Karen Hardy

Karen HardyKaren is an international dancer, choreographer, coach and lecturer, best known for her appearances on Strictly Come Dancing. She began dance lessons when she was just five years old and now stands as the former World Masters, United Kingdom, International and British National Champion of Latin American dance. Coming out of seven-year retirement from competitions to begin her Strictly Come Dancing journey in 2005, it didn't take long for Karen to lift the glitterball trophy after winning the series in 2006 with cricketer Mark Ramprakash.

Karen is extremely experienced in presenting live events both as Master of Ceremonies and as a commentator.  As well as regular appearances on the BBC beyond her Strictly work, she is also host of the prestigious International Dance Competition at the Royal Albert Hall and she is currently recording a new series for Living TV, as well as running her dance studio in Chelsea.

Aged just nine, Karen was diagnosed with an aggressive disease called mastoid cholesteatoma. A growth in the middle ear, it can cause dizziness, hearing loss and facial paralysis.

'Each time I became ill, I was told I couldn't dance again because my illness would affect my balance. What they didn't understand was that dancing was a place I could hide. While I danced, the doctors couldn't get me. When you dance, you can dream that you can hear, dream you are dancing in front of millions of fans. You can be anything you want.'

Karen presented the Sense Awards 2013 in London.

First published: Thursday 11 July 2013
Updated: Thursday 15 October 2015