Cheryl Burke got right back to work after she and Chad Ochocinco escaped elimination on Dancing with the Stars earlier this week. "I stayed up until 3 a.m. choreographing our paso doble. We just have to put in the extra hours and get the routine down," she tells TVGuide.com. "The pressure's intense." Even more so after the football star performed a clunky foxtrot and was, as Burke puts it, "trashed" by the judges. See why she thinks the judges' comments were out of line, how they will bounce back and if they'll flirt less in rehearsal.
TVGuide.com: Chad wasn't that great this week, but I thought the judges were too hard on him. Did you?
Cheryl Burke: They were harsh. I was expecting a little bit more constructive criticism. With the cha-cha, they gave him good feedback with stuff to work on, but this week, they just trashed him and said they were really disappointed in him. Instead of giving him something he can work on, they were bashing him. They shouldn't have done that. I mean, they mentioned a little of him not holding his frame and stuff, but the majority of the comments weren't anything that helped. It was hard this week for him. Obviously, you want to improve.
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TVGuide.com: He looked depressed and later apologized on Twitter for letting you down. How did you cheer him up?
Burke: Yeah, I told him not to apologize. It's a team effort. It's like a bad football game. We all lose, but at the end of the day, we have to stay together and work harder for the next week. He knew he didn't dance up to par and didn't go out there and nail it. Not only did the judges bash him, but he was kind of bashing himself because he didn't do it perfectly. I told him that what's done is done. We did the best we could. I think we reached our lowest point and the only way to go is up.
TVGuide.com: What was so difficult about the foxtrot?
Burke: Our height difference is a lot, so it's harder for him to keep a frame while in hold with me without dancing down to me. It's hard to keep posture. I'm 5'4" and he's 6'2" or something. I'm not blaming that — he just has to learn how to dance straight up without dancing down to me.
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TVGuide.com: Athletes traditionally do well with the paso doble. Do you think this will be a breakthrough for him?
Burke: It definitely could. I think this is a chance to really come back and prove to the judges that he deserves to stay in the competition. I think everyone is definitely seeing a side of Chad they haven't seen before. He told me yesterday how humbled he was by this whole experience and that he didn't think it was going to be this hard. I think he's coming across as someone completely different from the Chad people see on the football field.
TVGuide.com: Will there be less flirting and more work this week?
Burke: [Laughs] What you guys don't see is that we do work hard! What you see in our packages is what the producers choose to show. They could've shown his serious side. There were times where he was really frustrated and he walked out of the room to take a break, but they just showed us goofing around. We're in the studio six hours a day. What they chose to show is not indicative of everything that happened.
TVGuide.com: Why did he walk out? Were you arguing?
Burke: We weren't arguing. It was just him being frustrated with himself. Sometimes with frustration, you have to leave the room and take a deep breath and come back in. It's a lot of pressure. This whole experience is more than a dance competition. At the end of the day, he's enjoying this experience. He's taking it seriously, but not too much. If you're too competitive, it'll bite you in the ass! [Laughs]
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TVGuide.com: You guys were one of the last couples saved. Were you worried about elimination?
Burke: Oh yeah, I'm always worried. You never know. You don't know who's voting for you, especially the first week. So no one's really safe. It was very nerve-racking since our scores weren't very high. But it felt so good when we were called safe.
TVGuide.com: Were you surprised Shannen Doherty was eliminated?
Burke: Yeah, it's upsetting. Shannen was not one of the worst dancers at all, especially the last week. She did a great jive. It's really sad to see her leave. On Tuesday, she and Chad really bonded. They were sitting in the hair trailer. She was talking about how much she loves Chad and how great he's coming across. She gave him a little inspirational speech about feeling better about himself. We all get really close. You spend so many hours with each other.
TVGuide.com: You need to tell a story in your dance this week. What's yours?
Burke: I can't say, but our story's going to be... interesting! We're just concentrating on working hard and putting on a great routine — make it simple yet effective. He's so motivated now. Maybe they'll show that next week!