Strictly star Motsi Mabuse reveals hell of emotional torture at the hands of dance teachers in South Africa
Miss Mabuse said her experiences have prompted her to take action at her own dance school to prevent students falling victim to similar abuse.
‘Some of them [my dance teachers] were good and inspiring but some of the relationships were abusive,’ the 41-year-old former professional dancer told the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
‘And you know, when you talk about abuse, sometimes people tend to say, ‘Yeah, where did he hit you? How did he hit you? Show me pictures.’
Miss Mabuse said her experiences have prompted her to take action at her own dance school to prevent students falling victim to similar abuse
‘But things like manipulation and emotional abuse, those are the kinds of things you can’t see.
‘It’s in your head, like it’s happening to you.
‘When a teacher says to you, ‘you dance like my dog’ or something, and they repeat it quite often, there’s no way to show people that it happened to me as a little girl.
“Some were also physically violent.”
The mother-of-one, who has previously described the racial abuse she faced as a young dancer in South Africa, added that she often felt there was no one to ‘defend’ her, despite her mother often being around .
She said: ‘There were some instances where my mum was there and I think she herself was shocked by what just happened there. But no one thought to remove the kids from this – everyone thought that’s how we discipline kids, and it’s not.
“So as a little kid, there’s no one to defend you and that’s what you take with you.”
The mother-of-one, who has previously described the racial abuse she faced as a young dancer in South Africa, added that she often felt there was no one to ‘defend’ her, despite her mother often being around
Miss Mabuse – who became a Strictly Come Dancing judge in 2019 – said things improved when she moved to Germany aged 18 and established a ‘different relationship’ with her teachers, who she said spent time ‘building me up and really try to fix everything that was broken’.
Now she insists that other children do not have to go through the same experiences she did as a young girl, and she employs a therapist at her dance school in Germany to maintain the mental well-being of her students.
She said: ‘Happy, healthy sportspeople are what we should be aiming for. To me, it’s really not amazing when I see someone become an eight-time world champion or whatever, but they’re not a happy person or a healthy person.
‘I don’t really think it’s worth the trophy because how many times have we seen athletes just crash and come back and then they tell their stories. It’s not worth it.’