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Exclusive: Cheryl Burke on DWTS week 2: The 'jaw-dropping' moment Derek Hough, judges ignored and how this contestant needs to 'step it up'

The former DWTS pro shared her thoughts with HELLO! on Jamie Lynn Spears' exit and why Alyson Hannigan was spectacular

Cheryl's Pointe for Cheryl Burke's weekly Dancing with the Stars column for HELLO!
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
ReporterLos Angeles
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For over 15 years Cheryl Burke tangoed and waltzed her way around the Dancing with the Stars ballroom with her various celebrity partners, winning the series twice, the first professional to do so. Now, in an exclusive column for HELLO!, the 39-year-old will be sharing her insight each week on those who impressed her, those who didn't – and those who may just pick up the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy... 

Season 32 returned last week, and Cheryl was impressed with the new changes that had been made, and already made a prediction for thr final three. Read on for this week's column...

Latin Night Opening Number | Dancing with the Stars

Latin week is always a highlight 

The music tonight for Latin week was the highlight of the whole night for me; it was real and authentic Latin music and it was honestly so refreshing to see and hear after veering off in the wrong direction, in my opinion, especially the past few seasons. I also loved all of the wardrobe - Latin costumes, finally! (Other than you know, the Cconverse that I saw, but we'll talk about that later.) 

I also loved the opening number. This is what I meant when I said last week that there doesn't really doesn't need to be a huge production when it comes to the opening numbers, with green screens. This was just authentic raw Latin dancing in the ballroom in front of the live audience, no green screens needed, and I think this is the way to go. 

Ezra Sosa should be a pro dancer 

Ezra Sosa and Charity Lawson dance on Dancing With The Stars© Christopher Willard
Ezra Sosa and Charity Lawson dance on Dancing With The Stars

My heart goes out to Artem Chigvintsev [who had to pull out due to being diagnosed with COVID-19]. I know that feeling because I got COVID in 2022 and gave [my celebrity partner] Cody Rigsby COVID as well and ended up having to actually dance in my living room – which probably wasn't something [I should have done].I should have rested.

But Ezra killed it. I have pushed for Ezra to be a pro dancer for a couple of years now; I used to be one of the people that held auditions for upcoming pro dancers, and Ezra auditioned and I was like, 'We need to put him as a pro.' 

What is so good is the fact that you didn't even see Ezra at his best because on Dancing with the Stars you're not supposed to outdance your celebrity. You're supposed to make your celebrity shine, but we also know Ezra's potential – he can dance his ass off and he has shown us this in past seasons as a troop member – and that is a real pro right there, when you make your celebrity shine instead. 

Ezra Sosa and Charity Lawson dance on Dancing With The Stars© Christopher Willard
Ezra stepped in for Artem

Charity Lawson needs to untrain her brain I believed that Ezra had a connection with Charity, but Charity had more of a connection with whatever camera she was looking at. I think if anything, it's clear that Charity is used to cheerleading and more solo dancing than ballroom, unfortunately, so hopefully Artem hammers that into her. 

She really needs to step it up and she needs to untrain the brain, which is a lot harder than training it. 

Derek Hough's tip was only half correct 

Carrie Ann, Derek and Bruno are the judges this season© Christopher Willard
Carrie Ann, Derek and Bruno are the judges this season

Barry Williams and Peta Murgatroyd's performance – I am so impressed by this guy – but what I disagree with is that although his posture was great, he didn't isolate his bottom half, he didn't have enough back; his pelvis, his hips didn't relax onto the legs and it didn't go down into the floor. He didn't stay grounded from the waist down and then high from the waist up. He just was high the whole time so there were a lot of balancing issues. 

That was the problem, not needing water on the shoe, the advice that Derek Hough gave him. Barry needed to really isolate and make sure his hips and his legs and feet were grounded to the floor while his upper half of his body goes up towards the sky again. 

It takes years to get this – but that was the reason, it wasn't because the floor was slippery. Barry has some natural musicality, and you could see him work so hard in those packages. He had his glasses on, he had a piece of paper clearly, he's been writing something down and he's practicing by himself. That's a great student right there and he's 69 – killing it. 

Converse shoes are not for dance floors 

Xochitl performs a salsa on Dancing with the Stars© Christopher Willard
Xochitl's footwear choice did not impress Cheryl

Xochitl Gomez is an amazing dancer, but I cannot stand it when dancers and celebs – celebrities especially because they are not ballroom dancers – wear sneakers. It cuts off your movement, and makes it look fragmented, and I think that she could have executed that salsa even better if she actually had Latin heels on. 

The shoes didn't make her steps nice and compact, but she has so much potential and I can't wait to see what she has in store next. 

Alyson Hannigan was spectacular 

Alyson and Sasha wowed the judges with a tango © Christopher Willard
Cheryl was widely impressed by Alyson's tango

The judge's scores for Alyson were also confusing. I thought Alyson was one of the highlights of the whole show in my eyes and that transformation was pretty spectacular to see. The judges also thought the same yet gave her what a 7, 6, 6 – so weird. 

This was the biggest jaw-dropping moment for me. This is the perfect example of what it means to stick to the basics and 'less is more'. Sasha Farber wasn't messing around. They tangoed, they cut the BS and did what the challenge asked – dance at tango in the proper wardrobe, look, hairstyle, and facial expressions. 

Alyson could have been a little bit more intense in the eyes but that is just nitpicking. 

Mauricio Umansky and Harry Jowsey need to improve quickly 

Rylee and Harry have been saved two weeks in a row© Christopher Willard
Rylee and Harry have been saved two weeks in a row

My bottoms were Mauricio and Emma Slater for obvious reasons. I wish they would have actually worked more on the content of the routine because that's where they messed up, rather than wasting the time to work on the tricks.

The tricks were great, but this isn't Lifting with the Stars, it's Dancing with the Stars. 

Also Harry and Rylee Arnold. It's important that Harry really focuses on listening to his pro dancer. I heard his package a little bit and he was trying to overanalyze. You can't overanalyze movement within the body. You'll never be satisfied because you can't analyze it and there's also no such thing as perfection.

Mauricio Umanskys Latin Night Salsa Dancing with the Stars

Lele Pons stepped it up 

My top couples for week two were Lele and Brandon Armstrong; they definitely stepped it up, good on Brandon. And I take back what I said last week – Jason Mraz and Daniella Karagach? I am no longer shocked. 

I was shocked last week because I didn't think Jason was gonna be as good as he is but this week. 

Jamie Lynn and Alan Bersten stand with Alfonso Ribeiro© Christopher Willard
Jamie Lynn was the second contestant to go home

Jamie Lynn Spears' exit wasn't surprising 

I think it's okay to admit once or twice how scared and insecure and nervous you are, but as an audience member, we want to see how they get out of that. I think this would have been easier to portray for Jamie Lynn if she had more weeks, but I think it's also your responsibility – if you're going to let people in on that – to let the audience and viewers into why you are scared and to really show vulnerability. 

The packages are, in my eyes, sometimes more important than the dance itself, and if the package doesn't pop along with the dancing, then unfortunately you're most likely going home. 

The exit format works 

This formula was the way it was from when I started back in season two. For me, it works and it should have always stayed like this as it really means that 50% of the voting is from people at home and the other 50% are the judges scores. 

The other formula, I believe, left fans and viewers feeling like their votes didn't count. 

My final three prediction remains the same 

Ariana and Pasha perform during Latin week on Dancing with the Stars© Christopher Willard
Ariana and Pasha have been near the top of the leaderboard both week

Jason, yes, Ariana Madix yes, but I am not sure about Charity unless she can untrain her cheerleading brain a little bit. I say that with all love, by the way, but cheerleaders in general are trained differently as they only have themselves to worry about though.

When I say people with dance experience that come on this show in actuality don't have a leg up, this what I mean. It is honestly harder to untrain the brain than it is to train your brain doing something completely foreign and something it's never done before.

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