Cheryl Burke: ‘Dance Moms’ Girls Said They Were ‘Traumatized by Abby’

Cheryl Burke is taking some encores. Back on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars (Mondays, 8 p.m.), she’s also reliving her days as a studio owner, replacing now-incarcerated Abby Lee Miller as teacher and choreographer on Lifetime’s Dance Moms (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.). 

Cheryl Burke
Cheryl Burke attends ‘Dancing With The Stars’ season 25 at CBS Televison City in 2017. David Livingston/Getty Images

Even more, she’s rekindled her 10-year-old romance with actor Matthew Lawrence. It’s the latter that makes the rest possible. “It’s just so important to have someone that just listens to you and tells you, ‘No matter what we’re gonna get through this.'” The San Francisco native takes Us for a spin.

Us: So you’re gunning for your third mirrorball!

Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke Dancing With The Stars
Partners Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke on ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Heidi Gutman via Getty Images

CB: It’s my 20th season, so it was a great time to return and my partner is awesome: Terrell Owens. I always love being able to dance with athletes because they just know how to be coached. Football players can actually move pretty fast on their feet.

Us: You’re also coaching the girls from Dance Moms.

CB I had just had a meeting with the executive producers and the weekend after, one called my manager and was like, “Abby walked out and Cheryl would be the perfect replacement.” 

Us: What made you say yes?

CB I love working with kids. I know the goal and how to reach it. They all want to make it in this business and I wanted to tell them that the transition from dancer to the Hollywood spotlight is not easy.

Us: How was it stepping in?

CB It was tough, there were a lot of tears, anger and insecurity. It was shocking to me. I couldn’t believe these beautiful girls that have zero confidence. That’s not the way to live life.

Abby Lee Miller
Mackenzie Ziegler, Jojo Siwa, Maddie Ziegler, Abby Lee Miller, Kalani Hilliker, Kendall Vertesm and Nia Frazier attend "Dance Moms" Abby Lee Dance Company LA's VIP Grand Opening at Abby Lee Dance Company LA in 2015. Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

Us: Do you think that’s because of Abby?

CB They said they’d been traumatized by Abby and her teaching methods. That’s a shame because with teenagers it’s so important to mentor them. 

Us: So you’re the good cop?

CB I’m not a yeller. But I am strict. I tell it how it is, especially with the mothers because I come from the original dance mom. She was hard on me, but in the right way.

Us: Did you share your struggles?

CB One hundred percent. I had people body-shaming me when I gained a lot of weight and as a teenager, your body is going to change. To get through it, you need to have great family and friends.

Us: Like Matt, perhaps. How did you reconnect?

CB Ten years ago, it was the wrong timing. Since, we never ran into each other once, but a mutual friend was like, “Oh, Matt says hi.” Then it was an easy text over Christmas and we haven’t stopped seeing each other since. It’s like we never missed a day. It just feels so right.

Us: Thinking marriage?

CB I would love that! We talked about it, so whenever the time is right. Hopefully sooner than later! 

Dancing With The Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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