Two-time Dancing With the Stars champion Cheryl Burke celebrated the opening of her own dance studio Friday night in San Francisco.
“San Francisco’s my hometown, so I felt like I needed to give back,” Burke, 23, told PEOPLE. “I want this to be the new, hip place to go to for ballroom dancing.”
The Cheryl Burke Dance Center will take all of Burke’s time — once the Dancing season’s over.
“I’ll be here as much as I can for the rest of the year,” said Burke. “I really want to be able to put my foot in the air and be with everybody and support everybody.”
Also on hand to celebrate were Dancing host Tom Bergeron and Burke’s current and former Dancing partners Cristian de la Fuente and Drew Lachey.
Though Burke and Lachey have denied tabloid reports they had a relationship that extended beyond the dance floor, Lachey says they have remained close.
“I’ve known her since the end of 2005,” Lachey, 31, tells PEOPLE. “We’ve definitely stayed in touch. Since then, I’ve come back and hosted, we’ve done tours together.”
“At the end of the day,” adds Burke, “our sport is so close and if you don’t have the chemistry on the floor, you’re not doing a good job. But someone will always believe that there’s something going on behind closed doors when there really isn’t. It’s our job to be this way, like actors. And I think rumors are rumors, and you have to surround yourself with great and just keep your head up.” –Paul Chi and Kristin Luna