'Dancing with the Stars' Pro Cheryl Burke Talks Retiring: 'I Have so Many Question Marks'

Cheryl Burke has been a pro dancer on Dancing with the Stars since season 2. But now, after more than 15 years performing as a pro on the ABC competition series, Burke is seriously contemplating retiring. Find out what Burke has to say about the possibility of retiring from Dancing with the Stars. 

‘Dancing with the Stars’ has changed for Cheryl Burke

In season 29 of Dancing with the Stars, Burke was partnered with Backstreet Boy AJ McLean. The same year, the duo started the Pretty Messed Up podcast. 

After McLean and Burke were eliminated during season 29’s “Icons Night,” they discussed their choreography blunders on the podcast. Burke expressed frustration because the errors were in the intro and not in the content required of a Viennese waltz. Burke also mentioned how much the judging format changed over her tenure and her feelings regarding the unfair scoring during the season. 

Cheryl Burke doesn’t want to ‘be that person who looks like an old grandma’ on ‘DWTS’ 

Burke has mentioned retirement several times on the Pretty Messed Up podcast. “People are asking if I’m retiring,” Burke says in an episode from November 2020. “It’s not as much about the show or me getting older as much as it is this frustration that AJ has mentioned. It’s about is this show still the show I signed up for?” 

According to Elizabeth Vargas’ podcast Heart of the Matter, Burke is still considering retirement today. “I’ve been going through personal issues and everything’s been so uncertain,” Burke tells the podcast host in the Oct. 19 episode. “I’m 37-years-old…but that question mark of just how long can I live as a dancer?” 

Burke explains how most professional dancers retire in their 30s. “This is not a sport that you could last forever [in], especially as a woman,” she says, adding: “Nor do I want to be that person who looks old grandma… barely kicking her leg up.” She admits that may be her ego talking, but Burke does have “so many question marks.” 

“That’s how scary it is to live in the uncertainty,” Burke concluded. “Of course I want to pick up a bottle of Tito’s and just hide in a dark corner and no one find me for two weeks.”

Burke has been sober for more than two years. She attended her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in July 2021. 

Retiring from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ would ideally still involve the show 

If Burke does decide to retire from Dancing with the Stars, fans may still spot her around the ballroom. “It would be really great for me just to use my mouth and not my body,” she explained on the Chicks in the Office podcast.

The two-time Mirror Ball Champion’s expertise would be a most welcome addition to the opinions of Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli. But since Derek Hough stepped up to join the judges’ panel, it’s unclear if there’s room for another opinion.

It’s also unclear if and when Burke will retire. But for now, fans can tune in to see Burke dance with Cody Rigsby in season 30. Watch Dancing with the Stars Mondays at 8 PM EST on ABC. 

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