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Dancing With The Stars SA: Everything You Need To Know About The Pairs

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Over the past couple of weeks, M-Net revealed the names of the 12 celebs who will be hitting the gleaming dance floor on the dazzling new reality show Dancing With The Stars SA which kicks off on M-Net 101 on Sunday 4 February at 17:00.

Now, meet the magnificent professional dancers who will teach them all the Latin and Ballroom moves as they swing – tango and samba – their way into the hearts of the voting public.

The glamorous couples are:

  • Popular actor and model Eden Classens, who plays the role of Justin in the hit Afrikaans soap Suidooster on kykNET, will be paired up with Ash-Leigh Hunter.

Ash-Leigh is one of Australia’s most dynamic and well-trained Ballroom and Latin performers. She began dancing jazz and ballet at the age of 4 and found her passion for Ballroom and Latin dancing at age 7. Ash-Leigh was a Junior Latin British finalist and was crowned Junior British Jive Champion at the Blackpool Championships. She was also an Australian Junior, Youth and Amateur 10 Dance Champion.

In 2001, Ash-Leigh joined the world-renowned dance production, Burn the Floor, travelling extensively throughout the world, performing on London’s West End and on Broadway. In 2009, she was a finalist on the Australian reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance. Ash-Leigh has since become a regular professional and grand finalist in Australia’s version of Dancing With The Stars and has also assisted a number of choreographers on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in the UK.

Ash-Leigh has danced for rock band, Deep Purple, and artists like Pixie Lott, Samantha Jade and John Paul Young, and has also performed in the musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

  • Funny man 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 will be paired up with Nombulelo Hlathi.

Nombulelo Hlathi was born into a dancing family, with her dance champion sister inspiring her to embark on a career in the field. Once she began dance classes, Nombulelo relocated to Mafikeng to dance at Mmabana, where she never lost a competition. A versatile dancer, Nombulelo excels in the styles of Ballroom, Freestyle, Rock ‘n Roll and Latin American dance. She went on to join the North West Arts Council, where she continued to compete. Her achievements include winning the Junior South African Championships and The Youth South Africa Championships with her dance partner.

Nombulelo continues to compete around the world, dancing in countries like England and Russia and has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing SA. She has turned her focus to teaching and is eager to bring her coaching skills to her Dancing with the Stars SA partnership.

  • Netball Star Vanes-Mari Du Toit, who is a member of the South African National Netball team and has an impressive 38 caps for South Africa under her belt, will be paired up with Johannes Radebe.

Johannes Radebe got his start in dance at the age of 7 in his hometown of Zamdela in Sasolburg. Fascinated by the discipline, Johannes became the top dancer in the area. He competed in local competitions, working his way up the Latin dance ranks, eventually adding Ballroom and different dance styles that include African Contemporary, Jazz, Modern and Freestyle to his already impressive repertoire. With provincial colors for Gauteng, Johannes reached the finals of national dance competitions and was invited to compete internationally in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Johannes continued to dance internationally, landing a position on the Italian cruise liner, Costa, where he went on to choreograph routines and became the ship’s Dance Captain. Upon his return to South Africa, Johannes appeared on Strictly Come Dancing SA, taking his celebrity partners to the finals during his two seasons on the show. Since then, Johannes and his dance partner won the South African Professional Latin Championships in 2014 and he has toured the world with global dance spectacular, Burn the Floor.

  • Mzansi’s best TV presenter, former Our Perfect Wedding host, actress and DJ Thembisa Mdoda, who is currently also showing off her acting skills onUnmarried on 1 Magic will be paired up with Devon Snell.

Devon Snell has been dancing for almost two decades, specialising in Ballroom and Latin dance. He was crowned the South African Ballroom Champion from the age of 13 and has managed to maintain the title until he retired from competitive dancing in 2011. He was also the undefeated Western Province Ballroom and Latin Dance Champion for his entire dancing career. Devin represented South Africa at the World Dance Council Championships in China, where he and his partner came in sixth place in the world for Ballroom dance.

Devon appeared on and won kykNET’s Die Laaste Waltz and was featured at Ballroom showcase, Shall We Dance for four years. The natural competitor is ready to put his best foot forward and hopes to take his partner all the way to glory.

  • Veteran South African actor Frank Opperman, who turned a slow-witted but smart-mouthed car mechanic called Ouboet into a darling South African icon and created an array of unforgettable, colourful characters throughout his illustrious career will be paired up with Jeanné Swarts.

Beginning her dance career at the age of 3, Johannesburg-born Jeanné Swart is now an accomplished dancer and teacher in the fields of Acrobatics, Tap and Modern dance. With several South African titles to her name, Jeanné represented the country twice at the World Tap Championships in Germany. She has also excelled in Latin dance, winning the South African Latin American Professional Championships twice, the South African Latin American Amateur competition six times and placing 13th at the World Latin American Championships in Paris. Together with fellow DWTS pro, Johannes Radebe, Jeanné represented South Africa at the World Dance Council competitions.

As an accomplished choreographer, Jeanné has conceptualised and choreographed for a number of shows, such as the Soccer World Cup, Telkom’s GCEO Awards and Vodacom’s CEO Awards. She has danced for Miss Portugal 2016, Investec Bank and Big Brother Africa’s opening show. In her spare time, Jeanné participates in worthy causes that include Dance for a Cure Foundation, Dancers for Dogs and Breast Cancer awareness month for Revlon.

  • Actress and performer, Juanita De Villiers, best known for her theatre work and acting roles in movies such as KnysnaSomer SonDie Pro, Willie Esterhuizen’s DroomdagDie Ontwaking and kykNET’s new movie, Hartsorg will be paired up with Johan Dippenaar.

Originally from the coastal town of Walvis Bay in Namibia, Johan Dippenaar grew up in Pretoria, where he started Latin and Ballroom dance at the age of 14. A year later he won various competitions, such as the Gauteng and South African Championships. Johan also reached the final six of the German Open and Final 16 of the Blackpool Dance Festival in England.

Only beginning his formal classical training at the age of 19, Johan went on to earn his National Diploma in Dance from TUT. Since then, he has performed with numerous professional dance companies, including Mzanzi Productions and the Tshwane Dance Theatre. He has worked with local and international choreographers, such as Timothy le Roux, Celeste Botha, Andile Sotiya and Debbie Rakusin. Johan also landed the lead role in French choreographer, Rheda Benteifour’s production of Redha’sGiselle and Crash Dance. Recently, Johan has appeared in local productions such as Classics is Groot and Afrikaans is Groot.

  • 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, USA and Brazil will be paired up with Ryan Hammond.

Ryan Hammond was born into a dancing family and began dancing at 7 years old. He soon started competing in Freestyle and Disco dancing and became the South African champion. Ryan then shifted focus to Latin American and Ballroom dancing, travelling abroad to train and compete. He turned professional in 2005 and became the 3-time British Show Dance champion.

Ryan reached the semi-finals of UK’s Got to Dance and won Strictly Come Dancing SA in 2013. Since then, Ryan has choreographed TV shows and music videos, and toured around the UK with Pascha Kovalev.  As a qualified IDTA Freestyle and Latin American instructor and adjudicator, Ryan has competed and performed around South Africa and the UK for years.

  • 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 will be paired up with Dylon Daniels.

Dylon began dancing at the age of 7 at Richard’s Dance School, after which he moved to a Latin dance school. Dylon found great success once he started competing, winning the 2008 South African Championships, the 2010 Under-16 South African Championships and reaching the finals at national level since 2011. He has also competed internationally, placing 13th at the British Dance Open.

He has worked with incredible coaches, including DanceSport’s Michael Wentink, becoming involved in the popular Pro/Am category. This field entails a collaboration between a professional and amateur dance partner, where they form a dance partnership and participate together in a dance competition. Dylon will also be  bringing his experience as a dance instructor to Dancing With The Stars.  He has taught a variety of styles that include Latin, Ballroom and Hip Hop dancing.

  • 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 well known for her roles in several TV series such as Intersexions, LockdowniNumber iNumber, and Love Lives Here will be paired up with Tebogo Mashilo.

Tebogo Mashilo is a professional Ballroom dancer and choreographer. His talent was nurtured by dance legend, Tebogo Kgobokoe, who coached him at TKE dance studio. Tebogo’s achievements include winning the Dance SuperSeries, performing in Sun City’s massive production, Rumba in the Jungle, and representing South Africa in the Dance World Championships in Paris.

Outside of dance, Tebogo studied Human & Social Sciences with a focus in Psychology. He will use his insight and understanding of people while crafting meaningful routines for his celebrity partner.

  • Singer-songwriter Connell Cruise, who signed the biggest recording deal in South African music history after being spotted by music legend L.A. Reid will be paired up with Marcello Soliemo.

Marcella Solimeo began learning ballet as soon as she learned how to walk. At 8 years old, she moved to Milan in Italy to study Modern Dance and soon after started competing in the style of Latin dance. Marcella won many regional titles and represented South Africa in the Blackpool British Open Dance Festival. She was able to dance in the USA in the much-loved spectacular, Burn the Floor, and reached the top 24 of So You Think You Can Dance SA. Since then, toured around England, Wales and Scotland with Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis on their Strictly Come Dancing tour.

Marcella spent time dancing on popular local music shows, Afrikaans is Groot, as well as performing as a soloist on Classics is Groot. She was a featured performer at Vodacom’s CEO Awards and, more recently, took on the role of Dance Captain for the Tailormade Group, where she also assisted in choreography.

  • 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 will be paired up with Angelique Allison.

Angelique Allison started dancing at the age of 4 and has had a burning passion for dance ever since. She started competing in Freestyle dance and was later accepted into Pro Arte, a performing arts school, where she studied ballet, Spanish dancing and Jazz. During her dance schooling, Angelique was a company member of the Youth Ballet Company of Tshwane for three years and performed in productions such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and as the lead in Coppelia.

Angelique received numerous choreographic awards during this period and went on to choreograph for various events and theatre shows for the State Theatre, The Performer and The Atterbury Theatre. She also choreographed and performed at album launches for artists such as Amor Vittone and CH2. Since then, Angelique danced in Sun City’s extravaganza and shifted her focus on training in Latin American and Ballroom dance. Angelique is also a well-rounded fitness instructor, with experience in Pilates, Aerobics and Zumba.

  • 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 will be paired up with Michelle Oppenshaw.

Michelle is one of South Africa’s most versatile dancers, having been a national champion in not only Latin American dancing but also in Showdance, Disco, Rock ‘n Roll, Hustle, Freestyle, Hip Hop as well as various street dance styles.

Michelle appeared on the big screen as a dancer in Honey 3, and has danced, taught and choreographed both nationally and internationally, including working with local music sensation, Mi Casa.

Being the owner and principal instructor of two of South Africa’s renowned dances studios, Michelle has developed her own form of teaching and choreographing using movement and psychology.  Her unique approach to dance landed her the position of Head Choreographer for the highly-esteemed event and entertainment company, Frog Productions. She is also Africa’s only elite qualified world judge for the prestigious Hip Hop International Championships.

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Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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