Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse revealed that her and her sister Oti struggled to find a dance teacher to learn from growing up due to racial tensions during Apartheid in South Africa.
The professional dancer, 38, spoke candidly to The Mirror on Friday about her struggles as a child to get lessons for both her and Oti, as it was a ‘difficult time’ in the country.
She explained: ‘Finding people to give us the instructions was difficult.
Challenging: Motsi Mabuse revealed on Friday that she and sister Oti struggled to find a dance teacher as racial tensions during Apartheid in South Africa made it ‘difficult’
‘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.
‘And when we did get the chance to learn the waltz and the cha cha cha, at a weekend club, we were soon better than the teacher.’
She went on to explain that her mother Dudu was so keen to support her children’s dream she hired a room at a local kindergarten and found a teacher to help them.
Struggle: ‘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,’ Motsi explained
Her and Oti’s mother also learnt how to sew garments to help make them dresses for dance shows, and also created a catering company to help fund their lessons and trips abroad for competitions.
The dancer, whose younger sister is Strictly professional Oti, 29, was born in Kraalhoek, Bophuthatswana, in 1981, but moved with her mother, a teacher, and lawyer father, Peter, to the township of Mabopane near the South African capital Pretoria in 1983.
Living in ‘Block C’ – the streets had no names – she was forced to travel to her school on a separate bus to white children under a government run by P.W. Botha.
Dancing was a way for the siblings to escape the reality of racial tensions in South Africa, and they fought to overcome the prejudice they faced.
Supportive: Motsi went on to explain that her mother Dudu (pictured with sister Oti) hired a room at a local kindergarten and found a teacher to help support them
She also revealed that the family suffered tragedy when her older half-brother, Neo, took his life at 18.
In 1995, shortly after the end of apartheid, Motsi and her family left the township and moved to a larger house in a Pretoria suburb.
Throughout this time, her parents had sent her and sisters Phemelo and Oti to private school and dance lessons.
Family life: The dancer was born in Kraalhoek, Bophuthatswana, in 1981, but moved with her to the township of Mabopane near the South African capital Pretoria with her family in 1983
Recalling those years, mother-of-one Motsi said her achievement can still bring her to tears.
She told how, on a recent holiday, ‘I started crying because I was like “wow”, who would have ever known when we started that I would end up here. It’s just a story that is unbelievable.’
As she gears up to join Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on the Strictly judging panel tonight, Motsi said she was excited but also feels a ‘lot of responsibility’ as it’s such a ‘big role.’
She said her differences to much-loved Darcey Bussell will set her apart and give her ‘space to develop and do what I want.’
She moved to Germany at 18, where she became a professional dancer and judge on the German version of Strictly, Let’s Dance.
She married dance partner Timo Kulczak in 2003 but they split in 2014. She then went on to marry another dance partner, Evgenij Voznyuk, in 2017.
Escape: Dancing was a way for the siblings to escape the reality of racial tensions in South Africa, and they fought to overcome the prejudice they faced