Venezuelan dancer Karen Hauer joins Strictly

A Venezuelan mambo champion is set to join Strictly Come Dancing as its newest professional dancer when the series returns in the autumn.

Karen Hauer will replace Canadian dancer Katya Virshilas, who was axed from the show last week in a series shake-up.

And the 30-year-old said she couldn’t wait to get started on the show.

“If I could dance how I feel about joining Strictly then you’d be able to see how excited I am!” she said.

Karen, who found fame in the US on So You Think You Can Dance, has won numerous awards – including being crowned World Mambo Champion in 2008 – and has worked with celebrities including Jennifer Lopez.

The BBC’s head of light entertainment Katie Taylor said they were delighted to have her on board.

“We welcome Karen to our Strictly family,” she said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have such a fresh and talented professional join us and I can’t wait to see what she will bring to the ballroom this autumn.”

Karen is the only new dancer to be joining the line-up of professionals for the next series, with old favourites Brendan Cole, Vincent Simone, Anton du Beke and Artem Chigvintsev all set to return.

James Jordan and Ola Jordan will also be back on the show, despite rumours that they would be axed – while 2011’s professional champion Aliona Vilani, who danced to victory with Harry Judd, will also return along with last year’s newcomer Pasha Kovalev, who finished runner-up with Chelsee Healey

Dancers Erin Boag, Natalie Lowe, Kristina Rihanoff, Flavia Cacace and Robin Windsor will complete the line-up of professionals.

The series will return in the autumn with dancer Darcey Bussell replacing Alesha Dixon on the judging panel.

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