UFH duo dance their way to clinch Ballroom high honours at USSA tournament

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University of Fort Hare dance duo, Aphelele Bhodlisi and Wanzi Maxhobi swayed all the way to the top of the University Sports South Africa (USSA) Dancesport ballroom category where they secured first place.

The five-day tournament was held at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town from 29th June to 3rd July. The ballroom category consists of five dances which are Waltz, Tango, Viennese, Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep.

Their victory did not come cheap, the pair spent seven days at a camp dedicated to physical and mental preparations. The week-long schedule for the team included two hours of physical training and six hours of practice each day.

They both agreed that the competition was tough, having competed against a total of 13 institutions from around the country. “Some of our competitors were well-known dances, some we have even looked up to during our growth in sport. And some of them were previous winners in this category for consecutive years. Our aim was just to make it to the top three but we were surprised and very excited when we were named the overall winners in our section”

Born in the rural village of Kwa Dlepu in Butterworth, Aphelele holds a Communication Management qualification from Fort Hare and is currently studying towards his Postgraduate Diploma in Archives and Records management. He started dancesport when he arrived at Fort hare and got more inspired by his coach, Thandisizwe Matyumza who saw great potential in the young man. “I was also inspired by the fact that dancesport is a diverse sport that encourages equal treatment for all people, irrespective of their gender, sexual, social and economic status”, said Aphelele.

Wanzi Maxhobi was born in Mdantsane, she started dancing at the early age of 15 in Thubalethu High School, Alice. She is currently registered for a Master of Science in Geology and sings praises for the guidance she gets from her coach, Matyumza. “Dance sport sets my being free and enables me to express my emotions”

Explaining the category, Aphelele said “ This category can be distinguished from the Latin American, in that the two partners stand in closer proximity to each other, with the male being the leader and the female partner as the follower. Unlike in the Latin American style of dancing, Ballroom dancers never let go of each other’s hand and must both be connected as they move together- the lady doing the opposite of what the male partner is doing and vice versa.”

“Ballroom happens to be my favourite style and resonates well with my relaxed personality, I am able to relate to it more and do my routines in absolute enjoyment and to the best of my ability.”

Wanzi, attributed this success to the mutual understanding and equal commitment between them. “We had to be equally committed and put equal amount of effort towards training and preparations and follow our coach’s instructions.”

Explaining the importance of dancesport, UFH Sports HOD, Loyiso Lange said: “In addition to keeping athletes physically fit and boosting interaction confidence, dancesport has played a very significant role in moulding the current transitions in our society especially in relation to community and social acceptance of diverse gender identities.” 

“Dance teaches athletes, especially male to show respect and gentleness towards each other and other people. Dancers are encouraged to be independent and expressional through interpreting their understanding of the steps and dance routine and making the necessary adjustments if a need arises,” said Lange.

The couple was also placed third in the Latin American category which is made of five dance genres which are Samba, Cha-cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive.

Well done!

 Pictured: Coach Matyumza, Wanzi and Aphelele.