By Hannah Yakobi
Photography courtesy of Cheryl Burke and Shutterstock
Dancing professionally is a highly intensive and demanding experience, but not for Emmy-nominated Cheryl Burke who has been doing it for over two decades (and she is only 29!).
Known to many through the hit ABC television show Dancing with the Stars, where she coaches everything from samba to waltz and freestyle to celebrities, Burke opened her first dance studio in 2008 in California and wrote her biography in 2011.
Named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful people, she catches up with us this month in The Celebrity Issue.
HANNAH YAKOBI: What are you working on this fall?
CHERYL BURKE: I’m on the latest season of Dancing With the Stars: we started training at the end of August.
I’ve also been working with Impress by Broadway Nails. I’ve been lucky enough to work with them and develop my own line, which is coming out for the holidays in October. My holiday line is coming to Canada in November – it will have four different colours.
You were in Toronto this summer to promote Impress. How did that collaboration come about?
I was a fan of press-on nails, but never found the ones that could actually stay on. With Impress, they last between seven to 10 days. With my work schedule, the last thing I want to do is go to a nail salon, and with Impress it’s so easy: you can travel with them, all you do is wipe your nails off with some rubbing alcohol, take the nails from the package and press them on. And you basically end up with what looks like gel-manicured nails. We’ve been collaborating together since spring.
Are you still involved with Dress for Success?
I am. I always love to be able to give back and Dress for Success is about empowering women. That is what I’m all about: I’ve written an autobiography and it focuses on how it’s really important to deal with your insecurities and have confidence.
How would you describe your own personal style since we’re talking about fashion?
I have a very curvy body, so I know which type of dress would flatter my body the best. I can’t wear baggy dresses, for example.
I recently wore a piece by Tony Bowls and I really loved that dress. I think it accentuated my curves and also had a pop of colour. It all just depends on how I’m feeling that day and what event I’m going to.
How did it feel to win your first Dancing with the Stars?
Oh it was pretty amazing! It was my very first season on the show and I obviously did not have any expectations going into it. I was actually still a competitor, competing and living in New York, and I thought I was just going to do this show for one season and then go back to my life and compete again.
I never saw that coming, so I was in complete shock. It really changed my life. This is going to be my 16th season. It’s pretty crazy to see how much my life has changed and I’ve been on the show for almost nine years now.
So after nine years, what to you is still the most exciting aspect of the show?
I think it’s just meeting new people and the challenge of being able to train somebody with no dance experience. I’ve had 15 partners, they’re all different, they work differently and dance differently. What makes it exciting is meeting someone new every single season and trying to teach them how to dance.
Dancing with the Stars is a television show – how does being constantly followed by the camera affect the performance, or does it affect it?
I think in the beginning I was a little bit nervous, because there were cameras everywhere. But you start getting used to it, especially since I’ve now been in front of cameras for all of my 20s.
It’s hard for the celebrities though that come on our show, because they’re doing something they’re insecure about and they don’t feel comfortable. Sometimes, you know, they just want to yell or scream and they’re obviously self-conscious because the cameras are there.
In the beginning, you want to try and be yourself, and it’s hard when you have cameras constantly in your face.
Sometimes you manage to get away from your hectic schedule. You’ve been to Toronto several times this year: what are your thoughts on the city?
I love it. I always look forward to going to Canada. I can actually see myself spending a lot of time in Toronto. The food is amazing, the people are great and it’s different from living in L.A. – it’s a lot more calm, but at the same time there is so much you can do.
And I noticed that you had a summer trip to Paris this year?
Oh yes. (laughs) That’s just a vacation for fun I promised myself, because I work a lot. I promised myself that every two years I would go somewhere that I’ve never been before, so I took my little sister with me and it was just us two. We spent a few days in Paris and then headed down to St. Tropez for a few days!