Strictly Come Dancing has been as entertaining as it has breath-taking this year with the current crop of celebrities battling their way towards the 2013 final.
Sadly last weekend Hairy Biker Dave Myers and his partner Karen Hauer left the competition meaning that our Saturday nights will be missing a bit of fun from now on. One of the most entertaining couples in this year’s series, Dave and Karen brought smiles to our face week-in, week-out.
We caught up with Karen to talk about her time on Strictly this series, discuss her partnership with Dave and find out what it’s like to have her fiancé Kevin on the show.
Sadly you and Dave left the competition at the weekend. How gutted were you to get so close to Blackpool week?
We were really sad actually because we really wanted to make Blackpool. From day one that’s one of the things that Dave and I always spoke about because it meant a lot to him. When he was little he would always go with his parents to Blackpool so it would have been extremely nice to have made it. We’re really happy with the fact that we were in the competition for 7 weeks so we were really excited about that as well.
When Strictly started this year Dave was immediately labelled the joke act. Are you glad that you got to show much more of Dave’s abilities rather than just the comedy aspect?
It’s funny because we were never trying to be the comedy act and Dave put everything into it. Let’s be realistic, he’s not the most natural mover of the bunch but he really did give it his all. He got into it so much that it probably looked funny to some people but to him and I, and the rest of the competitors, we really felt like he was giving his all. We were taking it extremely seriously.
It seemed that Ballroom was more his thing than Latin. Would you say that was true?
(laughs) Yes! He definitely liked his Ballroom. I don’t know, maybe he felt a bit more secure being closer to me? (laughs) I think that once we were side by side or that I let him loose I think I lost him a bit in the Latin dances. In Ballroom he seemed to have a natural ability for it. I really enjoyed all the Ballroom dances we did together.
The judges have been interesting to watch when it comes to Dave. At this stage in the competition they can tend to turn on the celebrities perceived to be the weakest dancers but they seemed really fond of Dave didn’t they?
Yes. Especially Len. Len was extremely supportive of Dave and he named him the people’s champion and ‘Dave the trier’. It was nice that Len, especially as head judge, had our back. Either way all of the other judges started coming around a little bit. We seemed to almost crack a smile out of Craig and Darcey from day one was always a bit funnily in love with Dave. Bruno…well Bruno’s going to be Bruno and he never gave us a really good compliment but he always thought that Dave was funny. I never knew what to think about Bruno’s comments. He was the only one that I didn’t know what to take from. It really felt good that Len in the dance-off would have saved us. That was amazing for Dave and we felt like he’d come a long way, especially in Len’s eyes.
Len has previously agreed with all of the other judges when it comes to the results show but he was quite vocal that he felt Dave was technically better in the dance-off…
We were really good friends with Mark and Iveta. The best man won. We were upset at the fact that we were in the dance-off with them because we felt so close to them. It felt kinda bad. We were really happy for them that they went through and we couldn’t have been against a better couple in the competition for us.
What would you say was your favourite dance with Dave over the whole series?
(laughs) That’s a hard one to pick. It’s funny because with every dance we did I have a special memory. For me it was when I was dancing with a basket full of fruits on my head and doing a cartwheel over him in the Salsa. It was quite circus-like but fun and just all over the place. Like Dave would say ‘it was like dancing with a migraine’ (laughs). I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my life. In the 22 years I’ve been dancing I’ve never done anything like that before so it was quite a rollercoaster that one dance. Me pushing him on a trolley with feathers and parrots, I felt like I was pushing the Amazon King across the dancefloor. I think that’s one of my favourite memories of Dave and I; dancing like the Amazon King and Queen.
It was definitely a memorable performance! How much of a challenge is it as a professional when you get a celebrity like Dave as your partner who has had no prior dance experience?
It challenges you definitely as a choreographer because you have to create a dance that’s specific just for this person. I never knew I could be so creative in my life. Every Sunday is when I would choreograph the dances and I’d sit there and listen to the song over and over again, trying to picture Dave. His personality is so vibrant and he’s such a smiley kind of character that I knew that I needed to make every dance specifically for him to enjoy. It had to be technically good but there was just so much that I could give him for him to be able to perform it correctly and enjoy himself. I actually really wanted him to enjoy himself.
I just threw a whole bunch of steps at him and looked at whatever he looked good doing and whatever he could get technically right. It was just like a puzzle. I’d just go in with different steps and play around with it. It’s very, very difficult to choreograph for someone who has never danced before, especially Dave who started from zero. He had never ever danced before. What I loved about him is that anything I would give him, he’s just throw himself into it and just do it and have fun with it.
We loved that you gave him baking references to help him remember his steps…
Our food analogies! For the Cha Cha Cha it was beans on toast. For the American Smooth Foxtrot it was lamb cous cous. There was a step that I called the potato peeler (laughs) or when he had to do the New Yorker with his arms we’d called it the baking slices. He got it. He just pictured it and he got it. I love food. I’m obsessed with it and the fact I was paired with a chef was just fantastic because I could say what I loved to eat and he would do it on the dancefloor.
Have you picked up any baking tips along the way?
Yes! Every day he would ask me what I was cooking. I’d tell him my ideas and he’d give me little tips here and there. Actually my cooking skills have improved tremendously. I’m really excited to see what my cooking skills are going to turn out to be in a couple more weeks when I’ve finished reading all his books.
Maybe we’ll see you on the Hairy Bikers’ show at some point in the future?
Yeah! That would be amazing!
It seems that all the celebrities and their pros on this series have become really close. Would you say that you and Dave have a good friendship now?
Yeah definitely! Since day one we were a match made in heaven. I get along with him so well. I can just talk to Dave about anything and everything and there’d never be a dull moment. I think that’s the special thing about the series this year. All of the contestants are just such good friends. We’re not really there to compete, well obviously we are, but it’s one of those times that when you see each other it’s a little celebration of what we’re doing.
They’re all going through the same thing, they’re all going through the same emotions and they’re all going through the same emotions. There have been a lot of injuries this year. They all just support each other and are being each other’s shoulder to cry on which is great. With all the pros and celebs everyone is getting along really well.
How’s your experience this series compared to your first year last year when you danced with Nicky Byrne? Are you more settled in now at Strictly?
I definitely feel more settled in. Last year I was very tentative about what I was doing. It was a learning process last year. I got further last year and I made the quarter-finals but it was definitely an experience. This year I just sat back a little bit more and enjoyed it. Last year I felt a little more on my toes all the time and again I was just learning the ropes. This year I feel more settled and more part of the Strictly family.
We’ve been speaking to your fellow pro Robin Windsor weekly and discussing the incredible pro dances this year. They’ve really raised the bar haven’t they?
He pro dances this year have been phenomenal. I’ve never worked with so many choreographers. I guess the new blood that’s been brought into Strictly with the new pros, even though we miss the ones that have left, have brought in a new life and a new energy. It’s really lit our fire a bit more and having Jason Gilkison as our director has been amazing as well. Having worked with Jason before, he really knows how to get his dancers on and inspire his dancers. This year has literally blown me away and I’m excited to come home and watch all the pro and celeb dances. This year has just topped it off.
Of course you’ve had your fiancé Kevin Clifton with you on the show this year as he joined the Strictly pros. We think he’s got a chance of winning the series with Susanna. How do you feel about that?
It’s one of those tough calls. There’s a really good bunch left in there and I’m really hoping for Kevin to make that final. I’m crossing every part of my body right now. They’re doing really well and I think Susanna is improving by the day. She’s really understanding her movement and dancing. She understands her body. It’s very hard to get the celebrities to get in tune with themselves but once they start getting to know the dancing and the technique it becomes second nature to them which is lovely to see. Every single one of them are really taking it in and embracing dancing now. I’m kind of biased about it but I’d love Kevin to win especially with him being British and from Grimsby! Forget being British…being from Grimsby, it would be amazing! (laughs)
Kevin is proving to be a very popular addition to the show…
I’m so proud of him. I guess that’s why I feel a bit more at home because I have Kevin with me. Maybe that’s why he feels at home too because we have each other and are both supporting each other. It’s nice to see my fiancé out there giving it his all with his dance partner and I’m really proud of him.
Now that your Strictly journey with Dave is over what is coming up for you next? We hear you’ll be returning to Burn The Floor in 2014…
Hopefully we’ll do the Strictly tour which will be fantastic in January. Then I’ll be in Sydney and japan for about 2 months with Burn The Floor. Burn The Floor is our home and we’ll always go back to it. Then we’re doing a mob flash here in Sadler’s Well for a couple of weeks then we’ll be taking it on tour. We’ll be busy all around. Kevin and I will be headlining that with a couple of other amazing artists. We’re going to be pushing through and really enjoy dancing together, loving every single minute of what our careers are giving us and the opportunities they open up. I’m really looking forward to next year. It’s going to be a fantastic year.
Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday night at 6.30pm on BBC One and BBC One HD. For more information about Karen head over to her website www.karenhauer.com, follow her on Twitter @Karen_Hauer and like her on Facebook www.facebook.com/KarenHauerOfficial