Cheryl Burke is saying goodbye to “Dancing with the Stars” after 26 seasons.
Burke, who has taken a few breaks from the show over the years, told People magazine, “I have been crying nonstop. It has been very emotional. There [are] a lot of emotions and there’s lots of excitement, but there’s also lots of fear. At the end of the day, this is actually maybe another divorce in a way that I’m going through in one year.”
The dancer, who recently finalized her divorce from Matthew Lawrence, is exiting the show to focus on her health and her future.
“Lately I’ve talked a lot about how my body — it just hurts,” Burke said. For me as a dancer, as a woman, unfortunately, this is what happens as an athlete as well. There comes a time where —I’m almost 40 years old. I’m 38, and I have certain expectations I set for myself. Sometimes, if I don’t see what I want to see or think that I am producing, that has a lot to do with it. But then also, it has a lot to do with growth in general.”
She added, “At the end of the day, it’s my sobriety as well. I feel like I really have evolved and have just done a lot of work within myself and to continue to be judged, to continue to worry about my body, to continue to worry about if I look good or not look good in a costume is not where I am at today.”
Looking back at her celebrity partners over the years, the dance pro said, “Jack Osbourne was amazing. Rob Kardashian, Emmitt Smith, and I love Sam Champion. He’s a dear friend. For me, it was never about the Mirrorball. It was always about my experience. I thank every single one of my partners for teaching me a life lesson because everyone did. Whether you were my favorite or not is irrelevant. I think at the end of the day, the universe puts whoever they want in front of us for a reason.”
She recalled this of working with Rob, “I’ll never forget Rob Kardashian and I walked out for the first dance. He got booed because of his package. He just was the typical, what people thought about him — this spoiled brat. The goal was just to beat Kim Kardashian, which was just week two. He came in second place. I loved that. I haven’t talked to him in a while, but those are those moments that I feel like I’ve made an impact on someone’s life.”
Cheryl hasn’t ruled out returning to the show in the future, but said, “I just would like to try and challenge myself into doing something different. I’m definitely wanting to be more in the mental health space. I have a dance program that I’ve been wanting to come out with for the last decade that I’m hoping to launch next year called Body Language.”
Burke added, “I definitely know as a dancer, I have done what I can do, and that was 26 seasons of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ That’s a great run.”
A few weeks ago she mentioned leaving the show during an episode of her podcast “Burke in the Game.” Cheryl said at the time, “Yes, this is my last season as a dancer.”
She added, “It is hard for me to leave. I always come back, because, I guess, it’s really hard to say goodbye to a show and to a family, that I’ve only known here in Los Angeles. I moved here when I was 21. I’m 38 now.”
Back in May, she opened up to “Extra’s” Jenn Lahmers about how the podcast was helping her navigate life after divorce.
She said, “I’ve been very open with my feelings about, you know, the recent divorce, but also just about how I love to evolve and stay curious and learn and all of that, but I need to be able to stop controlling the situation because I’m a definite control freak and I micromanage everything… It clearly hasn’t gotten me to where I want to go in life as far.”
The star added, “I am on this journey of basically surrendering my fate to our listeners and it’ll be very interactive, so they will choose what I need to do to get to where I can date and to hopefully eventually, like eventually, like, the word dating makes me want to throw up a little bit right now, so I’m clearly not ready for that, but eventually, hopefully find love.”
The “DWTS” Season 31 finale airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on Disney+.