Juniors to strut their stuff in Denmark

Multiple junior dance champions, Keziah Gabriels from Beacon Valley and her dance partner Ethan May from Bonteheuwel, hope to make their mark on the international stage when they travel to Denmark later this year.

Picture: fuad Esack

Despite their age, the youngsters have had an impressive run on the SA dance circuit over the years, dominating in more than 10 competitions which they took part in.

In 2016, Ethan, a Grade 6 pupil at St Agnes Dominican Convent Primary School, in Woodstock, was the undefeated juvenile champion.

In 2017, he made SA’s Got Talent semi-finals in Soweto. He is a triple SA champ in three dancing federations, and he is the current Western Province champion.

He started dancing when he was six years old. He was influenced by his older brother who is also a dancer. Ethan and Keziah met in 2012 at the New Beginnings Dance Studio at the Farm in Lentegeur and they are currently coached by 2007’s SA’s Got Talent winner, Lindsey Muckle.

Ethan’s father, Alphonso, says he used to be a dancer too before switching to football, and says Ethan got the magic in his feet from both sides of the family.

Speaking on behalf of his son, he called it a privilege to represent Bonteheuwel and the country, saying it sets a positive example in a crime ridden area.

Ethan’s partner Keziah echoed these sentiments, saying she loves dancing because it is her favourite sport.

“I enjoy dancing with Ethan because at competitions we are either second or first,” she says.

Keziah’s father, Wayne Gabriels, says the Grade 6 pupil at AZ Berman started showing off her dancing moves when she was four years old.

His wife, Chantal, fascinated by their daughter’s talent, persuaded young Keziah to take formal lessons.

Gabriels described his daughter as generally shy but one that opens up once she hits the floor.

Although sometimes a bit reluctant to perform in front of people, despite the many trophies she’s won, Gabriels says his daughter is not afraid to show you the “gwara-gwara”- a popular African move popularised by DJ Bongz.

He says when she steps onto a competition stage, her passion for dancing is ignited.

“They (Keziah and Ethan) started dancing as partners at six years old, but when she was eight, we moved to Johannesburg for two years before returning to Cape Town. When we returned, Ethan did not have a partner and so they partnered again. We have seen a lot of people dance, but between them there is a lot of understanding and they endure each other,” he says.

Their instructor, Muckle says the duo trains more than 10 hours a week in preparation for the trip to Denmark.

Muckle says she thinks Keziah and Ethan have the full potential to compete internationally, but funding is a challenge. She says Ethan and Keziah are moving up from the juvenile ranks to the junior category.

“I started instructing them earlier this year and they are doing very well,” she says.

Muckle says she thinks it’s an awesome opportunity for the youngsters to compete overseas.

“Ethan and Keziah are my youngest couple. They are more than ready for the Copenhagen Open. Perhaps next year they will also go to the dancing competition in Blackpool, UK,” she says.

Ethan’s father is also a committee member with the SA Dance Federation (SADF).

“The aim is to develop children. You have to be committed to it and their parents have to be there every step of the way,” he says.

May says dancing used to be popular in the province and with the hosting of weekly events, the federation aims to generate a renewed interest in the sport.

“It was right up there with soccer, cricket and rugby, but times have changed and we need it back up there again.”

May says he would like to open a dance studio in Bonteheuwel.

“Dancing should be an extra mural activity in schools. If they start at a young age, you will see less kids on the street corners. And this will also help the inter-schools competitions,” he said.

“We need to bring back dancing in the province, with the help of funding from government. He said dancing lessons cost about R450 a month, which some parents cannot afford.

To help raise funds for Ethan and Keziah’s trip, a karaoke/disco will be held at Portland Indoor Centre, in Mitchell’s Plain, on Friday March 8, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost R50 each. Call 083 562 5944.