It has become a winter tradition of sorts in Florida: when it’s wintertime, that means the cast of ABC’s hit dance competition series Dancing with the Stars makes a trip down south and performs live for the show’s many fans. This year, A Faculty Production and BBC Worldwide present an all-new live show, called “Dancing with the Stars Live! – We Came to Dance” (Photo: Keo Motsepe).
According to BBC Worldwide and Faculty, “Dancing with the Stars Live – We Came to Dance” “showcases every type of ballroom and modern dance seen on ABC’s hit show, including sizzling group performances, romantic duets, contemporary numbers and original pieces created specifically for the nationwide tour.” The roster of professional dancers taking part in the production includes Lindsay Arnold, Artem Chigvintsev, Sharna Burgess, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Emma Slater, Hayley Erbert, Gleb Savchenko, Keo Motsepe, Alan Bernsten, and Jenna Johnson, among other special surprise guests which will be announced at a later date. For more information, visit dwtstour.com.
While the show will make several stops throughout the sunshine state, The Dancing with the Stars: Live! – We Came to Dance Tour’s only stop in South Florida will be at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. on Thursday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $35 and several different VIP packages are available which include a meet and greet and photo op with the cast as well as premium seating for the show. For more info or to purchase tickets, visit: SeminoleHardRockHollywood.com
One of the aforementioned professional dancers is Keo Motsepe, originally from South Africa, where he was one-half of the nation’s top ballroom dancing duo eight years in a row. Motsepe was introduced into the cast of Dancing with the Stars in season nineteen. He has been partnered in the past with Olympian Lolo Jones, model Charlotte McKinney, music diva Chaka Khan, and former child actress Jodie Sweetin.
Keo Motsepe talks to Mike Halterman about the live show coming to Florida, and what it’s like performing on the weekly TV show:
Welcome back to Florida! How excited are you to spend the last week in December in the Sunshine State?
I’m very excited because I’ve worked and stayed before in Tampa on another show. I love Florida, I love the people there, and I can’t wait to be back.
Tell us about Dancing with the Stars Live. What exactly will audiences get to see in this show that they haven’t had the chance to see on TV?
The live aspect of the touring production is a lot like my role on the TV show this season. After being partnered with a number of celebrities, this season I’m dancing with the other troupe members. It’s so different in terms of how you create your numbers. With the celebrity, you want to craft a number that you can do but also one that she can do. There are no limitations on the live performances. Being at home and watching the number on TV, and actually being there in the ballroom, it’s totally different. So showing audiences the numbers live gives a totally different feeling that we can let the fans in on.
Are there any numbers in this production that you’re really excited to show off to the audience?
Last season, there was a number we danced on the show that was completely spoken-word, a monologue from all of the dancers, and it let viewers know who we are as people apart from just being “the professional dancers”. When we presented it live, it made the audience connect with us closer than ever. There will be similar numbers like that on this tour and I can’t wait to unveil what we have. It’s going to blow your minds.
How did you first pursue dancing, and when did you realize you wanted to build a career around it?
When I started, dancing in South Africa was very big. It was almost elevated to the status of a sport. When I expressed interest in dancing and not soccer, my mother was enthusiastic. “Oh, yes, you should do it.” But my father — I am the only son — he just thought to himself, “Oh, no, what’s going on with my son?” [laughs]
But even from a young age, I knew that soccer wasn’t something I was passionate about. Going home, after soccer practice, I saw people dancing in someone’s house, and I thought, “That looks fun! I want to try that.” I stopped by one day and told them I wanted to start dancing too. The instructor remarked that I had natural rhythm. I didn’t even know. I said, “Oh, you think so? Great!” I took to dancing immediately. There was never a question in my mind after that.
Tell us how you became a pro dancer on Dancing with the Stars.
I was doing a show called Burn the Floor, and I was performing in Japan at the time. My manager received an e-mail from the people at Dancing with the Stars. They were looking for new dancers and they wanted to know if I had time for an interview. My manager said yes, because after Japan I was going to Tampa to rehearse and get ready to perform on a cruise ship. We flew out to L.A. and I decided to just be myself. The interview happened, and I left, and I didn’t hear anything for weeks. Finally, in the fourth week, they said “Would you like to be a part of the show?” It was a whirlwind after accepting. I put my bags down in my apartment and within a week I was practicing with Lolo Jones.
Out of all four celebrity partners you had, which one did you have the closest connection with? Do you still talk to any of your past dancing partners?
Wow, you’re getting personal! [laughs] I talk to Chaka Khan, Charlotte McKinney and Jodie Sweetin. I’m close in particular with Jodie Sweetin because we made it very far in the competition. Even though I didn’t go far with Charlotte and Chaka, they’ve supported me in the show, I’ve been to their houses, we go out for coffee. Chaka Khan’s next projects involve South Africa and I really want to be involved with those.
Then there’s Jodie. We’ve become such great friends. If I am in L.A. and rehearsing, she’ll call me and ask when my break is. I’ll say, “Okay, I have one coming up for an hour.”
“Then let’s go get some coffee!” she would respond.
Being far away from my own family, she’s become a part of my extended “family” here in the U.S. I would do anything for her.
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers who wish to excel and shine?
Obviously, work hard, be yourself, and believe in yourself. That’s the most important thing. Dancing in the spotlight, it’s important to focus on your craft and let your inner happiness and confidence shine through, because people will see that in your dancing. I live by that advice every day!
For more information on Dancing with the Stars Live!, visit dwtstour.com.