The passing of a legend of the Dance World – Mr. Fred Bijster.

It is with the most tremendous sense of grief and loss, that we must report the passing of a true legend of the dancing world, Mr. Fred Bijster,

WDC Vice-President & Chairman of the WDC Competitive Dance Committee, and organiser of the most famous Dutch Open Dance Festival.

It seems almost impossible to overstate the contribution Fred has made to the world of dancing in the last 4 decades, and it seems nigh on impossible to list all the accolades, and probably Fred would abhor the very fact that we would try, as his humility and untiring love of dance was always in the foreground.

Nevertheless, we would like to give a brief overview of a life dedicated to the love of dance.

Fred Bijster started dancing in the 1960s and won the then Avro’s Danstest twice. Then danced as an amateur as a top exponent for the Netherlands.

After high school he studied computer science Rotterdam.In the 1970s he first worked as a systems programmer in Amsterdam and soon moved to Dwingeloo and studied biology at the University of Groningen.  In Dwingeloo he also led a dance school and in between took the dance teacher exam at the F.D.O.

Soon he became involved in various dance organizations.

Fred became chairman of the Youth Department of Dance Masters in 1982, secretary in 1984 and chairman of Dance Masters in 1988.

He was also appointed delegate for the Netherlands at the World Dance Council.

In the 1980s he organized his first major competition: the European Championship Ballroom for professionals in Steenwijk, soon followed by the World Cup 10 dances for professionals, the World Cup Ballroom and World Cup Latin. In 1983 the first Dutch Open was held in Slagharen. Then the direction was set. The organization of many world championships and major international title matches are now on his track record. Nowadays everyone knows him as the organizer of the Dutch Open Championships, his own title that has world fame and is regarded as one of the very best events in the world. Less known, but no less important, Fred Bijster was also closely involved in the organization of the Open World Amateur Championships in Paris.

In the 1990 he was commissioned by the WDC to implement restructuring internationally. For example, the registration and influence of dancers, judges, coaches and other officials on the WDC was officially structured through his input. Within the WDC was elected to  in the WDC Competitive Dance Committee in 1994, where he was later elected chairman. He also became Vice-President of the WDC.

Education has also always had his interest. For example, he was at the origin of the consultation between top coaches; now an institute within the WDC and gave his full support to the establishment of the WDC Education Department. He regularly wrote articles for the WDC Education Department. His conferences and workshops are very numerous and widely appreciated for their quality. The workshops in Assen are now well known with many participants from all over the world.

But perhaps most famous is Fred Bijster for his fight for the “Freedom to Dance”. In 2007 he was the first to defend the right of dancers to dance freely, with the Dutch Open Championships at stake; with this he unleashed a worldwide movement, resulting in a successful new amateur organization, the WDC Amateur League. He has received the support of all prominent people in the dance world.

Together with Donnie Burns M.B.E. and Sammy Stopford M.B.E. , Fred has been responsible for organizing the first Open World Amateur Championships in Paris since 2008 , which then  continued to Dublin and finally to his beloved Assen as an annual event.

He is also at the basis of the foundation of the WDC Dutch Amateur League and the integration of the WDC Dutch Professional League, both part of Dance Masters.

Fred Bijster received international recognition for his work through the highest awards. He received the “BDF-Overseas Award”, 2 x the Carl Alan Award, the WDC-Isadorah Duncan Award and recently the Freedom to Dance Award.

Some characterize him as a rebel, others as a revolutionary thinker, but he is universally respected, both for his work and for his insights.

We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to his family for their terrible loss and grieve their loss with them.

With sincerest respect,

Hannes Emrich 

On behalf of the WDC President, and Officers and the CDEB.