Michelle Loewenstein
2 minute read
14 Sep 2015
6:00 am

Fuelling the fire with Johannes Radebe

Michelle Loewenstein

Johannes Radebe became a familiar face on South African TV screens during the recent season on Strictly Come Dancing.

However, the Strictly runner-up has embarked on an entirely new adventure – he has joined the cast of Burn the Floor – Fire in the Ballroom, which starts its run at the Joburg Theatre this week.

“It’s has been absolutely …” Radebe’s voice trails off in his excitement. “I am so delighted. All of these dancers are amazing. I am lucky and I feel so blessed.” Dancers are hand-picked to be part of the show, with only the best of the best making the cut.

Looking at the biographies of the dancers involved is like looking at a Latin and Ballroom hall of fame – each dancer has numerous accolades to their names.

“It was nerve-wracking!” Radebe says with a laugh when asked about his first day on the job. “I was so intimidated, but to be welcomed the way I was eased me into it. I really didn’t expect it. I thought there would be some arrogance but there was none of that. But beforehand, yes, I was finished.”

While Strictly Come Dancing involves a novice being taught the tricks of the trade, joining a show such as Burn the Floor must require a mind-set adjustment. Unlike when he partnered with Leigh-Anne Williams on the TV show, Radebe is no longer in the driving seat.

“Strictly was hard work in its own way. You have to teach everything to someone who doesn’t dance and you are the professional in the picture. This experience is lovely because the people you work with have more knowledge than you and you are sharing information. I’m really growing as a dancer. Every day we start with a technical class from Peta Roby, the show’s choreographer. I’m being fed as a dancer, if that makes sense.”

Burn the Floor has a reputation for being a tough show to be a part of – the dancers have to embrace a completely new style of ballroom dancing in order to perform the numbers.

“I thought Strictly was difficult!” Radebe chuckles. “Our day starts at 5am and ends at 7pm. It’s intense! It ranges from how you eat to the amount of hours that you rest. When we get off it’s dinner, shower, sleep.”

Radebe has been dancing since he was seven years old. “People would see me and go ‘look how cute’,” he laughs again.

“Dancing always made me happy. I just used to love how it made me feel.” When asked which number in Burn the Floor – Fire in the Ballroom is his favourite, Radebe can’t single any particular one out.

“Everything is my favourite,” he says. “There is a twist to every number and there is a story behind everything. It builds up and there are so many layers to your persona. That’s the beauty of it.”