Cheryl Burke, Gilles Marini
With Julianne Hough out of the picture, Cheryl Burke now has a better chance of making Dancing with the Stars history as the first pro to win three Mirrorball trophies. But don't think she was excited to see her fellow two-time winner eliminated. "We're all really close and we're sad to see her leave," Burke tells TVGuide.com. Spoken like a true champ. See what else Burke, who will dance the foxtrot and rumba Monday with Gilles Marini, has to say about her competition, her new projects and when Marini will strip down again.
TVGuide.com: Is it harder preparing for two individual dances than it is preparing for an individual dance and a group number, like you did for the past two weeks?
Burke: Oh yeah, absolutely! It's a lot harder because the songs are longer and you have to focus on two complete ones — as opposed to part of a second one — and you have to learn the steps faster. I have to start with steps first and get his technique right. Gilles has problems memorizing stuff so it's a really slow process to get the steps. [Laughs] But when he gets it, he gets it.
TVGuide.com: How's his shoulder?
Burke: He says it's fine and he had his cortisone shot. He's going to need surgery after the show, but the cortisone shot is really helping him for now. I'm really trying to choreograph around it. I don't want him to injure it and not be able to continue. Like last week with the Lindy Hop, I made sure the lifts were around his shoulder and doesn't cause too much strain on it.
TVGuide.com: You remain the only couple to have received a perfect 30. What does that say about you guys and/or the season that no one else has done it yet?
Burke: I think this season's tough because there's no clear front-runner. It's exciting because it can be anyone's game and we're all putting in a lot of work. At the end, I think it'll really be a true victory for any of these celebrities. He and I work a lot of hours during the day, so we're trying our hardest to come out there and do the best we can.
TVGuide.com: You said Gilles will be in less clothing as the season goes on, to elicit votes. He's been topless twice. How much more is he going to strip down? We know he doesn't have a problem with nudity.
Burke: [Laughs] I think we're going to cool it for a little bit. If we make it to the finale, then maybe we'll do it one more time. But I think it's working so far!
TVGuide.com: Which celebrity has impressed you the most this season?
Burke: Ty. He has improved so much since the season started. Every week, Ty just shocks me. I'm rooting for him. I was so excited when I found out were going to be on the same team [for the team dance].
TVGuide.com: You have a lot going on — you're opening your third dance studio next week.
Burke: Yup, in Orange County in Laguna Niguel. My second one opened in February and my first one opened last April. I'm opening them slowly but surely. My goal is obviously to make it nationwide. I want to make sure I spend enough time there as well. Having three right now is enough on my plate. I teach a lot of master classes. As soon as I'm done with the show, I'm going to take a week vacation and then go right back to my studio.
TVGuide.com: And you have a clothing line.
Burke: Yeah, it's called Cheryl Burke by Fit Couture. It's all the stuff you see in my packages and it's all about comfort for me. I love looking cute and my clothes are really fit and I like jackets and layering. I've always wanted to start a line. The last few seasons, everyone's asking about what I wear, so I thought why not try something new and create something for everyone.
TVGuide.com: Your birthday is on Sunday. Do you have any plans?
Burke: I'll be rehearsing probably. No party. I'll celebrate it after.
TVGuide.com: After you win?
Burke: [Laughs] Hopefully!
Click here to see what else Cheryl has to say. Follow TV Guide on Twitter for breaking news and scoop.