Cheryl Burke is a two-time Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy with Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith. The 15-season pro will blog for PEOPLE.com while competing on season 16 with her partner, D.L. Hughley.
My partner D.L. Hughley is still on his comedy tour and performing every weekend. He is still working at his job, as well as doing Dancing with the Stars, so it has been a little bit challenging to get a lot of rehearsal time before Monday’s season 16 premiere.
But it’s always a struggle in the beginning. D.L. has more room for improvement, but he’s learned his routine. We had a big breakthrough when we were actually able to get through the whole routine to music. He just needs to loosen up a little and have a good time. At the end of the day, even if he’s not going to be the best technical dancer, at least he has personality and can show people that he’s having fun.
D.L. doesn’t take himself too seriously – and that’s great. But I showed him old footage of a previous partner, Emmitt Smith, who glowed when he was dancing. He had so much charisma. I told D.L. to do what he does when he’s doing stand-up comedy.
I’m sure he’s nervous. It’s something he’s never done before. Dancing and flying are the most terrifying things to him. That’s why he signed up to do this show – he wanted to do something that was completely out of his comfort zone. Our first dance is the cha cha. He really needs to loosen up his hips. He says his hips are shy. We have to get them moving. At the end of the day, he’s physical. He can really hear the music. He dances on time to it.
D.L. is going to be fine. I told him that no matter what, I will see him on the other side, which means we just have to get to our last move. He said some of his friends would say the same thing to each other before a stand-up routine. That’s going to be our motto this season.
I always feel sorry in the beginning for everyone who does the show because it’s so much to learn when it comes to technique. You want to do everything perfect, but it’s not going to happen. Right now, I’m just trying to tell D.L. to have fun with it and forget about the technique. He’s learned what he’s learned.
I always feel nervous for my partners at the beginning of a season. I’m there to support D.L. This season, since I’ve never danced with a comedian before, it’s different. I know it doesn’t come natural. He’s admitted he’s terrified, so I’ll be his cheerleader.