Sharna Burgess

The Dancing with the Stars pro on living her dreams, learning from others, and making her own music


I’ve been dancing for nearly 25 years. I started jazz and ballet when I was about 4 or 5 and ballroom dancing when I was around 8 and I never stopped. I fell in love with it from the minute I started. By age 15, I was representing Australia in the world championships, and it just kind of rolled on from there.


I love pizza and pasta. My mom is Italian so I grew up with that type of food—it’s like home cooking for me. If the bread basket gets put in front of me when I go to dinner, it’s so hard for me to resist it. Warm bread with butter is my weakness!


My favorite style of dance is either contemporary or hip-hop. I spent so much of my career as a ballroom dancer and dancing with another person that I love those moments when I get to creatively express myself on my own. It’s a different way of using the music.


I moved to London at 18—at the time, that was where I had to go if my career was going to take the next step. A couple of years later, I toured with a dance company called Burn the Floor, and in 2009 we performed on Broadway. Some producers from DWTS came to see the show because [DWTS star] Maksim Chmerkovskiy was starring in it, and they immediately approached me to be a part of the show.


I have to make sure that I keep up my protein, so I’m always eating chicken or red meat. I eat lots of small meals throughout the day. I try not to overload myself with coffee and sugar so I don’t crash afterward. I always have snacks, whether it’s fresh-cut veggies or fruit or some healthy leftovers


When we’re not working on the show, I dance on average of eight to 10 hours a week. I spend a lot of time in the gym, mostly doing cardio but also strengthening with bands, stretching, and core training, as well as doing Pilates and hot yoga. Plus lots of squats—gotta make sure that butt looks good!


When we start each season, we do only four hours a day, maximum, because we’re easing our celebrities into the craziness. As the season goes on, the time steadily increases. By the final episode, when we have four dances to prepare, we’re in that studio for 10 to 12 hours a day! On the show, it’s not about doing the most amazing, intricate choreography or the most groundbreaking concepts—it’s about making the person in front of you feel comfortable. My proudest moment on the show so far was working with [Iraqi war vet and model] Noah Galloway. I look back on that entire season with pride, not just in how he grew, but also in how I grew and what we were able to achieve together.

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