Fans of Dancing with the Stars pro Julianne Hough haven’t been happy ever since the 20-year-old two-time champ said she would not be back next season.
Hough, who danced with her boyfriend, country singer Chuck Wicks, this season, now says she in no way meant to imply that she was leaving the show for good.
In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, Hough said: “I am appreciative to be taking this coming season of Dancing with the Stars off to focus on my other career paths like touring in support of my album and recording my next one. I look forward to returning to DWTS in early 2010.”
And she has the go-ahead from Dancing executive producer Conrad Green, who tells PEOPLE that he gave Hough his blessing to “take a breather. It’s a really intensive show so we welcome our dancers the opportunity to take a break.”
With Hough’s growing popularity, Green adds, “It doesn’t damage the show to have her pursue her music. What’s lovely is she’s committed to the show and she wanted to get that message out there that she’ll be back.”
Hough is not the first dancer to take time off to pursue outside ventures. After landing in the finals with partner Mel B. in season 5, pro hoofer Maksim Chmerkovskiy took the following season off to focus on choreographing the Las Vegas show La R ve before returning in season 7 to team up with Olympic volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor.
As for Hough, whose 2008 debut self-titled CD entered the Billboard Country Album charts at number one, she has a full summer of touring ahead of her before she begins recording her new album. –Monica Rizzo
Tell us: Are you glad Julianne will be returning to Dancing?