The entire “Dancing with the Stars” family is hurting this week after learning about the death of long-time judge Len Goodman. Cheryl Burke is one of several professional dancers who has been with “DWTS” since the very early days of the show, so she has a long history of working with Goodman. After hearing of Goodman’s death, Burke took to Instagram to share a touching post about him.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cheryl Burke Wrote Her Tribute to Len Goodman Through Tears
Burke first joined “Dancing with the Stars” for season 2 when she was just 21 years old, she noted in a November 2022 Instagram post. While she took some seasons off here and there, at the end of season 31 she told fans she was officially retiring from the show. She explained that “dance will always be a part of me,” but she felt it was time “to begin the next phase of my career.” As E! Online detailed, Burke won the mirror-ball trophy during her debut season with her partner Drew Lachey. She then pulled off back-to-back wins by snagging the trophy again in season 3 with partner Emmitt Smith. From there, Burke competed in over two dozen seasons of the show. In her retirement announcement, she referred to “Dancing with the Stars” as her second family, and her tribute to Goodman made it clear he was definitely a key part of that.
Shortly after news of Goodman’s death emerged on April 24, Burke shared an array of photos and a lengthy caption on her Instagram page. “My heart is heavy and I’m in tears as I’m writing this,” Burke’s note began. “There are not enough words to describe how much Mr. Len Goodman made such an impact in my life,” she continued. Burke revealed Goodman was frequently a judge for European competitions she participated in throughout the earlier years of her dance career, and she mentioned the meaningful hug they shared at the end of season 31 when they both officially retired.
Burke Declared Goodman Her Favorite Judge
Burke’s Instagram post included five photos, including several that showed Burke, Goodman, and other “Dancing with the Stars” entertainers in the early years of the show. Her caption continued, “Mr. Goodman, to this day when doing interviews I always get asked who my favorite judge was and without hesitation I would consistently say YOU were!” She referred to him as the “face of Ballroom Dance” and lauded how much he cared about the genre. She loved his “No BS, just STRICTLY BALLROOM” approach and believed “Dancing with the Stars” became the success it was “because of your influence, your passion, and love for the Ballroom genre.”
The retired “Dancing with the Stars” dancer revealed that over the course of the thousands of routines she choreographed, she would ask herself every time if she had focused enough on true Ballroom technique and content. She would also consider her choreography and ask herself, “Would Len give us a 10?” Burke thanked Goodman for never compromising the Ballroom community and wrote, “Thank you for changing my life and for bringing joy to millions of people who have been watching us throughout the years.”
Burke’s tribute to Goodman clearly touched many of her fans and colleagues. Fellow “Dancing with the Stars” pros Kym Johnson Herjavec and Pasha Pashkov commented with broken heart emoji, and over 700 others added notes of support or words signaling their own heartbreak over Goodman’s death.
“Oh I figured you were close but did not know how connectedyou both were and for how long. So sorry for your loss. Sending you condolences, light, and healing vibes,” commented one supporter.