On reflection, when Karen Hardy and husband Conrad Murray decided to start a business together in 2008, in one of the worst economic climates of all time, it makes what they have gone on to achieve with Karen Hardy Studios all the more remarkable. These achievements were celebrated at a festive gathering on December 12th at their exclusive location on Chelsea Harbour. Studio members were joined by KHS teachers, the great and the good of Strictly and many others.
Marketing itself as London’s only luxury Ballroom studio, Karen Hardy Studios has gone on to win numerous local accolades including Hammersmith and Fulham’s Favourite Business 2012 and being honoured and at the Hammersmith and Fulham Brilliant Business Awards. Since it’s opening, over 2,000 members have passed through the studio doors and many more for their highly successful wedding dance packages. Karen confessed that she hadn’t considered her own studio until 2005 when one day backstage at Strictly a certain Gloria Hunniford (also in attendance for the evening) asked where her friends could go to learn to Ballroom dance. Aware that she didn’t want to direct Gloria’s glamorous friends to church halls or school dining rooms she had her epiphany.
Entertainment on this special evening included a performance from the KHS Children’s Academy, and three truly phenomenal displays from recently turned professionals Neil and Katya Jones. The duo began with a dynamic Cha Cha with music shifting tempo and rhythms all over the place that only served to showcase this couple’s incredible musicality. They followed this up with a powerful Rumba and a military themed freestyle routine.
The evening also featured the return of Natalie Lowe, dancing a dreamy American Smooth with Ian Waite for the first time since her foot injury. Other Strictly stars on the guest list included Iveta Lukosuite, Karen Hauer, Zoe Ball, past winner Chris Hollins, not forgetting a fashionably late Kevin Clifton fresh from It Takes Two who, as the evening wore on, was regularly teased by Ms Hardy that with only 48 hours until the semi-final it was definitely past his bed time!
KHS now employs nearly 20 full-time members of staff from receptionists and accountants to tutors and as both Karen and Conrad were eager to explain, the success of the studio is very much a team effort. However this seven day a week commitment has not deterred Karen from wanting to open another studio in the future, she admitted. As Conrad concluded on the night, “you can’t keep a good woman down.”
First published on Dance Today website.