Review: Steelers' Antonio Brown delivers strong quickstep in 'Dancing with the Stars' debut
March 21, 2016 11:02 PM
Antonio Brown and dance partner Sharna Burgess
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is paired with professional dancer Sharna Burgess for the new season of "Dancing With the Stars."
By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
On his “Dancing with the Stars” debut Monday night on ABC, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown brought his touchdown dance from the football field to the ballroom -— and it paid off.
The three-time MVP winner, paired with professional dancer Sharna Burgess (hot off a second-place finish last season with Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter), was tasked with the tricky quickstep, a style littered with super-swift kicks, flicks and intricate traveling footwork.
Looking sharp in his signature black and gold, Mr. Brown’s routine opened with some suave hip-action, followed by an endzone-worthy leap off the steps onto the main stage. Impressively, he didn’t get tripped up in the challenging footwork, although sometimes he sacrificed sharpness for speed. He also maneuvered with ease through much of the partnering work, including a combination where he dragged Ms. Burgess in a split position across the floor. He even dodged the common rookie mistake of dancing heavy footed instead of light on the balls of the feet.
The team served strong energy throughout the dance — so much so that sometimes that energy boiled over too much, causing Mr. Brown to stumble here and there and struggle with a slide move. Moving forward, he’d benefit from saving some of that attack for the field.
Mr. Brown’s premiere performance had a lot in common with former Steelers star Hines Ward’s first dance when he was on the reality TV dance show five years ago. They both had an infectious smile, sported their team colors and earned a score of 21 points out of 30 from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. Mr. Ward and professional partner Kym Johnson went on to win season 12 of “Dancing with the Stars.”
To clench the coveted Mirrorball Trophy yet again for Steeler Nation, Mr. Brown will have to tackle some stiff competition. A handful of celebrities emerged Monday night as ones to watch, including actress Jodie Sweetin with a tenacious tango, Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris in a high-energy cha cha and actress (and Donald Trump’s ex-wife) Marla Maples, who punctuated her performance with a solid cartwheel. ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee and UFC fighter Paige VanZant also delivered some fancy footwork. Meanwhile, “America’s Next Top Model” winner Nyle DiMarco didn’t let being deaf stop him from dazzling the judges with a spot-on cha cha.
As a longtime “Dancing with the Stars” viewer, this was by far some of the strongest, most technical dancing we’ve seen on the show this early in the competition. Some advice for Mr. Brown: Train hard, keep your friends close and your toughest competitors closer.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.
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