The old guard over at Dancing With The Stars is packing it in. First came the departure of longtime host Tom Bergeron; then, the show’s original head judge Len Goodman announced his own exit. Now, Cheryl Burke, one of the competition’s mainstay dance professionals, has shared that she’ll be dancing her last dance on the 31st season finale. Burke has 26 seasons of DWTS under her belt and was the first female pro to win the coveted mirrorball trophy.
Burke announced what she called “one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life” on Instagram on Sunday, saying that the “show has been my 2nd family since I was 21 years old.” However, “ I also know that it is time for me to begin the next phase of my career, although dance will always be a part of me,” she wrote. “I am excited about the idea of evolving, about being challenged in new ways, having the ability to expand my commitment to mental health advocacy, focusing on my new found love for podcasting, & I’m ready to face the uncertainty (though it’s scary as sh**) of what the future holds - I do have a few things up my sleeves though, so don’t worry.”
Burke thanked her fans for being with her on the journey and encouraged them to tune in for her emotional final dance. She also expressed her “deep gratitude & love to my entire DWTS family,” writing, “[Thank you for being my rock & foundation for close to two decades during the difficult moments & most of all, thank you for giving ballroom dancing the credit & attention it deserves. You have not only brought joy to millions upon millions of viewers every season, you have brought light & so much love into my heart & soul when I’ve needed it most.”
In an interview with Variety, Burke hinted at what’s to come, teasing that beyond her podcasting and mental health advocacy, “There’s also another opportunity for me to be a part of a show that is very popular, but I can’t say more because nothing has been signed yet.”
She’s also not ready to be finished with this show, going on record that she’d like to take over Goodman’s judging gig. “They are very well aware that I want that seat. It’s not that I just want it, I just know that I can contribute because I am an expert in ballroom dancing. I can say that with confidence,” she told the outlet. “I can also say that my teaching methods haven’t been known to being sugar coated. I have a lot of experience doing Dance Moms. Len is really technical and really tells you how it is. That is my style. It would be nice to see two women on the panel!”