Oti Mabuse launches her first ever UK tour, at Cardiff’s New Theatre tonight (April 28). ‘I Am Here’, covers all corners of the UK, including a date at the iconic London Coliseum on 10th July 2022 .
The show’s title is a direct translation of Oti’s name in the language Setswana, spoken in South Africa, while the programme itself is set to be a whirlwind celebration of the influences and inspirations that took Oti on a journey from growing up in South Africa to following her dream.
Additionally, Oti’s special guests joining her on Friday 29th April and Saturday 30th April at Cardiff’s New Theatre will be her team Oti, The Greatest Dancer finalists…. the all-girl Latin American dance team, KLA.
Eight-time South African Latin American Champion, Oti is regarded as one of the most successful South African dancers in the world, regularly choreographing critically acclaimed musicals and is now a sought-after presenter and judge on UK television.
Here, Oti discusses her latest show ahead of her opening night at Cardiff’s New Theatre.
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 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 Germany before leaving everything again to move to the UK to film Strictly here.
Was moving to the UK to join the Strictly family a nerve-wracking 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 wracking 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. 8 years on – I still love it and every day is a blessing. I don’t think I knew how big the show was here till I was on the TV.
Your new touring 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 Bailey- 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.
You are also involved with The Cher Show which 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 must 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? (laughs).
- Oti Mabuse: I Am Here runs at Cardiff’s New Theatre from tonight (April 28) until April 30.
- For ticket details and updates visit the New Theatre’s website.