He’s one of those rising stars that doesn’t really need a surname – everyone knows Johannes from Strictly Come Dancing.
If they didn’t before, they certainly do after Johannes (it’s Radebe by the way) made headlines and history as part of the first male same-sex couple to vie for the Glitterball, with his dance partner John Whaite, of Great British Bake Off fame.
The pair made it all the way to the finals – winning an army of Team Jojo and John fans along the way.
And it’s those fans that are the driving force behind Johannes taking to the road with his own dance show, Freedom, which arrives at the Music Hall on Friday April 15.
He said: “I want to say this to them: ‘Thank you more than anything, thank you from the bottom of my heart’.
Johannes wants to thank Aberdeen fans for their love and support
“I have never felt so liberated in all my life and it’s due to their love and support. So thank you for making the time for me, I value that the most.”
It’s not just a simple thanks, of course. Freedom is a full-blooded night of entertainment with a company of exciting dancers, celebrating music and dance from African fusion to fiery Latin with some big party anthems in the mix.
Johannes said Freedom is the story of his personal journey from growing up in a township in South Africa to travelling the world, winning titles and conquering hearts and minds in Strictly.
“Freedom is about how far dance has brought me from my township to the world, but I’m going to tell that story through dance, obviously,” he said.
“It’s going to be done with a beautiful diverse cast of dancers and singers, the set is absolutely beautiful and when all that comes together it’s just going to be a beautiful dance extravaganza.”
Just how far Johannes has come and what he has achieved is reflected in the title of the show itself – Freedom.
Johannes delighted to have Freedom to dance to his own tune
“There’s no more fear of self-expression and there’s no shame attached to that. I’m done with all that,” he said.
“Plus the opportunity to dance to my own tunes. I’ve been dancing for many years to other people’s music. It’s liberating to know for the first time in my life I can play a tune and entertain the way I know how to. It’s a blessing.”
Always a favourite since he joined Strictly in 2018, Johannes went stratospheric in popularity in his ground-breaking partnership with John on the show last year.
“I’m extremely proud of that, I’m extremely proud of saying yes and for John for coming on board. With our life experiences, me being a black gay man and navigating around the world and understanding how hard that is, we were uncertain of whether we were going to make it very far in the competition.
“But my faith in humanity has been restored, because we have seen how far we’ve come as people. The public doesn’t know what they have done for our confidence. Through what we did, people’s lives were changed.
“I’m very grateful. I see the importance of it now.”
Not that he didn’t have a degree of trepidation about taking to the floor in a same-sex couple in the current era where social media can bring out the absolute worst in some people.
“Tell me about it. I had to have long conversations with myself. I’m very comfortable with who I am, but I am very shy and very private. I knew this was going to kick the doors open. Thank goodness for the BBC for their support because they made sure we were protected.
More love than hate for Jojo and John on social media
“But it’s funny because we didn’t need it, because people were on board. I had my doubts… but there was more love than there was hate.”
But the dancer was saddened by some of the darker and nastier comments that came their way.
“I did get some terrible messages and it was sad, because these were from parents… if you went on their profile you could see they had kids. That’s why I think we have a long way to go when you have people telling you ‘you’re a monkey, go back to your own country’ and then there are Africans saying to me ‘don’t come back here, you’re a disgrace’.
“That’s why I got off social media to focus on the job at hand that was important to me – giving John a great time on Strictly Come Dancing we really just did that.”
Ultimately, though, Johannes hopes he and John- who he describes as a friend for life – have done more than blaze a trail on a popular TV show. He wants to think they have helped change attitudes.
How to get tickets to see Johannes Radebe at the Music Hall
“I honestly hope John and I have broken the barriers and removed the stigma.
“The next time there is any sort of partnership involved on Strictly Come Dancing or anybody who joins the show for that matter, despite who they are, it’s just not news anymore.
“I just hope it’s not plastered on the front pages of the newspapers for week and weeks as if there’s not anything better to be attended to in the world.”
For now, though, Johannes has his sights set on one vital task – bringing joy to the audience flocking to see him at the Music Hall on Friday April 15.
“It is thrilling, to finally have my own tour. I think that’s huge for a township boy. I have been to Aberdeen, I’ve been to the Music Hall, and I’ve seen how people in this country love my art form, how they appreciate Strictly Come Dancing, so I’m grateful for that.
“And to have the opportunity to meet people who have been supporting Johannes for the last couple of years, that is exciting. It’s exciting because they know what to expect, therefore I am not nervous at all.”
For information and tickets for Johannes Radebe’s Freedom at the Music Hall go to aberdeenperformingarts.com