Oti Mabuse. Picture::Supplied/Tom Dymond
Oti Mabuse. Picture::Supplied/Tom Dymond

Oti Mabuse chats about 'The Greatest Dancer'

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Feb 28, 2020

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When it comes to talent-scouting reality TV show viewers are spoilt for choice. 

Although some of them have grown out of favour with fans others have found their place in viewers’ hearts. 

This brings us to the latest addition "The Greatest Dancer", which has a similar approach as "The Voice" and "X-Factor" with one difference, it lives in the dance space.

A conspicuous and - dare I say it - unique aspect about the show is how it gets the studio audience is involved. 

In the audition phase, each contestant - either as group, a couple or solo - dance on stage, which is fitted with a mirror screen to conceal the audience behind it.

As the routine progresses, the studio audience votes and, when the act hits 75%, the mirror screen opens and they get to finish the routine in front of the audience and dance captains, Oti Mabuse, Todrick Hall, Cheryl and Matthew Morrison.

Similarly to "The Voice", each dance captain holds a mentor/coaching role for the acts they choose and in the end, the acts chance stand to win a chance to perform on "Strictly Come Dancing UK" and win £50 000.

We had the opportunity to watch one of the live shows in London and, prior to it got to enjoy a sit down with Mabuse.

She is no stranger to the UK and South African viewers as she has been a professional dancer on "Strictly Come Dancing UK" since 2016 and walked away with the mirror ball trophy in season 17.

And, spoiler alert, her winning streak continues on the first season of "TGD" season one.

When asked how she ended up landing the dance caption gig, Mabuse revealed: “First they asked me to be on the panel because they were actually shooting the pilot. And it was a new dance show, new opportunity and of course I was like yeah I’m there. But it wasn’t really certain that I had it.”

She continued: “And then the show was signed through and then I got the job...and I was just filled with joy. ”

Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison, Cheryl and Todrick Hall. Picture: Supplied/Tom Dymond

The episode we got the opportunity to watch was the week three Challenge Show, which saw  the dance captains left with two acts each.

Speaking on the differences between "SCD and TGD", Mabuse said: “One, you’re working with celebs that have never ever danced before and our job is to make them look like professionals or at least come to the level of a professional.  

“And when you work on ‘The Greatest Dancer’ you already have professional kids, teenagers and adults. And your job (as a dance captain) is to make them better.”

The shows unique format during the audition phase also places some pressure on the dance captains, especially when it comes who they want on their team. 

Mabuse feels that once an act is put through she has to think about who she wants on her team and the fact that there are three other captains she’s up against. 

And that you have to willing to fight for the ones you want and hope that no one snatches them from you.

Mabuse has also been out of the country for several years and one of the biggest things she misses from Mzansi is the food; especially from Sphahlo Paleis in Pretoria.

The live taping of "TGD" is very interesting since it’s a combination of pre-recorded segments such as the performance of Ella Eyre and the opening sequence with the contestants and dance captains. 

While the actual performance is aired live, the studio audience stays involved for the entire show. Despite the viewers at home deciding on who exits, the live audience still gives each act a percentage rating.

Sadly, at the end of each episode, someone has to say goodbye. 

As for what dancers can take away from the show after they leave, Mabuse said: “I honestly think they learn a lot. You’re firstly stronger in character. 

"They are a lot more stronger in their self-belief. And because I believe that competition instils this need to be faster and smarter. You leave as a better dancer and ou leave as a better person.”

*"The Greatest Dancer" season two is set to air on Sunday, March 1 at 7pm on BBC Brit (DStv channel 120).

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