Although there are a handful of significant changes coming to Dancing With The Stars, pro dancer Cheryl Burke is hoping the dance competition series can bring some "normalcy" to viewers during the coronavirus pandemic. It will be hard to keep viewers' minds away from the situation though, as there will be no audience in the studio and judge Len Goodman will be missing because of travel restrictions. Tyra Banks was also brought in as the new host, replacing Tom Bergeron and Erin Andres.
Burke, the veteran among the pro dancers, told TV Insider it is important for her to "grow as a person" during every season. She has participated in 21 seasons so far, winning back-to-back in Seasons 2 and 3. However, she is looking at the new season in a different light. "This show is bigger than what we think it is," she said. "It’s not about one specific person. I think it’s about bringing normalcy back into people’s homes. I tend to stress on things I can’t control. I’m trying to surrender more." Burke said she never wants to look back at any season and see "that it was all stress," noting the pandemic has been "rough and miserable," but, "I've tried to grow as much as I can."
The biggest changes heading into the season has been no socializing between teams and frequently being tested for the pandemic, Burke said. None of the pairs are rehearsing together and "so much" is being done through Zoom. "We have to change the way everyone else has, but we still need to keep it classy," she told TV Insider. "I believe the show works because of the consistency of it. The show can bring back different eras [with its theme nights]. It makes you feel like you’re watching an old movie." There will also be no backup dancers and no troupe members. There will be no skybox or red room where the entire cast gathers to cheer on contestants during their dances.
As for Bergeron's firing, Burke admitted it "really hurt" to see her friend no longer on the show. After all, aside from Burke, co-executive producer Deena Katz, and the judges, Bergeron has been on the show the longest. He was even part of Burke's wedding. "I know Tom would never tell me not to do the show," she said. "He and I share a language that needs no words. We’d always chat before the show. I’m really going to miss that. My heart still hurts. It’s weird not to hear his voice."
Burke is still rooting for Banks to do well in her first season. "She is going to kill it. She owns who she is as a person," Burke said. "It’s awesome that she’s the only host. She got that executive producer credit. Get it, girl!" Fans will see how well Banks does when DWTS returns on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.