He danced his butt off!

By Drum Digital
12 January 2011

HE’S a whole new person now. Dressed all in black, a hoody pulled over his cap and wearing snazzy hiphop sneakers, the 26-year-old winner of SABC1’s Dance Your Butt Off walks into our offices with a swagger.

And Nkosana Bembe’s got every reason to feel on top of the world – the svelte guy attracting admiring glances from girls is a far cry from the badly-dressed sdudla auditioning for a place in the show that would change his life.Nkosana beat 11 other contestants by losing a whopping 30 kg over 13 weeks of intensive dance training and dieting and walked away with the big R100 000 prize.

“I didn’t just win the money; I won the fight against my weight, won new friends and a new self image. The money is really just a bonus,” he says.

To be fair, Nkosana wasn’t the heaviest or H the most popular guy on the show, but viewers soon fell in love with his boyish looks, determination and energy. He also had a heart-warming story: as a fat child he was constantly teased at school.

“They used to call me sdudla mafehlefehle, knowing I’d never be able to chase after them,” he says with a wry smile.

“Some would beat me up and then if my dad saw bruises on me he’d send me right back out to fight the bullies. He told me I couldn’t be beaten up by my peers and that I should stand up for myself.”

Nkosana says his weight always made him miserable. “People don’t realise how painful it is to be fat. I used to look at other people with bulging mkhabas and be disgusted with myself.”

When he heard about auditions for the show he didn’t hesitate and bunked work to audition. “I didn’t think I would get in because I wasn’t a dancer but I knew that if I did get in I would make the very best of that opportunity.”

So he called kids from his neighbourhood and got them to teach him the latest dance moves. It clearly paid off!

NKOSANA says he’d often tried to lose weight over the years. “I would go down to the gym but get there and look around and feel like the only fat person there. You get those guys ba chomang (show-offs) who take off their shirts while they exercise and it just highlights how different you are.”

He says being fat ran in his family. His father, Patrick (62), a retired car parts merchandiser, was overweight but his love of sports helped him fight the bulge. “I’ve never been into sports like he was, but I loved music and dancing.

I’ve never been umajaivana but when I was in Standard 3 (Grade 5) where I grew up in Zondi, Soweto, a guy came to recruit us for tap dancing classes.

“I wasn’t going to embarrass myself by auditioning because I was so big, but I went along to watch and fell in love with the sound the metal heels on their shoes made on the wooden floor – and I had a great instructor in Mduduzi Magagula who’s now a famous professional tap dancer.”

He carried on tap dancing while at Bhukulani High School in Zondi, and after school he featured in two tap shows, Ama-Taps at the Market Theatre and Fantasy at Carnival City in 2005.

Read the full article in DRUM of 20 January 2011

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