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Oti Mabuse: Ex-Strictly star on what fans can expect from Perth show and becoming ‘national treasure’

Strictly star Oti Mabuse comes to Perth.
Strictly star Oti Mabuse comes to Perth.

In recent years, South African dancer and choreographer Oti Mabuse has begun to earn that rare accolade, a ‘national treasure’ of British television.

What that usually means is that person is having a bit of an onscreen moment, and seems to keep turning up on everything.

It also means the viewing public likes them and are happy to see them there.

Seven series of Strictly

That certainly applies to Mabuse, a great dancer and a warm and cheerful onscreen personality.

For seven series of Strictly Come Dancing she was a regular dancing partner to the stars, ever since 2015.

So it’s tricky to pinpoint the exact moment she became a star in her own right.

Probably, though, it was the series of 2020, when her most unlikely partnership with the comedian Bill Bailey saw the pair take home the trophy.

The pair won through despite Bailey’s unorthodox but determined style.

“I think (winning) with Bill in the lockdown series was also extra special, as the BBC team did an extraordinary job in such challenging circumstances just to get the show on,” says Mabuse in a prior interview released to promote her new stage show.

“When they called our names we didn’t quite believe it. It will always be a highlight in my career. “

Yes, she did it again

It was Mabuse’s second win on the show, after lifting the title alongside Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher the year before, making her only the second dancer to do it twice and the first to do it in successive years.

 

After this high, she moved on – knocked out early in 2021’s competition alongside former rugby player Ugo Monye, she left Strictly in February this year to try out new opportunities.

She’d already been a judge on The Greatest Dancer and a panellist on The Masked Singer spin-off the Masked Dancer, and this year her onscreen career is stepping up.

On-screen career on the up

She’s become a judge on Dancing On Ice, and the host of this month’s new ITV game show Romeo and Duet, in which just-introduced couples meet up and compete against other couples in a singing duet.

There’s also an upcoming BBC One travel special about South Africa, and she choreographed the UK tour of The Cher Show, which opens this month.

Oti Mabuse is on to even greater things.

Also, as the audience in Perth will discover this week, she’s touring her debut stage show I Am Here around the country.

Previously postponed by the pandemic, it will feature Mabuse alongside other dancers (including her husband Marius) and West End singers.

It promises, we’re told, “a whirlwind celebration of the influences and inspirations that took her on a journey from growing up in South Africa to following her dream…from mesmerising jives and pumping sambas to South Africa’s exhilarating kwaito.”

A sure-fire dancer

As if Strictly – and her two years on the German equivalent, Let’s Dance, in the mid-2010s – haven’t given her enough diversity of experience as a dancer to carry off a show like this, the 31-year-old was also the eight-times South African Latin American Champion before she moved to Europe.

<br />Oti at the Strictly Come Dancing launch, BBC Broadcasting House, London, in 2019.

“The title is a translation of my name, Otlile,” she says, “but it’s also a celebration and a thank you to everyone who has supported me in the UK and given me so many opportunities. It’s a dream (to be taking my first stage show on tour).

“Due to the pandemic we have had to delay, so I can’t wait to finally get out on the road with the cast, band and crew.

“It will be fantastic to visit all the different venues around the country and meet all the fans.

“I think we all need to have a good time.”

What can audiences can expect from the show?

“I hope they feel inspired, excited and uplifted by the show.

“It’s my story, but also a celebration and a thank you for the opportunities I have been given in my life.

“Most of all, I want everyone to just have a good time!”

Oti Mabuse’s show I Am Here is at Perth Concert Hall on Thursday May 5. For more details, go to www.horsecross.co.uk or otimabuse.com

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