Keoikantse “Keo” Motsepe was born to dance. The 25-year-old dancer was only five years old when he strapped on his dancing shoes for the first time, and the rest is history.
He went on to sweep every national dance title in his home country of South Africa, traveled with Latin and ballroom dance troupe Burn the Floor, and most recently became the first Black professional dancer to boogie on Dancing with the Stars.
We caught up with Keo right before the DWTS tour, which kicks off next month. Here are seven things you need to know about the international superstar (he’s single, ladies!).
1. Soccer led him to dance.
“A friend of mine tried to get me to play soccer when I was 5 years old, but I had two left legs with soccer. My friend was like, ‘I think we should try something different. Let’s go for something different.’ In Victoria [his hometown], there was a dance school, and I was like, ‘I’ll try this.’ On the first day I walked in, I just fell in love with it. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is going to be my life.’”
2. Before Dancing with the Stars, he worked on a Norwegian Cruise.
“When I got the call saying that I had gotten Dancing with the Stars, I was working on a Norwegian Cruise Line in Miami as a dancer. They announced the pro line-up [who his partner would be] on Good Morning America when I was on the cruise, and every TV on the ship was showing the GMA segment.”
3. He had a feeling good things would come in Los Angeles.
“I remember landing at LAX—my first time being in L.A.—and just the feel that I got when I landed here, I was like, ‘Yeah… this is it for me. Whatever is coming in my life in the next month, it’s going to be right here. Even if it’s not Dancing with the Stars, I’m going to do something in this city. I got a feeling that I’ll be working here.'”
4. His dance teacher is his best friend.
“I had friends older than me all the time. When I was 8 years old, I had friends who were 16. I never had a friend who was my age. I only had friends over my age. Even now, my dance teacher is my biggest friend—he means everything to me—and he’s 47 years old. It’s just that I learn so much from people older than me.”
5. Dancing taught him how to treat women with respect.
“I grew up with two sisters, my mom and my dance partner’s family. I’ve seen how they’ve been treated in relationships. Dancing teaches you how to treat a woman. With Latin and ballroom dancing, there are two people in that situation; it’s not just about you. When you’re a man dancing, you’re leading the woman; I’m the frame and she’s the picture. She’s all the beauty, and you’re just there for her. Dance made me realize that I can be that decent guy that a girl can dream of.”
6. His dream dance partner? Ciara.
“I have so many dream dance partners. If Ciara could come to the show… [laughs]. But there are so many: Ciara, Kendall Jenner, Jessica Alba.”
7. He wants to show boys it’s ok to want to be a Latin or ballroom dancer.
“I just want to be there for those young boys who want to start dancing and ask them, ‘Do you want to dance?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ then I want to be able to teach them how to dance. Don’t be intimidated by what other people think about you.”