Happy Karen's a ball of joy on the dancefloor
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2016 marks Karen’s fifth year as a Strictly senorita, and having never lifted the trophy, she’s determined to dance her way to the win.
The Paso allows you to be a strong powerful woman, while the Rumba expresses femininity.Karen Clifton
Her first stint on the dancefloor was in 2012 alongside Westlife’s Nicky Byrne, making it to an impressive week 10. The following year, she partnered Hairy Biker Dave Myers, who surprisingly, taught our pro a few things: “He certainly had some moves I’d never seen and he inspired me.”
In 2013, Karen’s then fiancé and now husband, Kevin Clifton, joined the Strictly family. Although they are both keen to get their hands on the grand prize, Karen insists there is no rivalry: “There’s no competition, but whoever gets voted off first has to do all the Christmas shopping!”
For her third Strictly experience in 2014, she was joined by Essex boy Mark Wright. The pair made it all the way to the final, landing in fourth place overall. In 2015, Karen partnered broadcaster Jeremy Vine and the popular pairing bowed out in week eight of the series.
Karen was born in Valencia, Venezuela, and took up dancing after moving to New York when she was eight years old. Two years later she won a scholarship to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. She studied African, contemporary and ballet before moving on to ballroom and Latin at 19.
As a dancer and choreographer, Karen has worked with some of the biggest stars in the world, including Jennifer Lopez. She has won numerous ballroom awards including World Mambo Champion in 2008 and Professional American Rhythm Rising Star Champion in 2009, and starred as a principal dancer in the hit show Burn the Floor.
Karen is married to fellow professional dancer, Kevin Clifton. He proposed to her on stage at a performance of Burn the Floor on her birthday. The dancing duo tied the knot in July 2015.
In her spare time, Karen loves cooking and baking, and her favourite things to make are Pavlovas and Victoria sponge cakes.