Choreographer and dancer Nkateko Maswanganye (also known as ‘Takkies’) first started dancing into her extraordinary career at the age of nine. ‘In fact, that’s where my nickname “Takkies” came from,’ she says. ‘When I was in primary school, I would always ask my teacher if I could leave early for dance class – and I was always holding a pair of takkies on my way out. One day, she got so mad about me wanting to leave early all the time, she just told me she was going to call me “Takkies” from now on. And the name just stuck!’ she laughs.
Although Takkies spent most of her childhood and teen years honing her skills as a dancer and choreographer in SA and abroad, most South Africans would’ve first met her when she appeared on the second season of So You Think You Can Dance – South Africa when she was 19. ‘It was such an incredible experience for me and even though I ended up getting voted off, I received so many dance work offers afterwards, purely from the exposure from dancing on the show. For me, this was real confirmation that I was on the right path.’
The tragic passing of her father saw Takkies take some time off from the dance scene. ‘I didn’t dance for about a year while I was recovering from his death,’ she tells us. ‘My dad and I were super close, and I lost myself during that time.’But it was during this period that she found inspiration for Rockingnheels – the national dance fitness phenomenon she created. ‘I really needed
to get back into dancing and to start loving myself again. And that’s when I decided to create a dance fitness workout that allowed me to do both at the same time!’
According to Takkies, Rockingnheels was also borne from the need to do something new and exciting with dance, and use it as
a tool to empower others.‘I wanted to do something that would help other people – especially women who were going through tough times or who just weren’t feeling comfortable in their bodies – find themselves again, the way dance had helped me.’
Her high-energy classes are bursting with fun, and her spontaneous laughter, big smiles and vocalisations have anyone watching on Instagram, or lucky enough to be on the dance floor with her, inspired to start shaking the booty their mamma gave them.
And most impressively, of course, are the Beyoncé parallels when it comes to doing it while wearing heels! ‘I decided on the heels
for my dance fitness class, because when I was going through my troubles, my friends would convince me
to go out and the moment I put a pair of heels on, I felt good and that feeling stuck with me,’ says Takkies.
Since then, Rockingnheels has shot the lights out, so much so that Takkies says she
‘I don’t follow a very strict, organised training plan, but before I gave birth, I was going to gym every day and my trainer always made sure to mix up my routine – focusing on legs, arms, core and cardio – to keep it interesting for me.’
Her favourite kind of gym workout? ‘I love doing squats, and rope and ab work, as I really enjoy the burn you feel – it just makes me want to do more!’ And when she’s in the dance studio, she’s all about working her core strength and flexibility while grooving to her favourite tunes. ‘Posture and stretching are very important too, not just for dancers. It is important that you take care of all muscle groups in your body.’
Those who follow her on social media would’ve been wowed by Takkies’ motivation to keep gymming and dancing
all throughout her pregnancy – up until she was almost ready to pop! ‘I was able to continue training up to two weeks before I gave birth, and it’s all because I listen to my body and have an open dialogue with it – it’s my temple and I have a great relationship with it. So if my mind is rearing to work out, but my body isn’t feeling it, I don’t push it. And for most of my pregnancy, my body was like: “Let’s go! I’m ready!”’
Love thy self
One of Takkies’ greatest strengths is using her talent and passion for dance in the upliftment of others, and her hopes for Rockinginheels is to continue doing just that. ‘I always tell my ladies to forget about their body goals when they come to my class and to just appreciate what’s in front of them right here, right now. The key is to love your body every day until you reach your goal,’ she says.
‘I want the ladies to leave the class feeling so good about themselves, to know how to walk with confidence and to own the room they walk into, whether it’s at work, at home or in the club.’
Dance, she reminds us, is a form of confidence and getting to know your body: ‘And if there is one message I want to give others, it’s to love yourself fully and confidently.’