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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Katie Fitzpatrick

Oti Mabuse on leaving Strictly Come Dancing and the career change that changed her life

Last month Oti Mabuse caused shockwaves when she announced that she was leaving Strictly Come Dancing after seven years. During her sparkling time on the BBC dance show she won the coveted Glitterball trophy twice with Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher and comedian Bill Bailey.

In a heartfelt Instagram post announcing the news of her departure she said it isn't 'easy' to say goodbye and explained it was a 'difficult' decision to leave. And she wrote: "I’m honestly so grateful to The BBC and will always remember that Strictly and BBC brought me to the UK - which I now call home and I have learnt and grown so much."

Oti, who was born in 1990 in Pretoria, South Africa, moved to Germany to pursue her love of dance and she got her first taste of TV talent shows on Let’s Dance, the German version of Strictly. And the Latin American dance champion is now excited to be embarking on her first UK tour Oti Mabuse - I am Here which comes to The Lowry in Salford on June 22 and 23.


"I'm so excited. I cannot wait to get out there and start performing," she told us. "It's been two years in the making and two years of planning and hoping. I want the fans to have a fantastic evening.

"There will be a live band, great choreography and big bright outfits. People need that escapism."

Oti, 31, will be paying homage to her roots on the tour.

Oti won Strictly with Kelvin Fletcher in 2019 (PA)

"I'm going to be talking a lot about South Africa and the things South Africa has been through," she said. "And I think people who haven't been to South Africa they will come and just experience a teeny bit of it through the tour."

Oti, who has also been enjoying her role as a TV judge on BBC's The Greatest Dancer and ITV's The Masked Dancer and Dancing On Ice, started dancing when she was just four-year-old. And things could have turned out very differently for Oti if she had followed her original career path that saw her achieving a degree in civil engineering.

But instead she followed her heart and became a professional dancer. "I started civil engineering where I was 'okay, this is what I want to do, I love engineering'" she recalled.

"But my heart was telling me that I should become a professional dancer.

"It's a part of me. I'm emotional, dramatic, in my feelings and intense and that's what I love most about it, that I can express what I'm feeling through dance."

Oti recently judged her fellow former Strictly star Brendan Cole on Dancing On Ice, which received criticism from many fans this series for having three pro dancers - Brendan, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt and show winner Regan Gascoigne - competing in the final.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that's what makes shows like this work," she said.

"I think the standard was so high this season. Honestly I was so happy to just even be there and be a part of it and witness the greatness that all these people were pushing themselves to deliver for entertainment."

And on her role as a TV judge she said: "It's been incredible.

Oti won again in 2020 with Bill Bailey (PA)

"I can empathise with the pro dancers because I know the hard work and what the celebrities are feeling. There's a fear in their eyes and I understand where that's coming from."

Asked about the dazzling legacy she leaves behind her on Strictly as the only professional to lift the trophy in two consecutive years in 2019 and 2020, she said: "I have to give credit to Kelvin and Bill. It was as much their journey as it was mine and when you're in it you don't get to see the fans and the people who are loving the work your putting in.

"When you're doing live tours that's when you really appreciate everything about it."

Oti as a judge on Dancing On Ice (ITV)

She added: "I feel so, so, lucky, that I get to I actually have a bit of Strictly in me and know that I've done it and I've done it and won it twice."

Asked if we might see her return to the fold one day as a Strictly judge, like her fellow pro dancer sister Motsi she laughed:

"You have my sister. One Mabuse at a time. For now I'm concentating on what I'm doing and presenting and starting to really push myself into kind of a new world of presenter and host."

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