The contract for Cheryl Burke, the first female pro to win two consecutive mirror ball trophies in seasons 2 and 3, is up at the end of this season, and it's not looking likely that she'll return to the dance floor next spring.
"It's so so hard for me to talk about because I have been part of this family for the last decade," Burke told PEOPLE.
"You've seen me grow up on TV, doing what I love in front of millions of people. But I also feel the need to expand and challenge myself and do other things – not that this isn't a challenge. It completely is!"
Burke, 30, says the show, which she joined in its second season, takes up eight to nine months of the year, limiting her from spreading her wings. There's always a chance ABC could make her an offer she can't refuse, but Burke seems ready to see what lies beyond the mirror ball.
"It's hard," she professed. "What this show has given me has been life-changing. I owe my life to this show."
In 2011, Burke released her autobiography, called Dancing Lessons. She also opened up her own dance studio and created a line of dance wear.