Global dancing television show Strictly Come Dancing UK has received more of a local flavour with Johannes Radebe joining Oti Mabuse on the production.Premiered on September 30, the competition sees celebrities partner with professional Latin and ballroom dancers to battle for the mirror ball trophy.
South African dance enthusiasts are no stranger to Radebe on their television screens as the two-time professional South African Latin champion was one of the professional dancers on Dancing With The Stars SA.
Mabuse is also no stranger to Strictly fans with the eight-time South African Latin-American champion making her fourth appearance on the UK show. She is a judge on the German version. Both dancers’ love for dancing started at a young age - Mabuse from the age of 4 and Radede at 9.
Before they headed off to the UK to start rehearsals, we sat down with them at the Nasdak rooftop venue in Cape Town.
Touching on South Africans’ fascination with Latin-American and ballroom dancing, Radebe said it had to do with emotional expression between the dance partners.
“It’s because of the relationship between a man and a woman, the expression of love and joy most of all.”
Mabuse’s take was that watching brought joy to viewers since many would love to dance but didn’t have the opportunity.
Mabuse said the glitz and glamour coupled with watching one’s favourite celebrity grow and improve over several weeks was also what drew people.
Fans often believe it’s unfair to have celebrities on the show who have either a dance background or are musically inclined. Mabuse said that could be a disadvantage.
“If you get someone with experience, that’s not your fault. You can’t tell someone what to do when they were in their childhood. If anything, it’s harder because people have a negative opinion on you.”
She said that was an obstacle as was the viewers’ high expectations of one’s performance.
Mabuse said the first week of the show was stressful and therefore she’d prefer to do the cha-cha rather than the waltz. While the cha-cha was hard, it offered the dancer the foundation for most other Latin dancers.
Radebe, on the other hand, preferred do the waltz. He said it was a simpler dance that eased the celebrity into the entire experience.
Talking about how to get involved in Latin and ballroom dancing, Mabuse said it was important to just go for it. Radebe added that if one started dancing, it was essential to persevere.
Strictly Come Dancing UK Season 16 premiered on Sunday 30 September on BBC BRIT, DStv channel 120, at 6pm.