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Dancing With The Stars

DWTS Troupe Member Sharna Burgess Talks All-Stars, Bristol Palin, and Her Favorite Dance – Exclusive

There’s no one with more insight into the backstage sweat and drama on Dancing With the Stars than the hardworking Pro Troupe. So, Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with Troupe member Sharna Burgess to talk about the All-Stars competition and what the Troupe has up their sleeves this week.

Wetpaint Entertainment: It's only Week 3, and already there have been a number of shocking eliminations — two finalists and a semifinalist are gone already. How has the response to that been backstage?

Sharna Burgess: It's been tough, it's been difficult. I think there's been as much shock backstage as there has been in the living rooms of America right now. It's All-Stars. Everyone is so good, so some good ones are going to go home. I have to say, the double elimination was possibly one of the most shocking, and hard to swallow, a little bit, as well. It's certainly putting a little fear in everybody else in the cast. They're in there working so hard everyday, trying to make sure it's not them in the body. It's anyone's game right now; we have no idea what's going to happen every week. So it's quite scary.

With these shocking eliminations, and given that it's the big All-Stars season, is there more of a sense of competition between pairs than there normally is? Is the vibe different?

I mean, everybody is having such a great time and getting along and having fun. But it is definitely another level of competitiveness this season. Everybody is putting in so much, more work, more effort into routines. I think the intensity right now between the partnerships in the rehearsal room right now is high. You can tell that everyone is in it to win it. As much as we're all family backstage and whatnot, it is definitely so prominent that it is a competition right now.

Do you have a favorite dance so far from this season?

It could possibly be Shawn and Derek's Quickstep [during Week 3], I would say. As much as — and there was a bit of an uproar about the scoring and whatnot. At the end of the day it was a bit of a Freestyle routine with the tricks and everything they had in there. And so it got marked accordingly. But it was just phenomenal. It was just a fantastic routine. It's a showcase I would enjoy watching anywhere. You forgot that [Shawn] wasn't a dancer. It was brilliant. It was really brilliant.

Who do you think is the team to beat?

Oh, that's really tough. I have three favorites right now, and it's hard for me to pick between. My favorite two girls, and I just can't pick between them right now, are Sabrina and Shawn. Sabrina to me, she's a dancer. The way she handles moves, the way she hits things, the way she performs and on top of everything else she retains knowledge and technique, I'm so impressed. She's incredible.

And the same goes for Shawn Johnson. I think she's another incredible little talent. I'm awe of the things she does — particularly because I can't do them! Bringing out jumping boards and everything else. I think with the chemistry between her and Derek, and with him being such a wonderful teacher, that we're going to see some amazing dancing from her as well this season. I mean, we already have done. That Quickstep was just incredible.

So they're my two favorite ladies. But I will say that I think Gilles and Peta have really got some great talent behind them in their partnership. He's a fantastic dancer and he loves to work hard. and he does get the ladies' vote quite a bit! [Laughs] I think he's going to be up there in that top three for sure.

Speaking of the judges, some fans complain that the judging hasn't been fair this season. What's your take on that?
I think it's been tough. I think they might be finding it tough on how to score. Because the [level of] dancing is so high, I think they're trying to not give out too high marks for the beginning of the season. And yet, when it came to the double elimination, they were all high marks, basically. The lowest we got was a seven. They don't want to be the ones that really send anybody home, directly, by giving anyone a five or a six, so everyone was in the higher end of the markings scale.

It's tough. I mean, they mark Shawn Johnson a little tougher. Same goes for Sabrina. Because they know what they're capable of, so they have to sort adjust what is a seven for them, what is an eight for them. Whereas, say, they might not see it the same for some of the other All-Stars. It's interesting to watch where their marks are coming from. I wouldn't say all the time I agree with them, no.

But I imagine that sitting in that chair, it's quite hard to decide, okay, how do you judge this person and that person fairly? Because when the dancing is so incredible right now, it makes it all that more difficult to sort of be fair to the Bristol Palins and the Shawn Johnson. I mean, you can't give out a one, and then give out a 10. You have to find that fair scale in between and judge people according to their talents and what they're capable of on the show.

Speaking of Bristol Palin, a lot of fans have been criticizing Bristol for coasting on her fan base and not her skill. What's your response to that kind of fan reaction?

I think it's unfortunate that people get so bitter about it, because at the end of the day, yes, this is Dancing With the Stars. It's never said that it's the best dancer that wins. It's the favorite dancer that wins. And while we can get in an uproar because maybe your favorite celebrity went home and someone that you feel wasn't as good as them stayed in, that is also the name of the game. That is the competition.

Bristol does have an incredibly large fan base. We saw that when she was one the first time,. No one thought that she was going to go through to where she did. And we may see that again this time. My honest opinion? Absolutely no, she's not the dance quality of anybody else that is in the season right now. But she's also working incredibly hard, and it's incredibly stressful. My hat goes off to her. To be a part of a cast when you know everybody is phenomenal, and to know that everybody is sort of looking at you going "you don't belong here," that is another added level of difficulty to go through, so that's a credit to her.

We saw only last week, with the argument between her and Mark, how stress can get to you, and can change your perception of the situation. It brought out insecurities in her that aren't necessary, because Mark is very happy to dance with her. They had a great partnership the first time, and they do this time. But there's a lot of stress on her in this situation. The fact is, ABC brought her back, and she agreed to do it, so we all have to go "okay, Bristol Palin is in the competition, let's go with it."

Abd Kirstie Alley, for example — she's 61! That woman is incredible. And, you know what? I was so impressed by her and Maks. They didn't come and try to do acrobatics, or do this, or do the best Paso ever. They came out and had fun. They know what their strengths are. And you also need that element in the competition, because it gives it light and fun. It gives it different colors to look at and appreciate.

Is there anything coming of for the troupe that you're particularly excited about?
I just got told today that we have a hot, sexy Samba coming up for this week, but as far as I know that's it. We'll obviously be dancing every week, but we generally find out week to week what we're going to do. Unless it's something like a music artist, like Karmin from last week. We'll get our schedules. Sometimes it will be three things, and sometimes it will be one. I'm excited to dance again this week and do the Samba.

You choreographed the Karmin performance last week. Can you tell us about that?
Putting that piece together was a lot of fun,because I got to do it with Sonny Perdersen, he's the new troupe member. He has a really cool, funky style, so putting the two of us together and creating something different — we didn't want to go too far down the ballroom road, we wanted to keep it a little more commercial, a little more fun and fresh just because who Cameron, and Nick and May from the band, are.

I feel like it came off really great. It was so much fun to dance, and do something outside the box for a minute. We're definitely enjoying having Sunny on the show. He's a great new addition to the troupe. I can't wait to see what we do with him in the future. He's so tall, though! 6'2". I felt so little next to him. I'm 5'4", and I'm the tallest girl on the troupe!

Catch a new episode of Dancing With the Stars Season 15: All-Stars on Tuesday, October 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Follow Rebecca Martin on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.

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