Each week during the run of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes, we’ll check in with Sharna Burgess about her progress with Josh Norman. This week, Burgess talks about this week’s group dance and why it’s important that she doesn’t soak up all the limelight.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It must have felt pretty good going last on premiere night, right?
SHARNA BURGESS: I’m not going to lie. When I found out we were going last, I was incredibly excited. That meant they loved our dance and felt like we had really something to show. That we could basically close out the premiere of Dancing with the Stars. That’s huge. But it also comes with a lot of pressure too. You’ve got to wait, you’ve got to watch everyone and you have to try not to psych yourself out. Josh is amazing at controlling his nerves. I’m proud of him, he absolutely crushed it.
What dd you think about the first two eliminations, Johnny Damon and Jamie Anderson?
I thought Johnny was such a lovable personality. I’m sad that people aren’t going to see more of him. And to be honest, I was unbelievably surprised. He was a legend in baseball. He was huge! I would have thought, like when we had David Ross, that the baseball fans would be behind him and carrying him through. Again, two people are going to to go home every week. It’s just brutal at this point. This four-week season has me thrown for a loop!
What are the two dances you are doing on Monday?
We have a paso doble and a team dance. That team dance is usually a freestyle kind of dance, a little jive, a little jazzy. We have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold, Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson, Sasha Farber and Tonya Harding, and Josh and myself. We have been practicing all of it all the time. The hard part of it is that Josh didn’t see anybody for the team dance until Sunday because we didn’t have a rehearsal with them. People were traveling and it was really difficult for everybody to get together.
Do you choreograph when you are in the moment or do you break it down in your head before you meet with him?
It’s a little bit of both. My choreography process is that once I get the song, I listen to it about 1,000 times. I figure out my creative, my story, and my staging first. For me, steps come last. As long as I know where I’m going and what the picture is that I’m trying to create, the steps come very easy to me.
Are you conscious of the fact that you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself? After all, most viewers just like watching the pros.
That’s a big thing you have to learn when being a pro. Because we are professional dancers, we can easily upstage our partners. Easily. If you focus on your own dancing and not theirs, that essentially is what is going to happen. As a pro, you have to learn it’s not about you. It’s not about your dancing. It’s about you guiding and making sure they have got this and they are going to perform it to their best ability. You have to find a balance between hyping them up, being excited and going full-out for them, and also taking a back seat enough so you allow them to shine. At the same time, a lot of us have a language with our celebrity partners where you’ve got little reminders, little things throughout the dance to remind them to keep their posture up, keep their arms, whatever it is. We are focusing on that more than our own performance. You are kind of smiling and talking at the same time.
So what will Josh be wearing on Monday?
What he’s wearing has gone through a bunch of different versions. We have the Zorro song and originally we were going to be full Zorro-themed because we’ve done it before on the show. But apparently there are new restrictions on Zorro and our legal team told us we cannot copy him. So we can have the song, but we can’t have a sword, mask, hat, or anything that is Zorro! So we had to go with version two of the wardrobe and change it around a little but keep the same story. This one is a work in progress.
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.