Cheryl Burke has opened up about how she didn't really want to retire from Dancing with the Stars, but felt like she had to for the sake of her dignity, and then the show allegedly ghosted her.

After 16 years of competing on Dancing with the Stars, Cheryl announced her retirement from the ABC reality dancing competition during the Season 31 finale in November 2022.

"I didn't want to leave the show," Cheryl, 38, admitted on the April 15 episode of the "Amy and T.J." podcast, which is co-hosted by Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes.

But once she quit her job as a professional partner, Cheryl said she felt ghosted by the ABC reality dancing competition, which feels "so f-cking personal" to her still to this day.

"I don't understand why this [rift with Dancing with the Stars] is happening," Cheryl cried. "I lost my family... I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy."


Cheryl joined Dancing with the Stars for Season 2 back in 2005 when she was only 21-years-old. The two-time mirrorball trophy champion went on to compete on more than two dozen seasons of the show.

"This was my family, like, I mean, I don't think I know L.A. without Dancing with the Stars... To be a part of something for so long, for 26 seasons, is so unheard of... I have this bond, like an umbilical cord, that is still hard to, I guess, cut off and to really separate myself from," Cheryl shared.

Cheryl said her role as a professional partner on Dancing with the Stars has always been her identity.

"My whole life was consumed [with Dancing with the Stars] because I chose that path," Cheryl noted.

"But I felt like it was time for me to grow and evolve in my career... knowing in the back of my mind, 'I'm the oldest girl here.' And then the actual self-hate I felt got louder and louder."

Cheryl suggested that she envisioned herself getting promoted on Dancing with the Stars, possibly to a judging or co-hosting position.

"I believe that I am more capable of taking on another role on the show. I don't know what that would've been, or whatever, but if they don't see that in me, then why am I here?" Cheryl admitted.
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Cheryl said ABC and Dancing with the Stars producers had talked to her about those possibilities "in the past" but nothing was ever set in stone.

But Cheryl insisted she had "of course" let producers know that she wanted a promotion of some kind.

"A lot of this was done through my reps. It's also interesting because a lot of people behind the scenes, the producers, I developed relationships with them, and I never wanted to cross that boundary," Cheryl explained.

"I wasn't going to be the one to use those relationships to get me further. I really loved them as individuals and as friends, maybe even more than the other dancers."

Cheryl said she saw other pro dancers -- who joined Dancing with the Stars after her -- be promoted. Julianne Hough, for example, joined Dancing with the Stars for Season 4, and she now co-hosts the show alongside Alfonso Ribeiro.

"Being a pro dancer isn't beneath me... but I just didn't understand why I couldn't also have that opportunity," Cheryl reasoned.

"Clearly it wasn't being given to  me, and so I had to do something about it... I just felt like in order for me to gain respect and love for myself, I had to believe in me. If they're not going to believe, then I have to believe. I had to really stick to my guns here."

Cheryl said producers were well aware that she didn't want to continue as just a pro dancer following 16 years of dedication to the show.

"They knew," she confirmed, adding how she felt like she was "on autopilot" on Dancing with the Stars.


Cheryl recalled leaving on good terms with Dancing with the Stars producers, but she noticed a change when she wasn't invited to honor Len Goodman's memory following his April 2023 death.

Cheryl had a lifelong relationship with the late DWTS judge, who was both her mentor and friend, but she wasn't asked to participate in his tribute with other Dancing with the Stars pros, past and present.

Cheryl called it "a stab in the heart" when she was left out of the performance that paid tribute to Len, and she previously made her feelings known on social media.

"I couldn't believe that I wasn't included in something that was so special. If you look up OG in the dictionary, I should've been there. They know this, and I know this," Cheryl insisted.

"But clearly that wasn't the case... [Rumors] I chose not to be there, that's just not the case... They could've eliminated [all of this tension] if I was there and was just asked [to join]."

Cheryl noted that Dancing with the Stars leaving her out "was not an oversight," suggesting that producers had intentionally left her out of their plans.

"Some people may not be happy with my [Sex, Lies and Spray Tans] podcast that I have here with iHeart," Cheryl confessed.

"It has to be the podcast, because that's all that [happened] in the past couple of years... It makes me think they're not listening to it [in full, because] you have to attract listeners, and with that, you need to put clips together that may sound a little, 'Oh, she's bashing the show,' but no, that's not what the podcast is about."

Cheryl then reluctantly whispered that DWTS producers had ultimately confirmed to her reps that it was, in fact, her podcast that drove the wedge between them.

"What was frustrating is that [the end of our relationship] was so quick... I just feel really sad. I'm just sad -- still so sad. I'm not even mad any more," Cheryl shared, adding how she was definitely mad at one point.

"With any relationship, there's turmoil and disagreements, but you talk about it. You don't just literally not talk about it. But I can sleep at night knowing that I didn't do anything wrong. I'm still so grateful for everything."

Cheryl broke down into tears while speaking, and she admitted that the falling out cut "really deep" for her and still "hurts."

When asked how ties could be repaired, Cheryl quipped, "I think that's a question for them."

Cheryl explained, "Am I upset about the past? Yes. But it's the past. I'm really trying to move forward, and I would think after 16 years -- and blood, sweat and tears, literally, like [ligament] tears -- that there's a chance to repair whatever it is. We need to communicate. We need to talk."

Cheryl said she's only spoken her truth and she'd love to feel like she's part of the Dancing with the Stars family again.

"I can't just go see a show [in the ballroom]. I can't do that, but that could all be in my head," Cheryl reasoned.

"It's not like it was, 'You are shunned!' It wasn't like that, but I think it's pretty frickin obvious... And then you're left feeling like, 'I guess I was never really that important.'"

Cheryl admitted her estrangement from Dancing with the Stars felt like her second divorce -- and that it was even worse than her first one.

(Cheryl had filed for divorce from actor Matthew Lawrence in February 2022, and their divorce was finalized later that year).

"This one is painful. It's heartbreaking," Cheryl admitted.


In addition to her time on Dancing with the Stars, Cheryl also finished in second place on the first season of I Can Do That, losing to Nicole Scherzinger. The talent competition aired on NBC from May to June 2015.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.