BY BILLY SUTER
A COMEDIAN, a TV presenter, a former Miss South Africa, a netball player, a former Springbok and a model-actor are among celebrities assembled to put their best foot forward for the first season of Dancing With The Stars South Africa, starting on DStv’s M-Net (channel 101) on Sunday, February 4.
A dozen untrained local celebrities have been chosen to compete in this glitzy new show, which is to be hosted by radio and television presenter Tracey Lange and musical theatre star and model, Chris Jaftha.
Lange hosts a popular radio show on Heart FM, and has been a presenter on Kyk-Net’s magazine show, Bravo!, for three years. Jaftha has been voted as Mzansi’s Sexiest Man and is a seasoned model, dancer, musical theatre performer and actor who has been in the business for more than a decade.
Dancing With The Stars South Africa is produced for M-Net by Rapid Blue and is sponsored by Lottostar.
M-Net has confirmed that popular actor and model Eden Classens, comedian Ebenhaezer Dibakwane and South African Netball player Vanes-Mari du Toit will be joining the nine other famous faces on the dancefloor for the new series.
Eden, a model and popular actor, plays Justin in the hit Afrikaans soap Suidoostet, on Kyk-Net. Born in Johannesburg, he moved to New York to study musical theatre and acting at the New York Film Academy, where he trained under acclaimed Broadway casting director VP Boyle, before returning to South Africa.
Eden has appeared in various short films, played the lead role in the Afrikaans film Rowwe Diamante and starred in the movie Reload.
“I am absolutely ecstatic to be a part of this experience,” Eden says. “I’m excited by this challenge and am here to dance my heart out and have fun!”
Next to grace the gleaming dance floor is funnyman Ebenhaezer Dibakwane, a South African comedian and actor who rose to fame after winning the Newcomer Award at the Savanna Comic’s Choice Awards in 2016.
Ebenhaezer is perhaps best known for opening for Dillan Oliphant, being part of the Stand Up 4 Comedy ensemble alongside Mo Mathebe and Virgil Prins, and being billed on the line-up for Blacks Only and the Comedy Central International Comedy Festival alongside Trevor Noah and other South African household names.
The talented comedian can also be seen on the theatre scene, having acted in theatre productions such as Marat/Sade, A Beautiful Thing, The Crucible, Horror Story and 24 Hours in the City. Ebenhaezer has also featured in the soapie Ashes to Ashes and was a presenter on Walala Wasala. Most recently, he has been cast in the sitcom Thuli noThulanli.
“These are exciting times for me! I can’t wait to dance, baby – into people’s homes, memories and hearts,” Ebenhaezer says.
Also gearing up for all the glitz is netball star Vanes-Mari Du Toit, a player on the South African National Netball team who has an impressive 38 caps for South Africa under her belt, playing in positions such as Goal Shooter, Goal Keeper and Goal Attack.
In October 2012, she travelled with the Proteas to Australia and New Zealand to participate in the Quad Series tournament, where she became a household name with an impressive performance against the Silver Ferns.
Vanes-Mari is thrilled about her participation in the series, and can’t wait to get started: “I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas morning to be a part of Dancing With The Stars SA. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but I’m so ready to learn how to dance.”
These days, Vanes-Mari spends her time as a netball analyst, presenter and commentator on SuperSport, while also coaching around the country. Late last year she married Matthew Proudfoot, assistant coach for the Springboks.
Eden, Ebenhaezer and Vanes-Mari will be vying for South Africa’s hearts and votes alongside their fellow famous faces on the gleaming new dance floor. They are:
– Former Our Perfect Wedding host, actress and DJ Thembisa Mdoda, who clinched the coveted title of Best TV Presenter at the 2017 DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards;
– Veteran South African actor Frank Opperman, who turned a slow-witted but witty car mechanic called Ouboet into a darling South African icon and created an array of unforgettable, colourful characters throughout his illustrious career;
– Actress and performer, Juanita du Plessis, best known for her theatre work and acting roles in movies such as Knysna, Somer Son, Die Pro, Willie Esterhuizen’s Droomdag, Die Ontwaking and kykNET’s new movie, Hartsorg;
– Former Miss SA Liesl Laurie, who is a presenter on popular radio station Jacaranda FM, and is the international brand ambassador of L’Oreal – Vichy Laboratoires in SA, US and Brazil;
– Wayde van Niekerk’s mother, Odessa Swarts, who was lauded for lighting up the South African athletics world and broke many sporting records; having competed provincially as a track-and-field athlete in the late 1980s and early 1990s;
– Film and TV starlet Zola Nombona, who won the 2016 Golden Horn Award for best lead actress for her work in the movie Ingoma. Zola is also known for her roles in several TV series such as Intersexions Lockdown, iNumber iNumber, and Love Lives Here;
– Singer-songwriter Connell Cruise, who signed the biggest recording deal in South African music history after being spotted by music legend LA Reid;
– Former Bafana Bafana soccer star Delron Buckley who played in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and represented SA in the 2000 Sydney Olympic games;
– Former Springbok Thando Manana, best known for being the third black South African player to don a Springbok jersey. He now spends his time as a rugby commentator, pundit and member of the infamous Room Dividers team on Metro FM.
The list of names of the professional dancers will be team up with the celebrities for the show has still to be announced.