Published January 19, 2012
Cheryl Burke’s memoir 'Dancing Lessons: How I Found Passion and Potential on the Dance Floor and in Life' has just come out in paperback. The only two-time 'DWTS' champ is remarkably candid in the book, especially about a deeply personal issue. When Burke was five, a family friend hired to pick her up from school and do odd jobs started molesting her. Eventually she testified in court, helping send him away to prison for nearly two decades.
FOX411: Why did you decide to write this book?
Cheryl Burke: I just decided I had a lot of stuff to let out and let my fans know more about me, like dancing has really changed my life, it’s really shaped who I am today. I felt like I had so many life experiences that I could really relate to each dance that I had done. I felt like I really wanted to express myself in that way.
FOX411: How has dancing shaped you?
Burke: It’s completely changed my life, my one way of expressing who I really am. As a girl growing up I was very shy and never outspoken, and dancing for me was a way to really express myself and to come out of my shell, and that’s the one thing I really felt comfortable doing. For me dancing was an escape from reality.
FOX411: Last season we had Rob Kardashian out by week three. But he won us over.
Burke: Yeah that’s what I thought as well. I think it was week four when he dedicated a dance to his dad, I think people really started relating to him. He’s just a real person, like a normal guy who is not affected by the whole Hollywood scene. In the beginning you judged him because he’s Rob Kardashian, but you really got to know who he is and he’s really a simple, humble person.
FOX411: The producers pick your partners. Ever walk in the room and think oh no?
Burke: At the end of the day I’m not going to win every season. My goal is to try my best. They can’t always give me the young, good looking partners, they really have to make sure they mix it up, otherwise people are going to start thinking, 'Why does Cheryl always get the good partners?' I can’t always have the heartthrob.
FOX411: Maks was pretty outspoken last season. Was it uncomfortable backstage?
Burke: That’s just who is he. He says what he says and I’m not the one to judge.
FOX411: On a more serious note, you write of how you were molested as a child by someone your mother employed. Were you nervous to write about it?
Burke: Absolutely. I was debating whether or not I should explain that part of my life in my book but I really felt like that this is who I am, that experience and many other experiences shaped who I am today. I think a lot of young girls have experienced it and that some girls can’t talk about the abuse. I feel blessed to be able to talk about it and I went through a lots of therapy to be able to express my feelings. I feel when I do express my feelings it will maybe actually help somebody in the long run.
FOX411: Have you been asked to speak to groups?
Burke: I’m slowly starting to do that. I’ve been asked to do appearances and speaking engagements. That’s what I would really love to do, go out there and share my story with others and help people who have been abused as kids.
FOX411: You got slammed in the press for putting on a few pounds.
Burke: At that point in my life it was really hard to deal with. You’re new, you want everyone to love you, to accept you and then that type of stuff comes out and it’s not easy. In the beginning you’re not used to it, although I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Now I just no longer listen and I don’t take it to heart. At the end of the day as long as I feel comfortable in my own skin and I feel healthy and I know I’m doing the beat that I can to keep my body in shape. Someone is always going to say something about you and something’s always going to be negative.