Bring on the fringe and glitter! Every week, pro Sharna Burgess will break down elimination night on Dancing With the Stars. But first, we asked her for a little preview before tonight’s two-hour premiere of the special — and very abbreviated — athletes edition.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Does the schedule feel any different for this season?
SHARNA BURGESS: It all feels different. It’s amazing how much of an effect it being a four-week season has been on the rest of the schedule. There are multiple eliminations each week, and starting week 2 we are doing two dances. That means in addition to getting that first dance down in these prep weeks, we’ve already got to start teaching them other dance styles they are ready for it come week 2. Usually they have a good five weeks to prepare, so it’s unbelievably stressful and difficult on our celebs.
What did you think of the idea of an all-athlete edition?
I love it. The competitive level is intense right now. All of these contestants are used to being No. 1 in their field. They are so used to the taste of winning, so they are here for are that Mirrorball trophy. It’s game-on for every single person.
How is your partner, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, doing so far?
I gotta tell you, I am impressed! I am also surprised at how well he’s doing. I knew he was going to have fast feet, I just don’t think I expected how passionate he was about learning to dance and how much he wants to get this right. I walked in on him in a ballet class the other day, a baby ballet class at the dance studio because we’ve been trying to correct his posture. He’s also doing his [football] training with his the team in the mornings. He has this reputation on the field of being a bad boy, but off the field he really has a soft side. He really has something different to him, a sweetness, a humbleness. The main reason he’s doing this is because he has a nonprofit and he’s trying to raise money to create a rec center in his hometown because kids no longer have one.
Have you had a chance to see the other couples?
No! This season is so different because there’s so much traveling. It’s a real shame that we don’t get to have that camaraderie that comes with being in the same space.
Are you worried that Tonya Harding is going get way too much attention?
Honestly, no. Everyone has a lot of attention on them. Everyone deserves their shot on the show.
Everyone seems to be thinking it’s Olympic skater Adam Rippon’s challenge to lose.
Yes. That is definitely the word that I hear. Obviously the expectation is he’s gonna be great. Those skaters come from dance training. They go through jazz, they go through ballet. But I danced with Olympian ice dancer Charlie White [in 2014]. I know there are a lot of difficulties that come with doing this too.
Dancing With the Stars: Athletes begins at 8 p.m. ET tonight on ABC. Wanna check out all the couples? Click here.