Karen Hauer and Mark Wright are continuing to surprise the judges and viewers every week on Strictly Come Dancing.
The Strictly pro has turned the TV/radio personality into a serious contender and last weekend’s Tango proved that he can do mean and moody as well as he can do smiley and happy. This weekend we reach the last week before we enter the final stages of the competition with the quarter-finals looming.
We caught up with Karen to talk about last weekend’s Tango, find out what we can expect from tomorrow’s Salsa, and to discuss what it would mean for her and Mark to reach the quarter-finals.
You and Mark performed the Tango at the weekend and you got great comments and scores from the judges. How did you feel about the performance?
I was actually really nervous going into the Tango. You never know what the judges are going to think. I thought that Mark had a really strong character and it was different from what you’ve seen in the past from Mark. I feel like his character as a dancer is really developing. He actually really stuns me every time we go onto that dancefloor and perform. He really brings his game up. I was really happy.
I don’t like to get too excited about the dances beforehand so I tend to tone it down. I don’t like to be surprised and think ‘oh this dance is amazing’ and then be shut down by the judges. I like to stay a bit more reserved with what I think about the dances. Mark absolutely blew me away and I don’t think people expected that from him. The competition is really intense and he’s bringing his game even more.
Craig Revel Horwood delivered my favourite comment of the series so far when he said Mark ‘jumped on you like a dog with rabies’. Where does he get those lines from?
(laughs) I wish I knew where they came up with their lines. Mark was really into this dance and that’s what I love about it. He gets lost in the character and really interprets what he’s trying to do. The Tango is a fierce, controlled dance but at the same time the animal in him will come out and I love that. You have to give 100%. If you’re not going to give 100% then don’t give anything. Mark always gives 100% in everything.
He’s really determined and he’s really into each step. That defines a good character in a good dancer as well. You not only have to dance everything but you have to interpret the dance as well. What I love the most about Mark is that he knows how to interpret each dance. I don’t know where he’s getting it from because he’s never danced before. He’s really doing a good job I feel.
Part of the joy of Strictly this year is just watching the reactions from you and Mark when you get your comments, your scores and make it through to the next week. You’re always so shocked…
I don’t know why we feel like we don’t deserve good comments. Maybe it’s because he’s the least experienced so it always comes as a shock to us. The judges are so positive. We are working really hard and he wants to do well. It really means a lot to him especially against the celebs he’s against. It does come as a shock to us but it feels amazing to hear good comments. I felt that our scores were pretty solid and four 8s is really solid for a Tango. I didn’t know what to expect and we go into each week not knowing what to expect and we try to deliver the best performance we can possibly give.
This weekend it’s Around The World on Strictly. You and Mark are doing a Las Vegas themed Salsa. What can we expect?
It’s a very interesting set-up for Around The World because everyone’s doing dances but they don’t actually match the countries. It’s a fun dance. I would never have thought of doing a Salsa in Las Vegas but it works. It’s very Vegassy and it’s what you’d expect from Vegas. I’m definitely going to be a showgirl. Whenever we’re doing a Latin dance I always imagine Mark as John Travolta. It’s one of those where he’s very cool and he’s in the party mode. We’re just going to go out there and give everything. I feel like this week is one of those weeks where we need to leave everything on that dancefloor. We want to give the fans every little part of us. It’s going to be a very exciting. Hopefully we can pull it off, do a great dance and stay in the competition.
We would expect that Mark would be in his element with a Salsa. Has he been getting to grips with it in training?
Yeah! He’s really enjoying it and it is his comfort zone but at the same time it needs to be technical and he’s doing things he’s never done before. Every dance is a surprise for us because he’s learning new things. We’re doing lifts in this and the body rhythm is completely different to anything he’s done before. He has to stay on his timing and keep the characteristics of a Salsa. It all comes together at the end but we’re always wary of what could happen on Saturday. He’s giving absolutely everything he has because it would really mean a lot to us to make the Quarter finals. We’re just itching to get there so we’ll see. It’s a party dance and he’s going to give it everything; the shimmies, the hips, footwork, lifts…
The leaderboard is so close this year with only a few points separating the top from the bottom. Do you think this weekend that making even a small mistake could put you in the bottom two?
I think that it’s all in the performance and what you give. It’s all about the recovery and what you do if that little misstep happens. I don’t think that if you make a mistake it ends your chances in the competition. I think that if you make a mistake, you have to not show that you’ve made a mistake. When we practise I make sure that if Mark makes a mistake he doesn’t show me and I don’t know about it. I just want him to continue performing and we practise that a lot. I want him to make mistakes so he knows how to recover from them. Anything can happen and it is a tight competition. At the same time it’s about what the fans want.
Everybody make mistakes. I make mistakes during my pro dances but it’s all about the recovery. It’s all about what the fans want and if they want us in then they’ll hopefully keep voting. We don’t want to go anywhere.
As you mentioned before the quarter-finals are only a week away. How much do you need your fans to get behind you to get you to that quarter-final this weekend?
The Mark and Karen army definitely need to unite even more. They’ve been supportive already but we never thought we’d make it this far. It really does mean a lot to us to stay in the competition. The love that we receive on Twitter and Facebook is amazing. As long as they keep supporting us and keep voting for us, we’ll try to deliver the best dances and entertainment we can every Saturday! We’re almost there!
Strictly Come Dancing 2014 continues at 7pm tomorrow on BBC One. Watch Karen and Mark’s Tango from last week: