Dance fitness classes get people moving to the beat

Jaiva has always been part of our culture

Fitness dancer Takkies Maswanganye.
Fitness dancer Takkies Maswanganye.
Image: Supplied.

As fitness trends grow, we realise that there are multiple ways to burn calories and get a “summer body”, with many finding more enjoyable ways to do so. 

In the past few years we have seen the rise of dance classes for fitness by industry favourites such as Soweto’s Finest, Nkateko “Takkies” Dinwiddy and Bontle Modiselle.

From the Umlando challenge to Zekethe, the 2000s are a reminder that jaiva has always been part of our culture as South Africans and the black community, making it safe to say that we have always been fit. 

“I have been dancing all my life, whenever there was a music video I would record it with a VCR and teach myself, so my mom decided to put me in a dance class at the age of nine,” Dinwiddy says.

“Rocking N Heels started from a place of healing for me and got me to love my body more, take care of myself, drink more water and eat more healthily. It transitioned into the fitness industry.”

The fitness mogul says that the inception of the dance classes in heels, which started in 2013, was inspired by the death of her father and the period during which she saw her mother transition from clothes of mourning to heels, slowly gaining back her confidence and purpose.

“Women always come to me and say they need a six pack before coming to any of my classes, and I tell them not at all, you need to start somewhere and this is where you will get it,” she says.

Fitness dancer Takkies Maswanganye (right) with her mpther.
Fitness dancer Takkies Maswanganye (right) with her mpther.
Image: Suppplied.

Dinwiddy, who got the name Takkies from her history teacher because she was always running out of class early with sneakers for dance classes, hosts one-on-one and group classes for her clients. She is currently hitting the big time with amapiano-inspired classes every Saturday, which have become popular among Londoners, proving that SAs influence on the global scene transcends music.

On her recent trip to SA, American musician Kelly Rowland joined a killer workout and found a  home at Modiselle’s Dance Studios in Maboneng, Johannesburg.

“This brilliant, honest, authentic... brown South African beauty just gave me the most amazing dance lesson of my life,” said Rowland on Instagram after her session. 

“I grew up thinking I was the 5th member of Boom Shaka,” says Modiselle.

“Before my dad passed on he gave me a cassette tape of the group, and I would mimic them in the living room and recreate their dance moves at family gatherings. The cliché story of how one could dance before they could walk – something I see with my daughter.”

Although the entertainer earned her stripes in the dance scene choreographing various award shows and films, she almost left the art form.

Fitness instructor Bontle Modiselle.
Fitness instructor Bontle Modiselle.
Image: Supplied.

“I felt heartbroken by this thing that I loved so much,” says Modiselle.

“You don’t get paid well, you are disrespected and in the performing arts, dance is at the bottom of the barrel and not taken seriously as a career,” she says, emphasising how she dislikes the term ‘Umajaivane’.

However like Dinwiddy the power of dance and its healing was greater than what she had experienced,  inspiring her dance studio, which she hopes to turn into an art school one day.

“People come into the studio one way, cry and release and leave so much lighter than what they were when they came in,” says Modiselle.

“Worthiness, ownership and taking up space in this industry has always been a dialogue for me. I didn’t have the typical dancer archetype or body, I always knew I had to be brave or it was tickets,” she says, emphasising how she believes women can find this strength and bravery within themselves in her studio.

Dancer Mpho LePantsula.
Dancer Mpho LePantsula.
Image: Supplied.

As we take back fitness one move at a time, we are reminded of how it is a revolutionary act. Dancer Mpho LePantsula, who has hosted stages at fitness boot camps like Trove Wellness and FitNightOut, has often spoken about the importance of representation of all dance forms and upholding it as it moves globally.

“It is activism, I use dance as a medium to serve the world. It is a physical activity that everyone deserves and is worthy of taking part in and making a living from,” says LePantsula.

“As Alvin Ailey said ‘Dance belongs to the people and it is to the people you must take it to’.”

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