Will Chris Jericho channel Fred Astaire on Dancing with the Stars? That's what Cheryl Burke is hoping for during their quickstep on Monday. "We're definitely going for a completely different look and feel and vibe than from what you saw in the cha-cha," she tells TVGuide.com. "I want people to see there's more to Chris than just being a huge wrestling star." But there will be less of one thing — perhaps to Jericho's chagrin — during their routine: bling.
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How'd you think your cha-cha went?
Cheryl Burke: I thought it was great. Chris has no dance experience and he's come such a long way from the first day we started training to the actual show. He didn't look awkward. I felt like he nailed every step and he definitely has a lot of potential to get better and better every week.
How's your quickstep looking?
Burke: Pretty good. We've gone through the whole routine. They gave us our second dance earlier this year, which is nice, and I taught him the basics. The quickstep has a lot more steps, so we have to really work hard. He needs to work on his posture. Especially when we do the quickstep and the ballroom dances, it's going to be harder for him to stand up straight. He has such big arms and shoulders. I call him No Neck. [Laughs] Sometimes he looks he has no neck!
Have you busted out the posture bar yet?
Burke: I did. I took that out for him, but now he needs to learn how to hold his posture on his own. He needs to hold his arms without depending on that bar.
Chris is your third athlete partner in a row and fifth total.
Burke: I know! I love athletes. I was excited to get him. I think an athlete knows what it takes to make it far in the competition and to train. It's been easy to work with them. Chris is so motivated and so dedicated to really do well. He'll train long hours if we need to. He'll do whatever it takes. With his sport, he's so used to the rhinestones and wearing hardly any clothes, so whenever I put him in anything, he definitely won't complain. He actually asked for more rhinestones on his costume last week! [Laughs] If you noticed on his jacket, there were a lot of rhinestones. He asked for more bling.
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How much bling is he going to have in his quickstep costume?
Burke: Probably not a lot. I'll have to break it to him! We're going for more of a '40s look. We're going back in time and we're going to show hopefully a different side of Chris — the gentlemanly side. He'll be very Fred Astaire-like. I don't think he'll be ripping anything off unless there's a wardrobe malfunction.
What does he bring to dancing from wrestling?
Burke: Just a whole new audience. The last time we had a wrestler was Stacy Kiebler in Season 2. Chris has obviously been in the wrestling world a long time. He's won a lot of championships, but I think it invites a whole new audience, which Dancing is trying to get. Wrestling fans are crazy fans!
I don't know what it was like in the studio, but the cheers during your rehearsal package were so loud that I could barely hear anything.
Burke: Really? That's crazy! I remember walking out and hearing applause and going, "Oh my God, I can't hear anything!" But it was nice to hear that response. I think it gave us an extra confidence boost.
What did you think about everyone else's performances?
Burke: I think everyone did great. I think everyone was nervous. ... It's very hard to go and dance in front of a studio audience if you've never done that before. People just need to know we're all there for each other. We're all so close already, so we fool around backstage as much as we can to keep everything light. I think Kirstie [Alley]'s amazing. I think she went out there and had fun. I think she was one of the ones who shocked a lot of people.
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Imagine how much more nervous everyone would be had there been an elimination this week.
Burke: Seriously! I love this format. Everyone gets a chance to stay for more than one week. To judge on someone's first dance is really hard to do. Now that they get the flow of how the show works, it helps to have an extra week to hopefully [improve] on your scores and to let the audience get to know you more. [After next week] will be hard because we'll only have a few days to turn around a dance. It's going to really separate who can learn fast and who can't, but I'm not that worried about Chris. He's used to live performances and learning routines.
He calls you the Dancing Yoda. What's your nickname for him?
Burke: [Laughs] Right now, just No Neck. But that's starting to go away. His neck is starting to appear! Once he gets his posture down, I'll stop. Maybe next week I'll have another one for you.