Why is Oti Mabuse leaving Strictly Come Dancing? What the professional dancer said in Instagram announcement

The 31-year-old is the only dancer in Strictly Come Dancing history to win the Glitterball trophy two years in a row

<p>After seven years on the show, Oti Mabuse has announced that she will not be returning to Strictly Come Dancing (Photo: PA)</p>

After seven years on the show, Oti Mabuse has announced that she will not be returning to Strictly Come Dancing (Photo: PA)

Professional Strictly Come Dancing dancer Oti Mabuse has announced that after seven years, she will not be returning to the dancing competition series.

The 31-year-old has appeared in the show since 2015, and is the only dancer in Strictly history to win the Glitterball trophy for two consecutive seasons.

Rumours regarding her future with Strictly began circulating after it was revealed that she would be joining the judging panel on Dancing on Ice, replacing John Barrowman.

This is what you need to know.

Who is Oti Mabuse?

Mabuse is best known as one of the professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing, after making her debut back in 2015.

During her time in the competition, she has bagged the Glitterball trophy twice - first in 2019 with Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, and then again the following year in 2020 with comedian Billy Bailey.

Mabuse was born in South Africa on 8 August 1990 as Otlile Mabuse.

She studied civil engineering at university before embarking on her journey as a professional ballroom dancer. She started dancing at a young age alongside her sister Motsi, who is also a professional dancer and a judge on the Strictly Come Dancing panel.

Oti Mabuse and Billy Bailey won the Glitterball trophy together in 2020 (Photo: PA)

Mabuse has won the South African Latin American Championship eight times, and has a number of other dancing titles under her belt, including third place in the World Cup Freestyle Latin in 2014, second place at the European Championship Latin in 2014 and first place in German Championship PD Freestyle Latin.

As well as appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, Mabuse has also taken part in the German equivalent of the show called Let’s Dance as both a professional dancer and a judge.

Her other on screen appearances also include Celebrity Masterchef in 2019, Boogie Beebies and Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel in 2020, and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, The Masked Dancer UK, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2021.

At the end of last year, she was announced as John Barrowman’s replacement as a judge on Dancing on Ice.

In 2014, Mabuse married her husband, Romanian dancer Marius Lepure. The two currently live in London after having moved there from Germany in 2015.

When did she announce that she was leaving Strictly?

Mabuse announced on Tuesday (22 February) that after seven years as a professional dancer on the show that she is leaving Strictly Come Dancing.

In a statement posted to Instagram, Mabuse said: “Never easy to say goodbye.

“I have been part of the most amazing TV show, Strictly Come Dancing, for the past seven years and it has been an incredible time. Lifting the glitter ball twice and having the best journey with all my celebrities, but also meeting and working with the best team, crew, producers, celebs and incredible professional dancers!

“You are my family and I adore you all forever.”

She added that she was “so grateful to the BBC and will always remember that Strictly and BBC brought me to the UK - which I now call home and I have learned and grown so much - thank you from the bottom of my heart”.

Mabuse goes on to say that she “can’t put into words how difficult this decision has been”.

She ends her statement by writing: “Dance will always be my first love and to everyone, my family especially, friends, strictly fans and judges who have been my support throughout my strictly journey, thank you for being incredible! You are irreplaceable in my heart and have made everyday unforgettable! I love you.

“I will always Keeeep Dancing! and I will never forget my amazing Strictly experience!

“Lots of Love Oti xxx @bbcstrictly @bbc.”

Oti Mabuse received many congratulations from her Strictly family after her announcement (Photo: PA)

Motsi Mabuse, her sister and Strictly judge, said: “It’s time to fly baby girl! I am so proud of you fearless, courageous and so looking forward to seeing your dreams come true.”

Congratulations also came from fellow Strictly pros including Dianne Buswell, Luba Mushtuk and Graziano Di Prima, and former contestants such as Dr Ranj Singh.

Why is she leaving?

Mabuse has not offered any specific reasoning behind her decision to leave the show.

Rumours over Mabuse’s future on Strictly began circulating late last year when it was announced that she would replace John Barrowman as a judge on Dancing On Ice.

Earlier this month, the dancer also spoke out about “racially abusive” and “fat-shaming” comments she has received after performing on Strictly.

The dancer recently opened up about the online abuse she has faced whilst on Strictly Come Dancing (Photo: PA)

Writing in the Radio Times magazine, Mabuse said: “I’ve faced some backlash whilst performing on [Strictly].

“I’ve never really spoken about it because I’ve tried for so long to think about it this way: I work on a show that 10 million people love; if 10 or 100 people aren’t nice to me, that is not representative of everyone else’s view.”

She added: “It’s taken years for me to get that into my head. To get tweeted or receive a message in my inbox being racially abusive, or fat-shaming me, is horrible.

“But it’s written by a person who can’t even face themselves in the mirror.”

She continued: “The hard stuff that I’ve been through, with the racism and discrimination, is proof that people still have a lot to learn.

“The more hate I receive, the more of a reason it is to carry on doing my job. I have to show young girls that anything is possible.”

What did Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood say?

Shortly after the news of her departure broke, Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood appeared on This Morning, where he said that her decision could be “the best move that she’ll ever make” in terms of her career.

He said: “I think this is brilliant news. I mean she’s becoming a huge star in her own right. I think that is the way to treat the business. There’s only so long you can actually spend in one show.”

Judge Craig Revel Horwood praised Oti Mabuse for her decision to leave the show (Photo: PA)

The judge also added: “You just don’t want to do the same role for seven years. I think it’s the best move that she’ll ever make.

“She’s fantastic as a presenter and I just love her. She’s just brilliant. And I will miss having the odd dance with her as, because of course, she’s [one of] the tallest pros that we have, so I always have to dance with her.”

He said that he would miss her, but that he will “get to see her on the telly every day”.

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