Nkateko “Takkies” Maswanganye elevates her original take on dance and workouts to another level of sassiness and pizzazz by employing her effervescent spirit. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Takkies is a seasoned dancer-come-viral video sensation as the pregnant wonder. The former “So You Think You Can Dance” (South Africa) and “South Africa’s Got Talent” participant adds a vibrant twist of confident sexiness to the routine of heel workouts throughout the world.

Rocking ‘N Heels is her creative baby and what a magnificent, dancing baby it is. Her special dance classes encourage women to celebrate themselves while loving the skin they’re in – with boldness and truth. The class atmosphere provides a safe space for every woman to be free of self-consciousness and low self-esteem. In addition to fitness for fun within each class, Takkies, the choreographer, inserts her precise training of rhythmic steps to provide a unique experience for each class. The whole inspired environment of nurturing movement offers a phenomenal growth opportunity for women who truly desire to transform their bodies, minds and spirits.

In and out of her profession, it is evident that Takkies infuses her distinctive flavor and personality into every project, whether it’s entrepreneurship or motherhood. This woman is amazingly gifted, and her sacred freedom empowers women to free their inner womanity of beauty, strength, grace, vulnerability and sheer boss badness through authentic living, movement and genuine self-expression.

I was able to catch a small glimpse of the woman, dancer, wife, and mother in her home element for a brief, yet candid, conversation. Envelope yourself into her beautiful energy, and let’s rock on with Takkies!  

ON HER DANCE BACKGROUND AND CURRENT FITNESS MOVEMENT

Rocking N’ Heels’ Founder Takkies Pictured With Dancers

KJ: As a writer, I have had to prepare and be professional, but as a woman and rhythmic creature, I was dancing right along with you in your videos! I was like, “I want to be in that class!”  As having watched your videos and read articles about your dance progression, what inspires you to move now, and how has it evolved from what made you originally desire to pursue dance as a career?

TM: I started dancing at the age of nine, and I have studied modern, hip hop and contemporary dance.  I had an opportunity to study ballet at the age of 6, but it didn’t really appeal to me then. However, I have been classically trained in those other areas of dance. I have trained in South Africa, and I also trained in Los Angeles within the Debbie Allen Dance Academy as well, just perfecting my craft.

I love to dance, and I’ve always wanted to dance until I lost my father in 2011. Following his unexpected death, I lost confidence in myself, and I needed to regroup. To recenter myself. After I moved onto the road of healing, I began my Rocking ‘N Heels class because I needed to regain my spirit, and it eventually turned into the great turnaround of a bad day.  The creation of the class restored my hopefulness and joy, and I think that it inspires me to be my best self. I know that I want women to feel wonderful about themselves, and especially to be comfortable in their own skin, and to appreciate themselves in all facets.

The creation and development of this class has definitely helped me to regain focus and make peace with my father’s death.

KJ: Wow! So your father’s death became your newfound inspiration for Rocking ‘N Heels, and you have definitely become a bigger brand within yourself as a result. How would you describe your brand?

TM: A lot of women don’t support each other, and I just want women to feel good about themselves. My brand promotes self-love. Women don’t realize that their movements and posturing reflect how they feel about themselves. First impressions matter. I want women to know how to enter a room with self-love and purpose, walk with their heads held high.

My hope is that Rocking ‘N Heels motivates women to not only grow in appreciation of themselves but in love with their fellow women as well. We are all on the same team. It’s time that we act like it, and support each other through showing kindness and vulnerability towards one another!

KJ: As a brand new wife and mother, where do you find the energy and spirit to dance, make appearances, professionally choreograph large projects and teach your classes?

TM: I am naturally energetic, but my love of life and working out have helped a lot. I stayed fit throughout my pregnancy, and after three weeks of recovery, I’m taking it as easy as I can. I have to do my thing, though; each woman needs to feel free to do her thing.

KJ: Your videos show that you danced and taught while pregnant with your beautiful daughter. Does she react to music and beats yet?  

TM: Sana, which means “sun-ray” in my native language, Tsonga (Xitsong), does have reaction to different sounds!  We, my husband and I, have tested sounds with her. Guns ‘N Roses calms her and upbeat music makes her alert. She looks around wanting to know what is happening!

ON STAYING TRUE TO HERSELF

KJ: Speaking of your husband and family life, you create such lively and entertaining content for your videos and social media – with your classes, you and your husband dancing, you on the treadmill, and of course your viral pregnancy Rocking ‘N Heels class routines. What influences your posts?

TM: Nothing really influences me per se.  My posts are organic. I don’t have a storyboard of what I will post next. I go with the moment of what I am doing. I am real. I don’t even choreograph my classes beforehand! I teach and capture what I feel and am doing at the time of the picture or video.

KJ: So, not to sound cliche, but you really try to “keep it real,” or as real as possible?

TM: Yes! That’s why I even post sometimes without my wigs or makeup because I want women to know that it’s not about all of that extra stuff. I have a problem with social media sometimes because it pressures women to do certain things – it will make women hate themselves, or their natural beauty, when they have no reason to do that. It forces women to compare themselves to someone else when they should be focusing on self. Don’t get stuck on what others want you to look like. Apps and filters have distorted the real beauty of a person trying to make pictures and images perfect and acceptable.  Everyone’s perfect is different. Just be yourself.

KJ: How do you stay so grounded within yourself and preserve, as well as protect, your brand?

TM: I protect my energy. Once it [my energy] is untrue, it’s over. I can’t fake anything, and I can’t work with anyone who has destructive vibes. I feel it, and I know within me if something is off.  Women and people should trust their intuition more. I’m naturally positive, and so if any negativity or bad energy threatens my energy, then I have to protect my essence – the soul of who I am. I pray on all things – for physical and spiritual protection, wisdom, guidance, discernment… on everything.

I pray to be aware of my space and surroundings because the things and times in between the important things like family and work can cause distraction. I use my time to improve my life, the strength of my family and the specialty of my brand. So really, by protecting my energy, I can protect my personality which enables consistency, thereby protecting my brand [of me].

ON LIVING A HEALTHY LIFE ABOVE ALL

KJ: Confidence is on lock for you, but do you have a specific health regimen that you follow and/or recommend to your students?

TM: Confidence is my friend now because I have been through heartache and real life lessons, like the death of my father, and so those things have strengthened me – made me wiser. If I can get through those really hard experiences that shook me to my core, then I can get through anything!

I suggest that people should eat clean. You can enjoy your food. I enjoy my food. I eat what I want to eat; just don’t overindulge. I get a taste – enough to satisfy whatever the craving is – and then I’m good. I don’t believe in dieting really.  Why be mean to yourself? Try to make the healthy choices that will be good to your insides.

People forget that our insides show on the outside. Sometimes women want their faces to be beautiful for the wrong reasons, and they forget to put good stuff inside. How we treat ourselves on the inside shows on the outside no matter how much exercise we do or makeup is used to hide what we don’t want to reveal. I say love yourself in everything that you do or eat because your inside reflects on the outside.

KJ: Last question: What advice do you give to working mothers trying to pursue their dreams?

TM: Oooh, that’s a good question! I know that it’s important to not forget why you are doing what you do.  Yes, your children are extremely important. Motherhood is very important, but don’t lose sight of your purpose in the big picture. You have to be true to yourself. Stay focused on making the world a better place, and your children will see and feel that. They will learn that it is more than OK to be happy and stand in the truth of who they are. Your balanced motivation of loving them while pursuing your dreams will motivate them to be their best selves in all that they do.    


This exclusive feature was published in The Connect’s Spring 2018 issue. You may purchase the full issue here, or download the digital version here.