Karen was born in Johannesburg and matriculated at the Johannesburg High School for Art, Ballet & Music in 1982 under Jose Pretorius. She trained privately with Wilcarina van Niekerk from the age of 6 and achieved the RAD Advanced qualification in1982. During this year she also attained the Spanish Dance Society Advanced and the ISTD Greek Intermediate.
She entered the UCT Ballet School in 1983 under the directorship of Professor David Poole and completed the Diploma course in 1984 with Phyllis Spira – Prima Ballerina Assoluta as her third-year mentor and coach. In this year she also achieved the ISTD National Intermediate.
Karen was accepted into the CAPAB Ballet Company (now Cape Town City Ballet) under the directorship of Prof. David Poole and later Veronica Paeper from 1986 until July of 1991. In September of this year she gave birth to a daughter, Emma.
In 1994 Karen obtained her ISTD Cecchetti Advanced with Honours and the ISTD Cecchetti Associate. In 1999 she obtained the ISTD Cecchetti Licentiate and in 2000 the Maestro Cecchetti Final Diploma.
In 2000 and 2001 respectively Karen co-produced David Poole’s The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty for the Port Elizabeth Youth Ballet.
Karen was invited by Pieter Toerien Productions to tour with The Phantom of the Opera as Dance Captain & Dance Swing in South Africa, China and South Korea in 2004 and 2005.
In 2006 Karen opened a private dance Academy in Table View and also performed in the Cape Town Opera’s The Showboat in Nürnburg, Germany. She completed a Pilates Instructor’s course through Healthy Living Pilates.
In 2007 performed in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers at Artscape Opera House as well as one performance at the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Buxton, United Kingdom.
Karen obtained Fellowship status in the Cecchetti Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in 2021.