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How Musa Motha’s Moving Dance Earned a Standing Ovation on AGT: Fantasy League

The dancer from South Africa explained why he had to let go of his football dream after developing childhood cancer, and how dancing brought him new happiness. 

By Caitlin Schunn

A South African dancer who defied the odds by finding dance after losing his leg made his way to Season 16 of Britain’s Got Talent and now America's Got Talent: Fantasy League. After his very moving performance (despite having to perform remotely from the UK) the entire crowd and Judge's table was on its feet. 

How to Watch

Watch America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League on NBC and Peacock.

Although Musa Motha came in fifth place on Britain's Got Talent in 2023, that didn’t stop his love for dancing.

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“Seeing myself on the news every day in South Africa, I felt honored,” Musa said during his AGT performance. “When I found out that I was [judge] Simon [Cowell]’s first pick, I was just like asking myself, ‘Is this real?’ Him believing in me — I know I need to do my best. I wouldn’t want to let him down.”

Why couldn't Musa Motha perform live on AGT: Fantasy League?

Musa Motha on stage during AGT Fantasy League Episode 104

To the crowd’s disappointment, host Terry Crews announced Musa would be performing remotely from London as the final act of the night.

“I’m disappointed that you can’t physically be here because the paperwork to fly wasn’t done on time,” Simon explained to everyone. “And I’m so happy that you’re on the show."

Musa shared more about his experience on Britain's Got Talent and Simon through a video.

“After my performance, it was crazy,” he explained. “It was like excitement on another level. They [the judges] pressed the Golden Buzzer. All of them at the same time…I didn’t make it through [to the end]. I felt a little disappointed. But since Britain’s Got Talent, my life has changed.”

The audience watched as Simon gave Musa advice on the phone for his second chance.

“The only thing I was slightly disappointed in when you were on BGT was I saw you with other people on stage, and I don’t think you should have other people on stage with you,” Simon said. “I think you are the star…I think for you and the show, it’s what I call ‘unfinished business.’ You should have won the show, and you have every chance this year, I promise you.”

How did Musa Motha start dancing?

Musa Motha's Golden Buzzer Moment | Simon's Most Memorable Auditions | AGT 2023 | NBC

Musa gave more insight on how he turned a tragedy into a new dream after he was diagnosed with cancer around the age of 10.

“Growing up in South Africa was really an amazing experience,” Musa said. “I had a very happy childhood. But when I got diagnosed with cancer, it was really hard. My dream of being a professional footballer was crushed.”

A bone marrow biopsy showed that Motha had osteoscarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in his left leg, CNN reported. When the first round of chemotherapy treatment didn’t work, doctors had no choice but to amputate his leg.

“I could not even stand up,” he said. “So, it was a matter of it’s either amputation or I die.”

Instead of mourning his dream of being a football player, Musa decided to focus his energy in a positive way.

“Dancing made me feel brand new. Made me feel happy — excited,” Musa told the AGT: Fantasy League audience and judges. “The music starts and I’m on stage performing—nothing matters. It’s just me, and the music, and the stage, performing for people."

How did the AGT audience and judges react to Musa Motha's dance?

Musa Motha on stage during AGT Fantasy League Episode 104

Musa explained that having to dance remotely was not the ideal situation for him.

“I feed from the audience,” he said. “I want to win people’s hearts and show that nothing’s impossible.”

Despite the remote performance, the audience was clearly moved by Musa’s dance to James Arthur’s “Recovery.”

“There’s about 1500 people on their feet,” Simon said to Musa at the conclusion of the dance. “Some people in tears. Everyone’s cheering. Even though it was remote, it was close. Honestly, I have so much respect for you as a person, as an artist — you are exceptional.”

Judge Mel B was impressed with his natural talent.

“Can I just say, I went to dance college, I trained as a dancer, and I didn’t have half as much control or technique that you have,” Mel B said to Musa. “You have opened up the door — more of this, we need to see more of this, and you do it so elegantly.”

Judge Howie Mandel was also wowed with the dance.

“To think that somebody who loses a leg and loses the opportunity to play football would make their next choice dancing is so unbelievable,” Howie said. “And you have reached such heights. And there are people with twice as many legs as you that don’t come close to what I just witnessed right here.”

Tune in every Monday at 8/7c on NBC to watch AGT: Fantasy League. If you can’t watch the show live, new episodes will be available to stream the next day on Peacock.