AFTER divorcing Strictly Come Dancing co-star Kevin Clifton two years ago, Karen Hauer has vowed never to date a dancer again.
In fact, the 39-year-old Venezuelan beauty wants her next partner to be the opposite of her ex-husband — preferably a man with blond hair and tattoos who “knows what he wants”.
Karen and Kevin broke up after three years of marriage. They had both been married to dancers before, Karen to American Matthew Hauer and Kevin to Russian Anna Melnikova then Brit Clare Craze.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, Karen says: “I’m not dating any more dancers, absolutely not, no way. I married two of them already. I think I’m done in that area now, I’m moving on.
“My ideal man would have blond hair, blue eyes, tattoos and a good body, pretty much the opposite to my exes. You always want to go the complete opposite.
“They definitely need to work out. They need to know themselves, be nice and know what they want, because I know myself now.”
Karen inspired thousands of fans to get fit during lockdown with her YouTube workout videos, which would sometimes feature her then boyfriend, opera singer David Webb. They split in September last year and Karen is again looking for love, but she has ruled out dating apps.
She says: “I couldn’t use one of those. They just feel weird, I don’t like the swiping.
‘I WASN’T GETTING THE ATTENTION I WANTED’
“A lot of people like it but it’s just not for me. I would like to meet someone naturally.
“Having some alone time is good, but I love being in love and being in a relationship. Obviously I’ve been married twice already. But being confident on your own is great to build yourself up.
“I don’t have expectations, I have standards now. It’s OK to have time for yourself and to find out what you want.”
Asked if she is dating anyone, Karen teases: “I’m hanging out.”
She revealed this year that she had split from 38-year-old Kevin over the lack of attention he paid her during filming of the BBC1 show.
She says: “The job was intense, everything was intense. I was really jealous, but jealous because I wasn’t getting the attention I wanted from my husband.”
Kevin is now in a relationship with presenter Stacey Dooley, who he won Strictly with in 2018. Karen has since been on tour with 34-year-old Stacey, and says she “loves her to bits”.
She is philosophical about the end of her marriage to Kevin, though she did insist on getting full custody of Betty, the dog they shared while married.
She says: “Kevin has moved on. I see Betty as my dog now. Kevin and I have always had a great relationship. We’re friends, I wish him the best.
“Him and Stacey are a beautiful couple, I hope they have a wonderful life together.”
The job was intense. I was really jealous because I wasn’t getting the attention I wanted from my husband
Karen has starred in Strictly since 2012, and is grateful to the show for giving her focus, even when life threw her a curveball.
She says: “Strictly has been there for me in many ways. It’s amazing when you have something positive to get you through.
“Break-ups are part of life and evolution. They’re sad times, but if you have something fun to lift your spirits and throw yourself into, then it’s great. Strictly has been there for me through the good and bad. That’s why I love everything about it.”
In 2019’s series Karen partnered with comedian Chris Ramsey, and recalls how he had to endure the most dance-offs on the show.
She says: “It’s challenging being in so many dance-offs for a celebrity because it makes them feel like they are not doing a good job.
“But in reality I feel it takes more guts to be in a dance-off and come back week after week and keep trying your best and giving it your all.
“Chris dealt with that well, and he was so funny. I’d literally just look at him and I’d laugh. We had such great banter, but also he was so carefree about his dancing.
“And that’s why people loved him so much and laughed with him, as he didn’t take himself seriously and was just having a good time.”
In last year’s Strictly Karen and Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing came second — the closest she has got to winning the glitterball trophy.
But Karen insists she is not desperate to get her hands on the prize. She says: “Every year is a win when I’m invited back on to the show, and I’m so grateful to have a job. Dancing with Jamie last year was fun. We were both so happy to be working during the pandemic.”
The show made history in its most recent series with its first same-sex pairing, pro dancer Katya Jones and boxer Nicola Adams.
Karen says: “Same-sex partnerships should be done every year. For us dancers we always see same-sex couples in real life, so to be able to bring it on to television at that level is fantastic.
“I’d definitely be up for doing it myself. I’ve danced with women a lot over the years, so I feel very comfortable. All the dancers would love to see it on the show.”
Karen, who has been dancing since she was eight, has never felt pressure to conform. She says: “Sometimes society can almost encourage you to identify or look a certain way, whether it’s to have long hair, a skinny body or big breasts.
“But it’s important to look in the mirror and remember there is only one of you and learn to love yourself the way you are. It’s been instilled in me since I was a kid to like myself. We’re all unique.
“I’d be the wrong candidate for Botox, I can’t even look at a needle as I’m so afraid of injections. But I think it’s part of our industry that people get all these procedures done, it’s become the norm.
“For me, ageing is beautiful. I like to do facial massages and things that are good for my health without having to inject anything in my face or anywhere else. It’s important to recognise you have a choice, but if it gives you a boost in your confidence, then you should go for it.”
Karen’s own confidence is perhaps reflected in her hairstyle, which has gone through a bold and dramatic transformation.
Gone are her long dark locks and in their place is a short blonde crop.
She says: “My hair reflects a self-discovery journey. For me it’s about evolving. I feel more empowered, I’m older, wiser and more experienced, although I’m not saggy.
“The more confident I feel, the less I have to hide, and I don’t feel I have to hide behind my hair any more.
“I had a mohawk once. For me it was about challenging myself and giving me a new chapter in my life.”
Karen is used to new chapters. When she was eight she and her mum Mirian and two siblings moved from Venezuela to live in the Bronx, one of New York’s poorest neighbourhoods. She struggled to learn English and was placed in dance classes for children lacking confidence.
Two years later, aged ten, Karen won a scholarship to a top dance school. She specialised in ballroom and Latin and later toured the world.
In 2009 she auditioned for US TV show So You Think You Can Dance? with first husband and dance partner Matthew. Shortly afterwards they split up and Karen was introduced to Kevin, her co-star on Burn The Floor, a touring dance theatre show.
He was married to second wife Clare at the time but they split once the tour ended and he began a relationship with Karen. In 2012 she signed up for Strictly, and a year later Kevin joined the line-up too.
Karen credits her mum for instilling confidence in her. She says: “She texts me every single day, I’m pretty close to her.
“I haven’t seen her in two years so I’m looking forward to seeing her soon. I’ve always been a free bird.
“My brother and sister are both married with kids, but I’m the artist of the family. I’ll probably end up on a farm with 17 dogs.”
For now she is gearing up to perform again, while she has also become the face of Bon Prix’s new fashion campaign.
She says: “We shot the pictures in Essex and made it look like it was the Caribbean. The range is super affordable and fun.”
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Karen is currently mostly focused on rehearsals for the Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals tour, beginning on June 26 in Manchester.
She says: “I love touring. I’m so excited to be going around England and seeing the fans.
“That is something I definitely missed. It’s so much fun. We’re dancing at the highest level, it’s exhausting but amazing.”