Cheryl Burke departs ‘Dancing With the Stars’ after 26 seasons

Cheryl Burke departs ‘Dancing With the Stars’ after 26 seasons

“This has truly been the experience of a lifetime,” says the dance pro, who has been vocal about her desire to return as a judge.

JENNA JOHNSON, ADAM RIPPON

The dance pro will depart Dancing With the Stars after the season 31 finale on Monday night, she revealed on Instagram. Burke, who joined the long-running ABC series in 2006 during season 2 at just 21 years old, said she was excited for the next chapter of her career in the post.

“This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life and I am also confident that it is the right one,” Burke wrote. “This show has been my second family since I was 21 years old. The cast, crew, and fans have seen me through my highest highs and some of my lowest lows, and I honestly don’t know who I would be today without them.”

While “dance will always be a part of me,” Burke said, it’s time “to begin the next phase of my career.” The DWTS vet cited her commitment to mental health advocacy and newfound 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.”

“Though there aren’t enough words to express my deep gratitude and love to my entire DWTS family I will end with this: thank you for being my rock and foundation for close to two decades during the difficult moments,” she said. “Thank you for giving ballroom dancing the credit and attention it deserves. You have not only brought joy to millions upon millions of viewers every season, you have brought light and so much love into my heart and soul when I’ve needed it most.”

Burke added, “This has truly been the experience of a lifetime.”

Burke won seasons 2 and 3 of the series alongside celebrity dance partners Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith. She previously departed at the end of season 19 but returned for season 23 before taking off seasons 24 and 26. Burke returned for seasons 27 through the current season 31. She and partner, meteorologist Sam Champion, were eliminated on week three.

DWTS

Cheryl Burke

| Credit: Laretta Houston/ABC

While she’ll no longer be hitting the dance floor, the DWTS vet has been vocal about her desire to return as a judge following Len Goodman’s retirement from the show. “They are very well aware that I want that seat,” Burke recently told Variety. “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 continued, “Unfortunately, that decision is not up to me. I would love to still be a part of the family, I just would love a different role on the show, just like anybody after 26 seasons of having that same title. I think it’s important, for me at least, to feel like, okay, let’s grow together as a brand and also for me as a person. If that’s not with the show, then I’m moving forward and I’m moving on.”

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