Cheryl Burke announces she’s leaving ‘DWTS’ as a pro after 26 seasons


Cheryl Burke is taking her final bow.

In a heartfelt post shared via Instagram on Sunday, the “Dancing With the Stars” fan-favorite announced she’s exiting the dance competition show as a pro dancer after 26 seasons.

“I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write…Tomorrow night will officially be my final dance as a pro dancer on @dancingwiththestars,” Burke, 38, began, calling the move “one of the absolute hardest decisions” of her life.

“This show has been my 2nd family since I was 21 years old. The cast, crew & fans have seen me through my highest highs & some of my lowest lows, & I honestly don’t know who I would be today without them.”

Burke made her debut as a pro during Season 2 in 2006, taking home the coveted mirrorball trophy with 98 Degrees singer Drew Lachey. She won again with former NFL star Emmitt Smith the following season.

A photo of “DWTS” pro Cheryl Burke
Cheryl Burke announced she’s leaving “Dancing With the Stars” as a pro dancer after 26 seasons.
Getty Images

The “Burke in the Game” podcast host told fans that while dance will “always be a part” of her life, she’s excited for “the next phase” of her career, which includes a commitment to mental health advocacy and her “new found love” for podcasting.

“I hope that you will tune in to see my farewell dance during tomorrow’s Finale as it is dedicated to all of YOU that have supported me, loved me even if you didn’t know me, & who have been such a huge part of my life, my growth, & my story,” she continued.

Cheryl Burke and Cody Rigsby
Burke has been competing on the show since 2006.

“I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get through it without tears but even with the heartache & emotions, I am grateful to have the opportunity to perform this dance & do so with two of my favorite male pros to dance with, @pashapashkov & @louisvanamstel.”

Burke concluded her post by saying there “aren’t enough words” to express her love and gratitude for her “DWTS” family.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

A photo of Cheryl Burke on “Dancing With the Stars”
She’s won the mirrorball twice.

She added,” This has truly been the experience of a lifetime. I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my career, but man will this one be hard to beat! Until next time…Love you all, always & forever xx 🤍.”

The news was also announced via the official Instagram and Twitter accounts for “DWTS.”

“After 26 seasons in the #DWTS family, tomorrow, @cherylburke will take the stage for her farewell performance,” a statement read. “You are an absolute icon and we thank you for so many years of creativity and entertainment! ❤️ We will miss you so much.”

Burke’s announcement comes just days after head judge Len Goodman revealed his own retirement news during the show’s “Semi-Finals.”

“Whilst we all are getting excited and looking forward so much to the finale next week, it would also be with a touch of sadness and this will be my last season judging on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” he said. “I’m looking forward so much to next week’s finale. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely brilliant.”

A photo of Len Goodman on “DWTS”
Head judge Len Goodman also announced he’s exiting the show after Season 31 wraps.
ABC via Getty Images

Speaking to Page Six after the show, pro dancer Britt Stewart reacted to the news and the possibility of Burke possibly filling Goodman’s shoes next season alongside judges Derek Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.

“Cheryl definitely wants to be a judge and I think that she would be an amazing addition,” she told us. “I think that Derek is a testament to a past pro becoming a judge. He really has the knowledge and he has the experience of what it’s like to be in our shoes.”

“I am a Cheryl fan all day long,” she added of the “Dance Moms” alum. “I would love to see her in that position.”

The Season 31 finale of “Dancing With the Stars” airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Disney+. The four remaining contestants vying for the mirrorball trophy are Charli D’Amelio, Shangela, Wayne Brady and Gabby Windey.


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