Chris Oh! - the Kiwi burlesque performer whose discovery of dance helped save his life

A Kiwi burlesque dancer who's enthralling audiences overseas is back in New Zealand to headline this month's Splore Festival.

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Chris Oh! was judged Most Dazzling Performer at the Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame. Source: Seven Sharp

Chris Oh! moved to New Zealand from South Africa as a teenager and identifies as a Kiwi.

He's back in the country after recently being judged Most Dazzling Performer at the Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame.

But he didn't step foot in a dance class until the age of 22, where he discovered he was good at moving his body.

"I found that I had a love of movement," he told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

"I decided I wanted to be a dancer. I wanted to move my body, be able to tell stories with movement. Now what I do is burlesque. I do the male counterpart which is 'boylesque'.

"My characters are generally gender blurred, blending that line. 'What is male? What is female?'"

Chris told Seven Sharp dancing has offered him an amazing life, a life he may not have had.

"My early teens were the hardest for me. I became suicidal. It was from those experiences I saw a brighter more hopeful side of myself and I realised I wanted to fight for at least a chance to be happy".

He says he's "so happy right now".

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