- (PHOTO) Twitter: @CherylBurke
Cheryl Burke, professional dancer on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars," has spoken up about last week's season premiere.
The dancing pro is partnered with comedian D. L. Hughley for season 16 of the hit television series, but their debut performance last Monday was bittersweet.
Performing the cha cha, Burke and Hughley received the lowest score of the night, starting the season off from the bottom of the scoreboard.
"I thought the fours we got from the judges for our cha cha were a little harsh," started the dancer on a blog posted to People.com. "I felt like the judges were a little mean to D.L. and didn't really give him constructive criticism to come back this second week and improve."
Hughley is best known for his starring role on the sitcom "The Hughleys" and is also a political commentator. The 50-year-old actor was apparently mortified following his "DWTS" debut performance.
"The feedback was a bit of a downer for D.L. because he worked as hard as he could," continued Burke on her blog.
As a result, the pro dancer took her partner aside to explain that the judges' criticism should be used as motivation to come back and improve during the next performance.
"That pep talk seemed to work because now D.L. is in great spirits and wants to do really well this week," Burked added.
Although the dancing pair is not rehearsing along with other "DWTS" contestants in Los Angeles, Burke said they are spending up to five hours each day practicing in Phoenix due to D.L.'s touring schedule.
"Right now we are focusing on ourselves as our main competition," Burke penned, noting that rehearsals are going great.
Tonight, Burke and Hughley will be performing the quickstep and hope for a high score as the first round of eliminations occurs on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Burke has appeared on "DWTS" for 15 seasons and is a 2-time champion, winning the Mirrorball trophy with both Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith.
Season 16's cast members also include "The Bachelor" star Sean Lowe, MTV star and comedian Andy Dick, and country music singers Winona Judd and Kellie Pickler.
Disney star Zendaya and German actor Ingo Rademacher have also joined "DWTS" this season, along with athletes Jacoby Jones, Aly Raisman, Victor Ortitz, and former Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill.
"DWTS" airs on ABC Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.