A week after announcing she was stepping down from Dancing With the Stars, Cheryl Burke dedicated a heartfelt message to all her dance partners across her 26 seasons.
“To all of my dance partners who each has played a pivotal role in my life, THANK YOU,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a montage of images with her former celebrity partners. “Thank you for the life lessons, for trusting me with your vulnerability, and for ALWAYS giving each dance your all. Though there were times of blood, sweat, and tears, I can confidently say that regardless of it all, not a single one has ever let me down.”
She continued, “Even if “dance mom” Cheryl decided to take over rehearsal at times, ha, you knew that it came from a loving place so thank you again for trusting me, allowing me to mold you into dancers, and for the amazing ride that I’ll never forget. LOVE TO YOU ALL!”
Burke has been with DWTS since its second season in 2006, where she won the competition with her partner, actor and singer Drew Lachey. She triumphed again in Season 3 when she won the Mirrorball Trophy with former NFL star Emmitt Smith. Her other partners over the years have included the likes of reality star Rob Kardashian, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, pro-wrestler Chris Jericho, and comedian Drew Carey.
In the most recent season, Burke partnered with ABC weather anchor Sam Champion. The pair finished in 13th place. Ahead of the finale, Burke announced that she wouldn’t be returning for future seasons.
“Sometimes I wonder what 20 year old Cheryl would say if I told her the new ballroom dance show she’s auditioning for is going to absolutely change her life?” she wrote in a follow up Instagram post on Sunday, November 27. “Would she believe that 17 years later she’d be taking her final bow? Honestly, I doubt it, but I’m so glad that the younger version of me took a chance, snuck out of her studio apartment in Harlem & found the courage to audition!”
“I don’t think I have words that would do justice to what my time on @dancingwiththestars has meant to me, but I will say this – Thank YOU!,” she continued before thanking the show’s execs, every pro and troupe member, the judges, the hosts, the air, makeup, special effects, body makeup and wardrobe teams, and many others from across the crew and production team.
“Thank you to every single fan that watched, voted & has supported me through these incredible 17 years,” she added. “This has honestly been the experience of a lifetime & I owe it to each & every single one of YOU. I love you all beyond words. Always & forever.”
Dancing With the Stars, Season 31, Disney+