We have an exclusive “one on one” personal interview with Dancing With The Stars Troupe member Sharna Burgess. As most of you know, I love the Troupe!! Not only do we get to see new dancing talent and a way to see even more dancers dancing on the show, they are the future of Dancing With The Stars as we have seen so far with the addition of the amazing pros Peta Murgatroyd and Tristan MacManus. So, without further ado, below is Sharna on her life and career so far for how and when she began dancing. When I read her answers, I was amazed at how much work she’s done on other dancing and movie projects and Dancing With The Stars “behind the scenes”. I also loved what she said about her other interests, being “a gypsy at heart” and why, and her compassion for her pets and animal rescue in general. Also, did you know she was the lead Latin Choreographer for “StreetDance 2 3D“? She also says there are some amazing things coming up for Dancing With The Stars in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy and if you have any further questions you’d like to ask and know about Sharna, leave them below in the comments section (as well as your thoughts) and we’ll be sure she receives them and feature them at Pure Dancing With The Stars in another new post in the coming weeks. So, below is the beautiful Sharna….
To begin, you are such a beautiful and passionate dancer, how long have you been dancing? How were you inspired to dance and who is your greatest dancing mentor?
Thank you!! Wow I’ve been dancing now for about 20 years (quite frightening how fast that’s gone!). I started when I was 6 with jazz, ballet and tap, and I was 8 when I started ballroom. I was a very active kid, in between singing into hairbrushes and making up dance routines in my lounge room, I was outside climbing trees, riding bikes and playing with all the kids in my neighborhood. I grew up in a country town called Wagga Wagga(Australia) until I was 12, so I was blessed to have a lot of freedom.
I kind of fell into dancing because I was that kid that was in everything. Sports teams, dance class, gymnastics, and swimming. I was always busy doing something. And I had potential for all of it. But even when you’re that young, something sticks to you more then the other. When I was 12 we moved to Sydney and it was too difficult to try and continue everything, simply put we couldn’t afford it in the big city. So I chose dance, it wasn’t difficult, I knew what I wanted the most. I found my passion, and I didn’t need the rest of it.
Its very difficult to pick a mentor, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the worlds best and most respected ballroom dancers, and each of them special for their own strengths. I think possibly, the man who helped me find who I was as a dancer was Jason Gilkison. He taught me to discover myself through dance. It was quite an amazing transformation, realizing that being different and unique is a strength not a disadvantage.
My greatest idols however!! I think everybody in this industry will mention Michael Jackson, and I am no exception to that. I respect and admire creative individuality, innovation and breaking the rules.
Taking a look back to your first competition dance: what was it like and what do you remember the most about it? Also, what is your greatest memory looking back at your competition days?
LOL!!! BIG HAIR…. BIG BIG HAIR! That’s what I remember most :) My first competition I was in a lime green costume, my mum was fussing over me with lipstick and hair, making everything perfect. And my Grandma and Dad had THE proudest looks on their faces I think I’ve ever seen. I danced right in front of them on the floor, and I can still hear my dads voice cheering “COME ON MICHAEL AND SHARNA”. It wasn’t long after that we were traveling up and down Australia doing all the bigger competitions, and despite my young age, I had goals, I wanted to win… I wanted to be the best. It’s kind of special to remember that first day, my parents are my biggest supporters. Without them I would not be here answering your questions, I owe them a lot.
My greatest memory isn’t necessarily my greatest accomplishment. From the minute I started setting goals, the one at the very top of my list was hearing my name announced while walking down the staircase in the final of the Australian Open Championships. At the time that seemed like the biggest thing in the world I could do! And at 14 I made the Junior Open Latin final and walked down those stairs. It was incredible, the feeling of accomplishment, and hearing the arena erupt with all of my friends and family supporting me. I was walking on air and that smile didn’t leave my face for days!
How did it come about when you were asked to be on Dancing With The Stars?
It was 2009, and I had just done a guest performance on DWTS with a show Burn the Floor. They expressed an interest in me, which I was of course SO excited about! A few months later I received an email asking me to be a part of the show, sadly it was bad timing at that point. I was preparing for Broadway with Burn the Floor, a dream of mine, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Talk about rock and hard place!!!
After that it was a case of every time the opportunity came up, I had just signed a contract for something else. I always believe if its meant to happen then it will, so I kept the faith that the right time was still coming up. In 2011 I was choreographing a dance movie in London with Rich and Tone Talauega, who have created some AMAZING pieces on DWTS and are greatly respected on the show. When I got the call for DWTS it was perfect, the movie finished shooting in July, that gave me a month to go back to Australia, see the family, get a good dose of home and straight back into work. Just the way I like it :)
You’ve been on the troupe now for two seasons, what have been the biggest highlights for you and your favorite troupe dances?
Now that’s a tough one!! A very special number for me was when I got to dance and choreograph for the Bangles in 80s week season 13. When I was a kid my cousin and I used to LOVE the song Eternal Flame, and sing it together on a regular basis (much to the dismay of our parents). By chance, she was getting married that same week in Australia and I couldn’t be there, so I told her I loved her, and I dedicated that routine to her. So surreal and in such a beautiful way.
My favorite numbers would be, Cobra Starship – You Make Me Feel, I loved getting into the chair choreography and adding a little house flavor to it for the boys. Of course talent like Sonny Pederson, Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus make it easy. And my ULTIMATE fave was when I got to choreograph and dance for KISS – Rock and Roll All Night! I think at one point thought I thought my hair was on fire! What an experience getting out there with one of the greatest rock bands of all time! After all, I am a rock chick. So until Aerosmith performs on the show… this one trumps all others :)
What is it like to choreograph some of the season’s biggest numbers? Also, if you had to choose between choreographing and dancing, which do you like doing the most?
There is so much talent in this cast so it’s an honor to be asked to choreograph so much on the show, and a huge compliment! I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m a work-a-holic, and I love creating. To choose between dancing and choreographing for me right now is still hard. There is nothing cooler then seeing your ideas come to life on a stage. Sometimes turning out even better then in your head! But it’s also amazing being a part of someone else’s vision and getting inspired by it. I love the creative process in general. I have big dreams and ideas for choreographing, all stuff for the future, but while I’m young ill do both for as long as I can!!
Do you miss your homeland of Australia? What do you miss the most about it?
I moved to London when I was 18 to further my career so I have been gone from Australia for a long time. I lived there for 2 years and was also on tour for 6, jumping countries every few weeks. I’m a gypsy at heart and I love change so traveling the world doing what I loved was exactly what I craved. But, I have to say that I love my life in LA now, after the 6 years of craziness and constant moving, I am really enjoying being still. I will always miss Australia, my family is there, all my childhood memories, the friends I grew up with. I have missed out on a lot of births and weddings, but in this industry, sacrifice is inevitable.
What are your other interests besides dancing?
I don’t have many hobbies anymore, it’s so hard to find time for them! When I’m bored I sometimes cut up old T-shirts in to new designs, I love getting creative that way. I also like the simple things like strolling through the flea market on a Sunday afternoon with a coffee in hand, reading a good book, or just being at home with some good music and chilling out. Chill time is rare in our house so we make the most of it when we can. We have a few great jazz spots we like to go to sometimes if we are feeling a night out. You can never have too much good music in your life!
Do you have any pets?
We do!!! My man and I have a German Sheppard x Rottweiler. She is incredibly smart, stubborn and beautiful. She’s about 85lbs and thinks she is a 10lbs lap dog most days. I think most people see her and assume she is aggressive because her breed(s) have a bad reputation, but she is honestly so sweet and just wants everybody to love her. And feed her!
We actually just fostered a little Chihuahua about 6 weeks old. A friend of ours is going to take him back to NY with him in 2 weeks. We were at the Laundromat yesterday and there was someone just trying to palm him off to anybody, I had a horrible feeling that if we didn’t take him he would be dumped somewhere. I couldn’t bare that thought so I found him a home. I called him Sudz in honor of where we found him!
I am so passionately am against animal cruelty and abandonment, I would save them all if I could.
Lastly, when the season is over, what are your plans for the summer? Does dancing stop?
Dancing never stops!!! Actually straight after the season ends I am off to London. StreetDance 2 3D was only released last month and I have a lot of work coming through from that. I like to keep busy all year round so I’m definitely happy! Its worked out great actually as my boyfriend will be over there working on Cheryl Cole’s new video at the same time! And I have some family over there and it will be wonderful to see them.
Other than that ill be back in LA late June, teaching and available for shows and appearances. I cannot believe this season is almost over!!! It has gone so quickly this time, and we have had such wonderful talent to watch grow. Totally pumped for these last 2 weeks, there is some amazing stuff coming up!! And I have no idea who’s going to win it!! :)
THANK YOU SHARNA!!!! Also, thanks for all the photos too!! Good luck and we can’t wait to see more of you and your work in the future!
Fans, again…if you’d like to know more on Sharna, feel free to ask in the comments section and, as always, thanks for reading and for all of your fun participations and thoughts. xxx