Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about her quest to take home the season 28 mirrorball trophy! Check back each week for her latest update on the competition.
Following another shocking elimination, Burke reacts to Sean Spicer’s results, the show’s changes and who’s leading the race.
On Sean Spicer being safe again:
I have personal experience dancing with someone who is a Republican and someone who worked for the White House. Obviously there’s a lot of power in a tweet from Trump. People are like, ‘No no no,’ but people keep voting for him. I actually really love Sean’s personality. Even in just the little time I spent with him, he’s really funny. He’s super down to Earth. He’s not the Sean Spicer that I think everyone thinks he is. Listen, he is having the time of his life. You can tell he is holding back tears because of how much fun he’s having and it’s super sweet and endearing to watch. I actually thought his jazz routine … nothing that he did in that routine, for me, was awkward, which is a good thing. And then to not have Lindsay [Arnold] there, you could tell he was ready to break because he was fighting back tears in his master interview. Jenna Johnson was there to save the day. It’s just hard learning so many dances and then learning how to dance with somebody new. No matter what, he still has to adapt and it’s hard when you’re not a dancer to do that.
On if he could get to the finals:
As long as he doesn’t get to that bottom two where the judges pick — because I think the judges would pick him [to go home]. But if you don’t leave it up to the judges, then yes. If he consistently beats everybody when it comes to being in the bottom two and he’s always safe, then yes, I do believe he will make the final. I don’t even know how many couples will be in the final this year, but it’s not shocking. Look at Bristol Palin; she made it to the final three. I think Sean Spicer is a better dancer. Bristol was super sweet as well, but if I was just looking at the dancing, I think that Sean’s journey is a lot more relatable and I love how much he’s committing to this. He’s not letting the haters get to get to him — and there are a lot of haters. Yet, he still has his head on straight and that’s very admirable to witness. He’s just happy to be there. Good for him. Live your life, man.
On the judges’ scoring stricter and how that will affect the results in the end:
In the very beginning, for the last several seasons of the show, they were kind of wanting us to think outside the box, but then it got to the point where we thought too much out of the box. You didn’t even recognize what style each dance was and the show is ballroom. Dancing With the Stars is a ballroom show and if you look at the success that Strictly Come Dancing is having right now, I think that they’re just really using the creative concepts of what we used to do on the show. Len Goodman said it this week with Sasha Farber and Ally Brooke. When you can do the technique and still be entertaining, that’s what is amazing to watch. It’s really hard what everyone’s doing. We’re 28 seasons into the show and to make it different, that’s what’s challenging. I’m very ballroom, but also I’ve been on the show forever. I think Pasha Pashkov coming to the show was great too.
On the judges’ frustrations with the results:
I understand it. There was a part of me, maybe two weeks ago, I thought Kate Flannery was going to win this whole thing. I thought she was perfect. She’s our demo, someone all women you can look up to. She looked like a different woman every week, in a good way, from her confidence to the way she’s walking and holding herself to her dancing and her connection with Pasha. Once you feel like you are so close to someone or like rooting for somebody, then they’re gone … I understand. I was in it last season with Juan Pablo di Pace. People say “You’re only as good as your last dance,” and we got a perfect 60. We did salsa and Argentine tango and I think it was some of the best work I’ve ever done. The way he executed it was on a whole other level. But when you go out like that, it’s a little bit frustrating. Even with Sasha, this morning we had pro rehearsal and I think he was a little bit bummed, as he should be, because they were in the bottom two and they got a perfect score. I told him there’s nothing he could do and he can only control what you’ve been doing, which has been amazing. What else can you do? At the end of the day, it is what it is. People may think that she’s safe because of their perfect score too. So, maybe this is a wake-up call for people. It makes people want to vote for the person they think should make it to the next round. I see why people vote for Sean because he is really the heart of the competition now. If you look at previous seasons, there’s always been that drastic difference where it’s really good dancers who may have some dance experience and then the people who truly have no dance experience but have improved every week. They put on a brave face and continue to be vulnerable and learn another two dances, three dances and then have to go out there and just smile. There’s so much pressure, and I think that’s why everyone’s in tears. It’s getting down to the wire. With this cast, in particular, the camaraderie with everybody is special. Sometimes you don’t get that. Sometimes you don’t get the organic chemistry. But I can tell everyone loves each other and people want to hang out even when they’re off the clock.
On the choice to save Ally:
The way that Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews put it, you have to judge based on the season. If you were to look at the scores in general or just the dancing, the level is different. But again, Kate, Sean, Lamar Odom and some of the other earlier competitors are all in that category of what the show is about. If it were just the dance competition, which it’s not, that’s when you have mixed feelings and mixed results because some people don’t care about the dancing. They care about someone’s journey and the fact that they’re sticking true to what the show is — someone with no dance experience coming onto this show and becoming a dancer. Sometime, you may be voting because you just like them or you’re a big fan. Some people, some may say, it’s a popularity contest. I think it’s both. At the end of the day, nothing that the judges could do is going to feel like it’s fair. I told Matt [Lawrence] last night while watching that I love the dance-off because that’s when you compare people. That’s what we do in the dance competition in our world, except guys have a number on their back.
On her top picks:
It’s funny because every week somebody catches my eye and it’s always different. It was Ally and Sasha for their Quickstep. Last week, it was Lauren Alaina and Gleb Savchenko‘s tango. This week, I felt like everyone really stepped their game up. I loved Hannah Brown and I thought she really had a breakthrough night. I don’t know if it was her visiting home or she just told herself, “Snap the heck out of it because this is a once in a lifetime experience,” you can tell she’s truly having fun. I loved how everyone just stepped up their game, including Sean. I thought Emma Slater and James Van Der Beek did great. I just think that now is when it counts. Now there’s no mistakes. It was a shame Lauren messed up a little bit in her jive because it was going so well. What I don’t want is for Ally [and] for people who have had perfect scores and are clearly the front runners, to go home. You’re just proving that no voting system works. It’s like, how can we continue to do a show where we want to involve people? At the end of the day, it’s a dance competition. This season, as a viewer, I’m not voting. I love everyone for a different reason. I can see why people vote for Sean, he’s so endearing and he’s like actually a real person. He’s going to be so devastated if [he ever gets eliminated].
Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.