Karen studied ballet at Carol Oliver’s School of Ballet in Ballarat from ages six to nine (1976–79). Her childhood and teen years were filled with athletics, gymnastics, diving and dancing at any opportunity.
In 1987 at age 17, she was diagnosed with bone cancer and had her right leg amputated above the knee. Karen’s deepest grief was her loss of dance. Her body still responded to music, but she buried her desire for dance for the next 20 years.
In 2002 she began to explore movement at creative improvisation dance classes at Kumbada Studios, Kalorama, Melbourne. Several years later she joined Ruccis Circus in Melbourne attending aerial workshops on the trapeze, cloud swing, the rope and tissue.
In 2012 she joined Weave Movement Theatre, a mixed-ability performance group based in Melbourne. She was involved in the creative development with street theatre group ‘Born in a Taxi’ and was part of the production that arose out of this collaboration, called One Lump or Two. Karen continued with Weave in 2013 and performed in Flock, which was part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
2014 provided creative development work with Kat Worth, and intensive training workshops with Olivia Millard, Michelle Heaven, Michelle Ryan, Yumi Umiumare and Caroline Bowditch.