“Dancing With the Stars” pro Louis van Amstel blogs on season 15 of “DWTS.” The three-time world dance champion and creator of LaBlast fitness-based dance DVD workouts returns for his eighth season and takes you behind the scenes on the hit ABC show. You can find him on Twitter @LouisvanAmstel.
Can you believe we are about to start season 15, the first ever “Dancing With the Stars: All-Star” season?
I still remember the very first season as if it was yesterday. I’m so thankful to be part of such a successful and inspiring show. “Dancing With the Stars” has changed lives, not only of fans, but also of celebrities and pro dancers. It definitely changed mine in many ways.
The All-Star season is going to be spectacular. With former celebrity winners, runners-up and more returning this season, there will be a competition within the competition, plus lots of laughter, hard work, great performances and I’m sure a few celebrity pranks in between.
When this season was announced I was quite disappointed, because I didn’t get the call to be one of the 12 pro dancers. I got another kind of call. I was told if Sabrina Bryan won the 13th celebrity spot, I would be her partner. I was so excited, but wasn’t allowed to tell anyone.
(For those of you who don’t know, Sabrina Bryan is considered to be the most shocking celebrity to be eliminated early on in the show’s history. Talk about added pressure).
At the time I was doing “Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas” show at the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas with Sabrina, which made it so hard not to tell anyone. I was secretly campaigning for her on Twitter (@LouisvanAmstel). You can imagine how excited I was three weeks later to receive the phone call from our casting director Deena Katz that Sabrina had won the 13th spot. Both Sabrina and I were ecstatic and so relieved when we were officially announced as partners on “Good Morning America.” We still had to wait a week before we could get started.
You have no idea how appreciative I am of having Sabrina as my partner. I’ve loved her ever since I saw her on season 5. Even though I was happy for Mark Ballas that he was paired with Sabrina that season, I was so jealous of him that he got the girl. It’s also quite ironic that in the five years I’ve known Sabrina, I have worked with her on the “DWTS” tour, I’ve choreographed for her Cheetah Girls’ tour, and we were on the same stage on “Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas” and yet we’ve never danced together. Now all we do is dance together and I love it. The “Van Bryans” can’t wait to show you what they’ve got!
Rehearsals, Camera Blocking and Jitters
After three weeks of intense rehearsals, all the couples did their camera blocking two days ago. It’s the first time all of the couples get to be on the actual dance floor while the director rehearses the camera angles and lighting cues. It’s also the time most celebrities start to get jitters and sometimes have to run to the bathroom…oops. It’s always interesting to see how celebrities deal with their nerves. Some cave in and become stiff as a board, others turn it into adrenaline and burn up the dance floor.
Just before Sabrina and I danced our first Cha Cha during camera blocking, I could see her eyes well up from nerves. It was such a lovely moment to see, because I know how much she wants this opportunity and how well she wants to do for all the people who voted her onto this very special season. Once the music started she switched to another world and oh my lord, fasten your seat belts! You can judge for yourself and if you like what you see, vote for me and Sabrina!
(Our voting number is 1-800-868-3403. You can call starting at the beginning of the show until an hour after the show, or text, email from as many email addresses as possible. Please vote from all of your phone lines, fax lines, and cell phones.)
“Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” premieres Monday Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Today is show day and we have an early 7 am call time to go through orchestra rehearsal, where all couples get about 10 minutes with the band to hear their song played live for the first time. You have to remember we all rehearse to the original track until the day of the show. Most of the time it sounds amazing live with the band, but sometimes the songs are so different or complicated that it adds so much pressure and nerves. There’s not a lot we can do that last minute, but we have an amazing band leader in Harold Wheeler, who always does everything in his power to accommodate any changes we’d like to make.
After orchestra rehearsal it’s time for dress rehearsal where the entire show is run as if it’s live — minus the commercials. This is necessary to make sure the show runs smoothly and all departments are happy. Sometimes the costumes need some tweaking or lighting need to be changed. This is where the nerves get to an all time high! Thank goodness for all of us you guys don’t get to see dress rehearsal ….things can sometimes get very dramatic.
Tonight Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson will open the show followed by Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough. Sabrina and I will dance third, which I like because we don’t have to go out first and yet we don’t have to wait so long before we perform. I don’t know the entire following order of the show, but I do know Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy dance 12th and Emmett Smith and Cheryl Burke perform last.
Every couple will come out strong and dance their hearts out. I also believe the judges will be extra critical on all the dances, since most celebs have gone through an entire season already and have dance experience.
On a sentimental note, I feel so blessed to part of this amazing cast, having the best celebrity partner in Sabrina Bryan. I’m still so thankful for ABC and the BBC worldwide for giving me the opportunity to do what I love doing so much on such a worldly stage in front of millions.
Thanks to all of you for watching “DWTS” faithfully over the years, I truly hope this season is going to blow your minds and inspire to take on your own desired dreams. Enjoy the show!