South African Is First Non-White Dancing Pro on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Edna Owusu-Ansah September 12, 2014

Keoikantse (Keo) Motsepe

The new season of “Dancing With the Stars” will kick off this Monday (8 p.m. on ABC) and competing to win the trophy will be the first non-White pro-dancer in the show’s 19-season history, Keoikantse (Keo) Motsepe (pictured right).

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Motsepe, who is paired with Olympic track star Lolo Jones (pictured), is a native of South Africa, where he started dancing at the age of 5.

The accomplished performer has won every national dance title in South Africa and danced on the “Burn the Floor” world tour since 2012. Joining the “Dancing” cast is a dream come true for Keo — in addition to being a milestone for the show.

“Me being the first Black, non-white dancer in the show, obviously there’s something special about me, there’s something the producers saw,” Motsepe tells The Post. “I’m very honored and feel very blessed about that. For me, it’s about making history in my life and making history in the world.”

Motsepe, an avid fan of “Dancing,” says he was only partially surprised it’s taken so long for a person of color to be cast as a dancing pro in a show that has often had African-American celebrities as competitors.

“The other day I was in tech [rehearsal] and a guy goes to me, ‘Wait, are you doing ‘Dancing With the Stars?’ He said, ‘Now I’m going to start watching.’ If one non-White person can think like that, the word of mouth is the biggest tool in the world.”

Motsepe has had to adjust to the challenges of dancing on TV — having to think about costumes, lighting, and camera angles instead of just fancy footwork. But he says Jones has brought her athlete’s work ethic to early practices.

“This competition is very healthy and very strong,” he says. “We just want to have fun for the first day and see how this goes. Everyone has something different about them — there are people who have rhythm, people who are fast, people who have funny ideas, or sexy ideas.”

Watch Motsepe and Jones rehearse here:


This season also brings the return of former-pro Julianne Hough, who will be a judge on the show. Motsepe knows her from the ballroom dance circuit and expects she will be a fresh addition to the panel. “Julianne being in the show is going to add a little bit of spark, which is good,” he says. Motsepe also hopes he can follow in the footsteps of Hough, who claimed the “Dancing” trophy in her first season as a pro.

“Someone different, competing their first time, why not? A different color. Anything’s possible in life,” he says. “You just have to believe and have faith and hope. That’s what I tell Lolo every day.”

Watch Motsepe dance on “Burn the Floor” here:


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Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: September 12, 2014


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