Karen Hauer is showcasing her skills not only as a professional dancer but also as a remarkable teacher on this series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Last week Karen and Mark Wright finished in second place on the leaderboard after wowing the judges with their Jive and scoring 35 out of 40. As the weeks go on they’re getting better and better.
We caught up with Karen to talk about last week’s incredible show, find out how this week’s Waltz is going, and to discuss being on the cusp of making it to Blackpool.
Last weekend’s Jive was incredible! How did you feel about the reaction you got from the judges?
I was completely blown away. Mark is really blossoming every week and he’s taking me by surprise. It’s really a reward to see how much he’s improving. Whenever I see him in the rehearsal room it’s one thing but when I see him performing that way it absolutely brings even more joy. He is so petrified before he goes on to the floor but he takes all of that energy and turns it into a positive and exciting routine. He turns it all around and it’s amazing.
You were second on the leaderboard only two points behind Kevin & Frankie. You’ve had a real progression with Mark this series. How does it feel?
My mouth is still open! We were both like ‘that’s not us, really? We’re up there? It is us!’ It’s unbelievable that we were second on the leaderboard behind Frankie and Kevin. We started at the bottom and climbed to halfway and that’s where we thought we were going to stay. Then all of a sudden we’re up at the top. It’s the most amazing feeling ever. As a professional dancer on Strictly this is the first time I’ve really been on the leaderboard…second on the leaderboard! Really it’s all down to Mark’s amazing progress and our belief that we can turn it around, fight and stay in this competition.
It’s worth tuning in every weekend to see your reactions. You always look more shocked than Mark…
I know! (laughs) Mark had never danced before or done any type of performing. He seems to be just attaching himself and it’s becoming more natural to him. I know he watches Kevin and Aljaz a lot. He loves watching those two boys dance and he’s getting a lot from researching, watching and really paying attention to what the male pros do. I think it’s very important that he looks up to them. He tries to be them when he’s on the dancefloor. The more that he watches the male pros, the more he surprises me even more with his lines and his character. He’s really, really loving dancing and I’m absolutely thrilled. I didn’t expect it from day one.
You’ve done an incredible job with him Karen. You’ve worked hard and you deserve the credit…
(laughs) We work so well together and I sometimes feel that we’ve been dancing forever. It doesn’t feel like a student and teacher relationship because we’re such good mates. I keep forgetting that I’m teaching him and I’m like ‘oh he’s doing that, that well!’ We’re really humbled by the experience already and really happy to be doing well. I love seeing him smile and seeing him accomplish something.
It’s back to Ballroom for you this weekend isn’t it?
Yes! We are doing a Waltz to Barry Manilow’s Weekend in New England. It’s a very beautiful song and a very beautiful story. I love the Waltz. It’s romantic and soft. Mark’s afraid of the slow dances because he’s a very energetic and athletic person. I think the Waltz is going to show a different side to Mark, his abilities and his progress in the competition. He has a great top line, which we’ve worked on really hard. He’s afraid of the Waltz but hopefully tomorrow he’ll embrace it even more. He’s really excited about wearing tails but I think he’ll embrace it even more and relax into it.
Mark has really proven himself in the Latin dances. If he nails the Waltz this weekend we think it could be the making of him on the show…
Every weekend it’s been a surprise. Hopefully it goes all right. We never know what to expect. As long as he stays focused, breathes and relaxes into his movements everything should be ok. Every week we’ve been getting surprises from the judges and getting really great comments. We take everything on and practice it back in the studio. Let’s hope that this is another great week for us and we make it through to Blackpool.
How much would it mean for you and Mark to make it to Blackpool?
He first wanted to make it to Halloween but the big, big benchmark is Blackpool. He would be absolutely thrilled and over the moon to at least make it to Blackpool. For him being a non-dancer it would mean the world.
We’re confident you can do it.
I’m crossing everything!
What can you tease about this weekend’s pro dances?
It’s Rememberance Week so it’s in memory of all of the soldiers. It’s a lovely, fun routine and all the girls are waiting around for our men to come back from war and we’re reading the love letters they’ve sent us. It’s a really cool Jive-Charleston type dance. It’s fantastic and I really enjoying doing it.
Strictly Come Dancing 2014 continues at 6.30pm tonight on BBC One. Watch Karen and Mark’s Jive from week 6 of the competition: