Cheryl Burke is waltzing away from Dancing With the Stars. The pro dancer and two-time mirrorball champion announced her decision to leave the Disney+ reality competition after nearly 17 years in an Instagram post on Sunday, November 20.
“I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write,” Burke wrote in the post. “Tomorrow night will officially be my final dance as a pro dancer on [DWTS]. This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life, and I am also confident that it is the right one.”
Burke joined Dancing With the Stars in the show’s second season, which she won alongside celebrity partner Drew Lachey. She won Season 3, too, alongside partner Emmitt Smith. She has competed in all but five seasons since, most recently dancing with Sam Champion in this the show’s current 31st season.
“This show has been my 2nd family since I was 21 years old,” Burke wrote on Instagram. “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.”
The 38-year-old — who divorced Boy Meets World alum Matthew Lawrence earlier this year — said that dance will “always be a part” of her life. But she said she’s excited to expand her mental health advocacy and focus on her podcasting career.
In a new interview with E! News, Burke mentioned the “wear and tear” of competing on Dancing With the Stars and noted the show’s intense schedule. “But also, my heart is telling me to see what else is out there,” she added. “We are human, and we evolve. I do. At least, I would like to say that I am a work in progress forever.”
And in her Instagram post, she said she’ll perform her farewell dance alongside fellow pros Pasha Pashkov and Louis Van Amstel in the DWTS Season 31 finale on Monday, November 21, and she’s dedicating that performance to her fans.
“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, and most of all, thank you for giving ballroom dancing the credit and attention it deserves. … I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my career, but man, will this one be hard to beat!”
Dancing With the Stars, Season 31 Finale, Monday, November 21, 8/7c, Disney