Cheryl Burke's Confessions on Life, Love, 'DWTS'

PHOTO: Cheryl Burke on the cover of her book titled, "Dancing Lessons: How I Found Passion and Potential on the Dance Floor and in Life".
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In her new book, "Dancing Lessons," "Dancing With the Stars" performer Cheryl Burke describes her journey from dance classes to the ballroom to stardom on the hit show.

Burke, a two-time winner of the show's coveted mirrorball trophy, has had several high-profile partners, including former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, footballer Emmitt Smith -- which whom she took one of the championships, entertainer Wayne Newton and singer Drew Lachey. She won the first season of the show as while partnering Lachey.

Read an excerpt from "Dancing Lessons" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library

The Freestyle: Finding Myself in the Spotlight

The freestyle dance is not restricted by any conventional steps or required choreography. It is simply a dance in which the dancer can showcase whatever movement or emotion seems appropriate.

I've always been kind of a play-by-the-rules girl; I tend to like things structured, predictable, and sometimes even a little boring. But all of that changed on February 26, 2006, the last night of my first season on Dancing with the Stars. It was an evening when all of my rules went out the window and everything in my life suddenly changed for the better. Yet I almost missed out on what has been the greatest adventure of my life so far because I was afraid to break out of the comfortable mold in which I was living. I know it sounds unbelievable to say that I almost turned down the opportunity to star as a professional dancer on the hit reality dance show, but that's the truth.

Six months prior to that February night, I was living in New York City with my boyfriend and ballroom dance partner when suddenly I received a phone call from one of the show's producers, who wanted to talk to me about the show on ABC. The dancer Louis van Amstel, whom I knew from the ballroom dance world, worked on season one of the show, and he recommended that the producers get in touch with me. I didn't have an agent at the time; some of the producers just saw me perform at a competition in Los Angeles and agreed that I might be exactly what they were looking for, so Louis passed along my number.

My immediate reaction was to turn them down because of my strong fear of cameras. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured, "Why not? Give it a chance, at least, before you turn them down." So I went to Manhattan for the meeting, but even then I was not bowled over with enthusiasm. I kind of downplayed it to my dancer friends, who were as skeptical as I was.

However, there was something in my gut that kept nagging me to jump at this opportunity—that I should just go for broke and see what happened. At the time, I was barely making ends meet as a competitive ballroom dancer and a dance instructor, so the prospect of a steady job—as steady as a job in television can be—as well as the prospect of going to sunny Los Angeles from snowy New York City in the middle of winter were an appealing combination. The show had been pretty popular in its first season, and my boyfriend and I were kind of on the outs anyway. Everything seemed to be pointing me in the direction of the show. What did I have to lose, really?

The Freestyle: Finding Myself in the Spotlight

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