Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cheryl Burke Interview

From theday.com:

Kristina Dorsey

In a month, Cheryl Burke should be back to doing what she does most famously: teaching celebs how to dance.

On "Dancing with the Stars," she has tranformed Emmitt Smith from a football player into a charismatic dancer. She helped little-known actor Gilles Marini become the smooth operator who ended up tangoing into second place.

And, OK, her stint trying to make over politico Tom DeLay into a dancing machine didn't quite work. Their run was cut short when he got stress fractures in both feet.

The next "Dancing with the Stars" season should be starting up at the end of February or the beginning of March, and Burke is still in the dark about the whole thing, including potential partners.

In the meantime, she's coming to Mohegan Sun on Thursday to debut a new series featuring reality TV stars. Called Reality Check, it's held at The Shops at Mohegan Sun. Burke will be dancing with fellow ballroom champ Genya Mazo and then autographing photos.Burke, 25, has won "Dancing with the Stars" twice, when her partners were Emmitt Smith and former 98 Degrees singer Drew Lachey.

One of her Burke's assets on the show is her ability to coach the stars well and to choreograph pieces that truly show them off to their best advantage.

She says that, with Lachey, he was a good performer coming in, and the technical part of dancing was the challenge. Smith's work ethic was tremendous, but he had never really danced before; he improved greatly over the course of the season and made the dances his own.She lucked out in those cases. The professional dancers have no say in who their partners are, Burke says. The producers do the matchmaking, and she thinks a lot of it has to do with personalities.

That's not the only thing out of the professional dancers' control. For the most part, they don't get to choose their songs; the producers do."

We can't plan ahead. So once we know we've gotten to stay another week, they give us a new dance and a new song," Burke says."It's hard because we have to choreograph that same night and come in (to rehearse it) the next day.

"If that sounds like a punishing schedule, well, it is."We don't really get any days off. It's seven days a week, and it's every day, every night working through your new dance, your routine," she says.

As for those two "Dancing with the Stars" mirror-ball trophies that she won, Burke says they've improved the construction as the seasons have gone on. Hers, though, are from early on, and she says there were times when letters ended up dangling to the side and "you start seeing the mirrors fall off the mirror ball." (They've since been fixed.)

While Burke gained favorable notoreity for winning "Dancing with the Stars," she experienced the inevitable downside of fame, too. She made tabloid headlines in 2008 for putting on a few pounds, enduring criticism even from a couple of her male colleagues. She said back then that she had just taken time for the first time in years and wasn't dancing seven hours a day.

Burke has since slimmed down again but says, "I think that whole situation has been more of an inspirational story. A lot of the people that come up say, 'That's such crap that happened to you.' It sent the wrong message out. I believe with a women's body, you don't need to be anorexic to be beautiful. ... I was never that skinny, skinny girl. I'm an athlete."

An athlete, yes, and a choreographer, too. Asked whether she might want to choreograph on, say, the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance," Burke dodges the question for the most part, saying that "Dancing with the Stars" has been very good to her and that her loyalty lies there. She is contractually still tied to "Dancing with the Stars" as well. Eventually, though, she does hope to create her own show.

And she'll continue dancing."The way I express my feelings and myself is through dance," she says. With dance, too, you can always push farther. She says, "You're never done. You're never perfect."

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