Cheryl Burke and Rob Kardashian Cheryl Burke and Rob Kardashian

Cheryl Burke, a two-time Dancing with the Stars champ, feels a little rusty being in the semifinals. "It's been a couple seasons since I've made it this far, so I have to get used to it again!" she tells "But I'm very excited to be back and to have a shot at another final." Burke and Rob Kardashian will duke it out for a spot in the final — with three dances — against J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff, Ricki Lake and Derek Hough, and Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. "I think it's going to be close," Burke says. "J.R.'s gotten amazing scores and he is amazing, but every single week, it changes. I think it could be any of us making the final and I just really hope it's us." See what else she has to say about preparing for the semis, doing three dances and if Kardashian really name-drops USC as much as it seems.

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I think a lot of people were surprised to hear that you've never done an Instant Dance before last week.
Cheryl Burke:
Yeah! I think a lot of people think I always make it until the end, maybe because I've won twice, but I haven't won since the third season! I also haven't made it this far in a while, so I've never done an Instant Dance. It was really stressful because I didn't know how it was going to end up, but Rob is a fast learner and I think it turned out great.

And now you have three dances. How are you preparing?
We started with the Argentine tango first. He still needs a lot of work, then the samba and then we'll focus on the cha-cha relay. We're literally taking it one step at a time. Rob's actually not as stressed out as I thought he was going to be. He knows he has a lot of work to do, so he's just putting in the work and we're doing straight-through rehearsals, like five, six hours with no breaks really.

Do you think it's fair to make you guys do three dances? You're all exhausted at this point and it puts even more pressure on the celebrities.
It's [fair in the sense that] we all have to do it, but it is really, really hard. The semifinal is obviously really important and everyone wants to do their best and step up their game, but three is a lot for everyone. I couldn't believe it when they said, "You have three dances." But we're all in the same boat and there's nothing we could really do. The good thing for Rob is that he's already done the cha-cha before, so we're just going to have to recycle some of the stuff we've done.

What do you think he still needs to work on?
I think he really needs to work on performing and being into the character of each dance. We haven't done the samba yet, so I think the samba will be a challenge for him.

Dancing's Cheryl Burke: Rob Kardashian is better than Kim

Are you going to throw in samba rolls?
I'm going to try! We'll see what happens!

You were crackin' the whip last week. Are you this week?
You know what? I am. But he's also cracking the whip on himself because he wants to make the final really badly, so it's not like he's not working and I'm being hard on him to work. He's really pushing himself and we're going to try our best to get to the final together.

You thought Rob had a lot of potential at the beginning of the season, but did you think you would be one week away from the finals?
I'm not going to lie, if you asked me in the first couple weeks of training, I would've said, "No." [Laughs] But now having gone through the past eight weeks and him improving every week, I knew he could make it this far. I know he has talent and he has proved that to everybody.

Has he been distracted at all by the hoopla around Kim's divorce?
No, that hasn't distracted him at all. He's been really focused and determined to make it to the final. When he comes to rehearsals, he comes in ready to work. There are only two more weeks left and then he's a free man! So I think he's really trying to keep his head together and focus on dancing and not anything else.

Are you thinking about possibly winning your third Mirrorball?
Not yet! If we make it to the final, then maybe. Right now, I'm just concerned with the semis. This is enough to focus on, especially not having been here the past few seasons.

I think everyone wants to know: Why does Rob mention USC so much?
[Laughs] Oh, I don't know! I don't think he purposely mentions it that much, but they ask him questions about it and he answers them and says it. Then they cut it like that and it's hilarious!