"The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd has publicly denied accusations that she was caught cheating ahead of Monday's "Dancing With the Stars" premiere -- she was seen taking a handful of dance classes in early December. But it turns out that Sherri wasn't the only celebrity to get in a little practice before they signed their contract.

"I don't think it’s cheating, " one show insider tells me. "It would be stupid to not check out a few dance classes before you sign up to a grueling dance competition. If you don’t like to dance in the first place, then why would you want to be on 'Dancing With the Stars'?"

Sherri seemed to agree: “I’m glad I did, because it showed me if I was up for this challenge ... I’m 169 pounds, I’m diabetic and I’m pigeon-toed. Y’all do not want me falling out on that dance floor."

However, any suggestion that Sherri or other cast members were practicing months ago with their professional partners is simply not true. Both the professional dancers and their celebrity counterparts only find out who they will be partnered with the day before the duos are announced to America.

"We have no say, we have no idea," 'DWTS' veteran Cheryl Burke tells me. "Thank god they brief us because most of the time I don’t know who my partner is. Thank god for Google. The producers know our personalities so they know whom we will get along with and whom we won't get along with. The first couple of weeks you get to know each other, that’s why we have a three-week training period (before the live shows) and get to know what this person can do and not do."

Cheryl also explained that the show has changed its training period from the original six weeks to three weeks so that the stars' dramatic improvement could be seen on live TV. So, it's no wonder that a few clever celebrities chose to hit the dance floor before they even knew their professional partners.


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