The Dancing With the Stars pros like to stay busy in the off season, and two time pro Sharna Burgess is no exception. The fan fave spent the last few months jetting around the world choreographing and taking part on the Dancing With the Stars cruise.
Wetpaint Entertainment recently caught up with Sharna, and she dished all about her exciting off season activities — and let us know when the pros will find out for sure whether or not they're coming back for Season 18.
Check out what Sharna had to say below — and come back tomorrow for the second half of our interview, where she shared her thoughts on the best and worst parts of DWTS's recent changes.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What have you been up to in the Dancing With the Stars off season?
Sharna Burgess: I've been busy. I feel like since last season I haven't stopped moving and working, which is always wonderful. I'd never wish that away. Straight after the season Paul Kirkland and I went straight over to London to choreograph two big numbers for Strictly Come Dancing [the British version of DWTS].
We also had the blessing of working with four of the paralympians over there. It's a piece we choreographed for them that won't be aired until March, but it's for a charity called Sports Relief. I absolutely can't wait to see it. It's one of the most incredible experiences that I've been through. Working with these people, and how wonderful they are. They just made me so grateful for every day that I get up and I get to do what I love.
Seeing strength in people like that is so wonderful. And understanding that everything that happens to us has a divine reason, and trusting that you're on the right path — just an incredible experience. At the end when I tried to say thank you to them for a wonderful week, and thank you for their performance, I couldn't. I just got completely choked up and had no words, and tried to pass it over to Paul. It was just a wonderful moment to share.
Straight after that we came back for Christmas with Paul's family, then flew to L.A. for literally a day, packed a suitcase, and then went on the Dancing With the Stars cruise! So then we were in the Caribbean for two works. Caribbean and Bahamas. So it was crazy.
Yeah, that sounds very fun, but also exhausting.
Yes! Right now I have a good week left of down time. I've already had a couple of days off, which is good. Just re-setting my body, and getting ready to start the season.
When do you hear for sure if you're coming back for Season 18?
We will officially find out somewhere around the 24th, 25th [of February], I'd say. I don't think we're going to start rehearsals until a couple of days after that. We were originally going to find out earlier, but we got an email sent to us saying things were being held off for a week.
It's horrible. This is the worst part out of everything. This, and the elimination. Waiting to know if you're getting called to come back or not.
Tell us more about the Dancing With the Stars cruise. That sounds like fun!
It was fantastic. Holland America does a wonderful job putting on these cruises through the year. There are six cruises through the year, with competitions on board. Basically, everybody learns a dance routine that [DWTS pro] Kym Johnson has choreographed. It's all passengers on the ship, so no one really has any dance experience, it's just everyone getting into it for fun. And through the six cruises, the guest pros on the ship will judge them.
What happens is the top two from each cruise go on to win a free cruise at the end of the year, where the top 15 compete. And they all compete for first place. And they legitimately have a Mirror Ball trophy. It's made by the same people that make ours. It says Dancing With the Stars, exactly the same, it just has "at sea" at the bottom. I kind of wanted to run away with it!
[Ed. note: The DWTS dance competition is available on every Holland America sailing. The 15 finalists (one representing each ship in the fleet) with the highest scores will then have a chance to win a free cruise and compete on the Champions Cruise in December. The six cruises Sharna mentions are the theme cruises the DWTS pros and celebs take part in.]
It's a wonderful cruise for anyone that is a fan Dancing With the Stars, and anyone that isn't a fan of Dancing With the Stars. Holland America is a great line, and the trip itself is absolutely stunning. The places that you go are incredible. And you get to meet us and hang out with us a lot, too, because we're always in the same area.
For more from Sharna, follow her on Twitter @SharnaBurgess, check back tomorrow for the second half of our interview, and, of course, catch Dancing With the Stars Season 18 when it premieres on March 17, 2014 on ABC!