Mary Martin is a professional ballroom dancer best known for her dancing on multiple seasons of the reality dance show Strictly Come Dancing, winning with comedian Rob van Vuuren in 2008 (Season 5).
In the first season in 2005 she danced opposite boxer Baby Jake Matlala and the couple were the first to be eliminated from the competition.
In the 2006 she partnered soapie actor Freedom Hadebe and the pair were semi-finalists, losing to Riaan Venter and his partner Hayley Hammond.
In 2007's third season of the show she danced with television presenter Erald Felix and the pair were the sixth couple to be eliminated, leaving in Episode 7.
She was the partner of comedian and actor Rob van Vuuren in the fifth season of SCD, from September to December, 2008. The couple won the competition (see below).
Martin lives in Johannesburg and spends her time teaching Ballroom and Latin American in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas.
She has represented South Africa internationally five times at the World Championships in Miami, Florida. She was also the undefeated 2002 SA Professional Latin American Champion.
Mary is also a qualified adjudicator and has judged many national amateur competitions, and is co-owner of an entertainment company which organises entertainment for corporate and government functions.
Strictly Come Dancing 5
Mary was the professional dance coach and partner to comedian and actor Rob van Vuuren in the fifth season of SABC2's Strictly Come Dancing reality competition, in 2008.
The first two weeks of the competition were non-elimination rounds, with the judges scoring dances by the male celebrities in Week 1 and the female celebrities in Week 2.
In Episode 3 - the first elimination episode - Rob and Mary impressed the judges with a well-rehearsed routine of a Quickstep, of which nothing bad could be said except for the fact that Ballroom requires more flowing and less staccato movements.
The couple scored 32/40, which placed them tied for first with Tessa van Duuren and Grant Esterhuizen.
In Week 4, as from the outset and every week thereafter, Rob left everyone – from judges to Mary – pleasantly delighted at what he had to offer.
The couple's Jive was a "tour de force" and Lilian Phororo went as far as calling Rob a “dance wonder” and “dance supremo”.
Tyrone Watkins was elated by the fact that this white boy and his sultry mate did justice to a style that originated on this continent.
The couple scored 33/40, placing them clearly in first place.
In the fifth episode Rob and Mary found themselves in unfamiliar territory with it being the first week they were not showered with compliments.
Lilian noted that – although he “seems to be a dream guy” – Rob should have paid more careful attention to his topline and timing. Tyrone stepped out of character for a second and added that he still “managed to ignite the dance floor”.
Their 28/40 was still good enough for joint 4th place with Gugu Zulu and Sarah Cooper.
After previous week’s disappointing Foxtrot, in Episode 6 Rob and Mary were obviously more determined than ever to not play safe and gave the judges a brave, daring routine.
With a performance full of lifts and delightful gymnastics, they managed to even get Tyrone to feel their contagious energy.
Lilian was once again impressed with their 100% commitment. Dave Campbell reminded the couples that the lifts are not essential and in actual fact something that get them penalised.
With 32/40, Rob and Mary regained first place that week.
In Week 7 Rob, despite leaning more towards the Latin dances and finding the waltz quite boring, once again succeeded in bringing a star performance to the floor.
He and Mary made the most of the limited moves the style offers and Dave went as far as saying they had the title in sight.
Scoring 29/40, the couple managed second place.
Episode 8 was the first occasion where the final five were expected to bring two flawless attempts to the dance floor, from a selection of styles chosen from the Latin and Ballroom genres.
Rob and Mary's dedication to winning was again illustrated by their Cha Cha, which was fun and playful and enjoyed by all the judges - except for Tyrone who got jaws dropping when he described it as "spastic".
Their Rumba did manage to embody the passionate Latin-lover the style is supposed to depict in a delicate, sensitive and intense dance to Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You". Lilian was in tears.
Despite scoring 30 for their first dance and 32 for their second (for a total of 32/80), Rob and Mary were nonetheless pipped once again by Tessa and Grant.
Garth Collins and Hayley Bennett were eliminated from the show but reinstated the following day after a computer error was detected. Nobody was thus eliminated in Episode 8.
In Episode 9 three couples competed in the dance off for the first time - and two of them finally got the chop: Anele Mdoda and partner Brandon Eilers Le Riche, and Garth Collins and Hayley Bennett.
It was evident from the start that the judges were intent on driving home the fact that Garth did not belong in the final, and that they were disappointed by the public's lack of support for Tessa and Grant.
Couples performed two dances – one during the Ballroom round (a Foxtrot or a Tango) and the second during the Latin round (a Paso Doble or a Jive).
When the judges’ scores and viewer votes were tallied, the three couples that received the lowest judges’ scores seemed to have made a similar impression on the viewing public.
These were the two mentioned above, as well as Cindy Nell and partner Jonathan Broadway.
After Tyrone told Rob in the previous week that his dream of dancing in the final was slipping away, the comic milked two standing ovations from the studio audience.
For the fist time in the season - and only the second time in SCD history - a couple received a perfect score, 40 out of a possible 40.
Rob and Mary's Tango was “unbelievable” (Dave) and Lilian called it a champion’s performance.
They went on to score a near-perfect 39 for their over-the-top, Dracula-inspired Paso Doble, giving them 79/80, which proved to be their ticket to the finale.
In the season finale the couples had to perform three dances. Cindy Nell and Jonathan Broadway were eliminated after the first dance, leaving Tessa and Grant to fight for the title with Rob and Mary.
Rob and Mary started the night with a perfectly scored Tango, a routine that gave head judge Lilian “goose bumps” and showed Tyrone “exactly what I’m looking for in this competition”.
Their second offering, a Jive, brought the house down and had both judges and studio audience applauding in a standing ovation.
Their freestyle left Salome Sechele “gobsmacked” and Tyrone, holding back the tears and generally having a Moment, thanked them for what they did for Ballroom in the broader sense.
They scored 40, 39 and 40, to give them an unprecedented score of 119/120. Tessa and Grant acquitted themselves admirably with 112/120, but after viewer voting Rob and Mary were crowned the winners of Strictly Come Dancing 5 on 4 December, 2008.
STRICTLY COME DANCING 5 GALLERY