Cheryl Burke: ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is ‘not authentic to what the show is anymore’

James Van Der Beek isn’t the only one who thinks “Dancing with the Stars” needs to do a deep post-mortem after Season 28.

In her final “Us Weekly” blog for the season, Cheryl Burke speculates that she doesn’t think Van Der Beek was speaking specifically about his surprising elimination in the semifinal when he said that the show needs to do “a little soul-searching,” but rather about the series in general and how it’s deviated from its core.

“What [the judges] did to him was harsh. I think just the world we’re living in right now, there’s no grounding,” Burke wrote. “People need to actually talk from their hearts and instead, people are on the defense constantly. People are always trying to prove themselves when really you need to just be yourself and be authentic and whatever that is to you. I think that’s what this show is missing. It’s not authentic to what the show is anymore, which is a ballroom show.”

SEE James Van Der Beek has thoughts on his ‘Dancing with the Stars’ elimination (duh), but doesn’t want to get into it yet

Because dancing itself is so vulnerable, Burke would like to see more of that reflected on the show. “To any celeb that signs up for this show, it is your life, but it is so rewarding. You can’t deny that this changes your life, but because you become so passionately involved in what you’re doing, you become naked in a way out there on the dance floor, showing another side of you,” she said. “My wish as a viewer would be to see more of that struggle, triumph, and achievement and to feel more a part of each couple’s journey.”

She added that she doesn’t think Van Der Beek was “looking for pity” with his comments, which he made on his Instagram Stories before last week’s finale.

Vulnerability or lack thereof is why Burke thinks Carrie Ann Inaba did not expect Hannah Brown to win. “Carrie Ann likes to see chemistry and she likes to see someone be vulnerable and it’s hard,” Burke noted. “Carrie Ann definitely loves to see raw emotion and she kept pushing Hannah because she believed in her. I can tell Carrie Ann wanted more from them each week because of the potential she saw in Hannah, but unfortunately, in Carrie Ann’s eyes, she didn’t quite get there fully, which is why I’m assuming that she was surprised by Hannah’s win.”

SEE Carrie Ann Inaba: Hannah Brown’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ win was ‘not what I expected’

The two-time champ thinks Brown and Alan Bersten prevailed because they had the “full package,” but she still believes that Ally Brooke, who finished in third, was the “best dancer.” But she didn’t think either of their freestyles could match up to runner-up Kel Mitchell‘s hip-hop number, which received a 29, thanks to Len Goodman poo-pooing it for being too similar to his jazz routine. Burke thinks Goodman, who’s never been a hip-hop fan, needs to be more “open-minded.”

“It’s not Len Goodman’s style to say anything positive about a dance like that but I think he needs to be a little bit more open-minded about the freestyle round. For the freestyle round, anything goes,” Burke said. “It’s up to you if you don’t like the style, but you can’t really judge it based on likes. I think you have to judge it on originality. Did they mess up? No. Were they synchronized? Yes. Did the audience love it? Hell Yes! It needs to be a cumulative-type score, not about ballroom because most freestyles aren’t ballroom. I think that 9 may have hurt him.”

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