Kimberly Smith André’s choreographer
Interview with Kimberly Smith. From Linda magazine, December 30th 2023, by Daphne Keislair. Photos by Marcel van Hoorn. Translated by Ineke, edited by Diana D. Le Kimberly works as a choreographer for André Rieu: 'Touring with him was so fantastic' Kimberly has been dancing all her life, it was instilled in her from an early age. But when violinist and conductor André Rieu asks her to choreograph his concerts at the Vrijthof, that is the icing on the cake. Kimberly Smith (41) tells LINDA about her dance career and what it is like to work with the “The King of the Waltz”. Dance career Kimberly grows up with music and dance. “My parents had a dance school in Maastricht. I could always be found there. I started there as an amateur, but eventually I went through life as a professional dancer.” Her specialty is ballroom dancing and together with her dance partner she travels all over the world, from Japan to Korea and Australia, to represent the Netherlands. As a result, she always lives somewhere else. She even became Dutch Champion twice and is in the top 24 of the world's best. Kimberly together with her professional dance partner David Semken. But when her dance partner quits, Kimberly has to look for a new dance partner. “I didn't feel like doing that anymore. I didn't want to move anymore, I wanted to settle down.” She decides to stay in the Netherlands and that soon leads to a new challenge. She is asked for the well-known television program “Dancing with the Stars”. There she guides both Dutch and Belgian celebrities in their dance adventure. “That was fantastic,” she says. André Rieu In 2016, Kimberly received a call from André Rieu. “He had approached my father, who was known as a dance school owner in the dance scene of Maastricht. They knew each other well and André had an idea, for which he was looking for someone. Of course, my father knew the solution. He said: 'You need Kim for that'." Kimberly is then called, asking if she can arrange many dance couples. “He wanted a lot of dancers for his annual concert series at the Vrijthof in Maastricht. First 75 pairs, but a little later he called again. Now he wanted 100. A few days later again: 'Can you also arrange 150?' Then he had to stop. But I did it. Fortunately, everyone was very enthusiastic and we now have an extensive file of contacts who we can approach to dance along during his concerts.” Happiness at work And what is it like to work with such a great person? Kimberly enjoys it immensely, she says: “André is a real perfectionist, with a sharp eye for detail. He walks by and says casually: 'That dress is too short, and I still need to get it done.' I actually appreciate that. He approaches everything with humor and doesn't beat around the bush.” In addition, André regularly expresses his appreciation. “During the concert, he sometimes takes me aside to say how much he enjoys working together. What you see on television is exactly how he is in real life. He never pretends to be anything else.”
Behind the scenes During a concert like this, there is a lot of work to be done, says Kimberly. This starts in the weeks before the event. Then she is busy making the choreography and training the dancers. She has just finished the Christmas concerts with André. “These concerts are extra intense. The dancers have to alternate in color, and every evening the number of dancing couples differs, so I have to position and align them every time.” During the concert itself, Kimberly runs from here to there to ensure that each dance couple is on stage or leaves the stage at the right time. Where she used to be on stage to show her dance routines, she now stands behind the scenes. “You are judged at competitions. I no longer have that assessment. With my work, I make people in the audience visibly happy. That's very different from what I used to do. I really enjoy this.” Footprints The former Dutch champion would like her two daughters, aged eight and twelve, to follow in her footsteps. But at the moment, they have very different interests. “One does gymnastics and the other plays basketball. I would like it if one of them started dancing, as long as I don't become such a fanatical dancing parent." Kimberly's parents used to be her trainers when she was growing up. “My father was really my coach on the dance floor, but off the dance floor he was just my father. It was just difficult for me to make that same distinction with my mother. Eventually she stopped training me; that was better for both of us. She is now very proud of me for everything I have achieved.” Abroad Kimberly doesn't know yet what the future will look like, because almost all her dance dreams have already come true. “I think it's great that I was able to turn my hobby into my profession. When you start dancing, you don't know if you will ever make a living from it. I realize that I am very lucky. Nevertheless, I would love it if I could tour abroad with André again. I have been able to do that before for a special recording, for which I was allowed to direct the dancers. That was so fantastic. It would be nice if I could do that again. Although I still have to see how I can take the children with me.”
The “Gold and Silver” waltz.
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