I am a 25 years old dance instructor and choreographer, based in Belgium. During weekdays you can find me busy studying at the Hasselt University LAW faculty. Or at least, that’s what I should do. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, I’m teaching my fabulous students some great new dances that come out. I’m teaching all levels in modern line and country line. I used to have my own couple & partner dance groups on Friday night too, but because of a busy schedule of teaching abroad, I had to close these classes as most Fridays I’m already travelling to or teaching at events. I do miss this as I loved teaching my couples something different and harder than the mainstream partner dance routines.
I used to combine my law studies and dance career with a weekend job. I had a sales function in an interior shop. I loved to do this but because my hobby and passion became more and more a career I had to make choices and leave the company. So nowadays during the weekends you can only find me at dance events, from rather small events to the biggest events in our industry. Weekends at home are kinda rare but when I have a little free time you’ll find me in theatre, cinema, restaurants, attraction parks, zooparks.. and I prefer to share these moments with my lovely nieces/godchild.
You’ll see my life looks quite busy, and I can confirm it is.. but I’m really happy with every chance or opportunity I have to spread my dances and share my passion around the world.
HOW IT ALL STARTED:
When I was 14 years old, one of my neighbours asked me to join him at the line dance classes he was attending. It was a dance group full of senior dancers and I was the youngster but even though this, I really enjoyed trying these classes out. After a few weeks I started attending local events with some friend I’ve met cause of dancing and later I joined them to their classes too.
After a few months of dancing and trying out several dance classes, I got the question to become an assistant dance teacher. I think I was just dancing for about six months.. But from the first moment I was daily looking for new dances on the internet and did translate them into Dutch so that they could be picked up by local instructors too. These days, Linedancerweb and Copperknob were unused databases in our country. Because I was always looking for new dances and translating them, I started experimenting with choreographing myself. If I look at these dances now, I think they were all crap.. But every pro was once a beginner, right?
STARTING MY OWN DANCE CLUB:
After taking some national and international dance classes and instructor courses, I started my own club and dance association in October 2009. Next to weekly classes, I also was asked to teach instructor workshops for several dance associations in Belgium. One of the main reasons I was invited to their experienced teams was because I was one of the few Belgian instructors that are scrolling down the net every day to search for the good stuff. There was a time I was teaching 6 days a week but I had to slow down.
Later I also started taking technique lessons from several megastars/superstars and I started competition dancing in line, couples and proam.. but most of my awards and titles I won in choreography division as I did not enjoy the competitions really well. That’s why I said to myself to start focussing back on the social aspects and organising my social dance events.
GETTING NOTICED AS CHOREOGRAPHER AND INSTRUCTOR
First I started to receive more and more support and attention here in Belgium. Many local artists who are on stage every weekend, started to play more of my choreographies when they were performing. They also started with suggestions and request to choreograph to songs they were planning to add to their setlists. Most of these dances are still being played and danced around the country, week after week.
Next to this, I was asked to bring together a group of young dancers to dance in the Final show of the Voice. A Belgian country artist made it to the finals and we were dancing to Brad Paisleys ‘The World’ on the big stage. A memory me and the other dancers won’t forget! I still frequently receive requests for TV shows and other big events but sadly I can not combine this with the busy schedule I already have.
As I have a big network of contacts in a lot of branches, I was also a instructor/entertainer at private (theme) events. From new year events for Belgium’s biggest insurance companies or banks with 700 people, to little bachelor parties, I covered them all and gave everyone a fun first line dance experience.
It’s not easy for a Belgian choreographer to become popular and get international attention. Our country is slightly different when speaking of line dance traditions. In Belgium (most of) the dance groups focus only on what bands play, and it does not happen often that there is a modern song or modern/newline dance picked up by the bands or instructors. So I saw when I wanted to please the other part of the community, I had to choreograph different than I was doing for Belgium. So when you’ll have a look at my choreographies you maybe can see two different styles. I have a lot of dances that were choreographed to please the Belgian crowds, and then there is the other part of dances that won’t be danced in Belgium, but are filling floors in many other parts of the world at the moment.
After I got popular in Belgium and the neighbouring countries, mostly because of my country dances, I started to receive feedback and messages from all over the world. It all started when the printed edition of the Linedancer Magazine started to publish some of my dances. When I started to pick different music styles for my choreographies, I started to please a bigger group with my choreographies and I got more support from instructors from all over the world that do focus on modern line in stead of country line. I can not describe how it felt to receive almost daily messages in my mailbox from people I do not know with feedback on my dances.
MY DANCE CAREER TODAY
I think it was 5 years ago that I got my first invitation to teach at an international event, not knowing this was the first of a very long list now. First it started with lots of national workshops and just two or three international workshops a year, and it grow to a full event schedule of teaching international these days. It doesn’t happen a lot that I’m available to teach a workshop in Belgium anymore but I try to do 4 or 5 local guest workshops a year.
The opportunities to teach all over the world made me another person. I had the chance to teach in so many different countries of Europe for many times, and next to these I also have had some invitations to teach in other parts of the globe. The last three years I was on the instructors list for events in America and Asia more than once too.
Because of all this travelling I made so many new friends, not only dancers that were attending the events I was teaching at, but also a lot of the other choreographers I had the chance to work with, that once were my idols, became very close friends. They really touch me with their support as it happens a lot that event organizers do contact me because I was recommended by these big names in our industry. It’s always sad when an event comes to an end and you know it can take long before you see some of them again, so it happens that these goodbyes give me tears.
Next to sharing the stage with my heroes and idols, I share lots of good memories beside the dancing too, but also we share some great co-choreographies too. These days I get asked to choreograph something together a lot and I can proud say this worked out in a lot of cases very well. I’m really happy that some of the biggest stars in our industry do think I am talented and want to work with me. These collaborations brought already a few floorfillers to the scene. And of course, it feels great when you see your babies become successful. I need to name two persons that support me always and were like mentors to me. Robbie McGowan Hickie & Roy Verdonk, two totally different personalities, but two of the biggest stars of our dance industry. I had the chance to work with them and they both brought me on the big stage of the Norbreck Hotel in Blackpool. I shared the stage with Robbie at the Crystal Boot Awards, and with Roy I was on the stage of Rob Fowlers Legends event. Never expected that idols could become best friends!
In 2018 I was nominated for two crystal boot awards. This was a big surprise to me, something I never thought that was going to happen, I don’t even think I dreamt about being a nominee once. This was a very special start of a year for me. When I returned home from the CBA’s with two awards that we won, it felt so surreal.
This year did not bring only positive things as I had a real difficult year as I got into a depression because of personal problems and more important, very serious health problems. But because of some good help and support, not only by professionals but also by the Linedance foundation and of course my very own students and the many friends I’ve made because of dancing, I got thru this really dark chapter of my life. I know I had to cancel a lot and I wasn’t able to perform as expected from me last year, but I’m stronger than before and ready for a restart.. I’m happy that everyone stayed by my side and kept sending me love and strength so that from this year on, I’m back on track with a full schedule.
I hope I can do this for many years to come, because in my busy life, dancing is what I need to relieve the stress. And there are still some places I’ve never been before, so I really don’t think I’ve seen it all, I know there are a lot more experiences waiting for me. But because I don’t expect anything, every single message, every single dancer that’s enjoying one of my dances, every demo clip, every new friend, every moment one of my dances appears in the charts, every new booking or opportunity, it still brings a big smile to my face and a warm feeling in my heart cause feeling loved and all the special things that my career has given me, is something money can’t buy. I really do love what I’m doing, and I really appreciate the support I get from everyone. My students are of course the biggest support in this adventure and I don’t know what I should do without my dance family at home, they make me proud every single day.
Thanks for everyone that was part of my dance adventures so far, I hope to see you somewhere on or next to a dance floor very very soon!