When “Dancing with the Stars” season 22 premieres March 21 on ABC, professional dancer Keo Motsepe will return to the storied ballroom to take his fourth shot at earning the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. Examiner caught up with the talented South African on March 15 for an exclusive question and answer session that touched on a number of topics, including his new partnership with “Full House” star Jodie Sweetin, how he feels about the shake-up at the judges’ table, and the identity of the mega star he’d love to partner on a future season of the hit reality dance competition.
Sherry Wight: I read that you were pleased to be paired up with Jodie Sweetin after you saw her dancing with Val on “Fuller House.” When you finally met, what was your first impression of her as a person and a competitor?
Keo Motsepe: Honestly, I was speechless. When I saw her I just dropped to my knees and thanked God. I had seen her dance on “Fuller House” so I knew who she was and that she could move but I never imagined that we would be partnered. I was just so excited once I saw her and so thankful that we would go on this journey together.
SW: Now that you’ve had the chance to get to know her a little, give me three words to describe Jodie.
KM: Workaholic, perfectionist, and caring.
SW: I looked and Jodie is currently the preseason favorite to win [according to Bookmaker; the posted odds have since changed]. Do you like the pressure that comes with being favored, or would you rather be an underdog?
KM: I think I’d rather be an underdog. It’s an incredible feeling to have so many people believe in us but it definitely adds a lot of pressure. I don’t want to let Jodie or the fans down.
SW: Give me a prediction: Based on what you’re seeing, which dance styles do you think will be best suited to her strengths?
KM: That’s a difficult one to answer. Jodie really understands the [movement] of her body and she can adapt to all different kinds of music. She has an amazing sense of rhythm and is eager to learn which makes it easy to teach her any type of dance style.
SW: Which of the other couples do you consider to be your biggest competition?
KM: At this point, our biggest competition is ourselves. Every time we rehearse we are striving to do better than the last rehearsal. Every couple brings something so different to the table. I think we’re just going to have to see what the audience decides.
SW: I know you’re all-in with Jodie for season 22, but let’s look ahead for just a wee moment: who’s on your Dream Partner list?
SW: Julianne [Hough] is gone and Len [Goodman] is back. Are you happy with the changes at the judges’ table?
KM: I’m going to miss Julianne but I am very excited for Len to be back. He’s a veteran judge, so it’ll be nice to see him at the judges table again.
SW: For you, which of the shows judges gives the most useful feedback?
KM: All of them. You really have to listen to what they are saying and implement them into the next weeks dance. All three judges are there to help you improve and the critiques they give will only be useful if you apply them.
SW: You and your fellow “Dancing with the Stars” pros are all extremely talented dancers. When you consider your own style and abilities, what do you think makes you stand out from the rest?
KM: I think my South African heritage really influences the way that I dance. I always put my heart into every dance I perform and I hope that’s evident to the people that watch.
SW: I feel like fans know so little about you as a person, so I want to hear about some of your favorites. So, favorite vacation spot?
SW: Favorite food that you love (but probably shouldn’t)?
SW: Favorite style of dance to perform?
SW: Favorite professional dancer to watch perform?
KM: Michael Jackson.
SW: Favorite way to pass time when you’re not dancing?
KM: Hanging out with friends.
SW: And finally, where do you plan to keep the Mirrorball Trophy when you win it?
KM: I’ll bring it back to South Africa where my family lives.