So read on for Sharna's take on the orchestra switch up and the one day a week format — plus, her thoughts on the neverending experienced vs. experienced stars debate!
Wetpaint Entertainment: Looking forward to Season 18, there have already been some changes, such as the switch in the band. What was your reaction to that?
Sharna Burgess: Everybody blew up about the orchestra situation too quickly, before the right information was given. There have been changes, absolutely, but it's not that we're not going to have live music. We're always going to have live music. That is such a key element to what makes Dancing With the Stars unique and special. But we have changed our band.
As much as I love Harold [Wheeler, the former DWTS bandleader], and it's always difficult to say goodbye to people who have been with the family for years, especially with those guys who have been with the show for 17 seasons, look at how often Dancing With the Stars — and any TV show for that matter — changes their set, or changes their host, or changes their judges. Us, our pros. Something is always changing or evolving.
I love and respect Harold Wheeler and that entire band, but we're stepping it up now. We're finding a band that does something a little different. No one is saying better, but maybe they're just saying different, a fresh opinion, a fresh eye. A different way of doing things. Again, Harold and the band have been there for 17 seasons. Sometimes it's time to change up. And it's hard to say that, but we go through that every season. We're changing the pros every season. It's not unusual for the show to make drastic changes like that.
That's true. In fact, the show went through it's biggest change yet last season, with the elimination of the results show. Now that we've had a whole season of the new format, how do you think that's working?
I have a love/hate relationship with it. I do miss the two days. I miss having the proper results show, I miss the elimination being on a separate day. But there are many things I love about it. That two hour show on Monday is just fantastic. You get everything. You get the whole rollercoaster, from start to finish. I think for viewers, especially today — who has time to tune in for three hours a week? This way all you have to do is tune in for those two hours on Monday, and you'll get everything. There's something about that that I think, today, really works.
Yes, there was something magic about having the results show, and the pro numbers, and the Macy's dance. I have heard a little rumor that we're trying to bring back in the Macy's numbers and more performances, because we miss that as well as our viewers. but I think it is a change for the better.
I just hope they get rid of that glitter pit, or whatever they call it, next to the judges. I don't like that. And I think a lot of us say the same. I don't like sitting next to the judges when they're doing their scoring. For us, it's just difficult because we always have to be there, on camera. Whereas when we had the sky box, we could disappear, practice with our partner, get them in the zone, get them focused before they go onto the floor and dance. Whereas this way, we have to sit there the whole time, then get taken out one dance before ours, and then go straight on. So you don't have any focus time. You just have your celebrity sitting there, watching everyone else dance, getting intimidated.
We miss the results show too, but it's definitely true that the Monday show is now so full and snappy. It's really fast paced!
It was kind of amazing how much they were fitting in. There was one show near the finale where I think I had eight [costume] changes. And I had quick changes. I felt like I was back on Burn the Floor. I would bump into a commercial break, and then I'd have like a minute thirty to get changed, and then I'd be in the next bumper that was coming out of commercial break. Crazy! But they made it work.
We're glad to hear they may bring back the Macy's dances. People do miss that.
I hope that's true. Again, it's just rumor that I've heard, it's nothing official. But I would say that I totally miss having those really special numbers. So hopefully. Maybe they don't have time in the beginning of the season. Maybe later in the season when there are less couples.
Looking back to last season, one of the big issues was the question of whether or not it's unfair that certain stars have more dance experience, especially with Corbin Bleu. What's your opinion on that debate?
It's a difficult situation, because someone like Corbin — he is a wonderfully talented dancer, yet he's a dancer by trade. Yes, you can have the argument that he hasn't done ballroom before. And no, he hasn't, so he is learning something new, but he does have an advantage over everybody else in the competition.
But you can also argue that the athletes that come in have an advantage over the older people that come in. Or — everybody has some sort of advantage over the next, and as we saw last season, it doesn't even matter. He didn't win! He didn't win, even though he was an amazing dancer, a fully trained dancer. What matters is who the fans get behind.
And there's always going to be controversy on the show. It's kind of wonderful that we can have someone like Corbin come on and do incredible numbers, and really give you that wow factor, and then we have someone like Bill Engvall make it to the finale who just warms your heart and makes you want to vote for him. That is the beauty of Dancing With the Stars, that is the diversity. It appeals to anyone on the planet. It matters how much you rally behind your favorite.
Because if you don't want Corbin to win, you better pick up your phone and vote. I think it's a bittersweet thing. I can see how people say it's unfair if Bill Engvall is their favorite. But if you step back and look at the show overall, it's kind of really nice to see someone come out and really kill it, technically, on the dance floor, and just be wowed by it, and entertained for a moment.
If you got to pick, which would you prefer as a pro — a partner with dance background, or someone totally inexperienced?
That's really hard to answer, actually. I think both are fantastic. Any pro that's been on the show for a long time will tell you that it's actually more difficult to have a more talented celebrity, because you put so much more pressure on yourself to get excellence. So, it's hard to pick one.
I love that challenge, and I love working with someone who just soaks in information and creatively can just vibe with you, like a Corbin. But also in my experience with working with Andy Dick, and having such a wonderful journey with him, getting to know him, seeing him come out of his shell and really discover who he was on that show — I also loved that too. I loved that nurturing side of it.
If there's any one wish I could make, it's that I could alternate seasons. [Laughs] One season super talented dancer, dance background, one season someone just in it for the experience and to enjoy life. In a perfect world, that would be my balance.