Tales of How Keo Motsepe Became First Black Pro Dancer on Dancing with the Stars

Keo Motsepe is a South African dancer whose dancing talent has dragged into the international scene. He is famous for his serial appearances on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. A Latin and Ballroom dancer, Motsepe is now most recognized as the first black professional dancer on the show. For the LGBT community, he is someone to be highly esteemed as he was a part of the first same-sex dance routine featured on the popular show.

Dancing remains Keo’s claim to fame and for someone who has gained thousands of fans and followers because of what he does, it is totally unsurprising that the tale of his rise to fame has inspired a lot of people, with many seeking to know how it all began for him.

Keo’s Childhood Prepared Him for His Career

Time and time again, it has been validated that one becomes very skilled in a field as an adult if they started preparing for it in the early years of their lives; that’s the story of Keo. Born on the 24th of November 1989 in Pretoria, South Africa, it is not a secret that Keoikantse ‘Keo’ Motsepe was drawn to dancing when he was a kid. The success he enjoys today is the benefit of his childhood dedication to the craft.

Growing up in a locale near Johannesburg, Keo idolized Michael Jackson as much as he was a fan of a popular Latin Ballroom dance television show in South Africa called The Summit. In between following the show and his addiction to Jackson’s act, he found himself striving to replicate some of the choreography. Even though they were sophisticated, he did justice to them and has never stopped dancing since then.

Keo’s parents knew what he wanted to be. For them, it was obvious when Keo Motsepe was only 5 that he has a massive interest in dancing and was quite skilled at it despite never having had a lesson.

How He Became a Prominent Dancer In South Africa

Parents are very instrumental in shaping the lives of their kids. This sentiment proves to be true for the South African dancer. After his folks realized that he’s a natural talent in dancing, they got him enrolled in a dance school. This marked the beginning of Keo Motsepe’s exploit in the filed in his country.

Just after he was enrolled in a dance school, he became someone who couldn’t be ignored in the competitive amateur dance scene. His first dance teacher saw a huge potential in Keo and helped him convince his family to allow him to move in with his dance partner so they could have more time to practice. His parents yielded and what followed was years of intense and rigorous rehearsals.

Keo Motsepe turned 11 and started representing his country in international Latin ballroom dance competition. Records have it that he won his first contest when he was 14 and went on to hold the South African Latin Dance Champion title consecutively for eight years.

From 2004 to 2014, Keo Motsepe and his dance partner Otlile Mabuse were South Africa’s undefeated Latin American Dance Champions. The duo was the face of South Africa in several international competitions. In 2010, the two represented SA in the World Latin Championships in New York.

See Also: How To Dab: Dance Origin And Why Everyone Is Doing It

Taking His Craft To The Global Scene 

His career soared into a new height in 2012 when he made history as the first South African to join the Burn the Floor world tour. He subsequently gained the attention of television producers in Europe and 2013 saw him make his television debut on Strictly Come Dancing, a British series in which celebrities team up with professional dancers to compete in ballroom and Latin dance.

The record-breaking dancer made history when he became the first black professional dancer on the Dancing with the Stars show. The milestone achievement of joining the cast of professional dancers on the show was announced in 2014. Before the announcement, Keo was already working on a Norwegian Cruise Line in Miami as a dancer.

DWTS Debut and All The People He Has Partnered With 

He first appeared in season 19 of DWTS in which he was paired with Olympic athlete Lolo Jones. They were eliminated in the 1st week of the competition at 13th position. The next season, he was paired with model Charlotte McKinney and they were eliminated in the 3rd week at 11th position. Keo was paired with Grammy Award-winning singer Chaka Khan the following season and they ended as the first couple eliminated in the 2nd week at 13th position.

He partnered with Full House actress Jodie Sweetin in the 22nd season. This would be Motsepe’s longest run on the show as they were eliminated in the 8th week at a 6th overall position. He appeared as a troupe member in season 23 and partnered with Charo, an American-Spanish actress in season 24.

In season 25, 26, and 27, he was respectively paired with Barbara Corcoran, Jennie Finch Daigle, and Evanna Lynch. The dancer returned for the 28th season which premiered in September 2019 but was not paired with a partner. As such, he is not a part of the competition. In the future, Keo hopes to be the very best he can on the dance floor. For him, it will be a dream come true to have a dance with American superstar, Ciara.

Dancing Has Changed Keo Motsepe’s Life For Good

Keo Motsepe is estimated to have a net worth of $2 million. He reportedly earns up to $300,000 from dancing which is believed to be the major source of his income.

The South African dancer once stated that his dancing career has taught him how to treat and respect women. According to him, dancing made him realize he could “be that decent guy that a girl can dream of”. Now, he intends to mentor young boys who would love to embrace dancing and be like him.

Outside of dancing, Motsepe volunteers in hospitals. He has been seen doing this at the Veterans Affairs Hospitals of Los Angeles, Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. As Keo is very public-spirited, he founded Thank the Angels in 2017. It is a philanthropic venture that provides food and clothing, among other things to the homeless and needy in Los Angeles during Thanksgiving.

Amara O
Amara O
Amara is a creative writer and has been creating content for several years. Her experience cuts across various segments such as African cuisine, travel, nature, and politics.


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