Dancing her way to hapiness

By Drum Digital
03 November 2010

SHE’S been breaking a sweat and dancing waya waya whenever she takes to the floor like a majaivane. Salsa, samba, hiphop – you name it, she can do it all. When the music takes her she can even crump like a woman possessed!

And for Nthabiseng Mohlo, showing off her dance moves has been just the medicine she needed to turn her troubled life around.The brave 23-year-old is certainly the brightest star to come out of the SABC1 reality show Dance Your Butt Off so far. She’s taken a leap into the limelight with her high-energy twalatsa and bootylicious moves. But more importantly, she’s put her tragic past and a lifelong problem with food behind her to become an inspiration to the many people who watch the show each week.

So far three of the 12 overweight contestants have left the show after presenting themselves to the panel of judges, The Mating Game’s Khabonina Qubeka, choreographer and dancer Somizi Mhlongo and radio and TV star DJ Sbu.

The show, which began on 12 October and has been described as a combination of So You Think You Can Dance and The Biggest Loser, isn’t for sissies. It requires the contestants to put their lives on hold for the duration of the 26-week-long show. They live in a special Dance Your Butt Off house and must take leave from their jobs.

Each week the contestants, who team up with a professional dancer, have to impress the judges with a variety of dance disciplines. Contestants spend each day in the gym, going through strict dance routines and following a nutrition plan to see who can lose the most weight and learn to dance like a pro. They are then judged according to what the scale says and how well they’ve performed on the dance floor.

“I’m delighted it’s going so well because I’ve never really been a dance fiend,” Nthabiseng says with the smile that’s endearing her to the nation. “For the most part, I’ve just been focusing on maintaining a rhythm and having a sense of groove – that’s a bit of a challenge for me.”

The unemployed young woman is in excellent spirits when we meet. She’s just come from the show’s residence and, although she loves being on the programme, she is taking some strain with the organisers’ rule that contestants have limited contact with the outside world.

“It sucks a bit that you’re not allowed to do a whole lot of things, such as make a simple phone call,” she says. “But that’s just part of the competition, I guess, and I’m blessed to be on the show.”

LIFE for Nthabiseng hasn’t always been this good. It’s only through the show that she’s begun to get over her self-destructive tendencies following the failure of her abusive marriage and the tragic death of her 11-month-old baby.

Nthabiseng married in 2008 at the age of 21 but the union was doomed from the start. “My husband didn’t want me to have friends. He refused to let me have a life. So food became my friend. I was always depressed so I would binge and find comfort in eating.”

Read the full article in DRUM of 11 November 2010

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