Strictly Come Dancing star and The Greatest Dancer judge Otilile Mabuse, known to fans as Oti, returned to the Strictly dance floor this year with a bang alongside her celebrity contestant partner Kelvin Fletcher. The professional dancer and the former Emmerdale star are hoping to soar through the competition and be the ones to lift up the coveted Glitterball trophy. As well as being a Strictly favourite, she's also appeared on BBC's The Greatest Dancer as a judge alongside Cheryl. Here's all you need to know about the professional dancer…
Life before Strictly
The South African ballroom star started dancing as a child with fellow sister Motsi Mabuse, who has now joined the Strictly Come Dancing family as a new judge, replacing Dame Darcey Bussell. Instead of following her childhood dancing dreams, however, Oti attended university where she studied civil engineering. The excitable dancer then decided to continue pursuing her professional dancing career, winning eight South African Latin American Championship titles. In 2015, following several awards, such as winning the German Championship PD Freestyle Latin title, The Greatest Dancer judge appeared as a professional on the German version of Strictly, Let's Dance. The same year, she made her first appearance on the BBC ballroom show.
Oti and her sister, Motsi Mabuse
MORE: Strictly star Kelvin Fletcher reveals what his wife really thinks of him dancing with Oti Mabuse
Oti married ballroom and Latin dancer, Marius Lepur in 2014. The 36-year-old performed as a backing dancer on Strictly in 2017 alongside his wife and despite talks of him becoming a professional on the show he did not appear in the 2018 series. During the couple's appearance on Your Face or Mine in February, host Jimmy Carr joked to Marius: "Would you go on Strictly? Would you like to be one of the professional dancers on Strictly? Or do you think it would be awkward being in the same room as the man who's having an affair with your wife?" Oti then laughed and said: "No, my husband, he shows each and every single partner I have a warning. So they kind of stay away…"
Oti and her husband Marius Lepur have been married for five years
The Greatest Dancer
In January 2019, BBC aired the first series of The Greatest Dancer, for which Oti is a judge alongside Cheryl and Glee star Matthew Morrison. Speaking to the BBC on her role as dance captain on The Greatest Dancer, the 28-year-old commented on the joy of dancing: "I have everything because of dancing. It's who I am, and it makes me happy, more than people can imagine." It is clear dancing is a huge passion for Oti, and her overwhelming excitement during auditions on The Greatest Dancer further show her hunger for performance.
Oti is also a judge on The Greatest Dancer
Strictly Come Dancing
Oti joined Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 and partnered up with Olympian boxer Anthony Ogogo in series 13. Although the pair were knocked out of the competition in week 3, the Latin professional came back fighting in 2016 by partnering with Hollyoaks Danny Mac and reaching the finals. Jonnie Peacock was her next partner who had high hopes of dancing for gold as he did in both the 2012 Summer Paralympics and 2016 Summer Paralympics but was sadly eliminated in week nine. For series sixteen, Graeme Swann waltzed his way all the way to week ten as Oti's second highest placed partner.
Oti is currently partnered up with actor Kelvin Fletcher
MORE: Find out which Strictly Come Dancing professional earns the most
For this year's series, Oti was originally partnered with Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing, but the reality star had to pull out after injuring his foot. Now, Oti is partnered up with former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher and it's safe to say the two have made a huge impression. Their show-stopping samba earned them an incredible score of 32 and their waltz earned 28. Could Oti and Kelvin lift the iconic Glitterball trophy this year?
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