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ATHLETE INTERVIEW: Cheryl Burke

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At just 23-years-old, two-time Dancing with the Stars champ Cheryl Burke takes ballroom dancing to a fab new level with her killer moves and jazzy ensembles. GL chatted up the dancing diva while she was on tour with DWTS and prepping for season six. Keep reading to find out what life was touring Europe at age 13, her fave dances and what she’d do if she wasn’t livin’ it up as a pro dancer.

GL: How does it feel to be a two-time Dancing with the Stars champion?

CB: It’s amazing. I mean, it’s kind of shocking still. When I first started the show, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I met lots of great people. And just being a part of DWTS and being able to win twice is really an amazing feeling.

GL: Cool, so you’re currently touring with DWTS and preparing for season six. What’s your favorite part about touring?

CB: Being able to be with everybody. All the dancers, we’ve been friends for so many years. Being able to travel around and tour, doing what we love to do in front of thousands of people every night is really something unreal. It’s really something we always have dreamed of, but never thought would happen.

GL: You’ve had some really talented partners on DWTS; do you have a favorite?

CB: Oh no, not necessarily a favorite. I think everyone brought a different experience into my life. Drew [Lachey] was my first partner, so it was the first time that I’d ever been on camera. He really taught me a lot about how to deal with yourself in the public eye and I taught him how to dance. And Emmitt [Smith] was such a down-to-earth guy and just being with him was just a whole other experience. I danced with Ian [Ziering] my fourth season and he was such a hard worker and he was so motivated and it was just awesome to have him on my side. He would just work his butt off. And Wayne [Newton], I mean, he’s just a living legend. I can’t even believe I was actually able to travel and experience that amount of time with Wayne Newton.

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GL: That’s really cool. You began competing at 13, how did you feel about traveling the world at such a young age?

CB: in the beginning, I was a little nervous. I traveled with a bunch of my friends who were a lot older than me. I knew I was in good hands and I’m doing what I love to do. Being able to travel through Europe, that’s where dancing was taken seriously at the time and all my coaches were there. I’ve learned so much, even just living on my own, I grew up a little fast, but at the same time it was such a great life lesson.

GL: That’s so awesome, what inspired you to begin dancing in the first place?

CB: As a kid I started ballet lessons at 4 and at the age of 12, my mom pushed me to ballroom. She took me to a ballroom dance competition. It was different from ballet. I loved how you would interact with another person and work with another person to achieve a certain goal. The music was great, the costumes were fun, and it was just a whole other world and I really, truly just fell in love with it from the beginning.

GL: Do you have a favorite ballroom dance?

CB: Yeah, I specialize in the Latin dances. The Latin dances consist of cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, jive and mambo. And for me, I’ve always loved that, but I also appreciate the slower ballroom dances like the waltz. But for sure my favorite has always been the Latin dances.

GL: Me, too. How often do you practice for the show?

CB: For the show, we practice a lot. We practice about 5-8 hours a day, because we have such a short amount of time. You have a lot of time pressure because you have to get ready for the show itself. So practice is pretty long, it’s about five to eight hours every day seven days a week.

GL: What is the hardest part about dancing for you?

CB: I think the hardest part is just being able to stay healthy and keeping in shape. And that’s what dancing does for you. You’ll always do that, but you have to be careful not to get injured. You have to really take care of your body and stretch and make sure that you’re hydrated at all times. Because once you’re injured, even if you have a sprained shoulder or something, you really can’t do what you can do. So you have to really make sure you take care of your body.

GL: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not dancing?

CB: I love to just hang out with my friends. I love to go out and shop and do stuff like that.

GL: If you weren’t a professional dancer, what would you do as a career?

CB: I’d probably finish college and maybe major in business. My mom is a businesswoman, so I’ve always been raised in that.

GL: Awesome, and last year you received the role model award at the Filipino American Annual Gale, how does it feel to be a role model?

CB: It’s amazing, especially because my mom’s Filipino and I’ve been to the Philippines. Just being a role model in their lives is really truly an honor and to actually have a role model award, I just would never imagine. It’s just great that I’m able to influence people and older people as well who are Filipino. And being able to speak in front of them and show them that if you follow your dreams, they will come true. Being able to be involved in that way is really an honor for me.

GL: What advice or tips do you have for aspiring dancers?

CB: It’s a hard thing to do and it really takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. Practice really does make perfect. I mean, I’m still not perfect to this day and probably not even close. But it really just takes a lot of practice and determination. And if you really truly believe in it and believe in yourself, then you can make it happen.

By: L’Oreal Thompson

3/4/2008 12:00:33 PM
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