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 onseason 16 with her partner, D.L. Hughley.
We were in Charlotte, N.C. part of last week. It was a tough couple of days. Wednesday is always tiring because it’s the day after the show. And then we had to take a red eye Wednesday night. We got in at 8:00 a.m. and then went straight to rehearsal. We were both a little bit exhausted.
Before Dorothy [Hamill] announced she was going home, I thought for sure we were the ones leaving. I didn’t think there was any way we were staying. We were eight points behind the second to lowest couple. I know D.L. already packed his clothes for New York. I was practicing my farewell speech.
When we were saved and not even called to be in the bottom two, it was pretty amazing. We both dropped to the floor. D.L. said his knees buckled.
It was really sad to see Dorothy go. She’s such a special person and she’s always been a fan of the show. She was holding back tears backstage before she had to announce that she was going to go. It was really emotional.
I just commend her for respecting her body and respecting the show, where she knew she couldn’t do it anymore, so she bowed out and let other people have a chance. Some people wouldn’t have done that. She’s such a beautiful woman inside and out. I’m just happy she had a chance to dance on the show. She would have gone far in the competition.
It’s pretty amazing to think how many people support us. They’ve seen us struggle and get frustrated a little bit. They saw how D.L. felt embarrassed on national television and then he redeemed himself. That’s what this show is all about. I think in the beginning, D.L. didn’t know what he was getting into and now he’s really into it.
I feel better because I know now that he knows what to expect. He’s going to try his best. He’s not going to be the best dancer. We know that. But as long as he gives me his best and tried hard, that’s all that matters. We now know how to communicate with each other. I think on top of that, he knows he needs to work hard in order to stay in the competition.
Tonight is our prom-themed dance. We’re doing a salsa and it’s a song that everyone will know. D.L. was a pimp back in his day. People would pay him to go to prom. He’s been to more than five of them. If a girl couldn’t find a date, he would be that guy they would call.
This week, we really just want to play it up like we’re having a great time. I want him to just have fun out there. The choreography is fun. I want him to play this character. We want to bring out his personality.
Everyone is at their own level. Obviously Zendaya is amazing. Wow, I haven’t seen anyone dance like that since back in the day when Nicole Scherzinger was on the show. I also think Kellie Pickler is amazing. And then you have a gymnast [Aly Raisman], and they are always consistent.
And then you have people who are in the middle of the pack. And then you have people in our category, where we don’t know where we’re going to be.
I just want to be able to thank everyone for supporting us. Obviously, we’re only in the competition still because of our fans. They’ve been so great.