Cheryl Burke Feels Like 'Dancing With the Stars' Isn't the Same Because of This Judge, Considers Retiring

Cheryl Burke has been a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars since season 2. Recently, there have been rumors about the possibility of Burke retiring. After she and her Backstreet Boy partner AJ McLean were eliminated from season 29, Burke opened up about the unfairness she feels on DWTS and not knowing her place on the show. 

AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke are out of the running for the Mirror Ball 

During “Icons Night,” each Dancing With the Stars contestant had to perform two dances. Burke and McLean danced the Viennese Waltz to Queen’s “Somebody To Love,” then returned to dance a Jive against Johnny Weir and his partner, Britt Stewart. 

While McLean won the dance-off portion of the show, his Viennese Waltz had a few missteps. In the end, Burke and McLean were in the bottom two. The judges chose to save Skai Jackson and her partner, Alan Bersten, who will dance in the semi-finals of season 29 next week. 

AJ McLean admits to messing up on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

In discussing the blunders in their dance during “Icons Night,” McLean and Burke talked about the messed up choreography. Ironically, the missteps were in the introduction of the dance. But the content required for a Viennese Waltz was all there. 

“We finished freaking strong,” McLean said during the “How Messed Up Was That?” episode of the Pretty Messed Up podcast.

As Burke explained to McLean, there’s some confusion surrounding how the Dancing With the Stars competition is laid out now compared to how things were during Burke’s early years on the show. 

Is Cheryl Burke retiring from ‘Dancing With the Stars’?

Throughout the Pretty Messed Up podcast, Burke has hinted at thoughts of retiring from DWTS.

“People are asking if I’m retiring,” she said. “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?” 

Burke is a ballroom dancer. She never went to a performing arts school to learn jazz or ballet. At this time, she feels that the show is focused less on ballroom dancing, which is what Burke is an expert in. 

“Within the ballroom world and within the show and how the show was — at least for the first decade — it was about ballroom,” Burke continued. “With that comes technique and different curriculums — like we cannot break hold in the quickstep [or] tango. We have to be in the correct frame. We have to do certain steps.” 

Burke feels Dancing With the Stars isn’t the same without head judge Len Goodman. She explained how he was the person who would call out mistakes within a dance, regardless of who the competitor was. 

Cheryl Burke feels like ‘Dancing With the Stars’ might be unfair without Len Goodman

With Goodman gone and professional dancer Derek Hough in his place, Burke feels like something is missing from the judging this season. 

“I wonder if I look at other people’s quicksteps, [the judging is] very different,” Burke said. “[Other couples] break hold, and then they come back. I had no idea — when did the rules change? Basically, we’re getting penalized by staying in hold and not creating as much energy, but then people are getting praised for breaking hold.” 

Burke admitted Hough is doing a good job as a judge this season. Still, she feels something is unfair without Goodman around.

Cheryl Burke feels unsure about her place on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

With all of the recent changes to the way dances are judged, Burke admitted to feeling confused about her purpose in the competition.

“I don’t know where my place is on the show anymore,” Burke concluded. 

McLean pointed out how, technically, after their misstep in the beginning, their Viennese Waltz began. Burke felt like the judges focused too much on McLean’s intro, which he called “the extra sauce on the taco,” instead of the Vienesse Waltz content. 

“You did mess up,” Burke added. “[But] they should have given you a nine. Carrie Ann [Inaba’s] seven put the nail in the coffin.” 

At this time, it’s unclear if Burke will truly retire from Dancing With the Stars. However, she does feel as though she should give a younger dancer with more experience in other types of dances a chance to shine. 

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