Cheryl Burke Reflects on DWTS' Impact amid Tough Times: 'Gives Me a Purpose in Life'

·2 min read
cheryl burke
cheryl burke

Unique Nicole/WireImage

Dance helps to keep Cheryl Burke going.

Following Dancing with the Stars' season 31 premiere on Monday, the series veteran pro opened up about how the show has gotten her through the toughest of times, including four years of sobriety and her recent divorce from ex-husband Matthew Lawrence.

"It's my 26th season, I'm 98 years old," Burke, 38, joked with reporters of her tenure on the ABC-turned-Disney+ series. "This has been for many reasons. It always goes back to how dancing has saved my life, whether that's my sobriety or divorce."

Burke then expanded on her difficult split from Lawrence, explaining how working on the show with former celebrity partner Cody Rigsby helped her through.

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sam champion, cheryl burke
sam champion, cheryl burke

ABC/Eric McCandless

"This show has definitely helped me take the mind off of the stuff that's been really hard to deal with emotionally," she said. "It makes me get out of bed, it makes me have a purpose in life regardless."

Continuing to rave about the long-running series, Burke added: "It's easier for me to say that if it wasn't for a show like this, a family like this, I probably would be really upset and depressed, but this show is something I've grown up doing. It's been a part of my life forever."

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"It's also been different chapters of my life for every time I've done the show, whether that be a celebration of my engagement, or getting married, being a newlywed, now being newly divorced," she concluded. "There's one common denominator here, and it's Dancing with the Stars."

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Season 31 of DWTS premiered on Monday. This time, Burke is dancing with WABC-TV New York weather anchor Sam Champion. Their first score of the season was 20/40.

The season aired just days after Burke and Lawrence agreed to finalize their divorce, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE on Sept. 14. The legal agreement confirms that the exes will each keep one home they purchased together, but further conversation is needed to confirm who will keep their dog, Ysabella.

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Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Disney+.