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Cheryl Burke’s Final ‘DWTS’ Blog: What the Show’s Missing, Len Goodman’s Tough Judging and More Takeaways (Exclusive)

Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about her quest to take home the season 28 mirrorball trophy! Check back each week for her latest update on the competition.

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Following the Monday, November 27, finale, Burke sheds light on Kel Mitchell‘s killer freestyle, Hannah Brown‘s big win and James Van Der Beek‘s recent comments. Read her full exclusive blog below:

On the best freestyle:
The freestyle that popped out to me the most was Kel and Witney. It’s so hard to come up with an original idea 29 seasons later but they were able to do so because of Kel. It wasn’t typical, it wasn’t predictable, it was something that was near and dear to his heart. It was so cool and refreshing to watch. 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. 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, When it came to the freestyle round would give it to Kel.

Cheryl Burke Final DWTS Blog
Kel Mitchell and Witney Carson on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ABC

On Ally Brooke landing in third place:
I still think Ally is the best dancer. She is such a positive spirit. I talked to her for a while after and she realizes how much this show has changed her life. I remember telling her at the premiere, as well, that this show is just bigger than us. I don’t think we realize how many people we influence — whether it’s a motivation or inspiration to get your body moving again or to get your family together to bond. She’s so genuine and she did it just to prove to herself that the bullies bullying her were wrong. I think it’s beautiful the message that she was just consistently so positive.

Related: 'DWTS' Winners Through the Years

On Hannah’s win:
I definitely want to say congratulations to Hannah and Alan Bersten. She grew as a person. It’s the journey and however much the show showed, they showed her and Alan’s journey and I think that’s the reason why they won because they were the full package.

On Carrie Ann Inaba admitting she didn’t expect Hannah to win:
As hard as Carrie Ann was on Hannah, it was constructive criticism. Carrie Ann likes to see chemistry and she likes to see someone be vulnerable and it’s hard. This is why I dance. For me, dancing has helped me become vulnerable. When you talk to me face-to-face, it looks like I have zero problems, that I have my s–t together. When it comes to dancing, it’s easier for me to be vulnerable than if you were to meet me and talk to me for the first time. 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.

Cheryl Burke Final DWTS Blog
Hannah Brown celebrates with Alan Bersten on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ABC

On James Van Der Beek saying the show has some “soul-searching” to do:
What they did to him was harsh. I think just the world we’re living in right now, there’s no grounding. 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. I don’t think he means the show needs to go soul-searching because of what he went through, I don’t think he’s looking for pity.

Related: DWTS' Most Shocking Eliminations

Dancing is a vulnerable sport and art form where every week you see us — pros and celebrities — wear our hearts on our sleeve, because this is our life. I don’t care what anyone says. 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. 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.

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