Well-known dancer and choreographer Nkateko “Takkies” Dinwiddy chats to us about finding her feet as a new mom. By Thobeka Phanyeko
“I hope you dance” is the title of a timeless classic, and Nkateko’s wish for her nine-month-old daughter, Sana. It sums up her zest for life as well as the art form that’s been a major part of her life since she was nine years old. Breaking out in song and dance is a normal part of the Dinwiddy household, and Nkateko’s husband, Chris (who had two left feet before they met), has since discovered his rhythm – with her by his side, of course. The happy-go-lucky couple often share videos of their dance moves on their social media pages and have found a home in the hearts of many South Africans. They both boast a huge following and attribute this to their authenticity. “We’re both comfortable and open,” says Takkies.
Finding our rhythm
The pair, who met on Tinder four years ago, got engaged a year and a half into their relationship. “Chris had planned a surprise getaway for my birthday, and just when I thought the day was over, he proposed.” Nkateko was both elated and stunned, because it was so unexpected. A few months later, they celebrated their fairy-tale wedding in the company of close friends and family, and planned to have a baby shortly after. “We were excited when we found out we were expecting and were happy with either gender.”
The active mom describes her pregnancy as fairly easy, but confesses she took a break from exercise and work in the first trimester because she was constantly nauseous. “I started working out again in the second trimester and continued working well into the third trimester.” She even shot a music video just weeks before her due date!
At 40 weeks, at 1am, her waters broke and Takkies went into labour. Sana was born eight hours later weighing a healthy 3.69kg. Chris, who was by her side throughout, was in complete awe and cut the umbilical cord.
The couple wanted a Tsonga name that would also work globally, so after much research while on babymoon, Sana is the name they chose. “Sana is a popular name in Arabic and Urdu, and the word has positive meaning in many other languages including Japanese and Italian,” says Nkateko. “We loved it because it’s a global name,” she adds.
There were no complications and Nkateko doesn’t like hospitals, so she and her baby went home the day after the birth. “The first night at home with Sana was a huge adjustment, and sleep went out the window.” She also says recovery wasn’t painful, but uncomfortable, “as Sana’s shoulder was tilted when she moved through the birth canal and I tore.” Nkateko explains she had to have stitches as a result.
The doting parents are still adjusting to the arrival of their gorgeous daughter. “Having a baby has changed the dynamics of our relationship, so we have had to reset and are finding a new normal.”
Their parenting strategy
The pair approach parenting differently; Chris, who has two daughters from his previous marriage, has a relaxed approach to parenting while Nkateko leans more towards structure. “We both rely on instinct and a trusted network of friends and family rather than books.” As a dad to three girls, Chris says his daughters have very different personalities, so he alters his approach according to their temperaments. Sana sees her siblings regularly so the girls have a close relationship. The couple have altered their schedules to accommodate the latest addition to their family and Sana is set firmly in her routine with her nanny, who is there four days a week.
Chris mostly works from home which means he has more flexibility and time, “so he’ll often take time out of his work day to spend with Sana.” Nkateko teaches RockingnHeels dance classes in Bryanston, a class aimed at helping women boost their confidence and get fit in a fun way. She’s happy to take Sana to work with her, who just dozes off when she’s due for a nap. Sana is also close to Nkateko’s mom, whom she sees once a week.
Chris’s mom passed away and the rest of his family is based in the UK, so his dad and brother usually communicate with Sana on Skype. “Sana has a passport now and we’re hoping to visit the UK so she can build a relationship with Chris’s side of the family, too.”
Meet baby Sana
Nkateko says her daughter is quiet with strangers, but warms up quickly, “When she does, she can be high energy and becomes very chatty.”
Both parents are secret introverts so Sana has elements of their personalities too. She’s also curious and reaches out to touch unfamiliar faces when she feels safe. Takkies says that breastfeeding was difficult initially, “in the first week especially, but we’ve since found our groove”. The amber necklace around Sana’s neck is the only evidence that she’s teething, thanks to her laid-back nature. “She’s generally very happy and relaxed.” The new mom says having an easy-going baby has made adjusting to parenthood easier. Another fun fact about the happy baby is that she started swimming lessons around four months, and the beautiful moment can be seen on her Instagram page, which boasts over
30 000 followers. “She’s a summer baby and content when she’s in water.” Sana has just started walking and is already charging around like a ball of energy.
The beauty of us
Nkateko and Chris come from different backgrounds and would like their daughter to be exposed to both. “It’s important to us that she knows both Tsonga and English, so we speak both at home,” says Nkateko. The parents also pay attention to how they phrase certain words, like making sure they say she’s part English and part Tsonga instead of using the word “half”. “When she grows up, she will realise that she’s biracial, and that’s a conversation we’re preparing for.” Identity will be a big part of Sana’s life, but her parents just want her to be comfortable in her own skin.
Chris is an avid reader, so his daughter is exposed to plenty of literature and Nkateko is a free spirit. “Whether she chooses to follow in mine or her dad’s footsteps, or chooses a completely different path, our wish is
for Sana to be the best version of herself. We want her to be happy.” The parents agree that whether happiness presents itself in an art form, travelling or a career path, the point is that their daughter chooses to do it wholeheartedly. As Lee Ann Womack sang: “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.” Judging by the passion her parents have for life, we bet Sana will dance.
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.