As South African dance star Oti Mabuse launches the UK tour of her stage show I Am Here, Piece of Pink Pie is pleased to share this Q&A with the star of the show.
You started dancing from a very early age, have you always wanted to be a professional dancer?
My sisters Motsi and Phemelo danced so my mom set up a school for us in South Africa and we all danced together. Phemelo was actually the best dancer! I’ve always danced and it’s my passion. I did train as a civil engineer but dancing was always my first love.
What’s been the most challenging part of your dancing career so far?
Following my dreams and moving to other countries. I left my family in South Africa to move to Germany where I met my dance partner -Marius – who is now my husband. I learnt German as well. I was on Strictly [Come Dancing] Germany before leaving everything again to move to the UK to film Strictly [Come Dancing] here.
Was moving to the UK to join the Strictly family a nerve-racking experience?
I’d done Strictly in Germany with my sister Motsi and my husband Marius. Coming to the UK was really exciting but yes – nerve-racking too – and Strictly is a huge TV show here. I was nervous but I was lucky to be asked and the show was a dream come true for me. Eight years on – I still love it and everyday is a blessing. I don’t think I knew how big the show was here till I was actually on the TV.
The show is called I Am Here – what was the inspiration behind the title?
The title is a translation of my name – Otlile – 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.
How does it feel to be taking your first ever solo stage show on tour?
It’s a dream! 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 people expect to feel sitting in the audience watching Oti Mabuse : I Am Here?
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!
You’re taking the tour all over the UK and will be joined onstage by your husband, Marius. What’s it like working with your partner?
We were dancing partners before we got together as a couple so we’ve always worked together. We have set up our dance school together now as well. He is the perfect dance partner too. (Don’t tell him I said that! )
You’ve been a Strictly Come Dancing champion not once, but twice – how did it feel lifting the glitterball trophy for two years running?
Incredible! I think 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. When they called our names we didn’t quite believe it! It will always be a highlight in my career.
The Cher Show is making its UK premiere next year, how does it feel to be part of a strong, female creative team.
I’ve always been part of strong female teams so it’s what I know. – My mom and sisters. The Strictly team, Jo Wallace, Lou Rainbow Sarah James and many more on my other work in TV.
I’m thrilled to be working on Cher with Arlene! Both Incredible women who I admire greatly. I mean Cher and Arlene Phillips – what’s not to love!
Was theatre choreography something you’ve always wanted to get into?
Yes. I did Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Colchester and Southwark. Also Kiss Me Kate at The Watermill. I love working in the rehearsal room and seeing talent shine. I can’t wait to start on Cher – it’s going to be epic! I love all types of dance and choreography – I’m lucky to have the chance to work across all genres
Do you like the contrast of the theatre world to television?
Yes – they are very different. TV is instant but theatre is eight shows a week – singing and dancing. The choreography has to allow the performer to sing and act too over the full show. I’ve had to learn to adapt. I love the rehearsal process – creating and seeing it all come to life.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in life so far?
To be yourself. Listen and learn from others but always listen to yourself as well.
Your career has taken you on so many different journeys from TV and theatre to radio broadcasting and recently writing a children’s book. Do you have any dream job you’d still love to do?
Prime Minister please – would you vote for me? Haha!
Oti Mabuse: I Am Here is currently (April 28-30) at the New Theatre, Cardiff, before a UK tour through 2022.
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