Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

Growing up in Gaborone, Botswana, Keneilwe Moshodi knew from a young age her father ruled the roost.

A devout Christian and pastor, he protected his daughters like any father should.

Spare time would be spent studying to obtain better grades at school, helping her mother around the house and attending many church-related functions. Boyfriends were taboo and short skirts were something only "bad" girls would dream of wearing.

Which is why when she was in her late teens she was faced with a dilemma ... should she tell her father she had discovered ballroom dancing and how this love for dance would one day be a career she would wish to pursue.

"Up until today my father has never seen me dance," says a modest Moshodi. "In fact, I think I would be too embarrassed for him to see me in some of the outfits I have to wear."

Travelling from Gaborone to Pilanesberg for Sun City's Battle of the Giants at the weekend is another step in the career of Moshodi and her dance partner David Moatlhodi.

Dancing together for a year, the couple put away a little money every month to fund their trips to dance competitions in Botswana and South Africa.

The travelling, accommodation and outfits put a strain on their budgets but for them it's a small price to pay.

They make a beautiful couple on the dance floor - he athletically built, good-looking and in control. She has the features of a model and the ability to glide with the elegance that only comes with hours of practice.

"We actually live about 200 kilometres from each other but get together every weekend to practise our moves for about eight hours every Saturday and Sunday," says Moshodi.

"During the week we practise as individuals - rehearsing new moves, working on our fitness."

The dance world is a serious business. Competitions begin early in the morning and often, as was the case at the weekend, extend into the early hours of the following day.

The changing rooms are a hive of activity. People work frantically - applying make-up, adjusting outfits, styling hair, stoking egos!

Some of the bigger dance schools have their own make-up artists to ensure their dancers are perfectly groomed before taking to the stage.

This is a privilege foreign to Moatlhodi and Moshodi.

"We don't have that luxury. We have to do everything ourselves," she says.

Taking to the dance floor in the Latin dance segment, they appear to be in their own world - oblivious of their opposition, the judges, the crowd.

With 22 giant speakers suspended from the ceiling pumping out the songs; strobe lights spitting out flashes of light similar to a shooting meteorite - the couple show no sign of nerves as they execute their routines with precision.

It is no less strenuous for the judges. Hours on end they scrutinise contestant after contestant, looking at movement, interpretation, footwork, timing and rhythm.

For Strictly Come Ballroom judge and adjudicator at the weekends festivities, Salome Sechele, she wouldn't have it any other way.

"We are judging over 900 dancers from around the country and our concentration levels are stretched to the maximum. It's not a job but a way of life and one that is attracting more and more children from the black community."

For Moatlhodi and Moshodi the long trek from Gaborone was worth it - first prize in the Latin American category.

It was their first taste of victory in South Africa and judging by their excitement the taste was sweet.

"We just want to carry on with our love for dance and see where it takes us," said Moshodi shortly after being crowned queen of the dance floor. "Who knows, maybe one day we can get the chance to showcase our skills overseas."

Before that happens let's hope her father takes the time out to see what a success his daughter actually is.