Cheryl Burke is hanging up her dancing shoes.
On Nov. 20, the 38-year-old announced on Instagram that she is leaving her job as a pro dancer on Dancing With the Stars after almost 17 years, which means the current season 31, in which she recently competed with TV meteorologist Sam Champion, will be her last. She will dance on the show for the final time on the season finale Nov. 21.
"This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life & I am also confident that it is the right one," she wrote in her post. "This has truly been the experience of a lifetime. I'm looking forward to this next chapter of my career, but man will this one be hard to beat! Until next time…Love you all, always & forever xx."
Cheryl spoke to E! News exclusively about her DWTS exit, which comes more than a month after she and Sam were eliminated from the competition.
"It's the end of an era, my time as a dancer on Dancing with the Stars," she said. "It has changed my life. I have not stopped crying and I'm not one to really cry."
Cheryl made her debut on DWTS in season two in 2006. She and partner Drew Lachey won the Mirror Ball Trophy. The following season, Cheryl reached first place again, this time with retired NFL star Emmitt Smith. It marked the final Mirror Ball Trophy win for Cheryl, who went on to compete on the show again from seasons four through 19, then again in seasons 23, 25, and 27 to the present.
Cheryl noted several reasons for her departure. "There is wear and tear," she said, noting the physical toll of rehearsing for and dancing on a weekly show. "But also, my heart is telling me to see what else is out there. We are human and we evolve. I do. At least I would like to say that I am a work in progress forever."
She continued, "I do know, though, that this is not the end of my career and I want to be able to see what else is out there. And Dancing with the Stars, the schedule is so intense. I've got so many projects that I've been working on."
In recent months, Cheryl has also been keeping busy with her iHeartRadio podcast, Burke In The Game. It was there, in October, that she first declared that "this is my last season as a dancer" on DWTS.
The podcast launched in May, while she was in the midst of a divorce from Matthew Lawrence. Cheryl discusses her personal struggles and also consults experts on her program. "Because of this platform that I've been blessed to be given," Cheryl told E! News, "I'm able to use my voice and to hopefully help people along the way."
In her Instagram post, she wrote, "I am excited about the idea of evolving, about being challenged in new ways, having the ability to expand my commitment to mental health advocacy, focusing on my new found love for podcasting, & I'm ready to face the uncertainty (though it's scary as sh**) of what the future holds - I do have a few things up my sleeves though, so don't worry."
Speaking with E! News, Cheryl called her exit from DWTS an "amicable divorce," adding, "Am I going to miss every single person? Absolutely. I can't even tell you. I grew up on this show and the first thing I saw was this family, coming straight from Harlem as a competitive dancer."
Cheryl is not the first DWTS veteran to depart the series after the current season. Her exit announcement comes days after Len Goodman announced he is leaving the show after serving as its head judge for almost all its seasons since its 2005 debut.
While Cheryl is leaving DWTS as a pro dancer, she isn't leaving the door to the ballroom closed. Asked if she was interested in becoming a judge—following in the footsteps of fellow pros Derek Hough and Julianne Hough, or a host, Cheryl told E! News, "Oh, my God. I would in a second."
She also said, "I have a lot to contribute. If anybody knows ballroom, it's me."
See photos of Cheryl with all her DWTS partners over the years: