SA dancer burning up international stage


11 July 2012

South African champion dancer Keoikantse Motsepe has joined the cast of the internationally successful Burn the Floor company, which kicked off a three-city The Temperature Rises South African tour in Cape Town on Wednesday night.

Motsepe has been the undefeated South African Latin American champion since 2004, but began his journey as a dancer at the age of five when a friend suggested they give it a try. By seven, he knew he had found his calling.

He went for formal training at the Corenergy Dance Centre in Johannesburg and began representing South Africa in all major Latin Dance championships internationally in 2003.

He was also the country’s representative at the World Latin Championships in New York City in 2010.

His ‘Burn the Floor’ journey

Motsepe’s spot as a cast member of Burn the Floor came about purely by chance as he did not even want to watch the show when it first toured Johannesburg in July and August 2011.

“At first I was resistant to see it,” he said this week. “But after a few seconds, I realised it was the best dance show I had ever seen. I was blown away, to be honest; I can’t describe the feeling.”

This prompted him to contact Burn the Floor’s company manager and executive producer, Peta Roby. He secured an audition and began touring with the company in January on its Burn the Floor – The Temperature Rises tour. “Dreams certainly do come true,” Motsepe said.

The show has travelled around the United States, China and Australia and has just embarked on its South African leg of the tour, which will cover Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

Although Motsepe has not been with the company for long, he has made an impression. “Keo [his nickname] is a breath of fresh air, polite, a real gentleman and very popular in the company,” said director and choreographer Jason Gilkison.

“His family should be proud. His work ethic and commitment to his performance is unquestionable, and on the dance floor – simple: he owns it,” Gilkison said.

“The South African audiences are in for a real treat.”

Raising the mercury

The response to Burn the Floor’s 2011 tour to Johannesburg was overwhelming, and the company played to sold-out audiences at The Joburg Theatre Complex. Cape Town residents wanted a piece of the action, which led to the company deciding to return to South Africa in 2012 for a more comprehensive tour.

The Temperature Rises tour will run at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from 11 to 29 July, before making its way to the Joburg Theatre from 1 to 19 August and the Playhouse Opera Theatre in Durban from 22 August to 2 September.

Audiences can expect electricity on the stage, with 18 international championship dancers at the top of their game. For those who have already seen the show in Johannesburg, they need not expect the same tricks to be rehashed.

“I have re-choreographed numerous numbers, changed five songs in the show and have re-costumed the second act,” said Gilkison. “The show’s new ending will blow you away, and blow any perceptions you have of ballroom dancing.”

The show’s creator, Harley Medcalf, agreed: “It takes the performance to a whole new level, feel and energy.”

Humble beginnings

Burn the Floor began as just a special performance for Sir Elton John’s 50th birthday celebrations in 1997. A group of 16 dancers performed a 10-minute dance cabaret, which inspired Medcalf, an Australian theatre producer, to build a full-length stage show around the same concept.

Burn the Floor has since become a worldwide phenomenon, having toured 30 countries and over 160 cities. It features performers from 10 countries, who have over 100 championship dance titles between them.

The show uses what is called “international style”, which is made up of 10 dances – five standard ballroom and five Latin American dances.

The standard ballroom dances are the waltz, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, tango and quickstep, while the Latin American dances are the cha cha, samba, paso doble, rumba and jive.

SAinfo reporter