Dancing with the Stars Fall Season 2015, Week 2 Analysis:

Dancing with the Stars Fall Season 2015, Week 2 Analysis:

Many thanks to all of you for enduring the delay for this analysis, following my family’s intensely difficult week of surgery and more, including both expected and unexpected medical fallout that exhausted us while gobbling the week. Whew!

Dancing With The Stars had an unprecedented second week–two nights, with celebs performing TWO different dances. That’s a lot to ask in only week two, especially from celebs who had no previous dance experience!   Everybody hung in there, though, and did as much as possible and as well as possible while Tom and Erin provided their dependable support and humor. It was Hometown Week, which featured the celeb on one night and that celeb’s pro on the other.


Singer/Host Tamar Braxton with pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy

Actor Gary Busey with pro partner Anna Trebunskaya

Backstreet Boys Singer Nick Carter with pro partner Sharna Burgess

Domestic Diva Paula Deen with pro partner Louis Van Amstel

Victor Espinoza with pro partner Karina Smirnoff

Singer Andy Grammer with pro partner Allison Holker

Teen Social Media Geek Hayes Grier with pro partner Emma Slater

Actress Bindi Irwin with pro partner Derek Hough

Singer Chaka Khan with pro partner Keo Motsepe

Actress Alexa PenaVega with pro partner Mark Ballas

Actor/Singer Carlos PenaVega with pro partner Witney Carson

Army Hero Alek Skarlatos with pro partner Lindsay Arnold

Atlanta Housewife Kim Zollciak Biermann with pro partner Tony Dovolani


Most judges’ scores were accurate; a few overshot the mark or shortchanged a good performance. I was relieved to see improvement where I expected to see it and surprised to see some where I doubted I’d see it. Here’s what happened during the two nights of “Hometown”–Monday and Tuesday, September 21 and 22, in sequence.


Monday, September 21:


  1. Nick Carter: Jive. Judges’ score 7. My score 7.

The negative: Slipped early on (could happen to anyone). He had fun but appeared to be concerned at times. His kicks were not sharp enough, and the dance, in my opinion, needed more jive content. Needs to keep improving techniques and gaining confidence.

The positive: It was a cute routine. He recovered well and quickly after that early slip. He shows great promise. Someone said, “Come on, you’re a Backstreet Boy–you can do this!” That’s right! I can’t wait to see him lose himself in the dance and soar–it’ll be fabulous!


  1. Paula Deen: Rhumba. Judges’ scores 7-6-6. My score 6.5.

The negative and the positive: Her nerves were gone! Focused, fun, smooth, sexy, connected, confident. Pretty-good turns. Nice job—vast improvement!

I think she’ll continue to improve—probably not to the point of being a finalist, but to becoming a pretty-good dancer and enjoying the journey.


  1. Hayes Grier: Foxtrot. Judges’ score 7.5 avg. My score 7.5.

The negative: Needs to work on making hands more graceful. The theme again was slightly and unnecessarily below par with adults, represented by him in sneakers with a suit. Much better and much more enjoyable for me this time. Thank you, Emma, but please make him wear attire–clothing AND shoes–that is completely appropriate for an adult and for the dance.

The positive: He shows promise.


  1. Chaka Khan: Cha-Cha. Judges’ score 5. My score 4.5.

The negative: Another somewhat gimmicky opening, in which they wasted the first 15 seconds or so. Her timing/technique/musicality/focus/ability to follow Keo/ability to remember the routine were way off. Didn’t seem to have any rhythm or much ability to follow Keo’s steps.

The positive: Although she couldn’t follow Keo much of the time, she had fun again. Last week I said, “Even though she shows little promise, I hope that … she may manage to show at least minimal improvement”; tonight I added half a point to her score.


  1. Andy Grammer: Jive. Judges’ score 7 (exaggerated!). My score 6.

The negative: Way too much of Allison dancing and a general wasting of time; Len would have had a fit over it. Andy’s timing was off and the choreo/performance was messy. Needs to work on technique in his feet. Allison, you’re a much-better choreographer than you showed tonight; if he gets voted off it’s your fault.

The positive: His kicks were sharp/correct, and his genuine nice-guy charm helps his cause a bit. Not as entertaining this time.


  1. Kim Zolciak Biermann: Quickstep. Judges’ score 6.5 avg. My score 7.

The negative: The start had too much play–they should have been dancing. Needs to continue to work on timing, foot placement, posture, etc.

The positive: I knew she could do it! Her focus and dancing were greatly improved, and she had fun. I like her and I’m proud of her. WYSIWYG! Her determination will push her forward. I just hope that her concern over being away from her 6 kids won’t interfere more than it already has.


  1. Alek Skarlatos: Jazz. Judges’ scores 8-7-8. My score 8.

The negative and the positive: Wow! Lifts and heavy, tough content. A wonderful, sweet, WYSIWYG young guy! He did everything that Lindsay asked him to do and did it well; good lines/follow-through/footwork/turns/technique. Very enjoyable!


  1. Alexa PenaVega: Salsa. Judges’ score 8. My score 9.

The negative: I didn’t notice anything in particular, maybe because I was so tired.

The positive: Sexy, good rhythm/content/technique. Exciting! Well done! She’ll keep improving.


  1. Victor Espinoza: Jive to “La Bamba!” Judges’ scores 6-5-6. My score 4.

The negative and the positive: His timing was way off again, and he again lacked musicality. The act was too gimmicky, such as using a huge sombrero on the head of such a small man, and yet it also was somehow cute and fun. Even so, I’d much rather watch this sweet man (entertaining) than to watch Chaka or Gary (usually painful). Actual dance skill is not what earned the judges’ inflated scores; it was the entertainment value. This guy has more determination for dance than both Chaka and Gary combined; I dearly hope that he will show real improvement in dance skill.


  1. Tamar Braxton: Cha-Cha. Judges’ score 8. My score 8.5.

The negative: Obviously, in only week 2, she, like everyone else, needs to keep improving her techniques and postures even more, but for week 2, WOW!

The positive:   Great rhythm/timing/hips/arms/hands. Sexy! Graceful! Great choreo, Val! An invested, captivating performance.


  1. Gary Busey: Foxtrot. Judges’ score 6. My score 5.

The negative and the positive: Gary showed nice timing, a happy face, entertainment, and some actual dance improvement. The whole thing was cute, and he and Anna clearly had fun. I was surprised and impressed with his progress. I repeat that he’s a nice man, but he shouldn’t be here unless simply to show what impaired people can achieve through determination, inspiration, and encouragement.


  1. Carlos PeneVega: Foxtrot. Judges’ score 8. My score 8.5.

The negative: I didn’t record anything negative.

The positive: Extended his arms, showed graceful hands, good posture/flow. Smooth; good rise and fall. Lovely and I loved it!


  1. Bindi Irwin: Tango. Judges’ scores 9-8-8. My score 9.

The negative: What?

The positive: This sweet girl and Derek rocked the place to “Shook Me All Night Long”: heart-pumping, so much fun! Very-good techniques, lines, etc. I couldn’t look away. Loved it! In line for “Best dance of the night!” Plus, she’s Derek’s partner, so go figure.



WHO WAS ELIMINATED TONIGHT? Chaka Kahn, true to my prediction. She’s a sweet, enthusiastic lady with a great voice and a beautiful smile. Too bad, though, that she displayed nearly zero skill at dancing, only a smidge of improvement tonight, and, despite her claim, no promise of real dedication, musicality, or skill in the dance world. In the history of DWTS, few were even worse than Chaka, such as the hilarious Kenny Mane and Master P (who, in my opinion, holds the record–he showed up to fill in for a relative but didn’t even really try). America, you got this one right, and I thank you for ending viewers’ pain.


WHO SHOULD GO HOME NEXT? I repeat, without any doubt: Gary Busey.


Tuesday, September 22: A beautiful opening of the pros dancing!


  1. Hayes Grier: Quickstep. Judges’ scores 8-7-8. My score 5.5.

The negative: Make him wear proper dress/dance shoes!

The positive: Cute choreo. Nice rise and fall. Fun, confident. I liked it. For me, he’s no Riker Lynch, and he probably won’t equal that level, but he will keep improving and might reach the semifinals.


  1. Carlos PeneVega: Cha-Cha. Judges’ score 7. My score 7.5.

The negative: One of the judges (Carrie Ann?) said it was too showboat-y, I think. I disagree.

The positive: What an entertainer and a nice guy! Great musicality, foot placement, and lines. I liked it.


  1. Gary Busey: Paso. Judges’ score 5. My score 4.

The negative and the positive: Yikes, Anna! Please stop tripling production costs in an attempt to cover Gary’s lack of skill; it was overkill and to no avail. Also, please don’t do three quarters of the dancing and leave Gary just standing there! The dance lacked sufficient paso and “Gary” content. Gary, we like you as an actor, where you shine, but a dancer you are not and will not be. America, please vote him off and end our visual pain.


  1. Andy Grammer: Contemporary. Judges’ scores 8-8-7. My score 7.5.

The negative: Needs to work on posture, flow/arms/hands/grace in lifts.

The positive: The dance was pretty and graceful—so much better than Monday’s. I enjoyed it.


  1. Alexa PenaVega: Rhumba. Judges’ scores 7-7-8. My score 8.

The negative: The dance appeared to be a tad unconnected early on, but they quickly recovered well.

The positive: Beautiful arms/hands/legs; correct technique. Good job! Liked it a lot.


  1. Paula Deen: Tango. Judges’ score 6. My score 6.

The negative and the positive: She did a pretty-good job and clearly had fun. It was a world away from last week. It was even sexy! Her technique was largely correct. She goofed a few steps but was overall quite impressive and continues to show a can-do attitude.


  1. Bindi Irwin: Waltz. Judges’ scores 7-8-8. My score 8.5.

The negative: Her feet came off the floor a little during a spin, so Carrie Ann, the Lift Police, had to deduct one point for that mistake. I wanted to see more traditional waltz content.

The positive: Gorgeous, elegant, smooth, connected.


  1. Kim Zolciak Biermann: Foxtrot. Judges’ score 6. My score 6.

The negative: She seems to drop a bit of her focus and commitment partway through the dance.

The positive: Pretty/graceful arms/hands most of the time. Way better than week 1! Her determination will keep pushing her onward and upward, I hope.


  1. Alek Skarlatos: Quickstep. Judges’ score 6 (underrated). My score 7.

The negative and the positive: He had a few tiny mistakes with timing and footwork, which is still very good for a non-dancer in only week 2. It was a pretty dance in which he presented the correct rise and fall ON HIS TOES! That’s right–show ‘em all how, Alek! Very pretty and I liked it!


  1. Victor Espinoza: Rhumba. Judges’ score 7-6-7. My score 6.5.

The negative: Of course, he still needs to learn to show graceful hands, but come on, people–his improvement is dramatic and he deserves a lot of credit! His can-do attitude and his sweet, sincere smile deserve at least half a point to the good.

The positive: What a pretty start! He and Karina looked like a lovely, connected couple. What a pleasant surprise! This was much better than last night’s and last week’s! He gave it his absolute all, which included long extended lines, follow-through, appropriate facial expressions, clear focus, and nearly everything that Karina asked of him. Although I seriously doubt that he could ever become a contender for the Mirrorball based on skill alone, I do believe that he’ll do his best every time, continue to improve, and become a decent dancer who appreciates the experience.


  1. Nick Carter: Foxtrot. Judges’ score 8. My score 8.5.

The negative: At times he leaned forward a tad instead of standing straight in perfect posture.

The positive: Showed the expected graceful rise and fall and great arm/leg extensions. The dance was smooth and connected, a joy to watch. I loved it!


  1. Tamar Braxton: Charleston. Judges’ scores 8-8-9. My score 9.

The negative and the positive: Keep working on techniques and maintaining proper postures/holds. A Charleston with a modern twist. Great choreo that included some Lindy Hop; cute, peppy, and fun.


WHO WAS ELIMINATED TONIGHT? Victor Espinoza. It’s too bad that such major progress came after the votes were cast. Gary, who shows less obvious commitment and promise, should have gone before Victor, who appeared to try harder. Jeepers–Karina comes back after a year off and gets voted off in only week 2! Sorry, Karina and Victor; you’re much more entertaining and I’ll miss you!


STATUS: I see the top performers and true contenders as being (not in a certain order):

  1. Bindi Irwin
  2. Tamar Braxton
  3. Alek Skarlatos
  4. Nick Carter
  5. Carlos PenaVega (and maybe his wife, Alexa)


GUEST JUDGE: I heard that Alfonso Ribeiro, who won two seasons ago with pro Witney Carson, will be a guest judge. YAY! I don’t know how often he’ll be at the judges’ table–let’s watch and see. Maybe they’ll get him to do the Carlton for us!

Have a happy week, being sure to comment here on the show. Same time, same channel on Monday!


Vickie L. Weaver

Vickie L. Weaver

Owner at Writestyle
Writing has been an important talent and part of my life since I was a child.Professionally, after decades of employment for others, I founded Writestyle in 1996 to provide writing, editing, proofreading, training, and more to clients worldwide (www.writestyle.com).Clients often call my work “magic.”I have written and/or edited for “Coexistence Magazine” (national), for “Ohio Magazine,” and for various newspapers.In addition, I have edited or contributed to the writing of numerous books.Personally, I have written in various genres.I have always composed poetry; as such, I have won awards and publication for some of my poems, and I am compiling a book of my poetry.One of my children’s books is set for publication.With my second husband, family and friends in Ohio, I enjoy music and dance, aid charitable causes, and strive for beauty and harmony in life.
Vickie L. Weaver

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