The “Dancing With the Stars” family said goodbye to one of their own when longtime pro dancer Cheryl Burke retired during the season 31 finale. The dancer announced her retirement on Instagram and the post was flooded with her fellow pro dancers and contestants from the show leaving tributes and messages of how much she has meant to them over the years.
Cheryl Burke Thanked Her ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Family for Being Her ‘Foundation’ Through ‘Difficult Moments’
Burke announced her retirement from the show (as a pro dancer, at least — she has said she would love to become a judge on the show) in a November 20 Instagram post. She said she had “conflicting emotions” about the decision, but she also wrote, “This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life, and I am also confident that it is the right one.”
Burke said the show has been her second family and she “honestly” doesn’t know who she would be “without them.”
She also teased her farewell dance, which Burke said is dedicated to all the fans that have supported her, loved her and “been such a huge part of [her] life” all these years.
“I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get through it without tears but even with the heartache & emotions, I am grateful to have the opportunity to perform this dance & do so with two of my favorite male pros to dance with, @pashapashkov & @louisvanamstel,” wrote Burke.
On an Instagram story, van Amstel teased that he and Burke will be reprising one of their favorite dances that they performed together in an earlier season of the show.
Burke finished the post by writing, “Though there aren’t enough words to express my deep gratitude & love to my entire DWTS family I will end with this: 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.”
The ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Family Wrote Tributes to Burke
In the comments, past and present “Dancing With the Stars” pro dancers and contestants wrote tributes to Burke.
“I’m not ready, love you so much @cherylburke,” wrote pro Daniella Karagach.
“I’m already tearing up,” wrote pro Peta Murgatroyd.
Pro Val Chmerkovskiy wrote a lengthy message to Burke, whom he credited with changing both his life and “the course of the entire ballroom dance industry.”
Way to rep our little dance world on the biggest stage and being one of the pillars that put this show on the map and the ballroom dance world in the process. The doors that were opened to us by you and that original cast I will never take for granted. It’s changed my life and a lot of lives around me. I know you for many years before this photo was taken, and when you took that leap of faith to join this silly Hollywood project you did more than just change your life, you changed the course of the entire ballroom dance industry. Final bow for a legendary career, friend.
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called Burke “iconic,” writing, “Love you sister. You have inspired so many. And you are the OG Freestyle winner in my book… ‘Save a Horse’ with Drew [Lachey] is ICONIC! And once you two did that Freestyle became a whole different thing! Love you and proud of you for all you have faced and continue to face and the way you do it.”
“What a ride it’s been, so grateful I got to do it with you! So proud of everything you’ve achieved. Love you so much xoxo,” wrote former pro Kym Johnson Herjavec.
Burke’s two-time partner Emmitt Smith, with whom she won season 3 and again danced with in season 15, wrote, “Congratulations on your decision!! You You were and are a great partner. Much Love Season 3 Champion.”
Season 9 winner Kristi Yamaguchi wrote, “Thank YOU for the countless awe-inspiring moments on the dance floor and off as a friend. You set the bar awfully high and raised the game on DWTS. I will miss watching you dance and but hoping we will still see you create and choreograph (or judge:-) I know your strength and passion and compassion will serve you well in this next chapter. Love you and enjoy every second of your special farewell.”
Pro-turned-judge Derek Hough wrote, “It’s been a wild ride. So proud of all you have achieved and overcome. Forever left your mark on DWTS. It’s been a pleasure,” and he signed it “BL” with a winking emoji, so we wonder what inside joke “BL” stands for.
Season 31 contestant Selma Blair added, “I love you @cherylburke. Your time on the show and your elegant, gorgeous, fun, loving and brilliant, you have touched so many people. Your new era will be remarkable. As are you. All love. Thank you.”
“I have loved watching you dance every season and then I got to dance WITH you! You’re a legend and such a kind beautiful soul. Congratulations and I will definitely be watching your final dance!” wrote season 30 finalist Amanda Kloots.
Gleb Savchenko, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe, Artem Chigvintsev, Ezra Sosa, Lindsay Arnold, Koko Iwasaki, Cody Rigsby, Chrishell Stause, Jordin Sparks, Jewel, Shangela, Charlie White and many more “Dancing With the Stars” family members and countless fans also left messages.
In the comments, Burke took time to thank all of the past and present pros, many producers from over the years, all past and present judges and hosts, and every single one of her partners that she could tag.
Burke’s final appearance as a pro was during the season 31 finale on Monday, November 21 on Disney Plus.