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Cheryl Burke: “My Purpose is Not to Teach Celebrities How to Dance”

Dancing with the Stars favorite Cheryl Burke joins host and entertainment journalist, Allison Kugel, for her most revealing interview, to date. Cheryl opens up about her late father’s penchant for philandering and owning strip clubs, how it deeply hurt Cheryl and her mother, and how it impacted Cheryl’s relationships with men. She also expresses her desire to learn more about her Ashkenazi Jewish roots that were kept from her until a 23andMe test revealed them, and her desire to adopt a child.

During the episode, Cheryl also dishes on host Tyra Banks, what type of celebrity makes the worst DWTS partner, which celebrity contestants she still has on speed dial, and how a cheating ex actually led to her being cast on the popular dance competition show that made her famous.

And in what could be the celebrity quote of the year, while describing how hard it is to ballroom dance with an “egotistical and narcissistic” celebrity dance partner, Cheryl quips, “Whenever a celebrity lashes out at me and my [choreography], it’s easier now for me to have compassion and empathy for that person, but it’s still f*cked. It’s still really hard to dry hump somebody when you feel disrespected, put it that way, really hard! And you can’t walk out because we both have a job to do, you know?”

The following are excerpts from the latest episode of the Allison Interviews podcast with host and entertainment journalist, Allison Kugel. The full podcast episode is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify; and on YouTube (

On how various forms of childhood abuse created a cycle of unhealthy relationships with men:

“To me, love equaled infidelity, love equaled being treated like shit. Loved equaled physical violence. Love equaled mental abuse, and I definitely remember these feelings of when a nice man came by, or my dance partner was nice to me, I would think, ‘Yuck.’ I wouldn’t understand why I felt so disgusted with that. It was because I didn’t have that as a little girl. I didn’t know that. I thought it was a sign of weakness. I’m a work in progress until the day I die, but really, it’s interesting because now the reason why I have decided not to be active right now in looking for someone to date or being in the dating pool is because I know that if I don’t re-train my brain, I will be attracted to the same person. I will marry that person who resembles the person before, and it will just be a vicious cycle.”

On what she’s now learned about healthy romantic relationships:

“I saw my mom with my [real] father, because she would make it a point that I still visited my father every year, so she took me to his strip clubs. I saw her cry. I’ve never seen her so emotional. Then, with my stepdad, I see her just being. Being in love does not mean the rollercoaster ride of emotions. It is actually when everything is… underneath the wave, underneath it all. That is true love. The exciting emotional rollercoaster, I’ve had it in every relationship, and clearly it doesn’t last. I think movies and all of these love stories, it’s not real. That is not real love. The Notebook is not the guideline to how to be in love. That is a movie, and I think we need to take ourselves out of that, because it is horrible. Love has, through television and movies, taught us a fictional story about love and what it is like to be in love, versus what it is like just to be with your partner; your best friend and your soulmate. Maybe you are not having rough sex. Maybe he’s not throwing you across the room, or however you like it, but that is the beauty of a relationship. That is the consistency of a relationship.”

On body dysmorphia and pregnancy:

“Where I’m at right now is I’m not overthinking it right this second, because if I do another season of Dancing with the Stars, I just need to do it. When the time comes, whether this will be my last season or not, I don’t know. Or if I don’t do [another season] I can then consume my brain with those thoughts. I would prefer not to have to put myself in a dance costume and just let myself gain weight. I do believe I will start to love my body more when I don’t have to shove my ass into a dance costume. So, right now it is on hold”

On her desire to adopt a baby:

“One hundred percent, I always thought I was going to adopt. Yes. When I was a little girl, I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll just adopt.’ But I didn’t have body dysmorphia [at that time]. I didn’t know what it was that I had, but it wasn’t because the gaining of the weight. And I have a lot of friends that are adopted.”

On what new host Tyra Banks brings to the dynamic of Dancing with the Stars:

“Tyra is someone I watched when I was a little girl. She brings glamour to the show, she really does. At the same time, she came in at a challenging time. She came in during Covid, and what’s really difficult for dancers in general is we are really very physical. We hug people, we don’t do distance very well. I think with Tyra, she came in right at the height of it, so we didn’t have an audience. It was just Tyra, and she had a lot of pressure to become part of a well-oiled machine here on Dancing with the Stars. I love her grand entrances. I love to see what she wears, and I love to see her starting to grow with the show. I seem to have the longest experience when it comes to Dancing with the Stars, as far as camera time goes. It is great to see the show evolve, and I think it’s very important, whether or not Tom Bergeron comes back, I think it’s important that we see these changes to the show. I think there is a comfort knowing that the show’s foundation is still there, but it is nice to throw in some newbies. Whether they survive is another question (laugh).”

On her two favorite Dancing with the Stars celebrity dance partners:

“[During DWTS’ third season] Emmitt Smith sat me down and said, ‘How are you going to bank off this show? The show is banking off of you, so what are you going to do?’ He has always been that voice of reason for me. Jack Osbourne was another one.”

Interview by Allison Kugel. Watch and embed the entire interview video with Cheryl Burke @YouTube ( Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at


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