Simoné Botha Welgemoed, former Miss Deaf SA 2012, was born profoundly deaf and received her cochlear implant at age 22 months. She lives her dream today as the world’s first profoundly deaf professional ballet dancer with a cochlear implant. Aside from her dancing career as a principal dancer that performs leading roles with various companies, Simoné aspires to motivate and inspire young hearing impaired children to chase their dreams.
People never thought that Simoné would make a successful career in professional dance, because she cannot hear the music. She has had many obstacles and naysayers to face. Simoné did not want to be pitied- as a result it was never mentioned at auditions, eisteddfods and competitions. She rather tried to blend in, in order to prove that being hearing impaired doesn’t make you less of a dancer.
During her reign as Miss Deaf SA 2012 she realised that she could help other hearing impaired individuals to realize their own dreams by sharing her successes as a professional hearing impaired dancer. A solo choreography by Adele Blank at the ‘Celebrating Sound’ fundraiser, was the first performance she gave with the idea of encouraging others like herself. During her representation at Miss Deaf World, in Prague, she performed ‘This is Africa’ in honor of Nelson Mandela. Simoné’s life as dancer takes her from dancing principal roles such as ‘Phrygia’ in SANDTS “Spartacus of Africa” as well as lead dancer in Bovim Ballet’s various productions to performing alongside famous South African and world acclaimed singers such as Johny Clegg, Kurt Darren and Aviva Pelham to dancing in the Donroy Entertainment’s international dance movie, “Iris Warriors”, due to be released later in 2017. It is because of her successes that she strives to create awareness of hearing disability in the public eye through many outreach activities.
She also recently became a Forever Living Business owner and loves every moment of it! This career in health and wellness has proved to sing in perfect tune with her career as professional dancer.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.
I am an adventure and thrill seeking lover that has been fortunate to jet set all over the world as part of my dancing career to countries such as Germany, France, Czech Republic, Mozambique, Seychelles and India. I am also a proud furkid mommy of my staffie, Judo, and dachund, Toffie, who just like their mom has grown to love the life on the road. They constantly look at me with hopeful eyes as to where we might go out to next. Besides travelling and walking my dogs, I do enjoy the luxury of a good read.
When it is time for a much needed break, I disconnect with the buzz of society and disappear to where no technology can find me. Out in the countryside I tackle my sporty side and enjoy water-skiing and knee-boarding activities. When one gets back from such a getaway it is so extremely refreshing. Thereafter I am always ready to take the world by storm!
You are busy with some very interesting initiatives. Please tell us a little more about that.
Soon I will be travelling abroad for 2 months and while I am able to pursue my dancing career I find it extremely exciting and gratifying that my Forever business does not have to come to a standstill. The world is my office.
Please tell us all about the organisations you are an ambassador for.
I am honored to be an ambassador for the deaf as former Miss Deaf South Africa as well Casual Day and Carel du Toit Centre where deaf children learn to speak. I have also recently been asked to come on board as an ambassador for the sports brand ASICS.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about being able to follow a career path that I don’t need a vacation from. My whole life has always been about becoming a ballerina and striving to be fit and healthy. I am forever grateful that it has been a dream turned reality, especially as I have had to work extremely hard to prove that a hearing impaired little girl can indeed strive and reap great success in the very hardcore dance industry. My successes have inspired me to greater journeys where I love to give back and inspire other youngsters to follow dreams that they believed impossible. Furthermore, I love the retail and corporate industry where meeting new people on a daily basis is a very rewarding experience. Helping people look and feel good about themselves is a gratifying work environment.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My parents first and foremost as they did everything possible to provide me with all the skills and opportunities to shape me into the woman that I am today. I was born profoundly deaf, and received my cochlear implant(CI) as a baby of 22 months. In those days, a CI was unheard of and people very much frowned on it. Our neighbors thought my deafness was a disease that could be passed on! So, life was not always easy and in spite of all the naysayers that I would never be able to lead a normal functioning life serving great purpose in society they kept their heads high and pushed through. They taught me to stand my ground, believe in myself and grab every opportunity that came my way.
What is your personal motto?
When facing an obstacle, remember that every step you take will open new possibilities and new opportunities for you. I strive to dive into life by keeping my ears and eyes wide open. The opportunities are out there and they are endless. All one has to do is to grab them and of course if that door does not open it simply just means that it wasn’t your door. Although that door does lead to another and that’s the beauty I choose to see in life and in my personal journey.
What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?
Some people want it to happen, some wish that it would happen, others make it happen. Be the kind of woman that makes it happen!
What are your top 3 business tips?
1. “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill
2. Set your goal and stick to it.
3. Fake it till you make it!
What would you say is the secret to your success?
To remind myself that today’s failure is not the end of the world. However hard it might be at the time I tell myself that tomorrow is another day and when the next morning comes to be thankful for another opportunity at the gift of life. After all success isn’t achieved by the strongest, but rather those who endure, because endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. I think my years of training and discipline in ballet as greatly helped with mastering the skill of endurance.
Your favourite quote:
I love quotes and live by them so I’ll mention my top 3:
“Self-confidence is the best outfit” ~Unknown
“No one is you, and that is your power.” ~Dave Grohl
When people asks me ‘What do you do?’ I confidently smile and say, ‘Whatever it takes.’ ~Unknown (I’ve slightly adapted it as well.)
Your favourite daily affirmation:
A quote by Regina Brett which I’ve slightly adjusted, “It does not matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never ever give up.”- Whenever I feel discouraged or disappointed about something then I say this to myself out loud. Yes! Out loud! It is such a great confidence booster.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient – and keep your sense of humour no matter what!
One general piece of advice you would like to share:
Be humble, but strong at the same time. What goes around comes around so always treat people with kindness. Blowing out somebody else’s candle won’t make yours shine any brighter. Instead support one another and be happy for each other’s successes. And… Don’t let people tell you what you can and cannot do. It is up to you to prove them wrong. I did. So can you.
Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?
If you’d like to follow Simoné’s dance career, learn more about her business or book her for your event as dancer or motivational speaker:
YouTube Dancing Reel: http://youtu.be/KoPuBqgk35g