Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke has officially hung up her dancing shoes. After 26 seasons and 17 years on the dance competition series, Burke took to the ballroom floor for her final dance before her DWTS retirement on Monday's Season 31 finale. It was an emotional performance for Burke, who was eliminated fourth this season alongside her celebrity partner Sam Champion.
"Every single person that is a part of this cast, thank you for believing in me and thank you for helping me find my voice," Burke said Monday, receiving a standing ovation from the audience for her performance. . "Thank you for pushing me to be the best artist I can be." Burke officially announced she would be stepping away from Dancing With the Stars Sunday with a heartfelt Instagram post.
"I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write... Tomorrow night will officially be my final dance as a pro dancer on @dancingwiththestars," she wrote, in part. "This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life & I am also confident that it is the right one." The 38-year-old dancer added to PEOPLE that she had been "crying nonstop" since making her choice, noting that while there's "lots of excitement," there's also "lots of fear."
"Lately I've talked a lot about how my body – it just hurts," Burke continued. "For me as a dancer, as a woman, unfortunately, this is what happens as an athlete as well. There comes a time where – I'm almost 40 years old. I'm 38, and I have certain expectations I set for myself. Sometimes, if I don't see what I want to see or think that I am producing, that has a lot to do with it. But then also, it has a lot to do with growth in general."
The Burke in the Game podcast host also said stepping away is what will be best for her sobriety. "I feel like I really have evolved and have just done a lot of work within myself and to continue to be judged, to continue to worry about my body, to continue to worry about if I look good or not look good in a costume is not where I am at today," she explained.