“Dancing With the Stars” dance pro Cheryl Burke will leave the show after 26 seasons in the franchise, Burke announced Sunday, calling her departure “one of the absolute hardest decisions of [her] life.”
“I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write,” Burke wrote on Instagram. “Tomorrow night will officially be my final dance as a pro dancer on @dancingwiththestars. This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life & I am also confident that it is the right one.”
Monday’s finale episode will mark Burke’s departure from the show after appearing on 25 seasons of the show and one season of the “Juniors” spinoff, beginning with winning the second and third seasons consecutively alongside celebrity partners Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith. After taking a hiatus during Seasons 24 and 26, the “DWTS” veteran came back for Seasons 27-31 and most recently competed in the current Season 31 with “Good Morning America’s” Sam Champion.
The dancer expressed her gratitude for the show that Burke callede her “2nd family since [she] was 21 years old,” adding that “the cast, crew & fans have seen [her] through [her] highest highs & some of [her] lowest lows.”
“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 in tribute to the DWTS community. “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.”
Burke also asked her fans to tune into her farewell dance on Monday, in which she’ll partner up with “two of my favorite male pros to dance with,” Pasha Pashkov and Louis Van Amstel.
“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. “I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get through it without tears.”
As for what’s next for the dancer, Burke said she’s excited about the “idea of evolving [and] about being challenged in new ways,” adding that her departure will enable her to “expand [her] commitment to mental health advocacy [as well as] focusing on [her] new found love for podcasting.”
“This has truly been the experience of a lifetime,” she concluded. “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.”