Comedian Ebenhaezer Dibakwane on how Dancing with the Stars SA changed his life

Cape Town – On Sunday night, Ebenhaezer Dibakwane became the first celebrity to be voted off Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net (DStv 101) when his combined score from the judges and viewers was the lowest.

He tells Channel24 how the experience has changed him and his outlook on life, his new muscles ("I can see one of my six-pack"), what the hardest was for him, and about the deep and profound way the show has changed him: "I didn't expect to turn out to be the person that I now know I am."

Is there anything you could have done differently?

I imagine that I could have pushed myself further. There's always more to be done in any situation. I had not worked my body to the point of breaking. So, I suppose yes, there could have been more work done. At the time I was doing it though, it felt as though there was nothing more I could do. I know one thing that might have changed was my attitude towards the dance throughout the week, that might have changed things.

What has the experience been like for you?

In its entirety it's been absolutely amazing for my profile, for my female fans! [ha ha] It's been amazing to find the strength to carry on. To wake up in the morning and go to rehearsal - something that I'm bad at, and get critiqued on something that I had no ambition on following initially, I had to dig deep. I had to dig deep.

And in digging deeper, I saw bits of my self that was beautiful, and I saw bits of myself that I had not dealt with – problems. So in its entirety it's been an amazing process.

It's been difficult and grueling on the body and mind but in its entirety I think I'm a human being that I'm very excited to journey with; the me that I now know.

What did you think of the judges?

I can't say that there's anything weird about them. They're great personalities and they make the show great to watch.

What was the hardest for you?

Failing consistently. Consistently failing every day; waking up in the morning to go. And I try to overcome something and that day you don't overcome it – that was painful.

Because you wake up in the morning – firstly I don't want to leave my bed, it's comfortable, and I'm very good at this sleeping thing – and you get out of the house. I live very nearby the studio, and you get to the studio, with positivity, and changing your mindset, being positive. And 4 hours in, it's not gotten better! [ha ha]

And I'd go "Why? Why? What's wrong with me?" It was hard not being able to overcome what all the self help books told me to do. [ha ha]

What did you not expect about this journey?

I didn't expect to turn out to be the person that I now know I am. I didn't expect to get a new person. What my expectation was, was to come to this show, be myself – as I've understood that person to be – and make the world fall in love with that person.

I had expected to overcome certain challenges, I had expected to grow as a human being of course. But I had not expected to meet this entirely new human being who has got entirely new dreams and perspective about things.

I wanted to ask what did you learn about yourself, so is that what you learnt. And how did you change?

I am emotional. I always knew that I'm emotional but I said it with my mouth. I take things very badly. I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself. I have in the past at least sometimes not taken responsibility for things. I had an expectation that the world would do things for me. I had a sense of entitlement.

I thought talent was enough. So what I've learnt about myself was that I am not just that person. I thought that's who I was and in journeying with Nombulelo Hlathi ([professional dance partner] I learnt that's not who I am in my entirety.

I also learnt that yes, I am beautiful. That I am a beautiful human being, and that if I continue to attend and strive towards myself in uncovering the beautiful elements of myself, I will inspire other people to do the same. And we'll all share in this beauty and move forward together laughing and dancing – hopefully the jive and not the tango! I don't want to tango with the world! [ha ha]

How do you feel about being voted out and did you expect it?

I did not expect to be voted out at all. I thought it's very possible that I might make it to the dance-off, but I thought in the dance-off I would definitely clinch it back.

But I don't feel hard done. Nombulelo says when your body has reached its limit, its only done 40%. I wish I had pushed myself further to find out. I thought I had pushed myself to the limit, I thought I had done everything I could. So I didn't think that effort that epic would go unrewarded in the sense that I had imagined that you'd read stories of a young man who had overcome all sorts of other things and now overcoming dance. [ha ha] And not being offended by someone calling him "twinkletoes".

My life has been changed dramatically. I didn't expect it. It's a testimony to the fact that things do happen but I don't feel hard done, I don't feel that it was unfair, and I don't think that I've lost anything. I'm very happy for the people who are remaining. I'm friends with them, a lot of them are close friends now. I've not lost, I only gained.

How did your body change? And did that change your attitude about your body?

I looked at my body in the mirror the other day. And I usually don't because my body wasn't something to look at – not something really special. And then I was looking at my body and going "wow, hold on, I've never seen those muscles in my life before!"

It felt as if I was going through puberty all over again. I thought "oh I'm going to be emotional". And I was. I really was.

My muscles are developing. I have these shoulder muscles between my neck and shoulders. My back, my back muscles are becoming ripped. I even think I've seen one of my six-pack. [ha ha] So I think I might be able to take on gymming. I think gym and some cardio, I hope. Like running.

Catch DWTSSA Sundays at 17:00 on M-Net. (DStv 101)

(Photos supplied: M-Net)

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