With Dancing With the Stars down to once a year in a television cycle, the pros have been branching out with new creative projects. For Sharna Burgess, her time away from the show has been spent in Australia as a judge on Dancing With the Stars Australia and working her way back to Broadway.
Sharna made her Broadway debut in Burn the Floor back in 2009. A decade later, she's been fortunate to work on two projects that are aiming for the Great White Way — The Storm and Esther: The Heart of a Queen.
Dance Dish recently spoke to Sharna about the upcoming workshop for The Storm and how she thinks these new opportunities will benefit her work on DWTS.
Dance Dish: Tell us about The Storm.
Sharna Burgess: The Storm is based on a couple who had a huge influence on dance. Marge Young is the character that I am playing. This couple were husband and wife and they were big in the world of dance, big influences on the people they taught, who went on to do stage and film. They performed with some of the greats, Gene Kelly was one of them, which really sparked my interest.
They have this beautiful love story. Jim was a musician, she was a tap dancer and they owned a dance studio. At some point, the husband cheats on her with another woman at the studio and their turmoil begins. She wants to stay, but she doesn't know how to. It changes her forever.
DD: Will you be singing in The Storm?
Sharna: I am dancing, singing and acting. The acting and the dancing is where I'm sitting the most comfortable. I've been singing for quite a while. I used to sing when I was younger as well, but it is a new thing for me to have to get up on stage and sing in front of Broadway producers. So I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous about it. It's a good nervous, it's great to be pushed and excited about something new.
DD: This really pushes you outside of your comfort zone.
Sharna: It's all coming at the perfect time. Especially now, Dancing With the Stars is one season a year and I will be going back to judge in Australia as well. It's leaving time for me to try and do all these other things I've been craving time for, but haven't been able to. I'm excited about it and I'm just grateful that the universe is providing these opportunities.
DD: You will also be working with Broadway star Alison Fraser and pop star Frankie Z in The Storm. Have you had a chance to rehearse with them yet?
Sharna: Not yet! Frankie Z performed at the Industry Dance Awards last year when I was hosting and I will be hosting again this year. I'm super excited that he's going to be a part of this. I think he's great at what he does and I am excited to see a familiar face in the rehearsal studio — especially when you're doing new things.
DN: Do you feel that working on these outside projects have rebooted your creativity in a new way?
Sharna: Totally! I think the show itself and the fans are going to be energized and excited after not having Dancing With the Stars for a whole year. I think it's going to be really interesting with the changes that they're making. My creativity has been able to rest and be inspired for 12 months. That's awesome that someone like me is busting at the seams to get out and create, teach and nurture again.
DD: I love hearing that Dancing With the Stars is going back to basics.
Sharna: I think we have to remember that we got too excited for a while. Every week looked like a freestyle and when you get to the freestyle, you think... how much bigger can I go? I've already had 17 people in my number every week.
It took away the magic of the build and all of the magic of just watching someone learn how to do the Cha-cha. We all got very, very good at the smoke and mirrors, but that takes away from how hard it is to learn ballroom dancing.
I think we're going to take it back to basics, but not strip it back in a bad way. We're still going to be the glamorous, massive show that Dancing with the Stars is, but we're really going to hone in on what makes us unique. The storytelling will never go away from us because I think that's such a cool part of what makes us special. We're taking it back to the ballroom, babe, and I am excited!
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