After three straight athletes for partners, Cheryl Burke is thrilled to be paired with Rob Kardashian on Dancing with the Stars. "It is a little change of pace, but I like it," she tells TVGuide.com. "Athletes are awesome, but I love working with Rob. He really wants to do well and is working so hard." But the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star is not giving it his all solely to win the Mirrorball trophy.
Cheryl Burke: I was really happy! I've never actually danced with anyone younger than me on the show or more my age. I've only had people who were older. Drew Lachey was the youngest and he was in his 30s and I was 21. So I've never had anyone young and full of energy.You have the Viennese waltz. How's he doing so far?
Burke: Great. He's never had any dance experience. He says he doesn't dance when he goes out to clubs or anything. He says he'll sit in the corner and watch everyone do it. So I think this will be really good for his confidence and just to come out and impress people. I think his image — people think he doesn't do much. But he's been working so hard. Our rehearsals have gone really, really well. He comes back every day and he's like a whole new dancer.So you're hoping people will see a new side to him?
Burke: Yeah, I want him to go out there and prove everybody wrong. I feel like I'm taking care of him! I really want him to do really well. I want people to see a new side of him that I see. He's never late to rehearsals. He's always on time. I just don't want people to think he doesn't do anything. He's really hard-working.Kim didn't do that great on the show, to say the least. How does Rob compare to her?
Burke: He's better than Kim, I have to say! [Laughs] I won't know for sure until I teach him a Latin dance. They're both very shy. With a competition, you need to be a little more out there. I think Rob is getting more and more open with me. We have that bickering brother-and-sister relationship. I'm having a lot of fun so far this season. I feel like I'm dancing with my little brother.
Burke: He actually does! He has no problem keeping his feet to the music, which, thank God for that! I didn't think he would be able to do that. We're really working on his posture right now and holding his chin up. He knows how to stand up straight, but it's about keeping it consistent.What are your expectations for the first week?
Burke: I want to stay in the middle of the pack. I mean, of course, I want to be the front-runner, but I'm not sure what the judges are expecting from Rob. He's the youngest of the group. He's not an athlete. He doesn't have a musical background. I'm just hoping he stays in the middle of the pack and we'll slowly work our way up.What do you think of the cast this season?
Burke: The cast is fantastic. I've made so many friends already. I had this huge barbecue on Labor Day and so many of them came. It was cool to hang out with everyone. There's no odd person out who's not being social. Everyone is friendly and I think it's great. People are talking about the cast and that's what we need. There's some controversy [about Chaz Bono], which I don't think is necessary. We're all individuals. We all have our own rights, we have our freedoms and people need to respect that. This is something he decided to do for himself and we should respect that.Who do you think is your biggest competition?
Burke: Um, his sister! [Laughs] He really wants to make it past Week 3. That's his biggest goal: He wants to beat Kim!Dancing premieres Monday at 8/7c on ABC.