PureDWTS Exclusive: Sharna Burgess Discusses Charlie White, Choreographing, Teases On New Dance, And Lots More

Give it up to Sharna Burgess! Even with her super tight schedule currently, she took some time to answer some fun questions from our readers about Dancing With The Stars. She answers questions about partner Charlie White and their challenges, choreographing, and how she gets inspired. She also answers questions about the judging this season, costuming, and the non-standard footwear seen in rehearsals. She also teases us with some hints on she and Charlie’s new dance and how Charlie’s hair will be fixed (which I think will be perfect for a Paso!). She’s also seen Maks and Meryl’s new dance and says it’s amazing. Lots lots more below!! Sharna, from the bottom of our our hearts, thank you so much for another fantastic interview and good luck Monday night!!!xxx

From Figamentation:
On how you approach your partners differently, do you feel even more challenged to harness all of the potential Charlie has, or was there greater pressure to compensate for Andy’s shortcomings?

That’s a great question!! Every partner is going to be different, and so each season my first week is based around discovering their strengths, weaknesses and most importantly breaking down walls and building trust. For us to create something amazing we have to be completely comfortable with each other and have great trust and communication, just like any relationship.

As far as being challenged with Charlie, or the pressure with Andy? I think I would reverse it. With Andy I was certainly challenged to find ways to keep our routines as simple as possible for him, but without losing the entertainment factor as that was his strength. With Charlie, I can creatively and choreographically do most things given time to work on them. Also teaching for me is a passion, not a challenge. But!! With great talent like his comes great expectation, and I feel the biggest pressure is the one I put on myself. I’m constantly asking myself “is it enough?” I want him to be as amazing as you expect and then some!

From Jackie:
Have you faced any difficulty this season coming up with a routine for Charlie that would challenge him to the best of his abilities?

Hi Jackie! Not at all!! He inspires me creatively!! Coming up with choreography for him is fun more than anything. I get to dive right into the good stuff. He’s an amazing student and never stops practicing, so I know that If I can teach it… He will work until he gets it. Charlie loves characters and concepts which is what I enjoy creating the most, story telling through dance.

In the beginning of our season it was more about him learning to move as a ballroom dancer than it was balls to the wall choreography, you know… That crawl before you walk kinda thing. He has had A LOT of habits from skating we have worked endless hours on breaking and STILL work on everyday. At the end of the day I wanted to teach him how to really dance, not just fake it. Some may say his jive or tango were too simple, but I say look at the quality he produced! And now that he’s had that training… Just wait and see what I can make him do next.

From Cidra:
Sharna, lately we’ve seen celebs wearing a lot of non-standard footwear instead of the traditional Latin and ballroom shoes. Do you think that’s a good idea? There’s some discussion that proper footwear makes it easier for the celeb to get the proper technique (e.g., heels helping them stay on the balls of their feet instead of dancing flatfooted). And do you want Charlie to rehearse in traditional footwear or do you let him wear whatever his feet are comfortable in?

Hi there Cidra!! Lol, I don’t care what anyone says, heels don’t make a damn thing easier! Actually, the great Jason Gilkison would have me do technique work in bare feet so I would use every single part of my foot to transfer my weight. When I would put my heels on I would aim to use my feet the same way and I found myself much more grounded and into the floor.

In saying all of that, do I agree with non traditional footwear on DWTS? Yes and no. When it has a character driven purpose like say, a 40s jive, or a barefoot contemporary Viennese, then I love it. When it’s seemingly for no reason other than it’s easier, I don’t like it.

As for Charlie, the first half of the week he’s in his Nikes, the second he’s in his dance shoes.

Also, is it challenging sometimes having to shared rehearsal space with Meryl and Maks? I know all four of you get along just fine, but how do you keep from bumping into each other and how do you divide up the time so both of you can rehearse to your music tracks?

That has actually never happened lol! We are generally at the same studio but always separate rooms. Sometimes if one room is bigger than the other we will switch with each other half way to make it fair.

From RaineMayer:
Do the judges truly judge the stars individually and how they perform the choreography given to them?

Hi RaineMayer!!
I believe the judges mark our celebrities with a mix of 2 things… Predominantly it’s based on the celebs own ability and performance, but it does have a degree of comparison to the rest of the cast because, well, basically it has to. We are competing against each other after all. I know sometimes they can seem random, believe me it’s frustrating for us too, but you have to realize there is only 3 of them, and they only have 90seconds at most to critique a routine. They have no instant replay, no pause or slow motion. It’s a tough job especially when under the pressure of live tv. In our ballroom competitions we have at any given time 15 judges around the floor! Though they comment on a variety of things, You’ll notice they all have their favorite things to look for, Bruno loves musicality and timing, Carrie Ann loves character, intention and performance, and Len loves good technique and appreciates traditional the most.


Do you feel as though Charlie has deserved better scores in at least 2 of his dances?

YES! But that’s ok, we are still hungry for that perfect score and it’s a great motivator.

I would also like to know if you think some of the comments, sometimes mis-leading, that the judges throw out there for whatever reason, has a large or small impact on how the audience votes?

Honestly I think our fans, (especially our fans who have been with us for multiple seasons like yourself and the amazing people here @puredwts) are educated enough to make decisions for themselves on what they liked and didn’t like. At the end of the day you are voting for what you enjoyed watching the most, or which couple you love the most. The judges can only share their opinion, not pick up the phone for you. Am I saying that our audience isn’t impacted by what they do and don’t say? No, of course they are, otherwise why would we have judges at all? But I don’t think they speak to purely manipulate. They can’t make you like something you don’t, or vice versa.

From Angie:
How do you decide on costuming choices? Is it all your concept? Does your celeb partner have any input? Or is it left up to the designers/costumers to come up with something?

Hi Angie!!
The simple answer is everything is me :) the creative process is my favorite part!! I have these crazy ideas and then we have a team that we work with to make it all come to life. Not everybody works that way, I personally just love to have total control (yes.. possibly I have minor control freak issues… But not in a scary way) I’m also blessed that my man Paul Kirkland is one of the most creative beings I know and we work and create a lot together, so I’m always hashing out ideas with him. He’s always good about making me push my limits and find new ways of doing things. We never want to become comfortable, you always have to grow in your craft.

If you ever get a Waltz, Viennese Waltz or Fox Trot, I would LOVE to see Charlie in tails. Go back and look at some of his SD performances from the past few years. The boy is quite dashing in tux & tails.

Girl, trust me. We are on the same page there!!! I can’t wait for all those dances!!! I know he will kill them! We have just been given all the Latin dances first, the only one we haven’t done now is samba! I’m craving a foxtrot or quickstep for him!!

Thank you for the fab questions guys!!! I’m currently on a plane to Pittsburg with Maks, Meryl and Charlie and we are all excited about Monday!! I just saw a sneak peak of Maks and Meryl’s salsa…. It’s amazing!! Charlie is really working hard on our paso this week and I know he will be killing it by the time Monday comes around!! We are slicking that beautiful hair … Please don’t hate me for it!!! Thanks for including me on Pure Dancing With The Stars. Please visit my website at www.SharnaBurgess.com and follow me on twitter @SharnaBurgess!