Dancing With the Stars: Did Antonio Make the Cut[s]?
After a seriously disappointing Week 5, Team Antonio re-bonded as a team in Week 6. Of course, this was partly because the Week 5 partner switchup was over and Sharna was back. But it was also because Antonio cleared the air with Sharna, saying he felt she didn’t believe in his will to win. From the indications we’ve been getting all along about AB’s seeming sense of entitlement and lack of the little things, like showing up on time for rehearsals, she could be forgiven for this.
But perhaps seeing his chances fading jolted him into reality. Maybe he really did care all along and wasn’t very good at communicating this. Who knows? The whole point of reality TV seems to be to create as much drama as possible. If it doesn’t occur naturally, careful editing can manufacture it.
But Antonio was back, better than ever, with a jive that wowed the judges and pulled him off of the “danger” list. In fact it was former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie who went home after last Monday night.
Can Antonio sustain the momentum, or will he get complacent again? The latter would seem surprising, as he’s spent his whole career persuading people who thought he wasn’t big enough or fast enough or awesome enough to make it in the NFL that they were wrong.
But before we look at this week’s dances, let’s see how Hines Ward did in Week 7, back in 2011.
As usual the answer was, just fine:
Week 7 was the first week in which the contestants had to perform two different dances—a team dance and an individual dance. I’m only going to cover the individual dance—the point to remember is that everyone had to learn two complete routines this week.
The judging was much more split than usual. An extra judge was added, a Scots dancer by the name of Donnie Burns whose specialty was Latin dance. The rift between the judges was seen clearly in the team dances, when both teams ended up with the same score (30 out of 40) with two of the judges giving a 7 and two an 8. But Team Chelsea got the 8s from Donnie and Carrie Ann, and Team Hines got the 8s from Len and Bruno. This continued throughout the evening, with occasionally widely varying scores from the four judges for some of the couples. (One couple received a 6 from one judge and a 9 from another.)
The other way they mixed it up was to bring in “Ballroom Greats”—award-winning dancers—to help coach each couple. The coach Kym and Hines got was Luca Baricci, and he complained that Hines wasn’t in the character of the dance—they were assigned a tango.
“You’re angry, but you want her,” Baricci said, demonstrating some of the moves with Kym. He then walked over and put his hands on Hines’ shoulders, and Hines said “Oh, geez… um – am I the…?” Luca—”You’re the man. Now feel it – this is aggressive.” He then showed Hines how some of the moves felt. Hines said “Having a male perspective has helped me out a lot, because usually the guy is the one who’s leading the girl. Hopefully I can lead Kym around the dance floor now.” After they practiced one bit, Kym said “Wow – oh my God that was like dancing with a pro!”
During one rehearsal a mischievous face peered around the door, belonging to Jerome Bettis. Hines admitted he was getting a lot of flak about being on the show, and his teammates definitely didn’t think he would make it to Week 7. So it didn’t surprise him to see Jerome come in to see how he was really doing.
“Having Jerome there, I really wanted to put on a show for him, because if I can impress him I can impress anyone. One thing about this dance competition, if you do bad you’re gonna hear about it your whooooooolllllleee life.”
- Len: “Well, Hines, it was a mixture to me. Some of it was full of drama. You were like a tiger stalking its prey, coming out there sharp and crisp like a pickle. [At this point Carrie Ann said “A pickle!?” and he said, “Yeah, they’re sharp and tangy. I like them.”] Anyhow, then it goes into like a fairy mode, and it was all a bit too dainty for me. [Massive booing from the audience. When it continued, he said “Talk to the hand.”] Overall, I liked it very much. It’s just that here and there it could have been a bit more determined.”
- Bruno: “I like light and shade, and I like the way you played it. Big, strong, masterful, determined, yet you manage to retain the slinky, smooth, stealthy actions of a panther on the prowl, going for the kill. That was a killer tango!” [You will get the flavor of this comment best if you imagine that every word is underlined, the important words are drawn out, and the panther pounce is demonstrated…]
- Carrie Ann: “What you do that is so unique, that sets you apart from everybody else, is that you take command of every dance. And I really believe that the way you command the movement, the way you command your partner, and the way you command the audience is really unbelievable. Tonight, though, despite your incredible musicality and your connection with Kym, which is new, there were a few – I felt like you were just a little off-balance at points. I think you’re learning a new hold, I saw it in action and I’d love to see it in action next week.”
- Donnie: “Bruno, I thought you were a little bit understated in those comments. [Bruno: “Do you want me to do it again?”] My old dancing teacher used to say “Dance from your heart, but use your head,” and I think you do that. I think you’ve got a winning mentality. And you’ve got this kind of really good charisma on the floor that sucks people in and makes them like you. You’ve got a nice personality as well. The only thing is, mechanically, from the technical point of view, your arms are supposed to be still, and they were wafting, a little bit like American Airlines, you were trying to fly there. But apart from that I thought you did a great job.”
To return to 2016, the NFL contingent is down one, as noted. I’m expecting (or should I say hoping) to see some real distance open up between Von Miller and Antonio Brown. Von appears to have worked very hard, and he does some things quite well, but he’s just not a natural dancer. There’s a reason dancers are not large people—in the sense of tall, large-boned, etc. You would be hard-pressed to be a dancer who spends a lot of time on your craft and be fat. Hines remarked after about the third week that he had to punch holes in his belt because he had lost so much off his waist.
Antonio has the build, the instincts, and the athleticism to dance very well. Let’s see if he really wants to do it…
This week is a double elimination, and the remaining eight couples will be cut down to six. They also did something similar to the “team dances” that Hines and Kym captained in 2011, except this time they decided to shake it up and it was Team Male vs. Team Female. (I’m guessing that’s not what they really called it, but we’ll see soon.) So just like Hines, Antonio had to learn two routines for tonight. As, of course, does everyone else.
It was also “Icons Night,” and the songs to which each couple danced were by a famous singer or group…
Antonio Brown: Tango (to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”)
This is the first night in the competition in which Antonio and Hines had the same dances, and it will be interesting to compare.
Antonio: “Last week was a great week for me and Sharna to come together as a team and to remind each other that we’re here to give it our all and we’re here to be here for each other.”
Sharna: “We are staying in late this week because he wants to put in more time and concentrate on the technique, and that’s coming at the right time, because we have double dances.”
The song they danced to is a dark song, and as Sharna said, “This is so far away from that smile that we all know and love.”
Antonio: “Sharna is a great coach—she’s harping on those details to make sure she makes me look good so we can have a great dance. We either go hard or we go home. That’s where we are in this competition right now, and I’m going hard because I don’t wanna go home.”
I’m sorry to say the microwave cover haircut is back. On the other hand, Sharna had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, so I guess they balanced out for the folks at home…
- Len: Well, tango is a balance between attack and purpose and style and finesse. This had plenty of attitude. There was a few mistakes going on throughout. [Massive booing] I only speak the truth, and what I say is what I see. There were a few mistakes during this routine. But I love your spirit that you’ve got now. You’re coming out with determination.
- Bruno: One thing is for sure—you’ve awakened your dramatic persona. It was so menacing—it was like a tango in the temple of doom. You were going for it really intensely. The thing is, you’ve gotta get the footwork right. You kept going wrong—you went on the wrong foot in quite a few sections. So it’s good, the attitude, but it has to have the precision as well. And anyhow I like Antonio’s sexy back as well…
- Carrie Ann: I know that on the football field speed is your weapon, and last week it served you so well. But this week I think it worked against you—it’s sort of your enemy in this dance, because what we want is [chorus of hecklers began, and Inaba turned around and shook a finger at them] Hold on, this is really important feedback for him, because he’s got magic. You all see it. When he danced there’s magic—it’s electrifying. But you’ve got to get this technique down. You’ve got to learn to finish your moves. It’s not all one energy, like a sprint—it’s kind of like how you have to meet the ball at the right time. You have to finish the move like you meet the ball. You can’t just get there early, you can’t get there too late. The nuances of that movement is lacking, and if you can get that—watch out.
Before they got their scores, they played some video from Mike Tomlin, courtesy of the NFL Network. They asked Tomlin if he had watched Antonio on Dancing With the Stars, and here was his response:
NFL Guy: I know you’ve watched some of the episodes, but have you actually gone and texted and voted for your boy? (Lots of laughter from all the NFL TV guys, who said they were putting him on the spot. But nobody puts Tomlin on the spot…)
Mike Tomlin: Hey, I have not, because if he needs my vote he’s in trouble.
Erin Andrews and Sharna then gave Tomlin a hard time, telling him every vote counts and oh, by the way, he should be in the audience as well.
And as an aside, what a dreadful song. I guess I know why I was never a Rolling Stones fan. It makes me think of something from This is Spinal Tap…
Von Miller: Salsa (to Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation”)
- Len: It was a bit like a pizza—it was a bit crusty on the bottom but tasty up top, and the lifts were spectacular. Well done.
- Bruno: The King is back, and Witney needs a chiropractor. The lifts were all over the place—I don’t know if they do that in Memphis, but they do that on the Kama Sutra, I tell you that for sure. It was different but very very effective.
- Carrie Ann: Witney, great job. It was a bit rough around the edges, but what I loved is, Von, this is a side of you I thought we would never see. You were having such a great time. You play along 100%. It’s happy, it’s fun, I love it.
Team Dances: This pitted Team James Brown (the male stars and their professional partners) vs. Team Beyonce (the female stars and their male professional partners.) Team James Brown was at somewhat of a disadvantage, for two reasons. First, Wanya had to miss some of the rehearsals because of a Boyz II Men gig, and second, Nyle, the deaf guy, found it much more challenging in a large group rather than a one-on-one dance.
After they danced, the host said that sometimes the difference between the dress rehearsal, which the audience doesn’t see, and the live dance is striking, but in this case he could only say “holy crap.”
Team James Brown:
I won’t recount the judges’ comments, but they loved the dance and the teamwork. Carrie Ann even pointed out that in a bit where there was a sequence started by Nyle, he started off a bit ahead of the beat, so all the other dancers did it the same way, which she (and I) found incredibly impressive. That’s not only working together but improvising in the moment as a group. All I can say is, probably Wanya was the only one of the men who could have missed that much rehearsal and still done well.
Team Beyonce: 8/8/9
The judges were very positive, but as you can see they didn’t like the dance as well. And as I watched it I really thought it wasn’t as good as the men’s dance. I was glad the judges agreed.
Here are the full results for tonight, in the order the couples danced. The first score is for their individual dance, the second for their team:
- Jodie and Keo: 8/9/9—8/8/9 (Total: 51)
- Kim and Sasha: 9/9/9—8/8/9 (Total: 52) [Eliminated]
- Nyle and Peta: 10/9/9—9/9/10 (Total: 56)
- Antonio and Sharna: 8/8/8—9/9/10 (Total: 52)
- Wanya and Lindsey: 9/9/9—9/9/10 (Total: 55)
- Ginger and Val: 10/10/10—8/8/9 (Total: 55)
- Von and Witney: 8/8/8—9/9/10 (Total: 52) [Eliminated]
- Paige and Mark: 10/10/10—8/8/9 (Total: 55)
Antonio made it through another week, thanks to you, Steeler Nation. The Broncos may have won the Super Bowl, but Von Miller is not going to win the Mirror Ball. Antonio has a chance, but as you can see he has the next-to-lowest score of the remaining couples. So get out there and vote, guys!