When it comes to our favourite partnerships on this series of Strictly Come Dancing Karen Hauer and her celebrity partner Mark Wright are up there at the top.
The couple have been incredibly entertaining and Karen has worked some serious magic on Mark turning him from ‘Marky No Moves’ to ‘Marky Lotsa Moves’. Last week they stole the show with their Superman-themed Paso Doble during Movie Week.
We caught up with Karen to talk Superman, find out how Mark was feeling about his performance and discuss the challenges of the Quickstep.
Last week you and Mark really entertained with your Superman-themed Paso Doble. How do you feel the performance went?
Well it was definitely super! It was intense (laughs) and I felt like I was on a rocket. I seriously think he did a great job. Strictly is about going out there, not being fearful about the dancefloor and giving it your all. It was Movie Week and it was fun. I think he definitely pulled it off. He was a big hero in my eyes.
We loved the start of the routine where you were lying on the floor but it looked like you were hanging off the side of a building. Where did that concept come from?
I came up with the idea of hanging off the building and we had to work out how it was going to come about. Production had a great input into it as well and that’s what came out. It was great. I never thought that just lying on the floor and such cool projections could be so effective.
The judges have various criticisms but they all agreed it was an entertaining routine. How did Mark feel about it?
He absolutely loved it. He was on fire. He was playing Superman and nobody was going to take that away from him. He believed in it and thank god the public believed in it as well.
How on earth are you going to follow up that routine in tonight’s live show?
By doing a Quickstep! (laughs) In the Quickstep It’s less about the gimmicks and more about the dancing. This week he has a full on routine and people will see a different side of Mark. Not the superhero side but the normal and still fun side of Mark.
How is he getting to grips with the routine in training?
It was tough the first two days because there’s a lot of content in the Quickstep so he was a bit frustrated by the timing and then doing it to the music. Once Wednesday kicked in he was on track with it and he felt much better about it. That’s all that matters. It’s always the first two days that are frustrating and scary for them because they’re just getting the grasp of doing a routine they’ve never done before. It’s a new technique so he was a bit overwhelmed in the beginning but he’s doing brilliant now.
Over our conversations so far this series you always say how hard Mark has been working. Does he still have that enthusiasm four weeks in?
Yeah. Every week he’s coming in and working hard. He’s actually focusing even more this time around and it’s like he’s really getting into that competitive Strictly feel. He’s catching on to the steps really quickly and he’s not as slow as he was in the beginning. He’s starting to recognise a lot of steps and recognise a lot of the posture. There’s still a lot to work with but at least he knows what’s right and what’s wrong. His timing is actually improving as well.
Now that he is getting to grips with the dances quicker and feeling more comfortable, does he still get so excited about everything?
He’s already asking me what dance we’re going to be doing next week and I told him that hopefully if we get through it would be something Latin. I was showing him a little bit of other Latin dances. He’s really hungry for it and looking forward to something new. I think he likes the fact that all the dances are connected in one way or another. He enjoys playing different characters and dancing to different music. He loves that!
Has Mark started to show a preference for one of the dance styles yet?
I think he loves them all. I still feel like his Ballroom and his Latin are very strong. With Latin – we’ve done our cha cha and our Paso – I still feel there’s more to give and see from Mark. In his Ballroom he’s doing brilliant so I think he’s enjoying both. I’m really happy with it. We’ll see. Maybe it’ll be something like the Charleston that will be his kryptonite (laughs).
The Charleston would work well for him we would think. The judges say every week that Mark’s enthusiasm and energy gets the better of him. What have you been doing to keep that enthusiasm but hone the technique?
Every day I just have to drill and drill and drill. It’s the little things that matter the most, especially when you get further into the competition, it’s all the small details the judges look for. Even the hand placement, the way you finish your lines and point your foot. I just have to remind him little by little of those important things that will make a difference.
What can you tease about this weekend’s pro dances?
This weekend is a bit more intense. It’s artistic but intense (laughs). I’m going to really enjoy this week’s pro routine because it’s fiery and intense but at the same time beautiful. It’s a great song that we’re dancing to and very well known. I can’t wait for everyone to see it!
Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 6.30pm on BBC One. Watch Karen and Mark’s Paso Doble from last week’s show: