Talk of the Town - - Front Page - BOB FORD

‘I took this se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially the last few years and have been well re­warded’

FOR most young men to in­jure their knee to such an ex­tent that it put paid to a promis­ing rugby ca­reer would have been dev­as­tat­ing.

But for Port Al­fred res­i­dent, Kyle Baden­horst, it was a game-changer, when he turned to danc­ing and be­came a pro­fes­sional in his cho­sen field.

With a nat­u­ral ta­lent for danc­ing, young Baden­horst was brought up among a fam­ily of dancers.

Once he had de­cided to move in this di­rec­tion, he took it se­ri­ously and, af­ter years of hard work, rep­re­sented South Africa in the Dance Star World Cham­pi­onships in Croa­tia last month.

Born in the coun­try town of Fort Beau­fort, Baden­horst spent his se­nior school days in Gra­ham­stown at Graeme Col­lege, where he played first team rugby as a scrumhalf for two years.

He then moved to the nearby Kingswood Col­lege to do a post­ma­tric and also rep­re­sented their se­nior side. It was dur­ing that year that he was se­lected to play for the East­ern Prov­ince un­der 19 side. But dis­as­ter struck. when he se­ri­ously in­jured his knee and was forced to with­draw. This also sig­nalled the end of his rugby ca­reer.

Af­ter a year at NMMU in Port El­iz­a­beth, Baden­horst re­turned to the fam­ily home in Port Al­fred and had to de­cide on his fu­ture. His mother, Sharon, was al­ready a ball­room and Latin Amer­i­can dance teacher, as was his sis­ter, Sasha. His fa­ther also danced. So it came as no sur­prise when Baden­horst de­cided to take this up as a pro­fes­sion.

“I took this se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially the last few years and have been well re­warded for my ef­forts,” he said. They formed the Sha-Loui (de­rived from half his par­ents’ names) dance school in the town and Baden­horst de­rives his in­come from teach­ing more than 100 stu­dents to dance. He con­cen­trates on ball­room, Latin Amer­i­can, hip-hop and con­tem­po­rary gen­res. The stu­dents range from three-year-old chil­dren up to adults and has classes ev­ery day of the week.

He said his sis­ter was go­ing to start move­ment classes for the “ba­bies” to pre­pare them for more in­volved danc­ing be­fore they ad­vanced to Baden­horst’s classes for the next step up.

His big break in his ca­reer came in Septem­ber last year when he qual­i­fied for the Dance Star South African team to take part in the world cham­pi­onships in Croa­tia.

He ex­plained that be­cause danc­ing was not a team sport, it was not recog­nised by the gov­ern­ment, so in­di­vid­u­als en­tered them­selves and had to qual­ify to at­tend the world cham­pi­onships. They also had to fund them­selves.

The re­sult was that 400 South Africans, rang­ing (from four years old to adults), com­peted in 10 dif­fer­ent styles of danc­ing in Croa­tia. A to­tal of some 7000 dancers from 50 coun­tries par­tic­i­pated be­fore thou­sands of spec­ta­tors.

Baden­horst did ex­cep­tion­ally well in the World Cham­pi­onships and fin­ished sev­enth in his class in hip-hop and 19th in the con­tem­po­rary sec­tion.

But like ev­ery­thing in life, suc­cess does not come eas­ily and a lot of hard work goes in to danc­ing as a ca­reer. He jogs ev­ery day and also spends time in the gym. “Then, of course, you have to put in months of danc­ing in prepa­ra­tion just to qual­ify. You also have to be very dis­ci­plined and com­mit­ted,” he said.

The next qual­i­fiers for the forth­com­ing World Cham­pi­onships are com­ing up in Cape Town in Oc­to­ber. He and seven stu­dents in the 13 to 18 age group have al­ready started pre­par­ing for this and added: “I am very ex­cited about this as I feel they have a good chance of qual­i­fy­ing.”

Baden­horst said the qual­i­fy­ing rounds were very com­pet­i­tive and of­ten cut-throat. But once you could ne­go­ti­ate it, peo­ple be­came very friendly and the “ca­ma­raderie is great” among the dancers. Baden­horst also plans to hold work­shops in Port El­iz­a­beth, East Lon­don and Gra­ham­stown.

Pic­ture: BOB FORD

HE’S GOT THE MOVES: Kyle Baden­horst of Port Al­fred proudly wears the South African jer­sey he wore when com­pet­ing in the Dance Star World Cham­pi­onships in Croa­tia last month

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