Dancing With The Stars
Choreographer Sharna Burgess
By Brittany Lombardi
Inspiration can come from any aspect of our lives; the bright flowers in our garden, the people that we see at Starbucks every morning, or remarkably talented ballroom dancers like Sharna Burgess from Dancing with the Stars. Being a part of a renowned show has not only become a ‘job’ for Burgess, the cast and crew have become her family. “I love coming to work everyday to just have fun with my friends from the show. One thing I will always cherish is how close we have all become.”
However, before the launch of her career as a famous dancer and choreographer, Sharna grew up in the countryside of Austrailia, climbing trees and playing sports. “I was involved in everything! Basketball, softball, jazz, tap, ballet and gymnastics- I did it all!” Around eight years old, Burgess observed her first ballroom competition a family member was participating in. Instantly, she fell in love with the shiny colorful elaborate costuming as well as the positive social energy that filled the room. Competing in many local national tournaments, earning several titles, at fifteen, Burgess was chosen to represent Australia at the World Championships and had the privilege of performing in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony.
Looking to advance her career and skills as a young upcoming dancer, at eighteen, Burgess moved to London where she won more awards in competitions and appeared on the show Simply Ballroom. Renowned Broadway choreographer Jason Gilkison recruited Burgess to be a part of his cast of Burn The Floor of which she was a part of for six years. Coincidentally, Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were in the audience at a few of her performances and loved Burgess’s spunky stage presence, offering her to be a part of Dancing with the Stars on several occasions. Unfortunately, due to preexisting contract negotiations, she had to decline.
Upon her departure from Broadway, Burgess quickly made the transition to film and television, guest appearances on Dancing with the Stars Australia and So You Think You Can Dance Holland. In 2011, working with A-list choreographers to fuse the hip hop and Latin to create a new style of dance, Burgess choreographed her first feature film, Street Dance 2 – 3D.
Today, as she balances being a full-time cast member on Dancing with the Stars perfecting her craft as an actor and dancer, Burgess is working with her boyfriend, professional choreographer Paul Kirkland on creating a dance convention, featuring master classes in all styles of dance, focusing primarily on the socialistic benefits and art of ballroom dancing. “Ultimately, I want my legacy to live on through our dance communities. Not everyone has the money or opportunity to take a dance class. I want to give back to those that wish to dance simply because it is therapeutic to them, a way to escape.”
In addition to entertaining audiences, Sharna also takes pride in teaching, sharing her passion and knowledge with others. As people, we struggle everyday to find ways to set ourselves apart from the rest, to be better or improve. When it comes to dancing, whether beginner or advanced, Sharna encourages all dancers to “remember to keep an open mind, find your own unique style in your movement. Everyone’s dance experience is different- learn to be yourself. Dance is about self expression- be the dancer you want to be.”