Sadly, Andre Van de Plas passed away due to a stroke on Monday, 28 January, 2019.
We will remember Andre for bringing to us his wonderful repertoire of very enjoyable dances in his annual programmes. We also remember his expert teaching skills and his willingness to share these skills with us on his travels to Australia and New Zealand. His NZ tours brought him into contact with many folk dancers from Christchurch to Auckland, and he became part of the NZ folk dancing whanau. We will miss him, and our thoughts go to those members who had a strong personal friendship with Andre over the years. His legacy will live on through his dance collections.
Andre was a professional folk dance teacher, and a trained primary school teacher from the Netherlands.
He taught International dances, and made many choreographies, in the Netherlands as well as abroad. He worked with various age groups, accommodating all levels from beginners to highly advanced. He specialised in dances from Hungary and Romania, as well as children's dances, which was particularly useful in his job as a primary school teacher.
For many years he was the principal teacher of the Phoenix Folkdance Ensemble in Apeldoorn, and set up school projects for the highly acclaimed professional Folkloric Dance Theatre in Amsterdam.
Andre completed the two-year Folkdance Teacher Training Course in Holland, and was Principal Teacher for the course, as well as a guest teacher for specialist Romanian and Hungarian classes.
In 1989, Andre initiated a plan to hold a similar (though condensed) course in Sydney. This course ran at regular intervals, with Andre as principal teacher and then as a guest teacher.
Outside the Netherlands, he taught in Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Italy. He visited Australia almost every year, each time taking a fresh repertoire. He held workshops for school teachers, school children, recreational folkdance groups, and was guest teacher at many many residential workshop weekends.
He produced an extensive range of folkdance resource sets (music, booklets and video) for his Australian public.
Most of all, he believed that the process of learning to dance should be fun at all levels, at all times, for everyone. As such the focus was not so much on how to perfect certain steps, but rather to dance to the music, and relate to the cultural and social aspects of the dance.
Several NZ IFD teachers find his annual collections a major source of great new dances, and three or four attended his sessions in Australia.
He will be missed on many levels, as a friend and colleague, and fellow dancer of great energy, enthusiasm and good heart.
Folk Dance Australia has a list of Andre's resources. Enquiries to Kaye Laurendet (Sydney): okaye @ optusnet.com.au