Strictly's Motsi Mabuse: Racism made finding a dance teacher difficult

Danny Thompson
Motsi Mabuse during the Belvedere X Janelle Monae event at Hotel Zoo on July 8, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images for Belvedere)

Strictly Come Dancing Judge Motsi Mabuse has revealed finding a dance teacher as a child was ‘difficult’ due to racism.

The star and her sister, Strictly professional Oti, were born and raised in South Africa during the Apartheid era, where racial tensions were incredibly high, and black people were essentially second class citizens.

Speaking to The Mirror, the dancer said: “Finding people to give us the instructions was difficult.”

The sisters had to travel to school on separate buses from white children, often riot-stricken streets with torched buildings and burnt-out cars.

The 38-year-old said: “It was a very difficult time in South Africa, so to be a little girl and push yourself in this type of dancing, where there are no other black girls, was really tough.

Read more: Darcey who? 'Strictly' fans fall in love with Motsi Mabuse in the first live show

“Our parents made a lot of sacrifices because dancing is not the cheapest sport. The dresses are expensive, so my mum learned to sew, and she started a catering company to pay for the lessons and the travel abroad for competitions.”

The sacrifice paid off however, and the teenage Mabuse won a national dance competition before finding fame in Europe as a professional on Let’s Dance, the German version of Strictly. She proved so popular she later became a judge on the same show.

She joined Strictly as a replacement for Darcy Bussell for the 17th series of the popular show.

Her appointment was welcomed for the most part, but former Pineapple Dance Studios star louie Spence said Mabuse was a “nobody” who was picked as a box ticking exercise.

Read more: Motsi Mabuse says there’s no bad blood with Anton Du Beke

Spence said: “I don’t know her. She is a nobody. She isn’t a celebrity. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t put Anton there - everyone loves him as a pro dancer on the show - unless it was because they wanted another woman on the panel.

“Also, they’ve got somebody of colour, which is being diverse. They like to tick every box. I’m not saying she’s not credible, but maybe that’s why they chose her.”

In a classy response, Mabuse said: “You’ll always have someone attacking you in some way. But it’s weird from someone who’s never met you. But there is already a woman of colour in this show, Oti.”