Think of the Soft Scrub Presents: Dancing with the Stars national tour as a chessboard with different pieces in play every night. That's the challenge for choreographer and pro dancer Louis van Amstel, who has to deal with an all-new show and a rotating lineup of celebrities and pros over the course of the two-month tour. But Van Amstel says he's not about to hold back.
TVGuide.com: Is the tour going to be different this season?
Louis van Amstel: It's going to be completely different. We're not using one piece of music from the prior tours. And we're building something I've been wanting to build for years: dancing with poles. It's not based on striptease. It's more based on skillful dancing with fun and wit between the poles. That will be a big treat. I want to jump on those poles!
TVGuide.com: Will there be more emphasis this time on the pros?
Van Amstel: The pros will all get their solos, their featured moments. It's not just the celebrities anymore that people want to see. I would say it's about 60/40 between the celebrities and the pro dancers. And it's really nice. For the pros, it's like, "OK, you've seen us with our celebrities. But now you're going to see how it's really done at a world-class level."
TVGuide.com: You have so many changes to deal with, what with celebs joining the tour for certain weeks and surprise guest dancers.
Van Amstel: Just imagine every time a celebrity goes out or comes back one week later. Every time a dancer has an injury. Every time that happens, somebody has to change the show on the spot. Somebody has to talk to lighting, music and wardrobe and rearrange all the spacings on the floor. And that's me. On the last tour, Edyta [Sliwinska] was injured, so right away we had to have rehearsals to adjust. This time, Cheryl [Burke] got sick the night before we started in Seattle. It's a nightmare. But you have to adjust.
TVGuide.com: Is it tough on the body to tour?
Van Amstel: It's very, very tough on the body. In the summertime, we had 80- to 90-degree weather and your muscles are much looser. So that's easier than the winter tour. And the pros go all out no matter what the weather.
TVGuide.com: What's the difference for you between doing the show and doing the tour?
Van Amstel: On the show, we know that 22 million people are watching. But we only see 400 people in the studio, plus the cameras. On the tour, you walk up those stairs at the stadium and sometimes eight, nine or ten thousand people are giving you a standing ovation. That is irreplaceable. That reaction, that reward, that applause is irreplaceable.
TVGuide.com: Why should people spend money to see this when they've been watching it on TV for free?
Van Amstel: Because they'll be able to see a lot more dancing than they'd be able to see on national TV. Even if you have a 42-inch screen, you don't see everything. On the tour, you have a 360-degree view.
TVGuide.com: And you have a live band.
Van Amstel: And they are so good. They are phenomenal. Ten people, four singers and six musicians. They can make a big sound.
TVGuide.com: Do you worry about the quality of the floors you'll be dancing on?
Van Amstel: No, because we have our own floor that travels with us. Sometimes, we are performing on top of ice. Or on top of basketball courts or hockey arenas. We can't depend on the theater to have the right floor, so we bring our own.
TVGuide.com: What does your tour group look like?
Van Amstel: We have about seven trucks and 11 to 14 buses. In Lexington, Kentucky, we had all the buses and the trucks lined up and when you saw it you said, "Wow, this is a major freaking deal."
TVGuide.com: Do the dancers dance harder on the road?
Van Amstel: Yes, because there is an adrenaline rush that keeps you on your feet. For the celebs, it's definitely more fun because they're not being judged.
TVGuide.com: Do you want the audience to participate?
Van Amstel: We do. We make them get up on their feet. Last time, we had "Dance to the Music." This time, we're probably going to use "You Should Be Dancing" from the Bee Gees.
TVGuide.com: What does it mean to you as a dancer to hear that applause?
Van Amstel: It's everything. It's the reason why I do it. Where would we be without an audience? When you're younger, you want to do it for the trophy, for the ego. But once you have that, then there's a spiritual side that comes in. You want to move people. You want them to leave having a great feeling.
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