Week 2 of Dancing With the Stars: How Did Antonio Do?

Week 2 AB

Week 1 was fun, but Week 2 on Dancing With the Stars is where the pedal starts to hit the metal. There are no eliminations in Week 1, but one couple has to go during Week 2.

The first few eliminations are generally fairly easy, at least if the season in which Hines Ward competed is any indication. There always seem to be a couple of “stars” who just don’t have the, well, star power to overcome their technical weaknesses and lack of natural ability, and they generally get weeded out fairly quickly, unless they are happen to be very popular for some non-dancing reason. Then they may hang on for a few weeks longer than their Week 1 dances would have predicted.

So who is staying and who is going? Let’s find out…

Hines Ward: Quickstep

As I did in the first article, I’ll begin with how Hines Ward did in Week 2. After all, he is a past champion, hard worker, and mega-watt smiler, and thus is our benchmark for Antonio Brown’s appearance on the show.

In Week 2 Hines and his partner were assigned the quickstep (the dance Antonio Brown danced last week.) Hines was still finding the workouts a great deal more of a challenge than he anticipated. After one of his danced he told the Los Angeles Times “That was a P90X workout.” Ward found himself below his playing weight long before the end of the show, and felt he was in the best shape of his life.

The quickstep was a hit with the judges:

Carrie Ann: “Emmitt Smith just had to retire his little title of Twinkle Toes.” (Smith was the winner of Season 2.)

Bruno: “You led with ease and confidence—I particularly like some of the fine details you put in. You put in the nifty footwork—the rond de jambe going backwards, which is very hard.”

One of the things which I think makes the competition more difficult for the men than the women, and of course more difficult on their professional dance partners, is that the man has to lead. The women dancers can, and do, make quite an effort to disguise the fact that the guy isn’t really in control (and some would say this is a typical female role in life…) but it’s pretty obvious to the practiced eye who is really driving the bus. If the man can’t take over that role fairly early in the competition, it becomes more and more challenging for the woman to choreograph a dance which covers for the lack of leadership.

It will be very interesting to see how soon Antonio is able to do this. It wouldn’t surprise me if it took him a bit longer than Hines, because his personality is, from what I have seen of him, more of a “pleaser” than Hines. But enough speculation—let’s see what actually happened.

Antonio Brown: Rumba

Cameron Heyward and Vince Williams were present for moral support.

In the video montage they play of the rehearsals before each couple actually dances, the emphasis was on Antonio learning to act sexy. As Sharna says, he’s not an actor, he’a a football player—he’s not used to playing these roles.

AB was asked whether he thought he and Sharna are better than Von [Miller] and Witney. He answered with typical Antonio confidence:

“I know we’re better than Von and Witney. We’ve got better chemistry. I’m more light on my feet than Von. We’ve got all the ingredients.”

But stroking his dance partner in the approved stylized, Latin dance way (it was Latin night and they performed a rumba) didn’t come very naturally.

I loved the costume. It was just a pair of nicely tailored but seemingly ordinary gray trousers and a beautifully detailed lilac shirt, unbuttoned.I certainly preferred it to the sparkly black and gold outfit last week (which was even the wrong color of gold…)

The dance itself had, to my untutored eye, a lot of improvements on the previous week in terms of how he used his body, but still had a few awkward moments. But there were a few really beautiful ones as well. What did the judges think?

Bruno: Antonio, look at you! You really are blessed and gifted. But I’m going to give you a little tough love. You’ve got it all—the affinity with the music, you have the chemistry with Sharna, you just need to apply more. Rumba—continuous movement. It never stops. You don’t go around from one thing (reaches arms out), around from another thing (jerks around and grabs the table). It’s perpetual movement. You have the talent. You have to apply that talent to the technique which I know Sharna is working very hard to give you. I WANNA SEE IT!

Carrie Ann: Like Bruno said, I appreciated the chemistry. And what I really love about you is that you understand the movement. You know when there’s joy, and you know when it’s like (curvy movement with her hands.) You have all the nuances of what the meaning is behind the dance, which I really love. I think in this dance particularly you need to provide a very sturdy frame for the artistry that is Sharna. I think your feet were a little shuffling underneath you so you didn’t provide such a strong frame as she would need to look so incredible within. Also, there was a lift. So when you do those kind of lifts make sure Sharna keeps one foot on the ground in the lift. I’m calling you out! (Boos from some of the audience…)

Len:  The thing is, there’s a dancer inside of you. Yea, there is. It’s not quite come out yet, but it is there, and I know with Sharna’s help and hard work it will come through. For me, this lacked a little bit of finesse. You can’t step forward on your heels. It was a little bit scruffy here and there. You just gotta – gotta get a little more finesse, and then you’re gonna be good.

Scores: 6/6/7

Von Miller: Cha-cha

Again, I emphasize that I don’t know much about ballroom dancing. I do know a lot about music and rhythm, however. Miller’s Week 2 dance showed, in my opinion, little improvement, and the only time he seemed to be completely dancing within the music (as opposed to really close to it) was when some of his hip-hop moves were thrown it.

This seemed to me to be inappropriate for Week 2. You can see why there were some in last week’s dance (in the same way AB’s TB dance started his routine last week.) And I wasn’t the only one it bothered—Bruno actually called out his professional partner for putting that into the dance. I don’t think he’ll get away with it next week.

Carrie Ann: I thought you were dancing a little bit too small. You’re a big man – I want you to own the floor. You took a little bit—like about 30%—out of what you could have been tonight.

Len: Well, it was a bit like a taco (pronounced in the inexplicably British way of tack-o). It was tasty in places but some funny bits going on in there. Don’t ever step forward on your heel in any of these Latin dances. But – good job, well done (with a very prosy tone of voice…)

Bruno: Well, I think the ? (recording skipped—couldn’t make out the word) is large. But, you get so large in your own individual style that sometimes the cha-cha-cha gets lost in translation. We have to see the style of the dance, Witney. Don’t let him drown it with his personality. It has to be recognizable. Good performance.

Scores: 7/6/7

Erin Andrews made sure to point out to Miller that AB had “called him out.” So Miller was clearly pleased to score better than AB. As he said:

“I mean, they beat us during the regular season. I can’t let them dance away from me on the dance floor. That’s my motto right now.” (I’m guessing it’s a snarky reference to “business is booming.”)

And finally, Doug Flutie missed getting eliminated tonight with an improved performance (he was one of the three couples “in jeopardy”). I don’t think he’ll last a lot longer, though. He is obviously working really hard at it, but he hasn’t got a sufficient amount of natural grace or rhythm. He did, however, improve greatly in the scoring, actually outscoring Brown. Another little message being sent, I think.

I thought it was interesting that AB’s score was actually lower than last week. Note the difference in the amount of time the judges spent with AB and Miller. This time I didn’t edit either set of remarks. They really appear to believe Antonio could turn into not just a good contestant but an actually good dancer.

I’m well aware that “reality TV” is anything but. I’m sure the whole storylines for the season were sketched out long in advance, and one of the very big story lines is the competition between two NFL stars on competitive (and competing) teams. But I think there is also a certain desire on the part of the judges to exercise something of what Stephen Colbert might call “truthiness.” They see the brashness in AB, and they are determined to break it down enough to make him actually take criticism seriously.

A lot of the “stars” who are doing well have a big head start over AB. Both of the “stars” scoring the highest tonight (24 points) have dance backgrounds. AB is starting from very little, in terms of experience. This is very attractive to the audience, and Steeler Nation will doubtless keep him in the running until he gets it together. But I’m really interested to see how much less seriously he seems to be taking the commitment than Ward did. This may be, of course, an illusion, created by clever video editing of carefully chosen questions, etc. But unless AB knuckles down and really embraces the technical challenges, he’s going to be just another promising but ultimately disappointing candidate who will last longer than he should because of something unrelated to dancing. Rather like Chad Johnson, in fact. Take that, AB…

Here are tonight’s scores, followed by the cumulative judges’ scores. (I don’t know that there’s any way to find out what the audience scores are:

  • Jodie and Keo: 7/7/7 [41]
  • Marla and Tony: 7/6/7 (41]
  • Geraldo and Edyta: 5/4/4 [26]
  • Paige and Mark 8/8/8 [45]
  • Antonio and Sharna: 6/6/7 [40]
  • Kim and Sasha: 7/6/6 [39]
  • Nyle and Peta: 7/6/7 [43]
  • Mischa and Artem: 5/5/5 [31]
  • Von and Witney: 7/6/7 [41]
  • Wanya and Lindsay: 8/8/8 [47]
  • Doug and Karina: 7/6/7 [35]
  • Ginger and Val: 7/7/7 [43]

This breaks down to the following “leaderboard:”

  • 47: Wanya and Lindsay
  • 45: Paige and Mark
  • 43: Nyle and Peta; Ginger and Val;
  • 41: Von and Witney; Marla and Tony; Jodie and Keo
  • 40: AB and Sharna
  • 39: Kim and Sasha;
  • 35: Doug and Karina
  • 31: Mischa and Artem
  • 26: Geraldo and Edyta

To no one’s surprise, Geraldo and Edyta were eliminated tonight.

AB might take note that he’s in the bottom five, or bottom four, now that Geraldo and his partner were eliminated. It gets harder each week to make up points. Buckle down, AB. You’ve got what it takes. You don’t take your craft for granted on the football field, and if you’re going to do this at all, for the sake of Steeler Nation, please do it right.

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