"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #167, Thursday, January 29, 2004
Louis Van Amstel says, "Move that Body"
So, who is Louis Van Amstel?... I am not very good at knowing all top names in Dancing but this name keeps popping up anywhere you go whether in life or on the Internet. I believe he is originally from Netherlands and has been perhaps in association with Team Amsterdam (Ruud Vermeij et al). He is of course many times World Latin Dance Champion and is recognized by many as one of the best latin dancers. I was lucky to attend a group lesson that he gave last night at "Dance Elite" in Bloomfield, Michigan, USA. With Jacob Reves assistance it really was a blast.
First I must tell you that I thought that I will see a "God" on the dance floor. As I entered the Studio, I saw a real human being dressed in bell bottom gray pants and a T-shirt and a light colored sweater. He seemed to speak like a human being and quite a humble one at that and I said "wow"....
Let's get to the lesson.
Move that Body: This was the theme for the whole 2 hours. In everything we did, this was emphasized in many different words like "move your whole existence", or "move your body, your brain , your mind, your whole thing" etc. It was not only said but demonstrated by him very clearly right and the wrong. The right being that the body is in advance of the foot in forward walks and the wrong would be that foot and leg will be forward of the body.
It is all about walks:
Rumba Walks Forward: "Simply move your body in advance of your foot and let the foot catch your weight before you fall on your face. Move, Move and Move, of course with timing and these are forward walks."
Rumba Walks Back: Going back you cannot delay the foot placement otherwise you might fall. Just move the body and your feet will automatically be turned out.
Checked Forward Walks: The bulk of the evening was spent on the first step of Rumba Basic for man or the 4th step for the Lady. This is an animal of it's own species with following characteristics:
1. LF is placed in front of the RF on the same track, not really across.
2. The turn out of LF is more than normal.
3. The back foot (RF) is turned out almost as much
4. There is partial weight (70%..?) on LF, so you should not be able to lift RF
5 The legs are crossed and tight*
* I am slightly confused on this issue. I have a feeling that the right knee tucks behind the left knee with slight flexion of the back knee in a "check" feeling but I do not recall if this was brought up.
Delayed Forward Walks: (a). Knee bent, example, step 3 of Lady's Closed Hip twist, RF forward and across. (b). Straight Knee, example: lady's LF forward as the first step of her Alemana
He emphasized the "Fun" part of dancing and it was just such a wonderful evening.
He deserves 10 (or more) out of 10 for being a wonderful teacher and a person.
With Best Wishes, Max