Karen Hardy has not ruled out a return to Strictly Come Dancing. The professional dancer, who disappointed viewers when it was revealed she wasn't appearing on the current series of It Takes Two, said she is simply taking some "time out" from the show, but is missing her "partner in crime", Zoe Ball.
"First off, I have not left the show – I like to say that I will not be a stranger to the show. It is just that with everything that I have on in my life I just needed to take some time out," Karen told HELLO! Online. "I have been involved with Strictly for 12 years; I travel internationally; I am a doting mum of two and, of course, I am incredibly busy running my private member's dance club in Chelsea. To be honest, my absolute love of dance is shared – everyone knows how much I love it. But at this time of my life, whilst my youngest son is only two years old, sadly I just needed some breathing space. I definitely am not a stranger, I love the show so much."
Karen Hardy was a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing from 2005-2009
In particular, Karen misses Zoe Ball, who hosts the Strictly spin-off series It Takes Two. "I desperately miss it. I thoroughly miss Zoe – she was my partner in crime. I couldn't wait to sit there and hear what she was going to ask me. But I also miss everyone behind the scenes – it's literally like a family!" Karen confided. "I mean, the amount of times I walked on set pregnant – the team on set and behind the scenes cared so much. It's always good to big up the team behind the show – at the end of the day it is their ideas that create the magic. I may sit there and share my knowledge – but it's those guys who make me want to look and feel a million dollars, they inspire me."
However the professional dancer, who starred on Strictly from 2005-2009, is still an avid viewer. "It's phenomenal – it's a very glamorous year. They have chosen an array of celebrities that are very passionate and glamorous and love what they look like and love how they move and love their own presence, in a good way. This year already we have had some of the most glamorous performances," Karen said.
Karen runs her own dance studios in London
Aside from Strictly, Karen is focusing on teaching budding dancers at her studio, Karen Hardy Dance Studios, which she opened almost ten years ago. "We are a private members' club that is designed for those who have very busy lives, who travel internationally, who can't commit to weekly classes, that won't go to big classes or go to the studios like Pineapple as they feel inferior," Karen explained.
"I remember I was on set one day with Gloria Hunniford and she asked me where I'd recommend she continue dancing after the show with her friends. I knew I couldn't suggest the spit and sawdust studios that we used to dance in when I was growing up, so I remember saying to my husband that night – 'let's start up the first 5* dance studio'. There's 5* restaurants, 5* hotels, 5* spas – why can't there be a 5* dance studio. We found the location – the waterfront of Chelsea, put in a champagne bar and £30,000 dance floor and brought in top qualified dancers."
Karen added: "I compare my dance studio to a Michelin-star restaurant. Hopefully people see me as the Michelin-star chef, and then I am supported by the most amazing team of qualified teachers, and award-winners in their own right, that teach our members on the dancefloor."
For more information and to book a lesson visit karenhardystudios.com.