Having joined BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2012, Karen Hauer is now preparing for her ninth year as a professional dancer on the show, and in the latest series, she was partnered with comedian Chris Ramsey where they reached the semi-finals. In March, Karen started touring with fellow Strictly pro Gorka Marquez on their Firedance UK Tour, and after performing only a few of the shows, the tour had to be postponed due to theatres being closed for the foreseeable future. Karen has recently hosted Home Festival alongside Oti Mabuse, David Webb and Marius Iepure for ten weeks of activities including baking, dance, workouts and quizzes, which they’re hoping to bring back later this month. As a qualified fitness professional, Karen runs Hauer Power featuring an online fitness programme to help with your body and mind. Speaking to us, Karen talks about being a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, touring Firedance with Gorka and her new fitness programme Hauer Power.
You joined Strictly Come Dancing in 2012, how is it returning each year and do you remember how you felt performing for the first time with your first partner Nicky Byrne?
Becoming a dancer on Strictly Come Dancing back in 2012 felt like the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of blood, sweat and tears. All that hard work and commitment to dance since I started at the age of eight all paid off in a single sentence that I remember so well: ‘Hi Karen, we’d love to offer you a place on Strictly Come Dancing’. It’s an incredible privilege to be on the show and the first dance was definitely a pinch me moment. I can’t believe I’m about to head into my ninth year!
How is it preparing a celebrity for a series of Strictly?
It completely depends on who the celebrity is! Each one has different backgrounds and experience of dance, music and performing so you have to establish early on the strengths and what needs to be worked on of each celebrity as an individual. For example, my partner last year, the comedian Chris Ramsey, had never danced a step in his life. So that preparation really was starting completely from scratch.
Do you have a favourite dance style to teach your celebrity partners?
I think it’s interesting because sometimes it’s almost like a dance chooses the celebrity. The most rewarding times are when a celebrity starts learning how to perform and show emotion through dance and so if a particular dance achieves that for them and you can see it start to unlock the potential, that’s when the magic starts to happen.
With the 2020 Strictly The Professionals UK Tour postponed to next year, what are the Strictly tours like to be part of and what was the fan reaction like to last year’s tour?
They’re a lot of fun and it’s always brilliant to be able to perform in front of fans around the country as it’s a very different type of performance to the TV studio for the programme. Strictly has such dedicated fans that to be able to take the show out on the road means so much to both us as performers and the people that come along.
What’s it like attending award ceremonies such as the National Television Awards and seeing the show win on numerous occasions?
I didn’t attend the NTAs last year but to hear any time that Strictly has won an award means so much. People at home might see us dancers and celebrities and the judges and hosts but it is a huge collective effort with so many more people involved – the best in the business from producers and choreographers to makeup and costumes and I’m constantly astounded at the way they push the boundaries to get bigger and better every year.
How was it being part of The Big Night In for Children in Need and Comic Relief?
It’s fantastic to be able to use the platform that we have for good when we can and these events give us the opportunity to do that. It might be a small contribution, but it’s important for us to do what we can.
What are you looking forward to most for getting back to a dance studio?
While we’ve been in lockdown I’ve been able to keep my fitness levels up and I’ve worked out every single day. And you don’t need a lot of space to work out – I’m in a small space and that doesn’t limit me. But what I haven’t been able to do is dance and I have missed it. I probably couldn’t tell you the last time I went for this period of time without dancing. So yes, I can’t wait to get back into a dance studio again.
You’d started the Firedance UK Tour with Gorka Marquez in March, how was this going and what was it like getting the show ready?
It is such a beautiful show that means a lot to both Gorka and I. We threw our heart and soul into the creation of it and we are extremely proud of what Firedance is. We managed to do a number of shows before the Coronavirus pandemic meant that we had to stop and the reaction to it was incredible.
Where does your love of dance come from and how did you get into it?
I found dance when I was young and it was a great thing for me. When I moved to America, I didn’t speak a word of English so I was trying to adapt to a new country, a new school and new home, all while speaking another language. Dance became my sanctuary. I got a full scholarship at ten years old to attend The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance where I learned my craft and continued to study. Then I went to the High School of Performing Arts – otherwise known as ‘The Fame School’. I majored in ballet and contemporary dance and received The Helen Tamaris Award for Excellence in Dance.
What advice would you give a young dancer looking to do dance professionally?
I think anybody that has started to dance will know already that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears to excel. And that’s probably a message that continues through to doing it professionally. It’s an extremely competitive industry and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there. But if you really want something, it can be reached. I did not come from a dance family nor have connections but I fell in love with dance at a young age and working hard and continually pushing myself kept taking me to the next stage.
Can you tell us about your live workout videos on social media?
The ones I’m doing at the moment were to help people while they’re in lockdown. I have a few different types of classes that I’m running. I do a Stretch Flow, a class called CardioKE, where we sing while we work out, then workouts that focus on the butt or the abs. I’m trying to provide a selection of workouts because changing it up is important.
How does it feel seeing the response from viewers participating in them?
That has been one of the most rewarding and incredible things to have discovered during lockdown while I’ve been doing these workouts. The amount of people that have written to me telling me it’s helped them keep going or it’s helped them get on the road to fitness or it’s helped their mental health has been overwhelming and it’s meant so much.
As a qualified fitness professional, you have your own website with different plans available to buy, can you tell us more about this?
I’m really proud of a new online fitness programme I’ve created, called Hauer Power. I want to keep fitness in people’s lives on a day-to-day basis, not just for a New Year resolution or for summer bikini season. Feeling fit and physically well directly connects with your mental health. It makes you feel good, confident and has so many health benefits. Hauer Power isn’t just about losing weight, getting fit and getting sweaty. For me it’s also about rebuilding the physical, mental and spiritual connections between the mind and the body. My hope is that as your physical strength increases through the workouts, so too does your mental health and your spiritual awareness. If you want to check it out you can visit www.karenhauer.fit.
What can you tell us about Home Festival?
It started as a conversation between myself, Oti [Mabuse], my partner David [Webb] and Oti’s husband Marius [Iepure]. We wanted to combine our skills to do something online for people at home. Whether they’re at home as a family or alone, we wanted to provide a fun, activity-filled place to come for people to keep active and engaged. I think in this time it’s really important for people to keep up their physical and mental health. Lots of people are in small spaces (including me!) but all you need to join in is a phone or device to connect to the internet and watch and the energy to join in. You don’t need a big space at all and we’re enjoying creating this community right now when times are tough. It’s keeping us motivated and lifted as well and we hope that we can keep people at home uplifted and positive too.
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