Cheryl Burke’s ‘DWTS’ Blog: How She Reacted to the Judges and Hopes for Ray Lewis

Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about her quest to take home the season 28 mirrorball trophy! Check back each week for her latest update on the competition.

Following the Monday, September 16, premiere of Dancing With the Stars, in which Cheryl Burke and partner Ray Lewis received a score of 15 out of 30, Burke opened up about the premiere and what’s next.

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On how Ray Lewis did:
I was so proud of him. I didn’t know what to expect because we lost some days of rehearsal and I didn’t know if he was a performer or not. Our dress rehearsal on Monday, before the live show, went OK. We kind of lost it at the end, so I was like, ‘Oh no.’ But I always say to myself, ‘Bad rehearsal and great performance!’ Then he just knocked it out of the park when it was time to go live. I was worried that he was gonna be tired because there’s a lot, especially the first day of anything. The premiere, it’s always like this hurry up and wait type deal. He was able to just save his energy and stay focused. This is why I prefer dancing with football players!

Cheryl Burke and Ray Lewis on Dancing with the Stars
Cheryl Burke and Ray Lewis on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ABC/Eric McCandless

On the advice she gave him beforehand:
I always say that to all my partners, ‘It’s just me, you and the music. That’s it.’ Sometimes people can get lost within the crowd, but we have to remember that ballroom dancing is an intimate sport where people look into your story and not the other way around. It’s so important to just stay focused as a couple and that you don’t let your adrenaline get the best of you by dancing too fast to the music or whatever. Just stay calm and collected and take it all in and know that everyone in that ballroom is rooting for. No one wants to see anyone to do bad.

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On the judges’ scores:
I didn’t pay any attention to it. Look, we already got that warning from Carrie Ann [Inaba] that they were going to judge a lot harder. The executives also told us that and you know what, I didn’t even care if we got 1s because honestly, he did a great job and there’s only one way to go from there, and that’s up. So, I was just happy that we started there. It was pretty average, I think, throughout the night. The highest score was a 21, but this is another reason why I love athletes. They don’t compare themselves to anybody but themselves. I truly think that that’s what the judges do, as well, because at the end of the day, they look at your situation. They see if you’re a dancer or if you’re not a dancer; they probably take into consideration your age and what you’ve done and if you’re an athlete or if you’re not, or if they see potential. That’s how they probably score each couple.

Cheryl Burke and Ray Lewis on Dancing with the Stars
Cheryl Burke and Ray Lewis with Tom Bergeron on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ABC/Eric McCandless

On their tough journey so far:
We went through a lot. I mean we don’t want to really talk too much about it, between me and Ray, we’ve got injuries, so it’s like we had to change that last minute. We dealt with with that and then with the hurricane that never hit Florida and missing a whole week of rehearsals basically. For what we were able to do it was great. I could not have asked for anything better.

On the new technicalities judges are focusing on:
I like it because they’re bringing it back to ballroom. There’s a technique book and I would love to see the show have requirements in each dance, like, you have to have these three basic moves or figures in each routine. Everyone has to have it. And then it’s kind of judged like the Olympics. I think people are so used to flash and trash nowadays that it’s like, a lift is great and all, but anyone can do that. It’s not about the lift, it’s not about the trick, it’s about how you do these basic moves and it’s the training and it’s how detailed ballroom. You cannot ever get by by not focusing on the detail.

That’s what makes the show different. At the end of the day, you can put as many LED screens you want, but it doesn’t really matter for ballroom. I have to tell you, these executives found me, and not necessarily these dancers that we have now, but the OG dancers — they found us all in ballroom dance competitions all over the United States. The reason why this show, got picked up in the first place was because of how crazy our world is. It’s not normal. All the glitz and glam that you guys see, but it’s really not that. It’s actually a lot of freaking work and it tests you and your partner’s relationship.

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On plans for next week:
We’ve got our week 2 music and dance about a week ago. But because, I hate to keep mentioning this, we have less time with rehearsals, we just needed to focus on one dance at a time. If we had that extra week, we would have already probably been done with this dance. For me, I’m going to be able to at least assess if Ray can do this turnaround. One day, learn a routine. The next day, learn it to music and then work technique.

Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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