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A Tale of Two Receivers - Hines Ward and Chad Ochocinco on Dancing With the Stars, Week 7

No, Hines isn't doing dance exercises in this photo - just bringing a box of shoes to training camp. You know, that thing they used to have...

This is a continuation of the DWTS series, which began with this article, comparing Hines and Chad through the vehicle of their appearances on Dancing With the Stars through Week 5. You can find the update for Week 6 here.

Week 7 was the first week in which the contestants had to perform two different dances - a team dance and an individual dance.  There are six couples left. Hines and his partner Kym Johnson have the top cumulative score up to this point, and so they were the leaders of one team. Chelsea Kane and her partner Mark Ballas received the top score last week, so they led the other team.  Each team consisted of 3 couples, and they performed a group cha-cha.  I would have thought that was a contradiction in terms, but there you are.  

Probably the most interesting thing about last night was that the judging was much more split than usual. An extra judge was added, a Scots dancer by the name of Donnie Burns who specialized in Latin dance and was undefeated in any competition for almost 20 years.  Pretty impressive.  At any rate, this split was seen clearly in the competitive dances, when both teams ended up with the same score (30 out of 40) with 2 judges giving a 7 and 2 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 4 judges for some of the couples.  (One couple received a 6 from one judge and a 9 from another.)

In Season 10 (last spring) the remaining six couples also had a Cha-Cha Challenge, and Chad Ochocinco and his partner Cheryl Burke were on Team Gaga.  By all accounts, though, the big winner of the night was Cheryl Burke. It was her birthday, and among other gifts Ochocinco gave her a diamond necklace, thus continuing his relentless pursuit of the hapless Burke.  (I say 'hapless,' but so far she's scored a diamond ring and necklace, as well as various bits of designer paraphernalia - we should all be so hapless.) 

By Burke's account, though, the best birthday present she received was the excellent Viennese Waltz that Chad mustered up. She had considerable difficulty during the competition getting him to focus, but he realized that he was going to go home if he didn't start working a lot harder, and so he did:

Chad Ochocinco: Team Gaga Cha-Cha Challenge - 9/9/9  Viennese Waltz - 8/9/8

Judges' comments:  

Bruno - "Chad, I can't beliee you can be so graceful and so gentle - truly a gentle giant.  You really maintained your focus. Just a couple of things. I can see that you really worked hard on extending your lines, and it works, but make sure that it carries through your fingers - don't end up with these kind of funny hands. [Shows fingers splayed all over the place]  I have to say this because I'm sure it would carry on. And be careful - sometimes it's a bit too heavy on the downbeat on the rise and fall, but otherwise great job."

Carrie Ann - "I'm going to agree with Bruno about the arms. When you're aware of your arms they're breathtaking - they are so elegant and elongated. But I have to say that there is nothing sexier than watching a man find out how to be tender and graceful... it was mesmerizing - the tenderness was in every cell of your body."

Len - "Your arms were full of fluidity. Chad, remember this date, May the 3rd, 2010, the night you became a contender."

Scoring comments - Chad was asked about the parade of gifts he had given Cheryl, and he said "I think a lot of people don't understand the time and effort that goes into the things we do, the choreographing and all that, and just the time and effort that she's put into me, so I'm just showing my appreciation."  When asked if there was anything they should know, Cheryl said "Now you know how hard I have to work with Chad. He feels sorry for me." 


Hines Ward: Team Hines Cha-Cha Challenge: 7/7/8/8  Tango - 9/9/8/10

(Judges' order: Donnie, Carrie, Len, Bruno) 

Comments during rehearsals:

Kym - "Romeo, he took us. He got 10s."  [Rapper Romeo and his partner Chelsea had received 2 9s and a 10 the previous week.] Hines - "Yeah, he did. Time for the Silent Assassin." Kym - "So that's what they call you on the football field." Hines - "Yeah, 'cause I don't do a lot of trash talking. Next thing you know, I just creep up, and I knock yo' ass out." [At one point in the show there was a staged bit where Romeo and Hines were both trying to grab the Mirror Ball trophy.]

This week they had brought 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. "You're angry, but you want her," he 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 - a face belonging to Jerome Bettis.  Hines - "My teammates gave me a lot of flak about being on the show, and they definitely didn't think I'd make it to Week 7. So it didn't surprise me to see Jerome come in to see how well I really was doing." Jerome - "Let me see what you got, man!" Hines - "Having Jerome there, I really wanted to put on a show for him, because if I can impress him I can impress anyone." Jerome - "This guy is the ultimate competitor." Hines - "One thing about this dance competition, if you do bad you're gonna hear about it your whooooooolllllleee life." Kym commented that having Jerome there upped the pressure, and Jerome said "You want him to be under pressure. Pressure is gonna make him perform better. I'm just happy to provide some pressure today." Hines - "Jerome got me mentally ready for this competition, and Luca helped me refine my technique. So with each step in this tango, I'm gonna take out the competition. The Silent Assassin is coming, baby!"

Judges' comments:

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."  

Cumulative Score thus far - Chad: 170   Hines: 197.5

The cumulative scores for this week were a little tricky, because 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 figured what percentage of the total Hines' team score and individual scores were, and used those for the cumulative total, to keep it equivalent.  (Therefore his team score was 30 out of 40, or 22.5 out of 30, and his individual score was 36 out of 40, or 27 out of 30.) So my cumulative score won't look the same as what you might see on the internet - it will be lower for Hines. (That's also how it is a fractional score.)

Last week Hines and Chad were 30 points apart. A strong showing for Chad in Week 7 narrowed the gap a bit.  Both Hines and Chad moved on to Week 8 - 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 9/11 means 9th 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.)

Week 1:  

Hines -  3/11                 

Chad -  6/11

Week 2:  

Hines -  1/11, 1/11   

Chad -  9/11, 8.11

Week 3:  

Hines -  1/10, 1/10  

Chad -  8/10, 7/10

Week 4:  

Hines -  2/9, 1/9  

Chad -  4/9, 7/9

Week 5:  

Hines -  1/8, 1/8  

Chad -  6/8, 7/8

Week 6:  

Hines -  3/7, 1/7  

Chad -  3/7, 6/7 

Week 7:

Hines - 1/6, 1/6

Chad -  4/6, 5/6

This week was the first time that I felt that Chad had really fulfilled his potential on this show. The dance was beautiful - if you want to see it, here's a link. The problem was that it was too little too late, and as you can see he was one couple above the bottom, and the bottom couple was eliminated.  So will he live to dance another week? Will Hines continue to make Steeler Nation proud? 

It is interesting to note that Hines never received a single negative comment until last week. And the 'negative' comments are more suggestions for what to work on. Unlike with Chad, the judges have never felt the need to spur Hines on with criticism. (And as the number of couples diminishes, the judging gets more particular, as they expect more of each contestant every week.]

Finally, a couple of things from Channel 4 Action News.  First, one of the anchors, Sally Wiggins, was in the audience last night, and asked Hines and Kym a few questions afterwards for the 11 o'clock news. First, she asked "Coach Kym" if they deserved to get the 10 that Bruno gave them.  Kym said yes, that the tango is a very difficult dance, and that he had nailed it. Hines interjected "Yeah, I deserve a 10! I'm out here dancing my butt off! I deserve a 10 every week!" Wiggins said "To us, a tango looks like you're just kind of walking around like a robot." Hines said "That's what I thought watching it at home, watching Dancing With the Stars and watching one of the other guys. I thought 'Oh, I can do that.' But there's a lot of hard work that goes into it, and this tango is probably the hardest dance I had this season. Unfortunately, I had to go after the professional dancers did the tango. [There was an exhibition dance of the tango by 2 of the "Ballroom Greats."] I was watching them and thinking 'Oh, man, you want my tango to look like theirs? They've been doing it for 20 years and I've been doing it for four days.' I just tried to play the James Bond go out there and give them my best." 

Wiggins asked Kym how difficult it was to have to do two dances in one week when they had been doing one, and asked how Hines handled it. Kym said "Hines is used to pressure so I think he handled it really well... It was fun [to do the team dance.] It's a little bit of extra work, but it's more fun, I think." Wiggins said that they were out of time, and did Hines have any words for the folks back home? Hines - "We love you, Steeler Nation. Continue voting for us and vote us all the way to the finals. I'll continue to work my butt off and hopefully I can bring this mirror ball and trophy back to Pittsburgh." 

There was also a segment on the "Black and Gold Girls Club" that has made DWTS t-shirts to sell, and has raised over $3000 so far for Hines' foundation. The t-shirt says "Vote Team Ward - Dancing with a Winning Smile." You can get more information on the WTAE website, if you are pining for one.

To be continued...