After 26 seasons on “Dancing with the Stars,” Cheryl Burke is stepping away from the dance floor.
On Sunday, Burke announced that she will be leaving the competitive dance series after 16 years to focus on “the next phase of my career” in an Instagram post.
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Since joining the show during its second season in 2006, Burke has won two seasons with celebrity dance partners Emmit Smith and Drew Lachey. Burke revealed to Variety that her favorite part of being one of the show’s mentors was “being a part of someone’s journey.”
“It’s so great to get somebody out of their shell,” Burke told Variety. “I believe that dance and movement does that to you. It gives you a sense of confidence, and that’s the one thing I dance for — no matter how I felt, even if it was a horrible day, once I started moving my body, I just felt so much better with my mental health.”
Burke expressed that it’s time for her to explore some of her other passions, from mental health advocacy to podcasting.
She also added that dancing “will always be a part of me” and would even consider returning to “Dancing with the Stars” as a judge.
“It’s not that I just want [to be a judge], I just know that I can contribute because I am an expert in ballroom dancing. I can say that with confidence,” Burke was quoted as saying. “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.”
Long-time judge Len Goodman announced his departure from “DWTS” after 17 years on the Nov. 14 episode of the show.
@cherylburkeofficial Check out the latest episode of my podcast, #burkeinthegame. Get your tissues ready. #endofanera #dwts #burkeinthegamepodcast ♬ Repeat Until Death – Novo Amor
Regardless of what the future holds, Burke is committed to personal growth above all else.
“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,” said Burke. “If that’s not with the show, then I’m moving forward and I’m moving on.”
In the meantime, Burke will be performing her final dance with Louis Van Amstel and Pasha Pashkov for the finale of Season 31, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
Featured Image via Cheryl Burke