The 31-year-old dance pro, who has sat out of the competition for the past two shows due to a knee injury she suffered during week seven, chatted with ET on Tuesday, where she revealed she’s more than ready for her comeback.
During next week’s show, which airs Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, the remaining couples will be paired off for a trio of team dances. Burgess is planning on taking the stage with Hinchcliffe, as well as Jenna Johnson, who has been filling in as the IndyCar racer’s pro partner.
“For our trio, we have Jenna,” Burgess confirmed to ET. “We wanted to keep #TeamStopAndGo going. We’ve been together for the last two weeks and we felt like we would love to have her as part of our trio, so Jenna is going to be working with us. And also, we have Argentine Tango this week, which is amazing!”
“There’s a backup plan if I can’t do it,” she added. “It’s going to be a last-minute decision again, but there is obviously another person who is going to learn and step in, if I can’t actually do it.”
“My biggest fear was that I would do that Suicide Squad number and make my knee worse and not be able to finish with James,” Burgess explained. “That’s something James and I have talked about. We want to finish this together.”
“At the end of the day, I needed to do what was best for him,” she said of stepping out of the two dance numbers. “Even though he and I are a team, this is about James. This is me wanting to get James to the finals, so he can win. If the best decision was for me to step out for a couple of weeks so he could have someone that could be a strong partner for him, then that’s what needed to happen.”
I may not have been able to dance it with you @hinchtown but it doesn’t stop it being one of my favorite dances of ours this season!!! I loved being able to create my beautifully twisted psychotic Vienesse waltz on the both of you!! You allowed me to mould you into my perfectly insane Joker and Harley Quinn and I loved every minute!!. You guys crushed it and holy crap James, our first perfect score!! @dance10jenna thank you for being such a great partner for my Hinch!!! ???#teamstopandgo #forever
A photo posted by Sharna Burgess (@sharnaburgess) on Nov 1, 2016 at 9:29pm PDT
Now, Burgess is moving forward and has her eye on the prize — the competition’s coveted mirror ball trophy.
“I would probably cry [if we win],” she admitted. “Let’s be real, if James and I end up taking this home, I do think I’m going to end up being very emotional about it. It’s been a very intense season, especially not knowing if I could come back.”
In fact, she already has a place in mind for where she’ll put it — “in the middle of my living room so everyone can see it!”
Read more from ET’s exclusive interview with Burgess below.
ET: A lot of fans have been asking, in the case that Jenna would have had to finish the competition with James, who would get the mirror ball trophy?
Sharna Burgess: That’s a very good question. I don’t know. Certainly James and I are partners on the show — I still teach him, choreograph for him, it’s still me with him, it’s just that Jenna [has been] my body dancing for me, basically. You can’t deny that Jenna has been a very big part of our whole [journey.] I would kind of hope that all three of us would get one [in that case.]
As a dancer, your body is your work, it’s everything. Any injury for a dancer is serious, but we know this one is especially not to be taken lightly since you’ve hurt this same knee before…
Yes, about 16 years ago I was dancing in the [ballroom] World Championships and I hurt my knee. I had slightly torn my ACL, but when I found out we had made the finals, I refused to not dance. I made them put cortisone in my knee and I went there and danced basically half the finals, and tore my knee up completely, my ACL, I ripped it in half. So, that was a really bad decision.
I had to have six months of a break to have the reconstructive surgery on the ACL. It took me away from dancing for quite a while. As an adult, I know I can’t make that same decision. I know that as much as I think I’m invincible, I’m not. I can only push myself so far, and my instincts were telling me that I really needed to get treatment and rehabilitate my knee as quickly as I could so I could actually get back to James.
Jenna has been incredible, but it cannot be easy watching James dance from the sidelines. What were your thoughts watching their performance last night?
Watching James is amazing. I haven’t had that opportunity before, to watch [my partner] dance live. I’m always in it with him, so being able to stand up in the sky box and watch him get ready and focus right before the song starts, it made me so proud as his coach, a teacher, a friend.
Although it was brief, it was the first time James made a noticeable mistake in the ballroom, but he picked it back up like a pro! That must have made you so happy as his teacher to see him survive that with such grace and energy.
I watched someone grow over the last nine weeks, and I’m telling you, what he’s grown into as a dancer is absolutely amazing and I really got to witness that. Nine weeks ago, if he made a mistake on the floor, he wouldn’t have known how to pick it back up. He would have probably freaked out and been like, “Oh God, what do I do now?”
But now, he knows, he’s a performer! He’s let me train him into a performer, and he knows that the show must go on. The rest of the number was phenomenal, and I was incredibly proud.
We’re now weeks away from the final show. How do you plan to get James back to the No. 1 spot on the leaderboard?
Oof, that’s tough! To be completely honest, there is no real plan. I just need to create really great routines that look good on him, and have him feeling really comfortable so he can go out there and own the heck out of it. I think that James improves so much week to week because he lets me push him. So, I think we just concentrate on that and climb back up the leaderboard.
You’ve had plenty of great partners in the past (Nick Carter, Noah Galloway, Antonio Brown), but what is it about James that makes him stand out? #JusticeForSharna!
Knowing that you guys have a hashtag for me [on your Facebook Live recaps], and are rooting for James and I on this one, is really amazing. I have to say, I’ve kind of felt it from a lot of people, they’ve been like, “This is the one!” Let’s face it — I’ve tried this eight times.
Hopefully this will be the one, and James is certainly the right one to do it. It definitely makes me feel very special and loved and appreciated, which is amazing.
James is incredibly, refreshingly normal. No one expected him to come on the show and excel in it, let alone the charisma, the personality — he’s so down to earth and humble. It’s very charming to watch him learn, take on these characters I give him and then go out there on the ballroom and kill it. I think you can really see how much he wants it.