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Parade

Cheryl Burke on Her New 'DWTS' Partner D.L. Hughley

Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke has already earned two mirror-ball trophies—one with Drew Lachey and another with Emmitt Smith. Now, she's going for a third in a new competition starting March 18.

This season, Burke is paired with standup comedian D.L. Hughley. "I was happy to see that I finally had a comedian," she said. "People always associate me with sports players, so it's nice to have someone that just doesn't take himself too seriously, but still wants to work hard at the same time."

The dancer talked to Parade.com about what she thinks of her new partner, who the couple's biggest competition will be, and how this season will be different.

On working and rehearsing with Hughley.
"We've only done two rehearsals so far, and it's just been really fun. It's my first time having a comedian on the show, so it's nice and refreshing to not take things too seriously. But he definitely does want to go far in the competition and he says he wants to win, so he's working hard. There's a great balance."

On Hughley's dancing ability.
"He's doing good. He's very rhythmic, which is a very good sign. It's always too early to tell when you've just rehearsed a couple of days, but he's just trying to get used to the dance shoes, and loosening his hips up, and coordinating everything together. It's just those first baby steps. I will know more later if he has potential or not. Right now, we're just focusing on learning how to walk. We'll see what happens."

On who their biggest competition is.
"D.L. thinks his biggest competition is Andy Dick. You have the two comedians there and they're probably going to be head-to-head."

On how this season will compare to past years.
"I think it's fresher. We're trying to bring the fun back into the show. I think past seasons have been a little too competitive, so I think people just want to bring back that fun and friendly family show that they've seen in the past. All Stars was a little too much. At the end of the day, this is an entertainment show, and there's no need to be that competitive. We're not on Survivor or anything!"

Meet the Next Dancing With the Stars Cast!


On fellow pros Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, Maks Chmerkovskiy, and Louis van Amstel not returning this season.
"It's always sad, obviously. We've all been friends for so many years, and it's always see someone go, or not get asked back, but at the end of the day, sometimes people want to see fresh faces. I'm happy for the new pros, but I'm going to be missing all of my friends that have been on the show for so many years and are now not on."

On what's new this season.
"We just shot a huge promo shoot for the show with Pitbull, so it's going to be amazing. Once you start seeing the ABC promos for the show, you'll see that they really went full out this time. That's something new that we've never done before."

On staying healthy and energized all season.
"This season it's all about staying healthy and keeping my energy up, and this is why I've partnered up with Sargento Cheese because it's a great way to snack and to keep my energy up throughout the day. I love cheese and it's convenient, it's calorie controlled, and it's so flavorful. You can eat it with fruit, with crackers, or just throw it in your purse. During rehearsal, I can just snack throughout, because it's so easy and convenient to be able to bring it around. We have long, eight-hour day rehearsals, and it's really grueling. Normally, I don't eat during my rehearsal time and it just makes my energy go low, so it's important to me to really stay energized."


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