Connell Cruise on being crowned king of the dance floor: I didn’t expect it

Johannesburg – Connell Cruise and his partner Marcella Solimeo were crowned the first winners of Dancing with the Stars SA in an epic three round dance off.

Channel24 caught up with the singer/songwriter after he was announced the winner.

#DWTSSA winners Connell Cruise and his partner Marcella Solimeo.

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Just last week Connell was in the bottom two and facing the dreaded dance off.

“It was tough to think that right at the finish line we tripped up.”

He continues: “At the end of the day we didn’t have the social numbers like the other contestants. So, this week we just wanted to make the most of it and have the time of our lives.”

Speaking about their win Connell says they didn’t see it as a possibility because they didn’t have the popular vote.

“As a dancing competition we had a lot of confidence and we worked hard to get the technique and to perfect our performance took hours and months.”

He continues: “I didn’t expect it. We worked hard, and I hoped that the hard work would pay off. And tonight was stiff competition. I never thought they would call our names.”

For Connell being paired with Marcella was a lucky strike. This being her first time on Dancing with the Stars SA was a solace for him as they were both in a sense newbies.

“She is so tenacious and she wanted this. She is just the greatest partner in the world and I hit the jackpot with her. The biggest reward for me was to see her lift that trophy,” says Connell.


While Connell never danced professionally before he took to the dance floor like a duck to water.

He laughs and credits hard work and that his mother raised him with the idea that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

“I don’t have a dancing bone in my body I had an excellent coach. This win is the testimony that hard work pays off.”

When it comes to his favourite dance Connell says he has several, but the standout is the Tango - which he dedicated to his grandparents as it was a chance to share his story with South Africa.

For Connell the dancing does not end here, in fact he and Marcella have already bagged a gig to dance.

“Dance is always going to be a part of my life. This experience was only the beginning. These past few months have been the front cover of a beautiful book that I love reading where every chapter is better than the last one, it’s going to be great.”

Speaking about what he learnt about himself during the show, Connell says he didn’t know he had it in him.

“I loved that I never once felt that I had to do this. From day one right until this day that I recognised the honour and privilege and I didn’t know that I had it in me.”

He continued: “The gratitude and this deep respect and love for dance came through and changed my life. Every step of the way even the hard times when Marcella and I would argue, even when I struggled to wake up in the morning because the judges were harsh, even when my body was finished and I had to go to the chiropractor. Even in all of that I still had the mindset that I love that I get to do this.”


“Oh, I’ll have to find a place and it will be one of pride and honour. In my braggadociousness I thought I would convert my guest room and make a shrine for it,” he jokes.

“But I will have to tone it down and keep it on the counter with all family portraits.”

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