'Dancing with the Stars' Exclusive Interview: Cheryl Burke on Dancing, Rob and the Semi-Finals
'Dancing with the Stars' Exclusive Interview: Cheryl Burke on Dancing, Rob and the Semi-Finals
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Who knew Rob Kardashian had it in him? Turns out, not even his professional dancing partner, Cheryl Burke, could have seen Rob making it to the semi-finals when they started Dancing with the Stars season 13. Cheryl talked to BuddyTV about what has changed, how she thinks Rob has a shot at the finals and much more.

Congratulations on making it to the semi-finals!
Cheryl Burke: Thank you very much!

When the season began, did you expect that you could actually make it this far?
Cheryl Burke: You know, when I first started working with Rob, I never thought we'd make it this far at all. Because, you know, in the beginning you've got to see if your celebrity is really going to be able to dance or how long he'll last. But he just continuously, he shocks me every time. You know, every single week he really improves, he gains his confidence more and more as the weeks go by. As soon as he hit that week 3, week 4, I knew he could make it this far, for sure.

What do you think has contributed to Rob's success? What has made him able to improve so much?
Cheryl Burke: Well, I think that together as a team... I think he respects me and he listens to what I have to say. He also made friends with a lot of the pros as well, they like to help him out, like Derek and Maks and all of them. He's getting along well with everybody. It's like a family. He doesn't want to go home either. So he's really working hard. He sees he can actually dance, so that's making him work even harder.

What is it like working with Rob? Is he a good student?
Cheryl Burke: Well, he's a really great student. He listens. He's very quick with choreography. He picks up the choreography very fast, actually. And he really retains all the information that I tell him, so, you know, he'll come in the next day, he doesn't forget anything I said from the previous day, which really helps the process, especially when we have three dances [like in the upcoming week 9!].

Of all of the dances that you've done, which has been your favorite this season?
Cheryl Burke: Well, I would have to say, I think our Frank Sinatra foxtrot, I really loved. And then our Addams Family tango that we did, that was one of my favorites.

Those were great. So, considering how every season begins with celebrities who look set to win but then get eliminated quickly, what do you think is necessary to do well on Dancing with the Stars?
Cheryl Burke: I think it's both the dancing but also your fan base is important as well, because 50 percent is fans voting for you. It's really important to have really good chemistry with each other as well. You know we don't get to choose our partner, so at the end of the day, you have to have chemistry with this person, which is a great thing.

And I think people love to see the journey. I think it's important that you start out as a dancer, as a good dancer, but it's also more important that you improve throughout the journey of the whole show.

Since many of the celebrities on Dancing with the Stars talk about the experience as "life-changing," what do you think it is about this particular show that is so important to people?
Cheryl Burke: I think it's different for whoever you're talking about.

For Rob, I think it's life-changing because it's really putting him in the limelight and showing a whole other side to the family I think no one's ever seen before. For Rob I think it's totally about changing his... People are seeing him do something that he was uncomfortable doing at the beginning, and now he's doing so well at it.

For some people, it's life-changing because of the way their body changes, the way how active they are. I think this show is so grueling and so stressful, but it's so fun at the same time. I don't think people realize how much we work. We work 7 days a week and it's full-on. It's interviews, it's dancing. It's just a full-on show for 13 weeks, non-stop. And I think when you put as much work into anything, it shows in your life.

For a professional dancer, what does it mean to be on a show like Dancing with the Stars?
Cheryl Burke: It's been life-changing for my career. Because of this show, I have two dance studios now. I have amazing opportunities when it comes to different endorsement opportunities that I've been getting. Because of this show, I have my own shoe line. I'm branding myself to shoe lines, to clothing lines. And I just came out with my book that I went on tour about less than a year ago. So it's just opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

In week 7 of Dancing with the Stars season 13, you mentioned that you'd never done an Instant Dance before. How did that compare to the more standard dances for you?
Cheryl Burke: Because we didn't have our music, first of all, so we couldn't choreograph to the actual song. We only had 20 minutes, so it just gave us less time to really, you know, get our stuff together. It was a different challenge, but I think it was fun, because we didn't have to stress as much. Everyone was in the same boat as us, so I think it just made the competition more fun in that way.

When you're choreographing in general, do you usually have it all planned out ahead of time, or is that something that changes as you rehearse?
Cheryl Burke: It's important for me to show my celebrity off. Whatever he cannot do, I won't put it into the routine. I won't make him feel uncomfortable, because at the end of the day they need to feel confident in what they do. But I like to come in with my choreography basically set already. So I'll normally choreograph -- if I know we made it through the next round, I'll choreograph that same night.

What is a typical day of rehearsals for you?
Cheryl Burke: Well, a typical day for us right now is about 6 to 8 hours. And on top of that, we have press that comes in. We have fittings. We have interviews for the show. And basically come home, sleep and get up and do it again.

That is pretty busy. So now that you're going into the semi-finals, what is your assessment of the competition?
Cheryl Burke: I think it's a great competition. I think no one's really the clear front-runner. I mean, J.R. nailed it last week, and I think he's going to be really hard to beat. But especially right now, I'm just thinking about the Final Three and it's going to be tough. I think Ricki and J.R. are kind of already there in the finals. I think fighting for that third spot is going to be between Hope and Rob.

What do you think might give Rob an edge going into the Semi-Finals?
Cheryl Burke: I think it's going to be about who can handle the three dances and who can retain all the information and go out there to perform it all. Right now, there's no room for mistakes. You need to go out there and just know all three of your routines and perform them to the best of your capability.

For you, what are the best and the worst parts of Dancing with the Stars?
Cheryl Burke: Well, the best part about it is I'm doing what I love to do, and dancing is something I've done since I was a little girl. To be able to share that with everybody and to sort of bring joy into people's homes. That's what I love from the show is that the show is generally uplifting and it makes people want to just get up and dance and makes people just happy. That's what I hear from a lot of people that I meet.

The worst thing about the show? I guess, you know, it's like any other occupation. It's stressful at times. It's like, they decide to give you three dances and the next thing you know, you've got three dances because you have to fill up this time on Monday night. And that's going to give you an extra 8 hours of work. So it is hard, but at the end of the day, the reward is way, way higher than the stressful part of it.

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The Dancing with the Stars season 13 semi-finals will air on Monday, November 14 at 8pm.

(Image courtesy of ABC)