Strictly Come Dancing’s new judge is Motsi Mabuse, the elder sister of Strictly professional Oti. Georgia Humphreys meets her to see what we can expect from her judging style.
It’s no surprise to hear how professional dancer - and brand new Strictly Come Dancing judge - Motsi Mabuse calms her nerves before live TV.
“Every time, I need to dance it out,” reveals the South African star, 38, who is known for Let’s Dance, the German version of the show. “And luckily, my colleagues in Germany, they don’t mind the loud music - they join in!
“The music is really over-the top, loud and we are just going to move it. I need the vibe to be good and then I go out there. It really helps.”
The TV personality’s go-to tune? Beyonce’s Crazy In Love. “She gets you hyped up, she gets you there!” Mabuse enthuses, shimmying as she sings a snippet. Meeting her in person, it’s hard to imagine Mabuse (who is replacing Darcey Bussell on Strictly) would ever need much hyping up.
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The mother-of-one - who started as a professional dancer on Let’s Dance before becoming a judge on the series - is exuberant, talkative and full of loud giggles. There’s no denying she’s going to be a breath of fresh air on the much-loved BBC One competition, now in its 17th series.
She joins Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel-Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on the panel, but how would she describe her judging style?
“I just know that I’m going to be myself, and that’s important, because we all have an opinion about dancing and we all have a way of looking to dancing and we all see something different.
“So for me, it’s really, really important to be authentic, to say what I feel and how I see things, and to give back some words that I would want to hear if I’m standing there, because I’ve been there and I know how it feels.”
For Mabuse, who’s a former South African dance champion and German Latin champion, good dancing isn’t necessarily about the technique.
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“I want the emotions on the dancefloor and I want to go there and scream and be like, ‘Oh my god, this dance means life’,” she says. “I want them to literally feel that they are the dance. I just don’t like when things are put on.
“You need to understand what the dance is about, and what you’re trying to get through, otherwise it won’t happen, and it’s just a role. You can’t hide yourself with dancing.”
Her younger sister Oti has been a professional dancer on Strictly since the 13th series and reached the final in 2016 with Hollyoaks star Danny Mac.
But there are no concerns when it comes to having to critique her sibling on TV - especially as they’ve already been in the same position on Let’s Dance. “I’ve taught Oti since she was five years old, so she’s used to me saying something about her dancing,” she quips.
Having worked in the TV business for over a decade, Mabuse isn’t worried about what the British public’s perception of her will be either. “I’ve learnt to not look that deep into what people say, because it’s mostly a reflection of themselves,” she suggests.
“It’s always great to hear nice words, but with our new daily social media and everything, people hide behind fake profiles and attack people, because they’re just frustrated. And if you take that in too much, you’re going to be left confused.”
Mabuse, who’s married to Ukrainian dancer Evgenij Voznyuk (they won the German Latin dance contest together), shares their move to the UK is a temporary one for now. But the dance teacher - she owns a chain of schools in Germany - isn’t ruling out living here permanently in future.
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“There’s really great stuff I love about here - the education system. I’ve been thinking about it because of our daughter [who is one].
“I feel like in England there’s a lot of support if you want to go an artistic way. In Germany they’re kind of very business-way, and I think here you have both. It’s very important for children to try both things.”
Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on Saturday.