Strictly's Motsi Mabuse, 38, opens up about ending her marriage
‘If you work in this sort of world, adult things happen!’ Judge Motsi Mabuse, 38, admits she ‘understands’ Strictly Curse… after breaking off her 11-year marriage to wed her pro partner
Strictly’s newest judge Motsi Mabuse has revealed she understands the Strictly curse – after she broke off her 11-year marriage to be with her ‘best friend’ and dancing partner in 2014.
The former Ballroom and Latina dancer, 38, married her first love Timo Kulczak, 42, when she was just 22 years old.
But 11 years later the couple called it quits when Motsi realised she wanted to be with her dance partner Evgenij Voznyvk, 36, who she wed in 2017, as she told The Sun: ‘Three years later whoosh! And then I was married’.
‘Whoosh! And then I was married!’: Strictly Come Dancing’s Motsi Mabuse revealed she understands the Strictly curse – after she fell in love with her dance partner
South African-born Motsi and Evgenij, who is Ukranian, won German Latin American title in 2013, before retiring after a final Rumba on Germany’s version of Strictly.
She said: ‘We stopped and it was then that we realised that we wanted to do more than just dance together.’
The couple now share a 15-month daughter – whose name Motsi has never publicly revealed. She described her beau as her ‘best friend’ and revealed they have a ‘deep honesty’.
So she has an element of understanding of the so-called Strictly curse – where professional and celebrity dance partnerships develop romantic feelings during the course of the show.
Love: Motsi realised she wanted to be with her dance partner Evgenij Voznyvk, 36, (pictured together in January 2018)
First love: The former Ballroom and Latina dancer, 38, married her first love Timo Kulczak, 42, when she was just 22 years old (pictured dancing together in 2001)
Motsi laughed: ‘You know, if you work in this sort of world, adult things happen. Everyone goes for a drink and, whoops-a-daisy!’
Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev fell in love after dancing together in 2013 and are now expecting their first baby together.
And last year comedian Sean Walsh caused controversy when he was pictured kissing his professional partner Katya Jones after a night out on his girlfriend Rebecca Humphries’ birthday.
Dancing school: She described her husband Evgenij as her ‘best friend’ and revealed they have a ‘deep honesty’. Motsi opened her dancing school in Germany in 2017 (pictured)
Katya’s 11-year marriage to pro dancer Neil Jones then ended earlier this year.
Motsi now juggles running a dance school, raising her daughter and judging Strictly alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas.
Before joining the hit BBC Once show earlier this year, Motsi spent eight years judging the German version of the show, Let’s Dance.
She recently revealed she was close to turning down the role when she was called by producers over the summer.
Didn’t work out: She has an element of understanding of the so-called Strictly curse – where professional and celebrity dance partnerships develop romantic feelings (pictured with her second husband Evgenij in 2016 – a year before they married)
True love: Motsi laughed: ‘You know, if you work in this sort of world, adult things happen. Everyone goes for a drink and, whoops-a-daisy!’
Talking to This Morning on Wednesday, Motsi said her journey to the judge’s seat started off as a joke between herself and her sister Oti, who has been a professional dancer on the show for the past five years.
Speaking to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield ahead of Saturday’s semi-final, Motsi said she was shocked by Darcey Bussell’s sudden departure from the show.
She called Oti to get the inside story: ‘One day I was watching and it said, “Darcey stopped” and so I called Oti and said, “What’s happening over there?” And she said, “We don’t know.”‘
Success: Motsi now juggles running a dance school, raising her daughter and judging Strictly alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas
She continued: ‘And I made a joke and said, “They should call me!” And we both laughed.
And then like 3 or 4 weeks later, I called her back and said, “They called me.'” And we laughed again.’
On Oti’s response at her sister getting the much-coveted role, Motsi shared: ‘She was really, really happy for me…
‘But the longer they kept me waiting, the more I didn’t want to do it anymore, because then I got nervous because then you really want to do it.
‘And then you don’t want the rejection.’
VICTIMS OF THE STRICTLY CURSE
A look back at when The Curse struck… starting all the way back with series 1
Series 1: Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
Did they/didn’t they? Natasha Kaplinsky and her hunky partner Brendan Cole sparked affair rumours
Strictly hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons during season one. Viewers were transfixed by the apparent close bond between newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and her hunky partner Brendan Cole.
Although the pair went on to win the show, their success was blighted by affair rumours.
BBC presenter Natasha soon split from long-term partner Mike Barnard while Brendan dumped his fiancée and fellow dancer Camilla Dallerup.
Writing in her book Strictly Inspirational, Camilla said their split was like a ‘mini death’.
‘You go through the arc of grief, anger, bitterness,’ she said. ‘My best friend and dancing professionally with Brendan had both gone.’
However, Natasha has always denied any wrongdoing, saying: ‘There was chemistry, of course, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan.’
Series 5: Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace
Of all the Strictly romances there’s been over the years, this remains one of the most interesting.
Clandestine: Before long gossip was raging about how Flavia and Matt, then 19, were secretly in love
Flavia Cacace was in a long-term relationship with her dance partner Vincent Simone when she was partnered with Matt Di Angelo in 2007. He was eight years her junior.
Before long gossip was raging about how Flavia and Matt, then 19, were secretly in love. Shortly after the show finished she called time on her romance with Vincent and went public with Matt.
Looking back at their partnership, Matt told Daily Mail: ‘It was a pretty crazy time. It was front page news.
‘The funny thing was the story did not start off as true, but the more you read it, the more you started to believe it and actually act on it.’
Their romance ended in 2010, and a few weeks later Flavia admitted she was dating her latest dance partner, actor Jimi Mistry, who she went on to marry.
Series 7: Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff
Not to be: Kristina is said to have also wanted children while Joe already has two sons from a previous relationship
Over: Unfortunately for Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev their relationship didn’t manage to go the distance
Scandal: Kristina Rihanoff was recently forced to defend her romance with Strictly partner Ben Cohen
Former boxer Joe Calzaghe split with his girlfriend of five years Jo-Emma Larvin just a week into the show in 2009.
The sportsman began a relationship with Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff soon afterwards.
The pair enjoyed a four-year romance but parted ways after Joe reportedly asked Kristina not to accept a role dancing in a stage production.
Speaking to Hello! Kristina said: ‘He was sick and tired of waiting around for me, and said that if I truly loved him, I wouldn’t have taken the job in the West End.’
Kristina is said to have also wanted children while Joe already has two sons from a previous relationship.
Series 8: Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev
Unfortunately for Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev their relationship didn’t manage to go the distance.
After winning the show in 2010 the pair hooked up, love quickly blossomed and they moved into a London home together.
However, it’s believed Russian Artem’s visa issues saw him having to spend time apart from Kara for months on end and they eventually decided to call it a day.
Actress Kara welcomed her baby son, Frey with fiancé Marius Jensen in 2018, while Artem has struck up a romance with retired WWE wrestler, Nikki Bella since moving to the US to compete on Dancing With the Stars in 2014.
Series 11: Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
Kristina Rihanoff was recently forced to defend her romance with Strictly partner Ben Cohen insisting that their relationship only began once his 11 year marriage to wife Abby had come to an end.
‘He left his wife a year ago,’ she told Daily Mirror. ‘Recently we started dating but we’re allowed to see each other as two single people.’
Kristina – who has also dated Vincent Simone and ex partner Joe Calzaghe – said there have been other couples, yet she is the only one to be ‘attacked’.
She said: ‘Ben’s said it many times and I’ll say it again – I wasn’t involved in the breaking up of his marriage.’
Meanwhile Abby described the split and resultant divorce as ‘the most traumatic thing to ever happen to me’.
Ben, 37, met Abby in 1995 at the age of 17, and the couple married in 2003 before welcoming their daughters in 2008.
Series 11: Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev
‘It doesn’t exist!’ Rachel Riley brushed aside the fact that The Curse exists, after she left her husband and got together with pro Pasha Kovalev
On the same series, Countdown’s math whiz Rachel Riley’s relationship with her pro partner Pasha Kovalev ultimately ended her marriage to her husband of just one year.
She wed Jamie Gilbert in 2012, taking part on 2013’s season of the dancing show. By the end of 2013, they had split and she was with Pasha – which she claims began after the show came to an end.
‘On Strictly, you form a close bond with your partner, but there was nothing romantic when Pasha and I were dancing. It was just dancing,’ she told the Mail the following January, insisting there’s no such thing as The Curse.
‘[Strictly] serves as a magnifying glass that shows up pre-existing fault lines,’ she said, explaining the situation. She is still with Pasha today.
Series 11: Susanna Reid
Epiphany: Shortly after the show ended, the TV host split from her long-term partner Dominic Cotton
Divorcee: Actress Sunetra Sarker also announced her marriage split after starring on Strictly
Susanna Reid was another victim of series 11. She was billed as the most popular breakfast TV host and in a 15-year relationship when she reached the Strictly Come Dancing final that year.
However shortly after the show ended, the TV host split from her long-term partner Dominic Cotton.
However, mother-of-three Susanna, who was paired with professional Kevin Clifton, said the programme was not to blame for her love problems.
Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna told Daily Mirror: ‘I think people think Strictly was bound up in what happened. It wasn’t. Obviously things have been challenging in my personal life but we are getting things sorted.’
Series 12: Sunetra Sarker
Actress Sunetra Sarker also announced her marriage split after starring on Strictly.
She parted ways with her husband Nick Corfield after ten years of marriage just before the programme hit the screens.
The couple first met in 1989 while on holiday in Jersey and have a 13-year-old son together.
However, she said the romance had ended long before her reality show stint: ‘The truth is three years ago me and my husband amicably split up and it obviously had nothing to do with Strictly.’
The Casualty actress, who plays Dr Zoe Hanna in the BBC medical drama, is now said to be dating business partner Scott Carey. Together, the pair set up the food firm Keep Me Fresh.
Series 12: Caroline Flack
Caroline Flack broke up with her boyfriend of a year and a half, Jack Street, after making her way into the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final.
The price of success: Caroline Flack broke up with her boyfriend of a year and a half, Jack Street, after making her way into the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final
According to The Sun, she was ‘distraught’ backstage at the BBC show, but managed to put on a brave face to wow with her Tango and top the leader board.
A source close to her told the newspaper: ‘It came to a natural end and was mutual.’
Some contestants have ended relationships to engage in a romance with their dance partner on the show, but the source noted that in Caroline’s case, this wasn’t the reason.
‘No one else is involved,’ they stated.
Caroline had been seeing music manager Jack for around 18 months and she previously said that he was fine with her working on the talent show despite its reputation.
‘Jack’s been completely fine about the whole curse thing,’ she said, quoted in The Mirror. ‘He hasn’t once been worried’.
Series 13: Helen George
Over and out: Actress Helen George announced her split from husband of three years, fellow actor Oliver Boot, after she was revealed as a contestant on the show
It did not take long before the dreaded curse of Strictly struck again.
Actress Helen George announced her split from husband of three years, fellow actor Oliver Boot, after she was revealed as a contestant on the show.
‘I can confirm that Helen separated from her husband some time ago,’ a spokesperson for the star said. She has not been linked to any fellow Strictly contestants or professional dancers.
A Royal Academy Of Music graduate, Helen is best known for starring as Nurse Beatrix ‘Trixie’ Franklin in the hit BBC period drama Call The Midwife.
George has also performed as a back-up singer for Sir Elton John and starred in a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Zippel called The Woman In White.
She met her former partner on set of BBC drama Hotel Babylon, and the couple married in December 2012.
Break-up: Shortly after she finished runner-up in the final, she and Sean announced their split
Series 13: Georgia May Foote
The actress was in a relationship with her Coronation Street co-star Sean Ward when she took part in the 2015 series of the show.
But cracks began to show as it was reported that Sean was enraged with jealousy over her decision to take part, and even allegedly accompanied her to rehearsals at the beginning of her Strictly journey.
Shortly after she finished runner-up in the final, she and Sean announced their split – with Georgia seen kissing her dance partner Giovanni Pernice during a romantic trip to Disneyland soon after.
However, shortly before rehearsals for the 2016 series began, Georgia and Giovanni called time on their romance after just a year.
Giovanni has since moved on with 2018 contestant and former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, while Georgia is dating rapper Kris Evans.
Series 14: Louise and Jamie Redknapp
Divorced: Louise Redknapp appeared on the series in 2016, after which she and Jamie were said to be facing marital issues
Footballer Jamie Redknapp is said to have been offered a place on the Strictly line-up recently, but understandably has refused after the series was blamed for the demise of his marriage to wife Louise.
Louise appeared on the series in 2016, after which she and Jamie were said to be facing marital issues. By the end of 2017, they were divorced.
It was highly-speculated that Louise realised, during the show, that she wanted to get back to work having sacrificed her career for her marriage – with co-star Daisy Lowe said to have helped her ‘rediscover her youth’.
A TV source said: ‘Strictly used to be show that no celebrity ever turned down. But the Curse has changed all that. There is now a genuine concern that appearing on the show can negatively impact relationships. Jamie only has negative feelings about Strictly now. There’s absolutely no way he would appear.’
Louise was also rumoured to have struck up a romantic bond with her pro partner Kevin Clifton, but this has never been confirmed.
Series 14: Kevin and Karen Clifton
Split: The Cliftons – a married pair of pro dancers – split romantically in 2018
Despite the rumours surrounding thrice-married Kevin while he partnered with Louise, nothing seemed to transpire between the two. He was, of course, married at the time too – to fellow pro Karen Clifton.
However, since then, the pair have split up.
Kevin proposed to her, on her birthday, on stage during a performance of Burn the Floor and they wed in July 2015. But in March 2018, they confirmed that they were no longer together romantically.
They have since continued to work together as a pro dance partnership, however, insisting there is no bad blood.
Series 16: Stacey Dooley, Sam Tucknott and Kevin Clifton
We’re done: Stacey’s boyfriend of five years Sam Tucknott, 30, revealed Stacey had left him in an interview with the Mail On Sunday
Stacey’s boyfriend of five years Sam Tucknott, 30, revealed Stacey had left him in an interview with the Mail On Sunday in April. He called her dance partner, three-times married Kevin Clifton, 36, a slippery snake
Sam confronted Kevin in furious video chat where he branded him a ‘proper rat’. He told MoS in an exclusive interview he feels betrayed by the new couple’s romance.
It has been alleged that Stacey and Kevin’s relationship was an ‘open secret’ on the Strictly tour News has cast shadow over latest series of show, resurrecting the so-called ‘Strictly curse’ that has seen 14 couples split.
The TV presenter, 32, broke her silence on Twitter soon after, insisting there ‘are two sides to every story’
All over: In August 2019, just ahead of series 17, Neil and Katya announced their split after 11 years of marriage
Series 16/17: Katya and Neil Jones
2018 saw The Curse strike early on in the season, with drama escalating just three weeks into the live shows.
In a new twist, a love square formed when Katya Jones, who is married to fellow show professional Neil, was snapped all over her celeb partner, comedian Seann Walsh, on the street outside a pub in London. This took part on Sean’s girlfriend’s – actress and writer Rebecca Humphries – birthday, no less.
Dumped: Neil and Katya’s break-up comes 10 months after her kiss with Seann (pictured with ex-girlfriend Rebecca Humphries)
The pair brushed it off as a ‘one-off mistake’, despite them kissing and laughing brazenly in public. Since then, Rebecca ‘dumped’ Seann via a Twitter statement.
Seann and Katya did not pull out of the show, with their dalliance a gigantic elephant in the room as they still performed on the series, with Neil on set too.
However, In August 2019, just ahead of series 17, Neil and Katya announced their split after 11 years of marriage. The break-up coming just 10 months after her kiss with Seann.
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