'DWTS': Cheryl Burke on why her perfect score with Juan Pablo came 'too soon'


Cheryl Burke is currently competing on her 21st season of "Dancing With the Stars," and the three-time champ seems like a lock for a spot in the current season 27 finale alongside her partner, Juan Pablo Di Pace.

Contributing to the feeling that Burke and Di Pace could very well go on to win is the fact that the couple garnered this season's first perfect score last week. But, as Burke exclusively told AOL's Gibson Johns during a recent interview, it's easy to get complacent when you keep getting high marks from the judges.

"It was a little too soon!" Burke said of the perfect score. "Every week you have to start over again. The slate is wiped clean, and everyone starts over. That’s really what happens on this show. Every dance is going to bring new challenges, and it’s important that you don’t let the scoring get to your head to where you get lazy or to where you feel too much pressure and then you over-choreograph. I’ve done both, believe me."

It's a mentality that the seasoned pro has continued to impart on her "Fuller House" star partner this year.

"I tell him constantly, 'You’re only as good as your last dance, and let's take everything one step at a time,'" she added with a laugh. "Literally."

Despite taking praise from judges and on social media with a grain of salt, Burke and Di Pace have a lot to be excited about from their time on "Dancing With the Stars." The pair unquestionably has the best chemistry of any of the pairings this season, and they clearly enjoy spending time with one another both on stage and during their rehearsals. Burke told AOL that she's been "miserable" with some of her past partners, and she's come to the conclusion that her experiences with who she's paired with simply comes down to what kind of people they are.

"What's different with Juan Pablo from all my other partners is that I don't have to teach him to walk. I don't know if it's the Latin blood, but he understands musicality. It's beyond that, though: It's about the person. I've always said that I'd rather have someone I get along with rather than just a great dancer," she explained. "It's like an arranged marriage, and it's the person you have to trust and be best friends with in order for this whole journey to be a great experience."

"Ballroom dancing is between two people, and I don't like to manufacture feelings," she added. "It's real, and you can't teach it. Either you have that bond or you don't."

As Burke mentioned, though, it definitely doesn't hurt that her actor partner has an intrinsic understanding of how to move on the dance floor, which has allowed him to get to a point in dance instruction that she normally doesn't get to reach with her partners on "DWTS."

"I get to dance to my ability with him," she revealed. "We're working on things I would never normally get with a partner with no dance experience. He's a great student: He has an opinion, and he makes me really think out my choreography."

And part of what makes Di Pace such a threat to win the show goes beyond dancing: It's about the whole package. Not only does he connect during their live routines, but he also connects while talking to the judges, interacting with Cheryl in the pre-routine video packages and with the show's hosts while waiting for scores. It's those little moments that, Burke says, are underrated when it comes to nabbing the Mirrorball Trophy.

"You can’t control the outcome," Burke explained. "All you can control is what you do and how much rehearsal you’re doing. It’s all about the whole package: It’s the chemistry, it’s the interviews, it’s that one live moment with Tom Bergeron or Erin Andrews, it’s the packages airing before that and it’s the struggle. People want to see that struggle and see that you’re a human being. If you come on and are too perfect, why are you even here? You’re not relatable. For me, my goal is to get him to be vulnerable and know that it’s okay for people to know the real Juan Pablo."

"Dancing With the Stars" airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC