Douwes was born in Amsterdam, North Holland, to an arts dealer and a social worker and is the grandniece of Doris Day. Initially Douwes wanted to become a nurse for mentally handicapped children, then, she danced in a disco when she was 19 years old and realised that she wanted to dance. She went to London and searched for a dance school in the Yellow Pages. She chose the Brooking School of Ballet. Without any prior dance education, she auditioned (with a sprained ankle) and was accepted. One year later she attended a musical workshop with Susi Nicoletti and Sam Cane in Vienna.