Louis Van Amstel
A Dancing with the Stars pro launches his
Valley-based dance program nationwide.
- Written byLinda Grasso •
You might wonder why a guy like Louis Van Amstel would teach a class at Anisa’s Dance Studio, set off the Boulevard, in a non-descript block of Sherman Oaks. He’s one of the high-profile pros who gets to fox-trot with celebrities like Kelly Osborne on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. And he works as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance on FOX. But Louis insists this is where he belongs. “I see teaching as my real mission in life,” he quips, adding, “Dance is therapy—it can change your life. It sure changed mine.”
The lithe, 39-year-old says, “I wasn’t just fat but also gay growing up in Amsterdam. So I really got bullied. When I started ballroom dancing at 10, it not only got me in great shape, but it gave me confidence.” It wasn’t long before Louis took his newly discovered passion into the competitive arena—ultimately becoming a three-time world champion. He turned pro at the age of 26 and in 1997 moved to the U.S.
Louis became familiar with Anisa’s studio years ago when Dancing with the Stars rehearsed there. When he developed his LaBlast program, which combines dance with exercises, it was an easy decision to “open shop” at Anisa’s. Locals, particularly middle-aged women, quickly took notice, and before long, the dance floor was packed.
Louis hopes to syndicate LaBlast to studios worldwide. It’s already taught in six states, including Arizona at the upscale Canyon Ranch, and in Europe. “There are five levels. So beginners don’t feel intimidated. Anyone can do LaBlast. You can always feel challenged because you can move up levels as you improve.”
The Vega family has been in the restaurant biz for decades. And they continue the family tradition to this day.