Strictly Come Dancing star Karen Hauer has teamed up with fellow pro Gorka Marquez to put together a spectacular show, Firedance, which is touring to Sheffield.
The aptly named show, which will be staged at Sheffield City Hall on March 12, will see the Latin sensations perform sizzling authentic routines from their homelands of Venezuela and Spain, including Argentine Tango, flamenco, contemporary, Paso Doble, samba and salsa.
We caught up with Karen and Gorka to find out more.
Q: It must be special to bring to the stage these interpretations of dances from your heritage?
Karen: “I love the fact that we’ve managed to have time to come up with such a great concept of dancing from our backgrounds. Gorka is from Spain and I’m from Venezuela so we have all this passionate dancing in our blood, what we’ve grown up with really. All these incredible fiery dances that people really love and connect with. It’s about the dances that really demonstrate that passion that people have towards one another and that really connect to us and that chemistry we have. It’s quite electrifying for us and we have been able to bring in new ideas and fresh choreography.”
Gorka: “Yeah, I think it has helped that we have a shared heritage. We have a lot of common interests and loves. So it was very easy when it came to find out the way that we wanted to put the show on. We both understand dancing the same way. We come up with the same ideas, the same looks, and the same vision.
For the British public and because of the shows that they have seen it was more about the glam whereas we have chosen to bring
passion and fire.
Q: You and Gorka seem to have really struck up an amazing partnership – have there been flare-ups with two fiery Latin tempers on show?
Karen: “Not at all, actually, because I guess we both respect each other so much. We’re very temperamental, yes. We know that we’re both fiery, yeah, but I guess the fact that we know that about each other means it doesn’t need to come out, it doesn’t clash, it means we can work together. We’re so invested in what we’re doing. From the music to the costumes, to every single little detail that’s going to be on that stage has come from Gorka and myself. It’s always a plus that you get to put out there what you really want to put out there. I love working with Gorka. He’s such a lovely man and a beautiful dancer who I really look up to.”
Gorka: “As soon as Karen and I started dancing together we were like - wow, this is fun. I remember when we met for our first shows. We had to do five numbers and we had them like, in two hours. It was like we were able to see in each other’s brains at the same time. I was gonna say something but she was already doing it. So it’s easy to work with someone like that and it’s enjoyable. We think the same; we see the dance the same way. From the very start it was very, very good and it’s very easy when it’s like that, it makes everything more fun.”
Q: What makes this tour so special - is it because it’s so authentic and so personal to you both?
Karen: “What I love is that we’re focusing on certain dances. Because sometimes, if there’s too many things, then it can kind of bleed too much, it can just get a little bit fluffy but we wanted to focus on those fiery dances. Those dances that kind of get people emotionally and let people know that we really want to show that power, that strength but also the beauty that all of the dancers have within them. We’ve narrowed it down to some specific dances because people really love watching the tango or whatever, because they are dances that are really meaningful and that really kind of connect with people and have that power behind them. So we thought let’s connect to those dances.”
Gorka: “I always wanted to do this. I wanted to do something different. Karen and I have been dancing and doing shows for the last year together and we felt like we were locked in. We have a very good partnership. We want to take on what people have seen and show them it can be even better. There are so many shows right now that we wanted to create something different. I think that it’s very good that both of us are Latin, we share that kind of mentality and point of view of what we want to show and be more passionate, more fiery, with strength. It’s all about passion. Not like classic sparkly ballroom, even the outfits, it’s more street fashion with a Latin feel. Less sequins and more fire.”
Q: The tour Firedance come to theatres all over the UK and you’ll have an amazing live band with you on the stage?
Karen: “We have a beautiful band. We have a couple of strings, drums, guitars; brass, specific instruments that really pull you into the dance and that are going to give that power. And also very beautiful singers. They’re going to be singing in different languages as well, Spanish and English. We wanted a really strong but small band that can connect with the audience and connect with us while
we’re on stage. There’s nothing like dancing to a band on stage when you feel that drama, there in your stomach, you feel those strings in your heart. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Gorka: “I think having a band on the tour gives it all more punch, makes you feel more involved with the show and gives us more opportunities to play because if you have a track, you know where the music is, but if you have a live band, even if it is the same it will never be the same every night. That gives you that extra space to improvise and make the show different every night. If someone comes to see us twice it will be different each time.”
Q: Karen, what is your amazing story about going from Venezuela to New York and the Fame School?
“I was born in Venezuela and I pretty much grew up with salsa dancing, music playing in the background every morning. My family had a lot of parties there would be 20 people in the living room dancing, there’s always a celebration in a Latin house. Funny enough, when I got to New York, things changed a bit for me. I started doing more classical dancing but I still love the drums. I definitely had to grow up really quickly when I got to New York, especially when you go into these dance companies The Fame School. You have to be on your game and you have to know where you’re going and what you want the focus and discipline behind it, because everybody wants what you want. I love to learn, I was like a little sponge.
Q: Gorka, does this sound similar to your own thoughts on competition and doing your own show?
“I’d like I think you feel like a rock band or singer when they create a song and they get to perform in front of thousands of people. For us as ballroom dancers first of all, we never imagined it. We end up being on the biggest TV show in the world. And then because of that we get the chance to create our own show and not just be part of the biggest show, we’ve also created our own show. When I used to dance when I was young I used to compete. And I always say I loved it but I’m not really like a competitive person. I used to never get stress because I was able to dance and share my emotions, my feelings, how I interpret a dance and I want to share with everyone. That’s what his show is about. We are not being judged. We are not being criticised just sharing how we see a song, and what we want to communicate, and maybe people enjoy that. So that’s what we want to do.
I started when I was young, I was 11. Which is not as young as for some kids, like six, seven. Like I said my background was ballroom competition. And then I joined a dance company when I still competing, I had to get all my knowledge just as like a performer, in theatres, I’d never seen anything like that. And then pretty much a very quick shift from competition to shows, and then I ended up doing Strictly and that brings me to this with Karen.”
Q: Karen, you moved to the UK when you got the job on Strictly - is that how you met?
“Even to this day I have to pinch myself. Now that I’m in a completely different country and in the best TV show and then I’m going on my own tour with Gorka, I can’t actually believe this is happening. When I got the call for Strictly I fell on my knees and I cried, I hadn’t worked for four months and was living on my savings.
None of the dancers that were there then are there now except Anton and myself. He’s the longest running male and I’m the longest running female. I’ve been in it for eight years. It is incredible and a joy to be around. I’m gonna be there until they drag me out. I still can do at least another five to seven years.
Gorka and I first met on Strictly, I saw that he loved salsa and he loves the flamenco and those are the dances and I loved as well. But we actually only started dancing together this year. We just clicked; this is the best partnership ever. We get along so well. We choreograph together so well too. We both said I think we should take advantage of this and do something more and see what happened. And all of a sudden Firedance was born.”
Q: Gorka, how far do you want to take this?
“I would love to go international with this. I would love to be able to go back to Spain and do this show. All my family are there but the biggest things I have done have been in the UK so to show over there, even for a night or two nights, to my family and friends what I have done would be incredible.”
Tickets to see Firedance at Sheffield City Hall are priced from £41.06. To book, go to www.myticket.seetickets.com