The last time we saw Venezuela-born ballroom dancer Karen Hauer, she was being eliminated from the sixth season of “So You Think You Can Dance.” But in her defeat, the 2008 World Mambo Champion found victory, getting cast alongside fellow SYTYCD alums Anya Garnis, Pasha Kovalev, Robbie Kmetoni and Janette Manrara (not to mention “American Idol” finalist Vonzell Solomon) in the original cast of Burn The Floor.
Now on tour after successful runs on Broadway and London’s West End, the show brings the passion and power of Latin and Ballroom dance styles to the theatrical stage. From the Viennese waltz and the foxtrot to salsa, rumba and pose doble, the dazzling show is like a walk through the history of modern dance.
We recently caught up with Hauer to talk about her life in dance, her time on TV and how Burn The Floor is like nothing audiences have ever seen.
You came to the U.S. from Venezuela at the age of 8. When did you first fall in love with dance?
I always say that dance found me. I was in a school-wide audition for a new dance program called “Arts Connection” in my elementary school in Queens, N.Y., and I was one of the kids they picked. Growing up in a Latin household with all the many parties, I was always the last one on the dance floor, even as a toddler. I had already fallen in love with dancing without even knowing it.
What do you think it was about the art form that attracted you?
Dancing to me is more than just an art form. My family and I went thru a lot of hardships coming from a completely different country and trying to survive on our own. Dance to me was an escape, a savior, a nurturer. It kept me safe. All my sweat, happiness, tears, fears and strength went into it.
You went to the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts. When did you first realize you could actually make a living as a dancer?
Before I got accepted, I made a promise to myself that if I didn’t get accepted to this school that was my first and foremost goal that I had set for myself as a dancer, I would not continue with a dream that was not gonna become reality. I was very hard on myself. Then one day after the auditions, my acceptance letter came. That’s when I knew that this was my dream and nothing would get in my way.
What was your experience like on “So You Think You Can Dance”?
It was an experience that every dancer should go through. I became extremely aware of all my strengths and learned how to not show my weaknesses, staying on my toes and always ready for anything at any time. The show helped my career and opened doors that I’d never imagined. I went straight to Broadway after the show ended, which was a dream come true for me.
What can audiences expect from Burn The Floor, and how is it different from the dance shows they might watch on TV?
Burn The Floor is like nothing you have ever seen. Shows on TV only show the surface of what our art is fully about. Here you have two hours of 20 dancers, two percussionists and two vocalists showing you the real deal. Our show goes beyond the glitter, taking you through a rollercoaster ride full of sensuality, power, beauty and full-on adrenaline. We show you the connection between man and woman, and the different personalities that will have our audiences connecting to each and every one of the dancers. You will leave the theater wanting more … and wanting to go and dance yourself!