Demi Verheezen

Born: 1996, Cappelle aan den IJssel, the Netherlands
Education: Royal Conservatoire, The Hague
Experience: Introdans (since August 2014)

“Just follow your heart”, said her parents. But what if you really love both gymnastics and dance? And what’s more: you have a huge talent for both types of sport? The dancer Demi Verheezen came to this crossroads at the end of primary school. But with one striking difference between her two options. While she had already gained a second place at the Dutch Gymnastics Championships, she had just begun doing her first pliés.

Demi choses dance

She chose dance. “Actually it’s an impossible choice. At that age. What do you really know, when you’re eleven years old? But it was simply no longer possible to do both, so I had to decide.” She chose to “try something new”. After all, she could already look back on a pretty impressive gymnastics career. “I really wanted to learn other things, too. And to me it seemed easier to have a career in dance than in gymnastics.”

Accepted at the Royal Conservatoire

So she encountered dance path later, only when her gymnastics club closed down and she went in search of another place to train. Her new trainer gave her a tip: “You should give dance a try some time, see if you like it.” This proved to be a turning point in her life, taking her in a completely different direction. “I did an audition at the Royal Conservatoire and I was accepted! Without any previous experience, amazing! My first dance teacher gave me so much support. I had to master an awful lot of the basics very quickly. Then I did a new audition at the end of the first year – where the school assesses whether you are good enough to keep studying – and I burst into tears when I heard it was ‘yes’. Only then did I realise how fantastically special it was that I was allowed to do this training programme.”

A regular contract at Introdans

After completing her dance education she did internship auditions at Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Nederlands Dans Theater and Introdans. “Ton (Wiggers, general director, ed.) immediately offered me a regular contract. He had a vacancy and he liked my audition: 1 + 1 = 2, you could say.” Demi seized the opportunity with both hands. “I can learn so much here! It has always been my dream to work in the Netherlands. And now that’s worked out as well!” Looking back, it seems clear: “One way or another, things happen faster in my life than they do in other people’s lives. I grew up early. Gymnastics certainly had something to do with that. It really shaped me. If I find something difficult, I always revert to my old attitude and I become stiff instead of supple. It’s a lesson for me to learn, I need to work on it!”

Modelling in Vogue and Grazia

One of Demi’s characteristics is her preference for combining activities… “When I was fifteen, my mother and I saw a competition for models on the Internet, organised by Fancy magazine. Shall I enter you, she asked jokingly. Then she really did it. We were both amazed when, after lots of selection rounds involving thousands of candidates, I was still in the running with twenty other girls.” She received a contract with Max Models and shortly after this she was modelling in Vogue and Grazia. “I still do this, in addition to dance: working as a photo model and a catwalk model. But only when I have time: on my days off, in other words. I get to see new places and I enjoy the experience.” She feels most proud of a series of photos – freelance work – by a Dutch fashion photographer for the Italian Vogue. “He’s an expert. Those photos are something really special.”

Always carry on

Growing up in the fast lane. That’s part of Demi’s character. “I always carry on, it’s true. This attitude has brought me a screw in my right foot. And on the left I’ve got a Dancer’s Heel (an extra small bone at the rear of the ankle, ed.). But now I’ve had an operation it doesn’t trouble me anymore, luckily.”
She takes a relaxed view of the future. “At Introdans I enjoy everything I learn and experience. I really like it here with my colleagues. I’ll just see how things go, I don’t have any fixed ideas about how I want to continue. There’s so much that attracts me. As long as I can just ‘hold my own’!”