Hours before taking the stage on Monday, October 26, the 36-year-old professional dancer revealed via Instagram that she had a tough rehearsal with partner AJ McLean one day earlier. Despite experiencing a scary tumble, the California native was optimistic that she would still be able to perform.
“Yesterday, I took a hard fall while rehearsing for #VillainsNight. 🤦🏽♀️ Even though AJ kills me at the end of this Tango, this wasn’t part of the routine. It’s one of those things that can happen in a split second. Thankfully, I have the best partner I could ask for that was there to pick me up off the ground,” Burke captioned a set of rehearsal pictures, urging fans to vote for her and McLean, 42. “Keeping our fingers crossed for only planned mishaps during the show tonight!!”
Burke has been a mainstay in the DWTS ballroom, competing on 23 of the show’s 29 seasons. She secured two mirrorball trophies: first in season 2 with partner Drew Lachey and again the following season with Emmitt Smith. After the season 29 premiere in September, Burke gushed over her connection with the Backstreet Boys singer who had already made a “positive” influence on her both on and off the dance floor.
“I always believe that people come into your lives because it’s either a reflection of who you are or who you want to be or who you’re trying not to be,” Burke told Us Weekly exclusively at the time. “But there’s always this reason. There’s a reason for this energy and energy coming together. … AJ is just a reflection of who I am at times, which is someone who tries to control the situation. I’m seeing him and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is what I do!'”
Not only does the Dance Moms alum see a similar work ethic in her current ballroom partner, but she can also relate to him on a more personal level. During a September episode of “The Lady Gang” podcast, Burke revealed that she is two years sober — and was happy to have McLean by her side during their shared sobriety journeys.
“That’s why I really wanted AJ, because I’m like, for him to be maybe partnered with someone who is just, like, still fresh in the scene [or] likes to go out, I was a little worried just as a friend in a way,” she said on the podcast. “But then I’m glad we’re partnered up together.”
The “Larger Than Life” singer has also been grateful that he can rely on Burke throughout his DWTS experience.
“She is literally one of the most, if not the most, real, straight up, no BS person that I’ve met, that I’m still learning more about, and it’s kind of driving me to be the same in that sense. I’m just like, ‘You know what? Take it or leave it, like me or hate me, I don’t care,'” he told Us exclusively in September. “I’ve definitely grown since we started this just in my own [way]. I can relate a lot of what we talk about and what we do into my world of recovery, into my family life, into all of it. It’s a great, positive ripple effect.”