Motsi Mabuse reflects on ‘traumatic’ experience growing up in South Africa

Serious Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse has been candid about her “traumatic” experience growing up in South Africa and the racism she faced as a teenager.

The 41-year-old dancer has been a judge on the BBC’s popular dance show since 2019 and runs a dance school in Germany with her husband Evgenij Voznyuk.

Speaking to The Big Issue, Mabuse said: “When I was 16, I was living in Pretoria, and we had just moved from a black area to a very white area.

“South Africa is open, so black people are allowed to move into certain areas, and my parents were always against the boundaries, so they pushed those limits.

“They want a better life for their kids. That was the purpose, but it also meant that we had moved to a very hostile area.”

She added: “Our parents wanted us to be safe, which meant that if we wanted to visit friends, they would have to drive us. Because if we catch the bus, the big white boys will attack us.”

Mabuse, whose older sister Oti was a professional dancer on the theater scene for seven years before she left earlier this year, also explained that dancing has given her a way to “shine”.

“It’s about the survival of the fittest,” she said. Dancing is my way to not only survive but also to shine. I always had that need to shine.

“And because of the circumstances around me in South Africa at the time, there was no chance. With dance, I built my own stage.”

After succeeding as a professional dancer, Mabuse went on to appear on Let’s Dance, the German version of the serious film Come Dancing, initially as a professional dancer but later with as a program judge.

She also evaluated several other dance shows before taking over from Dame Darcey Bussell in the serious panel Coming to Dancing.

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Mabuse recently returned to the screen with her stern judges – Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Anton Du Beke – as the 20th series of the hit dance competition kicked off last week.

This year’s all-star lineup includes Paralympic athlete Ellie Simmonds, TV presenter Helen Skelton and former England footballer Tony Adams.

The full interview with Motsi Mabuse is now available in The Big Issue magazine. Motsi Mabuse reflects on ‘traumatic’ experience growing up in South Africa

Fry Electronics Team

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