VIP corner! Getting personal with Strictly Star Karen Hauer
- Celebrity Interviews
- Published on Tuesday, 14 February 2023 11:01
- Last Updated on 15 February 2023
- Monica Costa
- 0 Comments
Karen Hauer is the longest-serving female professional dancer in the history of Strictly Come Dancing. I loved meeting her – Latin chick to Latin chick – to find out how she manages to create beautiful lines with such grace. Together with her Strictly Spanish colleague Gorka Marquez and a scintillating cast, they return in 2023 with FIREDANCE, a touring show featuring fresh flavours, super-charged Latin and contemporary dance choreography, fire specialists in a captivating dance-off inspired by the timeless movie blockbusters Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge, Carmen and West Side Story. All sound-tracked by a live band.
Monica Costa (MC): How is the new show FIREDANCE: Reignite in 2023 with Gorka going to be?
Karen Hauer (KH): I am so excited to be reuniting with Gorka for the third time in FIREDANCE. We are taking things to another level with original dances, new music and lot more fire! The reaction from the audience was fantastic. We felt their love. So, we have kept the backbone of the show and we have added a few new numbers including Argentine Tango performances.
There’s no better feeling than doing a live show with the audience right there in front of you, breathing the same air as you. You can feel the excitement. From backstage you can hear the gasps and the claps. I am always excited but also nervous. There’s no such thing as being a seasoned performer and veteran. It never changes. And I quite like the adrenaline. When you go out there and you feel the applauses and see their faces, it makes everything worth. Even as professionals we make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. You might not even notice that.
Maria and Leandro of the Tango school in London will choreograph the Argentine Tango numbers – as they have done on Strictly. They are brilliant, relatable and forgiving. They accept that everybody moves differently and will interpret a moment in a unique way. All the dances are original and not the usual ballroom and contemporary styles. Gorka and I will focus on dancing and expressing how we feel when we do it. We have passed the point of telling our stories on stage. We have done that before but now it will all about performances.
MC: For the twentieth Strictly Come Dancing series in 2022, you were partnered with comedienne Jayde Adams.
You taught her how to be a leader, which is incredible. You said that it would be great to dance with another female this year.
Karen Hauer: When you are coming into Strictly without any dance experience as a follower, it’s difficult enough, but switching roles is tougher. A leader has lots of responsibility, having to be a millisecond ahead of everybody, giving instructions, signalling the partner. Being in Jade’s position was nice because she came in fresh. She learnt the first steps with me as she did not know ballroom before. She only had experiences of in-line dancing with her sister. It pushed me as a choreographer to create storylines but it came very easy to me. There’s always a surprise in finding out who you are going to dance with. But it’s always a joy to push the boundaries and push yourself in every direction. It makes you feel more innovative constantly creating and thinking of doing the same steps but in different ways. It is a challenging but amazing experience to be on Strictly.
MC: When did you start dancing and how did that happen?
KH: I was born in Venezuela and moved to NYC when I was 8 years old. But I spoke no English and I was very shy as a kid. It was tough being an immigrant and landing in a completely different country like the US and a big city like New York.
There was a school programme called Arts Connection that helped children being more confident but also, in my case, I needed to make friends and learn the language. They had dance classes once a week after school in the Bronx when I first joined. They had drums. I just did movement at first, and from there it snowballed into something that I started really liking, helping my confidence and making me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It ignited something that I never thought I had naturally. One thing led to an other and I got a scholarship at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. I was there for 10 years. Then I went to the High School of Performing Arts, known as “The Fame School”. I did the US reality show So You Think You Can Dance and I became one of the top 6 female dancers in the country. From there I joined Burn the Floor, a ballroom dance company, on Broadway and then I went on a world tour for four years with them. Whilst looking for the next best thing, Strictly Come Dancing appeared. That was in 2012. My life completely changed. It’s still hard work but one of the best experiences of my life.
MC: What is your favourite dance and why? Aren’t you the Mambo Queen?
KH: When it comes to dances, I was born dancing salsa and merengue, naturally, and becoming World Mambo Champion in 2008 was a great accomplishment, but Latin dances are not my favourite ones. I absolutely adore classical contemporary dancing as it is more engrained to me growing up. I love anything that is more classical and structured but it’s felt more in the body. It’s the contemporary dances I can shine in. I also love Argentine Tango and Paso Doble. It’s always the firey dances that make you feel more: you can really feel the heart beat, you feel the beat in your blood. Those are the dances that I connect to.
MC: You recently got married to fitness professional Jordan Wyn-Jones. Would you like to have children one day?
KH: I’d love to have children. For the moment, I am the mum to four fluffy dogs. But there are talks about having a baby.
For more information and tickets for FIREDANCE: Reignite in 2023, on tour across the UK this Spring, visit www.firedancelive.co.uk
Catch Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez in FIREDANCE across the UK:
23-Feb-23 Peterborough New Theatre (7.30pm)
26-Feb-23 Brighton Theatre Royal (5pm)
28-Feb-23 Canterbury The Marlowe (7.30pm)
1-Mar-23 Eastbourne Congress Theatre (7.30pm)
2-Mar-23 Dartford Orchard Theatre (7.30pm)
3-Mar-23 Guildford G Live (7.30pm)
5-Mar-23 Oxford New Theatre (5pm)
8-Mar-22 Cambridge Corn Exchange (7.30pm)
9-Mar-23 Ipswich Regent Theatre (7.30pm)
10-Mar-23 Southend Cliffs Pavilion (7.30pm)
11-Mar-23 Manchester The Bridgewater Hall (7.30pm)
12-Mar-23 York Grand Opera House (5pm)
13-Mar-23 Northampton Royal & Derngate (7.30pm)
18-Mar-23 Bournemouth Pavilion (7.30pm)
19-Mar-23 London Wimbledon New Theatre (5pm)
28-Mar-23 Portsmouth Guildhall (7.30pm)
30-Mar-23 Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (7.30pm)
31-Mar-23 Birmingham Symphony Hall (7.30pm)
1-Apr-23 Sheffield City Hall (7.30pm)
Tickets available at firedancelive.co.uk
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums