Cheryl Burke Says 'DWTS' Season 29 Is About 'Bringing Normalcy Back'
While there’s a lot new this year on Dancing With the Stars, there’s a lot that’s still very familiar about the show, too. Fan favorite Cheryl Burke is returning again as a pro dancer. She’ll be vying for her third Mirror Ball trophy when the show returns Monday, September 14 at 8/7c on ABC.
TV Insider chatted with Burke about a variety of topics including how DWTS will be done in a COVID-19 world, whether or not her husband Matthew Lawrence (Boy Meets World) will ever compete on the program (with or without having his wife as a pro), Derek Hough joining as a judge, on joining the judges’ table herself someday, the shocking (to say the least!) decision to switch hosts, and how DWTS can help bring people together.
Also, learn about Burke’s mask line that she started to develop before the coronavirus pandemic began! Read on for the scoop!
Did you think the show would come back this year because of the coronavirus?
Cheryl Burke: No. I thought the only way this could work would be if we became Dancing With the Stars meets Big Brother and we’d all have to live under the same roof. That would have been very interesting. It would have made great TV, but selfishly, I’m glad that didn’t happen.
Had the idea that come up that Matthew would do the show as your partner? You two don’t have to worry about social-distancing.
Matt and I would hear whispers about him doing the show when we first started dating. I think in the beginning, it would have been cute, but I’d be scared for our relationship! It’s so good I don’t want to mess with it. I’m a different person when I’m in work-mode. He got a little taste of that when we were preparing for our wedding dance. [Laughs] So, I had to have chaperones in case I turned into that ‘crazy dance mom.’
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What if Matt had a different partner?
You know…why not? But at the same time, though, I have to tell you the show takes up all of our time. Matt’s an animal lover and we have – I’m not exaggerating – 45 iguanas, tortoises bearded dragons -- and two dogs! Who would take care of our ‘children’? It’s a lot of responsibility to be on this show. Maybe [when] I get pregnant and take a season off, he can do it?
How are you approaching this season?
I have to say that it’s important for me to grow as a person each and every season. I’ve done a lot of meditating and feel I’ve experienced a lot of growth. My view coming into this season is very different than any other one I’ve had. This show is bigger than what we think it is. It’s not about one specific person. I think it’s about bringing normalcy back into people’s homes. I tend to stress on things I can’t control. I’m trying to surrender more.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have come back to this show for many season. These are the moments I’m going to remember the rest of my life and that my kids are going to hear about. I don’t want to ever look back and see that it was all stress. This pandemic has been rough and miserable. I’ve tried to grow as much as I can.
Didn’t Kelly Monaco (General Hospital) say something during the All-Stars Season about how the show is not just about dance but about making a connection – and therein lies its true appeal?
Yes. I think what Kelly was referring to -- and it’s part of why we’ve come become friends -- is that we were all able to cheer on each other in close proximity. I feel like this season will be different for the people who feed off other people’s energy. I can say that from what I’ve seen that the ballroom looks pretty spectacular. I’m just hoping there’s a button in the control booth that the director can hit and we’ll hear some cheers after our routines – and not just crickets.
Are there any positives coming out of the way the show will be done this season?
We’re not really changing things up outside of being tested and not socializing with one another. We won’t [all] rehearse together [the way we used to]. We’re doing so much by Zoom. We have to change the way everyone else has, but we still need to keep it classy. I believe the show works because of the consistency of it. The show can bring back different eras [with its theme nights]. It makes you feel like you’re watching an old movie.
It will be different in that you won’t all be in a skybox or red room where everyone gathers and supports the couple that just competed.
We have no backup dancers. No troupe members. I’m hoping the show can open up avenues for competition owners in the world of ballroom so they can find a way to still hold competition dances. What makes ballroom be ballroom is that you have two people on the dance floor, telling a story. I feel, in a way, that’s been missing [at times]. The show has become this huge production, which is great and fabulous but it’s hard to top. If you start off that way in Week 1, where do you go in Week 10?
You can still have all that razzle and dazzle, but let’s stick to what ballroom is. It’s like when you watch a movie – you want to see the two main characters interact and not a lot of distractions.
How much more disciplined do you have to be with the COVID-19 safety protocols?
I think if I were doing this show and was still single, I’d be miserable. I can’t imagine being single right now because I’d be wanting to go out. Even before the pandemic, my husband and I would stay home. For us, this doesn’t involve a lot of change. We’re [all] going to have to figure out a way to be in contact and be there for another.
Could we ever see another All-Stars Season?
We’re coming up to Season 30 of the show and I’ve talked to Leah [Remini, who competed in Season 17] about this and maybe we could do a ‘redemption’ season and include people who have had to leave early due to injury?
Or were denied a victory! There are a lot of those including you and your Season 27 partner Juan Pablo di Pace.
Maybe Juan Pablo could come back? We could do a ‘who got voted off too early’ season.
Would you like to sit at the judges table as either a guest or a regular?
Abso-freaking-lutely. I think the network knows this. I feel like I’ve proven myself. I’m 35 and I want to have a family and have a roof over my head. I hope that the show would think that I’m capable. I do. Dance Moms [which I’ve hosted] believed in me.
They probably don’t want to lose you from the floor just yet. What do you think of Derek Hough (World of Dance) being a judge?
Derek is one of the most talented men I’ve ever met. I think that he has lots to contribute and share as far as having experience. People will truly respect his opinion. He knows what it takes to win. He knows how hard and stressful the show can be. He knows how rewarding it can be.
What’s it like seeing a pro dancer win the mirror ball for the first time?
I am rooting for everyone especially for those who have yet to win. I truly believe every pro should win for the first time. (Wryly) Even though I haven’t won since 1965, I’ve been through it. I almost want to pass the torch.
It’d be an understatement to say that the decision to not have Tom Bergeron back as host was puzzling. He’s been the heart of the show and is the best host ever. How do you feel about his exit and Tyra Banks (America’s Next Top Model) joining as host?
This is a two-part response. My feelings on Tom have nothing to do with the show. Out of everybody, other than [co-executive producer] Deena Katz [and the judges], I’ve been on the show the longest. Tom is my family. I’m not going to lie and say, ‘Change is great!’ Let’s be real. This really hurt me. My heart dropped when I heard [Tom was leaving]. And I’m not one to be shocked about anything that happens on this show.
I talk to Tom frequently. He was a part of my wedding. He’s my ‘Dance Dad.’ I know Tom would never tell me not to do the show. He and I share a language that needs no words. We’d always chat before the show. I’m really going to miss that. My heart still hurts. It’s weird not to hear his voice.
As far as Tyra goes, my feeling is good on her. She is going to kill it. She owns who she is as a person. It’s awesome that she’s the only host. She got that executive producer credit. Get it, girl! I’m so rooting for her.
You have a mask line at Bailey Blue Clothing?
Yes. Crazy story. Even before the pandemic, I was doing my live stage show, Love on the Floor, in Japan. I would see people wearing these beautiful designer masks. I thought there has to be a better way and I’ve got to come out with a mask. So, I bought a mask from almost every company.
What were you looking for in an ideal mask?
I was tired of swallowing my mask every time I’d laugh or cry. I know a lot about fabric. I knew there was a material out there that would help cover the sides of your face where you can still breathe the way you’re supposed to because it doesn’t touch your upper lip or nostrils or the top of your nose. They have a great shape and don’t make it look like you’re chinless. [My masks] aren’t so much about being sparkly but the construction of them. You’re able to breathe. If this is going to be the new normal, then, we’ve got to look cute – and feel good, right?
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Thought I’d let you in on the behind the scenes photoshoot I had for my new #CherylBurkeMasks! Which style has been your favorite so far? If you haven’t gotten your masks from @baileyblueclothing yet (link in bio), what are you looking for when purchasing a mask? Comfort? Style? Make sure to comment below and more importantly, I want to thank you ALL for your love and support! Sending love to all of you and please, let’s all work together to continue to stay safe but while looking beautiful...of course! ♥️ #baileyblue #staysafe #wearamask #fashionmasks
Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC