‘DWTS: All-Stars’: Ballas on Booted Bristol: ‘You Can Drag a Horse to Water…’

'DWTS: All-Stars' Bristol and Mark (Photo: ABC)

Want to know how Bristol Palin felt about being eliminated from “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars”? So did we! But on Tuesday night after the results show, Bristol shunned the customary exit interviews with reporters.

Her professional dance partner Mark Ballas bravely faced the media crowd alone instead, shrugging, “just me tonight. It is what it is.”

As for Bristol, he said, “She’s in the back. It’s tough. She’s never been eliminated before. [In Season 11], she made the final. She doesn’t know what this feels like. We came so far.”

So what went wrong? As rehearsal footage showed, Mark had the bright idea of replicating the success of their famous Season 11 monkey costumes by dressing as bunnies this week. But it wasn’t to be, as Bristol had refused to step out of her comfort zone for her Monday night dance. She wanted to play it straight so they did a traditional ‘50s style rock and roll number with no animal costumes required.

Mark implied that might have been their downfall, telling reporters, “Hey, you can drag a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink, so if she wants to do what she wants to do, that’s totally fine.

“At the end of the day, they have to be comfortable when they walk onstage. I would never want a partner of mine to walk out on stage and not be 100 percent confident, comfortable, and not to feel beautiful, so if she wants to play it more straight, that’s fine. As a choreographer and a coach, you have to be respectful of your partner’s choices.”

See How the Elimination for Bristol Palin Played Out:

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However, he noted, “The problem is, though, with doing that, this is an All-Star season. All these people have been through the process, we’ve got a lot of champions, a lot of finalists, and all these people really have an open mind. Look at Gilles’ [Marini’s Bollywood] outfit. That’s called stepping out of the box. You’ve got to be open-minded to these things.”

Although many critics thought Sarah Palin’s daughter — who had made it to the finale with Mark during Season 11, finishing in 3rd place — was way out of her league during the competitive All-Stars season, she had danced to Week 4. Last week, she survived while former champions Helio Castroneves and Drew Lachey were cut.

Watch Bristol and Mark on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ After Their Elimination:

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But also on Week 3, Bristol and Mark hit a rough patch when practice outtakes revealed a confrontation where Bristol walked out on Mark because she felt her partner wished he would have been re-teamed with previous partners Shawn Johnson or Sabrina Bryan instead. When Mark assured her that wasn’t true, they patched things up.

On Monday night, Bristol and Mark received enthusiastic judges’ comments for their rock and roll routine from a panel that included guest Paula Abdul. And their score of 32 out of a possible 40 wasn’t the lowest of the night — Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy finished last with only 30 points.

The two low-scoring couples were in “DWTS’s” dreaded bottom two but Bristol finally couldn’t stave off her ouster and was eliminated, while Kirstie was saved.

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The eliminated couple almost always does a last interview backstage after the show (this season’s first victim Pamela Anderson being a rare exception) but Mark was left walking solo on Tuesday.

He told reporters his obvious reaction to getting the boot: “This sucks.”

In Bristol’s absence, the longtime dance pro said he was proud of the progress she had made. “Really proud. This is someone who, compared to the others, has zero dance experience and zero performance experience, whether it’s an athletic one, acting, singing, dancing, no matter what it is. For someone like that who comes from a really kind of normal background from Alaska, who has never performed, I’m really proud of her. This is really tough, especially when you come on with this big of a platform, with all the scrutiny. She’s got thick skin and she pushes on through it, and I’ve been with her every step of the way.”

Mark swore he had been “dead serious” about wanting to do a bunny-themed dance. “I had an awesome theme for that. We were going to do a ‘50s rock and roll Alice in Wonderland thing but then the props I wanted I couldn’t get and then she wasn’t so sure so I said, all right, we’ll save it until I know I can get the props that I want.”

When asked by xfinityTV if the dreamed-for routine would have made a difference for the couple, Mark replied, “It would have been very creative. I’m known for being out of the box and doing themes but still keeping it moving, but she wanted to keep it more straight-edged, so that’s fine.”

Now, Mark says he’ll be rooting for his previous partners, Shawn and Sabrina, to grab that All-Star Mirror Ball Trophy.

Watch Bristol and Mark’s Last Dance:

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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