It was an exciting and controversial season, so we were happy to get a backstage perspective from DWTS pro Sharna Burgess, who dished on the inconsistent judging, Tony's win, and exactly what's going on between Kelly Monaco andVal Chmerkovskiy.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What was your reaction to Tony and Melissa's win?
Sharna Burgess: I am so happy for Tony and Melissa. I think they had an incredible journey, It was such a wonderful chance for them to have a second go at this together. I think that both of them really nailed it this time around. Tony's choreography was just leagues ahead of anything he's done any other season, and he had a girl who was so talented and capable of doing it. That Freestyle, for example — I don't know many other celebrities who have been on the show who would have had the capability to do that.
To be honest, any of those three in that final could have won and I would have been happy. They each had such a unique journey. I think [for] Tony, it was about time that he won it, and there couldn't be a more beautiful time to do it.
Were you expecting him to win?
Truthfully, the talk backstage on set was that none of us knew what was going to happen. It could have been Shawn and Derek for just pure skill level and choreography. That Freestyle move when she jumped off his shoulders was just insane! And Kelly and Val with their incredible friendship that's built an incredible journey. And in my opinion [she's] the most improved on the show. And then Melissa and Tony — again, another huge improvement since the last time she was on the show, an incredible story, such a loveable girl. None of us knew what was going to happen.
That's how we felt. It was a really strong final three.
It was! And so proud of our first all girl's final. How epic is that? Our All-Stars final was all women!
What was the biggest surprise for you this season?
I was a little surprised when Helio went. I didn't think he was going to go that soon in the competition. I know he was a huge favorite the first time he was on, and such a good character, a lovable guy. That was a sad week. But really, everybody was so good that every week was not so much a surprise as an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, waiting to hear what it was going to be.
It was so up in the air, with the exception of Pamela Anderson. I think we all saw the first week that she was going to be the first to go. And Bristol [Palin] staying in as long as she did — I mean, she has a wonderful fan base, and she was working so hard with Mark to make it happen, and congratulations to her for staying in as long as she did on an All-Stars season. I think everything could have gone any way the whole way through.
What was your favorite part of the season?
Choreographing the Michael Jackson tribute. It opened the show on Week 9. For any dancer, it's a dream to be asked to do something to a Michael Jackson track. We were so excited to hear what the songs we're going to be, and it turned out to be "Smooth Criminal" and "The Way You Make Me Feel." And not that you could ever pick two favourites of his songs, but they are definitely two that are up there. I had a vision of what I wanted to the routine to be, and "Smooth Criminal" was, I think, my favorite part of the piece, and one of my favorite things I've created on DWTS to date.
A lot of the stars and the pros were dancing injured. As a dancer, do you think that's safe?
There's a fine line between how far you can push an injury, and when it's time to stop. As dancers, we understand our bodies and what things are supposed to feel like, because that's our career. We know how far we can push things. But when it comes to celebrities, the smallest of injuries can be frightening, because they don't understand why their body feels that way. The correct medical attention and X-Rays and MRI scans are so important the minute the celeb feels something tweak a certain way. They do make sure they have clearance from a doctor; sometimes they even get multiple opinions, to make sure they are safe.
[Dancers] also know how to compensate — if we're injured in one part of our body, we can compensate with another. This is the education we get throughout our careers. But we have to make sure so much more with these celebrities that they're okay, they're healthy, they can dance. And make sure we give them the proper treatment if they need it.
The judging was very controversial this season, especially when it came to certain choreography decisions, like with Derek choosing to break hold in the finale Quickstep. What do you think of the judges' choices?
To be honest, it doesn't matter what it is, they just need to be consistent. If you want to be strict on it, be strict on it for everybody. If you're going to be lenient on it, be lenient on it for everybody. I think that's the only thing that bothered me. I felt that the consistency in the scoring and the so-called rules was a little off this season. And maybe they didn't quite know where to go with it because everyone was so good. But, as I said, if you want to be tough and take the point, be tough. If you're not going to do it for everyone, don't do it at all.
And we have to ask — What's up with Kelly and Val?
[Laughs] They have an incredible friendship. I know both of them quite well. Val has really nurtured her. She's had such an incredibly difficult schedule between General Hospital and Dancing at the same time. And really wanting to put all of herself into it. The show, the production, has grown so much since the first season. It's a whole new challenge to take on. [Val] really gave her the love and the support and the nurturing she needed to get through it.
They're wonderful friends. She has a boyfriend, and she's very happy with him as far as I know. Her and Val are very good friends, and I'm sure they'll stay that was for a very long time. It's brought them closer.