We’ve seen OTI MABUSE on TV so much, whether it’s Strictly, Dancing On Ice, He’s The Greatest Dancer or one of our favourites, Steph’s Packed Lunch, she is always a welcome figure on our screens.
Having said goodbye to the show she has been with for so many years, Oti is bringing her own tour to South Wales and has created a show like no other. So be prepared for a night of electrifying choreography as she is joined by some of the world’s greatest dancers and the West End’s finest singers and musicians.
OTI MABUSE – I AM HERE is a whirlwind celebration of the influences and inspirations that took her on a journey from growing up in South Africa to following her dream. From mesmerising Jives and pumping Sambas to South Africa’s exhilarating Kwaito, this is an explosive night of dance and music that will set your heart racing.
We were at the opening night of the show at the New Theatre in Cardiff, and whilst this isn’t a review, I can tell you now, this is something very special. I’s not a Strictly show, it’s not only an Ote show – this is a show about a life and the people who supported her through an incredible journey to get to where she is today.
Sat behind us in the audience was a Welsh favourite NOEL SULLIVAN, a singer, performer and writer, and for those of us who remember the days before X-Factor, one time member of Hear’say. Noel was there tonight to support his husband JAMES BENNETT.
James has a background and CV like you wouldn’t believe. For the past 15 years, he’s worked extensively in Film, TV and Theatre as a performer. His career began in West End smash hit WeWill Rock You (I think I saw him in that production). He soon discovered that he craved creativity and quickly made the transition to Dance Captain and later Resident Director and Choreographer.
James has worked with choreographers on Strictly Come Dancing and most recently as one of four choreographers and assisting Oti Mabuse on BBC’s The Greatest Dancer.
And it’s that which brought him to Ote’s I Am Here. James is Creative Director and clearly a man with great passion, and excitement, as we witnessed in the theatre on opening night.
So, with a very proud husband by his side, we took a few minutes to chat to James about the project, and congratulated him on an amazing production.
The South African star, has actually won Strictly twice, with Kelvin Fletcher in 2019 and Bill Bailey in 2020. In fact she is the only professional to have lifted the glitterball trophy two years in a row. Her victory with comedian Bailey, which took many by surprise, has gone down as one of the show’s greatest achievements.
Oti said about her decision to leave the show……
“I can’t put in to words how difficult this decision has been, but I have decided not to return for the next series.
When I came to Britain I said to myself, “My dream is to win Strictly.” And I have, and it was such an amazing seven years, but I’ve done what I needed to do,’ she says. ‘I feel so emotional. I lived my best life on that show and it gave me the career I have now, but you need to know when it’s the right time to get off that wave and try new things.”
Seeing her at the New Theatre in Cardiff was something very special, and there’s also a bit of reunion taking place on Friday and Saturday, which will delight fans of one of her other shows, He’s The Greatest Dancer.
KLA are a Latin Formation group from South Wales, formed of eight girls, who at the time were aged between 9 and 11. As there are no boys in the group, and the discipline requires male leads, the girls take on the boys’ roles.
Something incredible happened when KLA were selected to put one of their Latin American teams forward to audition for the BBC new dance show. They auditioned, the show went live in 2019, and from there on in it was a total whirlwind….
The all-girl team performed so well on the live show, the audience voted them through to the next round. The excitement didn’t stop there, the amazing Oti Mabuse chose the KLA Dancers to be on her team. Talk about dreams coming true!
Oti was absolutely wonderful with the girls. She was supportive, kind and of course totally cracked the whip to make the team perform to their absolute best. Thanks to her support, they made it to the FINAL!
And continuing that support, the girls will be a part of the I AM HERE tour for two nights in Cardiff.
This seemed like the perfect time to put a call into OTI, and HANNAH EXALL one of the KLA Team from the TV show, who have been invited to appear in Cardiff.
Eight-time South African Latin American Champion, Oti is regarded as one of the most successful South African dancers in the world, regularly choreographing critically acclaimed musicals and is a sought-after presenter and judge on UK television.
You can see her live at the New Theatre in Cardiff in her I AM HERE tour through to Saturday 30th April. The two hours show begins at 7:30pm each evening. You can see KLA Dance on the stage on Friday and Saturday. For more details, and tickets go HERE.