By Debashine Thangevelo
Cape Town’s Cameron Lombard has been signed up for season 19 of BBC Brit’s hit reality dance series, “Strictly Come Dancing UK”.
With dancers Johannes Radebe and Oti Mabuse, as well as judge Motsi Mabuse, already leaving an indelible mark on the popular series, the arrival of the 20-year-old reigning South African Latin Champion amplifies the South African presence.
In a recent Zoom chat with Lombard, who is settled in the UK and currently busy with rehearsals, he admitted to being over the moon to have bagged his life-changing opportunity.
While his celebrity dance partner is yet to be revealed at the time, he was happy to shed light on the recent turn of events.
Lombard’s name was put forward to the Strictly Come Dancing UK producers by his close friend, who has watched him grow from a child dancer to a world champion.
“This happened in 2020. Then I got the news that I was, unfortunately, not going to make the cast because of the Covid-19 situation. And then I was like: ‘Oh my word, maybe this is not meant for me and, now, where I should be?’
“I gave it a year. Then, at the beginning of this year – around February or March – I got a call from the producers saying they are more than willing to have me on the show and I was in shock,” he recalled.
“I was at home by myself and my parents were at work at the time. I was overwhelmed and I was processing it.
“I am still processing it right now. Yeah, it’s been an amazing experience so far and I was able to tell my parents that this is what happened. They can’t wait for the show to start,” said Mabuse.
In a recent Instagram post, @cameronkylelombard wrote: “I am excited beyond imagination to say that I am joining ’Strictly Come Dancing’ as a professional dancer.
“Not only is this a dream come true, but a challenge I am accepting with both hands. It is an honour to be representing Cape Town, South Africa, and to join the world’s most amazing dancers on this stage.
“This is Big for my Family. This is Big for my Country. Let the world know. Here we Go! @bbcstrictly #bbcstrictly”
Thankfully, with fellow South African talent on the show, Cameron was in great company.
He shared: “Being from South Africa and being on this big stage, it takes a lot of sacrifices to be able to be on this level.
“And I’m grateful to have these people around me. So many people dream of being given this opportunity and I share it with Johannes, Oti, and Motsi, who I look up to.
“They have given me guidance and shown me the ropes. We don’t just represent ourselves, we represent Africa, the whole continent.
“Oti has definitely taken me under her wings. She always encourages me to work ten times harder than anyone else.”
Lombard is one of four new dancers added to season 19.
The others are Nikita Kuzmin, a six-time Italian Latin and Ballroom Champion; Jowita Przystal, a Polish Open Latin Champion who also won “The Greatest Dancer” in 2020; and, last but not least, Kai Widdington, a World Junior Latin American Champion, as well as a 2012 finalist on Britain’s Got Talent.
Also, Janette Manrara and Anton Du Beke relinquish their roles as dancers, to take up new posts: Manrara as the new co-host, and Du Beke fills Bruno Tonioli’s shoes on the judging panel.
As for Lombard’s daily routine now, he shared: “I wake up at 7am. Have breakfast at 8.30am.
“By 9am, we should be in the studio, training, until 1pm.
“Then we have lunch and we are back in full swing in the studio, from 2pm to 6pm. Then we have supper.”
When asked if he was on a strict diet, he said: “At the moment, I’m drinking more water than ever before. I eat a lot of fruit. I love carbs. So not strict as yet. But I’m definitely planning on a very strict diet.”
By the way, this isn’t his first reality series appearance. He was placed third in “SA’s Got Talent” in 2012.
He added: “I have a slight idea of what TV is about. What you need to bring through to the cameras.
“What needs to be done so that they can work with me as a dancer. But this is the biggest show that I’ve ever been on in my life.”
As such, he is soaking up as much knowledge as he can and heeding everyone’s advice.
While he may be a newbie on set, he’s no less competitive on the dance floor.
Lombard revealed: “We’ve completed a few numbers and it’s been the best group numbers yet. It’s been a good few weeks with the team, who are very loving and have made me feel very welcome, and a part of the family.”
He continued: “I’m very competitive. The only thing I focus on is competing with myself and not anyone else. Once you better yourself, you reach certain levels.
“Once you focus on other people, your focus shifts to the next person rather than yourself, and you don’t see the results, in that sense.
“I’ve always been someone who has competed with myself and tried to better myself each time.”
As for his strength on the dance floor, Lombard admitted: “I love Latin dancing slightly more than ballroom dancing.
“Ballroom dancing is very elegant and it gives a different taste of the forms. Latin is the most fun for me.
“It’s about using your body more, having a fun time. It is strong and very disciplined. With ballroom dancing, there is a lot more technique that goes into that.”
In parting, he added: “I love what I do and it is something I’ve been working towards my entire life.
“I feel like my passion, hard work, and dedication, will speak volumes on the dance floor.”