. They knew a little of each other: Rieu's sons once took dancing lessons in Kim's dance studio at her house; her parents are still very active worldwide as trainers and judges in the dance world. "André asked me: "Kim would you be able to manage eighty couples? I want the entire square to be dancing. He already had a picture of that in his head. Dark, glittering gowns, magical. He has an enormous vision. That is why he has come so far." Those eighty couples actually became one hundred and fifty, presented as "the Maastricht Dance Company." They came from all over: the Achterhoek (Eastern Gelderland province), Waalwijk (City in Noord Brabant), Germany and Belgium. "We have them from all levels and all ages above eighteen." They consist of senior champions, professional dancers and world champion wheelchair dancers. We held ten couples in reserve in case of injury or illness.

The preparations were intense. Kim travelled all over to have them learn their choreography. "André plays with a lot of feeling, but does not keep to a strict tempo. He adds stops and moments which makes it quite difficult for the dancers. That is why they were all given the music so they could practice."


He already had the image in his head. Dark, glittery gowns, magical.

Only two weeks prior were there two combined rehearsals in Genk under the all noticing eyes of the maestro. "André really sees everything, and directs with humor. And finally, as sort of a director for the dancers, he is correct." For the ladies, all the glittering gowns were custom made: for gentlemen who did not have a tuxedo, one was measured and one was provided. The compilation of the choreography was also not an easy task. "There could not be too much movement since the couples would be too close together in the pathways and in front of the stage. But all together they should move very easily. During completions, dancers are used to dance across the entire floor, now they had to move in place. That took some getting used to."

Entry and exit were tightly regulated. The dancers left the Vrijthof with 'scattered chassé', skipping in high tempo. "I stood by the exit gates moving everyone along in order to prevent congestion. Every show has to be tops. You cannot afford any mistakes." During the encores, dance partners were taken from the audiences. "Very emotional things happened. One of the dancers asked a 77 year old lady who used to be a prima ballerina, but had difficulty moving. He carried her. That lady was so happy she was able to dance again for just a little while."

Kim Smit has been dancing at top levels since her youth, and has participated in world championships with her Australian partner. During the TV program 'Dancing with the Stars' she taught Bart Chabot to dance. She also participated in the Belgian variation of 'Dancing with the Stars'. In addition she was one of the choreographers for the musical "Dirty Dancing' which played in places like London, Berlin and Chicago. Kim Smit was honored that André asked her. "It is so nice that ballroom dancing has now been focused on for a bit. It is something classical, timeless, really a heritage. It is fantastic that André promotes this." What is so beautiful about waltzing? "You float, and that is a wonderful feeling."

Thanks to Al and Ineke for the article and John's translation
Photos by Berys McEvoy and Patrick Verweire

4 comments:

Ber Beckers said...

Fantasties intervieuw! We zijn allemaal zo trots op Kim hier in Maastricht, ze is niet de kroon princes, maar de koningin van de dans! Dank u beleeft voor het vertalen en het helpen verspreiden van haar talent en naam!

Ber Beckers

Francine Chavanon said...

Encore un fantastique interview. Bravo à André et aussi à Kim pour nous avoir offert un merveilleux spectacle au Vrijthof. C'était vraiment superbe et seul André est capable d'avoir des idées aussi extraordinaires et de les réaliser avec son talent et son professionnalisme. Ses concerts à Maastricht sont un pur bonheur. De tout cœur, merci cher Maestro pour embellir la vie avec la musique, c'est génial !Francine.

Anonymous said...

I always love to read stories from "behind the scenes". Wonderful!
Ineke.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article, I enjoyed it! The dancing couples were so beautiful, I wish I could have been there. The choreography was perfect for a tight space, and the dancers moved beautifully. As a former dance teacher myself, I can really appreciate the challenges of working with 150 couples, but they pulled it off perfectly and the effect was magical! Thanks again, Jennifer D.

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