Karen Hauer and Mark Wright have really found their feet the past few weeks on Strictly and they’re emerging as one of the strongest couples still in the competition.
Last weekend Mark proved that he can tackle Ballroom as well as he can Latin and the couple ended up joint fourth on the leaderboard. This weekend all the couples are heading to Blackpool to dance in the iconic Tower Ballroom.
We caught up with Karen to talk about last week’s performance, find out what’s coming up this weekend and to discuss what it means to get to Blackpool.
Your Waltz last week went really well. Were you happy with it?
Yeah! I was really, really happy that we actually pulled it off. It was really lovely actually and it came together really well. I really enjoyed dancing it with Mark and I thought he did brilliant. He actually embraced it more than I expected.
You came joint fourth on the leaderboard. That must be a boost for him at this stage in the competition to be getting such high score?
Yes definitely. Especially after doing the American Smooth Foxtrot he wasn’t a fan of the slow dances. With the Waltz it’s scary in the beginning but once we hit that dancefloor at Elstree with the costumes, the lights and the live music everything just came together. It was really nice to keep our scores in the 30s and it’s a nice boost. It’s a real boost for our confidence.
This weekend you’ll be dancing the Charleston at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom. What can we expect?
It’s actually been a pretty intense week for us; one of the most intense weeks that we’ve had. We just want to get it right for Blackpool. It’s our first time there and we really just want to make a great impression. It’s the main ballroom where the best perform. We had a really intense week. The first couple of days we struggled with the choreography and making sure it wasn’t too hard. We finally got it all together! It was a bit of a struggle but we got there in the end.
What would you say is the most difficult thing to get to grips with when it comes to the Charleston?
At first it was the swivel action, the thing the judges are looking for typically, we struggled with that and the lifts. We haven’t really done daring lifts. He’s not a natural dancer so the only time we’ve done lifts they’ve been easy lifts like in the American Smooth. The lifts we’re doing now are a bit more intense so it’s about getting more trust between us, being more daring and more outgoing with our choreography. I’ve been really, really pushing him this week. It got a bit too intense but Mark is very strong and he’s fighting because he wants it really bad. We’ve managed to get a few tricks in there that I didn’t think we’d be able to.
Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom is the perfect place to be doing the Charleston. Are you excited that you’re doing that dance there this weekend?
It’s a great dance. It’s one of my favourites of all time. I absolutely love the fact that it’s very quirky and there’s no specific technique. It’s a bit more loose and rounded. Of course there are parts that are more technical like the swivel but as a whole it’s a very fun dance. It’s very driven by character.
As we mentioned before Blackpool is such a renowned place for Ballroom. Does that put more pressure on Mark and the other celebrities?
Yes. It’s the pressure to perform and bring you’re A game. Everyone is feeling the pressure but at the same time we have to remember that everyone is on our side in that ballroom. Everyone wants to have a good time and see what we come up. Everybody wants to entertain and everybody wants to be entertained. There’s pressure but everybody is so excited to finally get there because we’ve been talking about it for so long. Now that we’re actually getting the chance to go and do it there’s no holding back now.
Last year’s group dance in Blackpool was one of the show’s most spectacular yet. What can we expect this weekend?
This year it’s going to be even more spectacular. I don’t want to say much but it’s going to be like a dream. It’s going to be very enjoyable.
We say this to you every week but we don’t know how the pro and group dances can get any better?
Strictly keeps topping itself every year. I’m even more astounded. It’s going to be a beautiful dance to watch.
Blackpool is the milestone for most of the couples in the competition. Now that you’ve made it to Blackpool and with the scores you’ve been getting have you started to think further ahead in the competition yet?
That we made it to Blackpool is really amazing to us because Mark is a complete beginner in this competition and he’s fought against some really strong dancers. His abilities have got him through and his want and need to be better so we’ll see. Every week we get after Blackpool is going to be amazing. It would be a dream if we could make it to the end.
Strictly Come Dancing 2014 continues at 7pm tomorrow night on BBC One. Watch Karen and Mark’s Waltz from last week: