Co-owner of DancePro Agency, Karen, talks about how she got into dance and her professional career.
I started being interested in dancing from an early age when I would go to watch my older sisters dance and at 18 months old, I remember mimicking the choreography and joining in at the side of the hall. Finally when I reached the age of 2 I started classes in ballet and tap. I knew from a young age that dancing and performing was all I wanted to do. Choreography competitions, carnivals, exams end of year productions was the highlight of my early years at my dancing school and I took part in them all. I moved to another dancing school at the age of 9 where I took part in festivals, winning many medals as a soloist, duets and groups. I was really lucky to perform professionally in Pantomime from a young age, which was fantastic. I just love a chessy Pantomime……………oh yes i do!
Reaching teenage years your dance career goes one of two ways. You either give up and want to hang with your friends or you keep turning up week after week, which I did. My love for dance never wore thin, if anything it got stronger. I was asked to help with the babies which I loved and couldn’t get enough of. Knowing that dance was the career path I wanted to pursue I furthered my dance education at Harrison College of Dance and Drama known now as Margaret Howard Theatre schools; where I was awarded a scholarship.
My college years were the best 3 years of my educational life. Dancing 8.30-6pm everyday was the life! I made some wonderful friendships that are still going strong today. It wasn’t easy by no means. The aches and pains, emotionally drained, feeling you weren’t good enough. The passion grew more and more, which is down to all my teachers. They believed in me when I thought I couldn’t do anymore, they were and still are so inspirational to me. All I wanted was to be the best just like them, and still do.
I gained all grades of ISTD exams from Elementary to Advanced in Ballet, Tap, Modern and National, along with my ISTD Associates in Ballet, Tap, Modern and National
In my 3rd year at college I started to teach at local dancing schools getting children ready for their exams and choreographing for end of year shows.
Performing myself was always a highlight from a young age and even more so in our college end of year shows. My 3rd year show was my favourite as it was all Musicals- my dream.
After graduating, I performed on Carnival Cruise Lines for 3 years as Dancer and was given the role of being a magician’s assistant alongside the shows, which was fun, got to learn lots of secrets. We would put on 4 shows every 3 days and in between we would host dance classes for the guests as well as daily activities. After Carnival I worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines Where I was Dance Captain. It was challenging at times, especially if we had to re block a number due to illness in a couple of hours, but it always worked out and we put on a good show. I then went to work with Thomson Gold, in Rhodes. The shows we performed were in a hotel where once again I was Dance Captain. Not only did we perform 4 shows a week, we got to put on our own shows choreographed by the team. It was always fun choreographing as I had a great team helping out. My favourite was our ‘Steps’ tribute. Got to love ‘Steps’. I then went back to work for Norweigan cruising to Alaska as a Dancer. The shows were wonderful and loved every minute of it, knowing that it would be my last contract as I wanted to settle down.
Which I did. I now have two children who keep me busy with all their activities. Although I am married and have our children my love for dance was still there. I taught fitness for a good 7 years which was wonderful as I taught celebrities including Amanda Holden, Laura Whitmore, Bonnie Langford, Gillian Wright. One fitness programme I do still teach is Fitsteps. Natalie Lowe, Ian Waite and Mark Foster put the programme together. It’s a Latin and Ballroom fitness workout without a partner. I am very fortunate to currently be a Fitness presenter for Fitsteps, alongside Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe.
I currently have returned to the Dance industry teaching children and adults Dance in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Musical Theatre, Flex and Stretch, and I am enjoying it tremendously.
I teach at 3 local Dancing Schools in Hertfordshire, and the joy it gives me seeing children prepare for exams and getting there well earned results is so rewarding. The hours that go into prepare one 45 minute class is ongoing but the results are worth so much more.
Launching a talent agency has always been a dream of mine. Thanks to my Business partner Gill Grueber we are both making DancePro Agency become a reality. Between us we have endless amounts of experience and are determined to succeed.