Dancing with Cheryl Bautista Burke seems to be part of a winning formula on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
The winning Cheryl Burke appears at a gala celebrating Filipino heritage in Hawaii
It's probably a coincidence that Cheryl Bautista Burke scored her second "Dancing with the Stars" win the same time that "Happy Feet" opened in theaters -- or is it? Apparently the country's head-over-heels for hoofers.
Sponsored by the Filipino Centennial Commission and featuring dancer Cheryl Burke
Place: Ala Moana Hotel
Time: 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $75, to benefit Larawan Youth Ensemble and Mother Earth Foundation
Burke was headed this way to be the center-ring attraction at the Filipino Centennial Commission's Centennial Ball on Sunday, joining local ballroom champs in dancing for their supper at the benefit event.
We caught her by cell phone as she was zipping to LAX. Los Angeles is her home these days, although the Filipino American grew up in the San Francisco area, and has been dancing all her life. She got to Los Angeles by way of New York. What, you expected a professional dancer to work the Midwest?
She'll be seeing most of the country this spring as the "Dancing with the Stars" road show hits the boards. Not in Hawaii, though.
"My mom always brought me to ballet class, but then my mom and dad got me into ballroom dancing and they took me to a competition when I was a little girl, and I saw kids my age doing it and it looked like a like a lot of fun and so I took some lessons and decided to take it more seriously, so here I am," says Burke, who has a charmingly breathless, run-on way of talking.
Her winning partners have been footballer Emmitt Smith and, previously, "former pop star" Drew Lachey. How does it feel to win a second time?
"Oh, my god, it feels great, it feels unreal, it's like I'm still dreaming, oh, my god, but I'm coming to terms with it and it feels really amazing!"
This year, Cheryl Bautista Burke brought out the best in Emmitt Smith.
Clearly, Burke can now be considered a secret weapon, having swung two inexperienced celebrity dancers to the finish line.
"Emmitt and I just had fun, we didn't take it too seriously, we always made sure that, at the end of the day, it was always about fun," Burke explained. "I like to show off my partner's strengths, and Emmitt's, it's his own way of moving. I never wanted to restrict him ... because he's so talented in moving in that Emmitt way!"
What if your partner is more used to scoring touchdowns than pas de deux?
"He related everything I'd teach him to football. Emmitt never did an end-zone dance, but he'd relate the different bits of choreography as if they were different plays in football. He'd never done choreography before, but once he learned it, he never forgot it."
And now, Burke is a celebrity herself.
"It is kind of strange for people to recognize you on the street, but it's great to be recognized for a talent you've worked hard at for so many years."
She's cagey about doing the show again next year. "Possibly. Possibly," she says. It's up to the producers, who also pair the professional dancers with the celebrities. They aren't drawn out of a hat.
"Dancing with the Stars" is all she's done for the last year -- they filmed two seasons in 10 months -- and it's kept her hopping.
"I'm also coming to Hawaii to have a little vacation." She giggles at that. "Get off my feet for a while!"
And, last season, Drew Lachey.