So why is Troy in this week's picture? Because he was on the front row - of the Dancing With the Stars audience on Monday night. And yes, he had a Terrible Towel, as did many others in the audience. Carrie Ann Inaba didn't seem to find him intimidating like she did James Harrison, so the word is that there will only be a small fine and no suspension for Polamalu.
But on to serious business. By this point in the season it is definitely serious business. The field had narrowed to five couples. There was a large gap between the cumulative scores of the highest and lowest scoring couple in Season 10 at the end of Week 7 - 56 points, widening to over 70 points at the end of Week 8. The competition is much closer this season - after Week 7 there was a difference of 28 points, which has narrowed this week to 20 points.
During Week 7 each couple had to do an individual dance and a group dance. For Week 8 there were two individual dances for each couple. However, they added a new wrinkle in Season 12 - the "Instant" dance. The premise is that the choreographer develops a generic routine for the assigned dance, but without accompanying music. They learn the routine, but don't know until they have finished their first dance of the evening what song they will dance the "instant" dance to. They get a CD of the song when they get the scores for the first dance and have 20 minutes to fit the choreography to the song. If this sounds hard, it is.
For the first time since week 1 Chad and Hines had the same dance - the Jive. But Hines' Jive was the Instant Dance. Let's see how they did:
A few of the comments made during the rehearsals:
Cheryl: "When I walk into the studio I don't know what mood Chad's going to be in. He's either going to be quiet or he's gonna be loud. You never know what you're going to get. It can be really exhausting."
Chad: "This week I want a paddle - that says "10" As the competition gets slim I can't have that fun loving personality all the time. At this point now I have to get extremely serious about my craft and wanting to win."
Judges' comments, Tango:
Len: Well, you know, learning one dance in a week is tough, but learning two dances really shows up any imperfections, because you haven't got the time to polish and refine the dance. You've got to get on with the second dance. And unfortunately , Chad, that's what's happened. I thought it had attack, it had good movement, it needed a little more polish, a bit more refinement.
Bruno: Yes, I think what you did, you really went for the emotional involvement, and that is good in this dance. It requires that. But obviously it has to be slicker. Tango is a very slick, precise dance, and sometimes your footwork and your frame and your hold went a little bit . But the emotional commitment was right.
Carrie Ann: Absolutely. I loved the attack, I loved the intensity. There is definitely something growing here, and I see great potential, and it's still coming out. Each week I see something more. But your posture in this one was still just funky, and without that base, it's really hard to get the dance to come together and be a unit. So that's what's missing. So next dance, in your Jive, I want to see even more, I want to see that same attack, but a lot more fun.
A few comments from the rehearsals:
Cheryl - "In the jive, Chad is all about the ladies and throwing his cash around - like what he does normally."
Chad: "I'm dancing to a song that I love, called "The Love Man," and that's what I am. The Love Man..."
Judges' comments, Jive:
Len: It was high energy, it was fun, it was entertaining. There weren't a lot of kicks going on, which I'm glad about, because the few kicks you did do were terrible, but I thought it was good - well done!
Bruno: "Chad, you devil, you pimped the Jive... It's great to see you smile. When you smile and you have a good time, the whole thing changes. That's the way to go. Len is right - [it needs] a little bit more kicks and flicks, but that's the way to go."
Carrie Ann: "I thought it was great - it was very groovy, you've got the go-go thing going on. The energy was a little wild at times, but I thought it suited the dance perfectly. This was one of your better dances."
Hines Ward: Foxtrot - 9/9/10 "Instant" Jive - 9/9/8
A few comments from the rehearsals:
Kym explains that the foxtrot is all about telling a story and having fun. She reveals that the story is this: "This week, you're going to propose to me."
Hines: "That's pretty much America - the woman makes the man propose!"
They showed Hines and Kym watching a video of Ralph Macchio's Foxtrot performance a few weeks before. Hines explains:
"Ralph is definitely a contender, so I wanted to analyse Ralph's foxtrot. That's something that i do in football. You look at your next opponent's performance just to get the mindset of what I need to do to try to get that edge."
Kym told him that the routine is super cheesy - over-exaggerating the smile and so on.
Hines: "If that's what it takes to score big, I'm as cheesy as it gets. For the two weeks leading up to the finals I'm just gonna listen to Kym, she knows best, she's been there before. I'm leaning heavily on her, cause I want to be in the final three. I want to win this thing."
Judges' comments, Foxtrot:
Bruno: "Hines! Yes! Yes! Yes! I'll have it! Your performance - it was beaming with a blissful look of happiness! And you put it a scene, it was like one of my favorite movies, Bandwagon, with Syd Charisse and Fred Astaire, in the park on the bench. You've got me for that! You've got me!"
Carrie Ann: "I disagree! [Bruno gives a little yelp.] I don't think Fred Astaire. [Bruno: "Yeah, but the scene was from The Bandwagon," - Kym says "That's right."] I think Gene Kelly. There's that sort of masculine [thing] - You're such a guy's guy, Hines, and I love that. You don't try to frill it up, you don't try to do anything extravagent - you just stick to the program and you dance it. And you added that little twill in the air - it's so cute! A little bit of cheesy Hines... I loved it!"
Len: "Your dancing has such great appeal. Your personality just radiates throughout the ballroom, to the judges, and I hope to the viewers - it's just a joyful experience to watch you. You just sit back and watch the dance unravel before your eyes - it's fluid, and it just moves through. Unfortunately your feet are a little bit... * [a little bit what, I guess we'll never know. Massive booing from the audience.] You said you felt it might be a little bit cheese. Well, if that's cheese, I love it."
A few comments from the rehearsals:
Hines: "I was really looking forward to doing the jive, because I'd never done it before. But now that it's the instant jive, I'm a little bit nervous about it."
Later in rehearsal, head in hands, he says "How are you supposed to do a dance when you don't even know the beat? I rely everything on the music - hearing the vocals, hearing the beat, that's how I dance.... Not having that, I don't know how I'm going to get through it.
Kym: "I'm a little nervous, because I've never done the Instant Dance before, and Hines is struggling with the jive. So we'll really have to pull it together quickly."
Hines: "Now that we're coming down to the wire, we can't afford to have any bad weeks. because there's no tomorrow. It's like football - it's one game. You lose, you go home. (Many of Hines' other comments during rehearsal weren't printable...)
Judges' comments, Jive:
Bruno: "It was like watching Mr. Happy Feet. You really made me smile all the way through. I mean, jives are really really difficult. The energy was fantastic. But all the kicks and flicks were flat-footed - it was a bit like a penguin. You've really got to do it from your knee and point your foot. But it's incredibly difficult. The Jive is one of the hardest dances. You've done an incredible job - in 20 minutes? Oh my God..."
Carrie Ann: "He did an amazing job, Bruno. It was really fantastic! Jive is a very hard dance to do - you have to be right on the beat, and you were on every beat!, kicking, flicking, turning, and I loved it. What I loved about it was you totally relaxed into the moment. I saw you in the beginning thinking about the routine, but then you let it go, you let the audience lift you up. You were right with the music, right with the audience, fantastic."
Len: "All work and no play makes a good dancer, and I can tell you worked hard this week. Most of the couples have already done the jive during the course of the season. You were unlucky enough not to have done it, and you had to with another dance, plus it was an instant dance. Let me tell you, this is a real tough dance and you've done a fantastic job."
Cumulative Score thus far - Chad: 209 Hines: 251.5
Last there was a fourth judge on this season's program, but not last year, and therefore both the team score and the individual scores were higher. So I adjusted the score to keep it equivalent. My cumulative score for Hines won't look the same as what you might see on the internet. That's also how it is a fractional score.
Last week Hines and Chad were less than 30 points apart. Chad's Week 8 scores widened the chasm to 42.5 points. Both Hines and Chad moved on to Week 9, which is the semi-final round - and once again Hines and Kym were the first people on the results show to be told that they were coming back.
Here are where Hines and Chad placed each week. (The place is given as out of the remaining number of couples, hence 8/11 means 8th place out of 11 couples.) After the first week, the first set of numbers is the rank for that night's score, the second set of numbers is their cumulative rank. There were a number of times where several couples received the same score, and to make it simple I assumed that they were at the top of the set (so if they were tied with three people for third place, I just gave them 3rd.)
Hines - 3/11
Chad - 6/11
Hines - 1/11, 1/11
Chad - 9/11, 8/11
Hines - 1/10, 1/10
Chad - 8/10, 7/10
Hines - 2/9, 1/9
Chad - 4/9, 7/9
Hines - 1/8, 1/8
Chad - 6/8, 7/8
Hines - 3/7, 1/7
Chad - 3/7, 6/7
Hines - 1/6, 1/6
Chad - 4/6, 5/6
Hines - 2/5, 1/5
Chad - 4/5, 4/5
Before they received their scores for the Foxtrot, Hines was asked the following: "I'm afraid to ask you what Steeler Nation and the boys are going to say about the skipping and the smiling. And are you surprised at how you've embraced the cheesiness in this competition?"
Hines: "You know what, they had a lot of encouragement, and they said 'You know, if that's what it takes to win this competition, then go out there and be the master of cheese."
After the jive, he was asked if it was easier than he thought it would be, and he said: "No it definitely wasn't easier. That was a P90X workout or something. It was a good offseason workout - getting ready for the season - that definitely helped me out." I love it when he says things like "getting ready for the season." Keep saying it, Hines!
On tonight's result show, there was a rather hilarious segment called "DanceCenter." Kenny Mayne and Jerry Rice, both former contestants, sized up the couples in a sort of unique way. Len Goodman, the head judge, was on the "panel" with Mayne and Rice. Goodman's (serious) comment on Hines: "He may possibly be the best footballer we've had on "Dancing With the Stars." (Considering that at least one "footballer," Emmit Smith, won the competition, that's saying something.) But Mayne had a lot more to say, none of it nearly as complimentary as that. And Jerry Rice pointed out that "Hines Ward is a real football player. Look at some of the hits he puts on Kym Johnson." They then showed a montage of "hits" accompanied by possibly authentic NFL sounds. Here is one of the hits, since I know you guys like the violent stuff. Sorry I can't give you the sounds:
As Rice said, "That's nasty!"
Well, they'll be back next week, and so will I. Enjoy, WyoFan...
If you missed the previous articles, here they are:
Weeks 1- 5