‘DWTS: All-Stars’: Mark Ballas’ Perfect, ‘Weird’ Comeback

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

Mark Ballas made a big comeback on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” after he had been booted off the show earlier this season with partner Bristol Palin. On Monday night, Mark, who temporarily replaced Shawn Johnson’s current partner Derek Hough after he suffered a neck injury, guided the ex-gymnast to a perfect 30.

Derek announced on last week’s show that he would have to take a little time off to nurse the bulging disc in his vertebrae. His friend Mark agreed to step in for the week and be Shawn’s partner, which couldn’t have been more natural after the ex-gymnast had won Season 8 with him. (And, as “DWTS” fans know, Bristol had revealed during a rehearsal spat with Mark that she believed the dancer would have rather been partnered with Shawn instead of her.)

The move was a huge success, as Shawn got her highest score of the season with Mark for their Tango/Paso Doble fusion dance.

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But there was no jealousy after the show, as Mark, Derek and Shawn walked the red carpet together to explain the unusual arrangement that allowed Mark to be a substitute partner while Derek coached them from the sidelines.

Here’s what they told reporters on Monday night:

Q: What was it like coaching Shawn and Mark?
Derek: I wouldn’t say I’m the most articulate person. I’m a feeler, a mover, so the way I describe things is I show and so trying to show movements was so frustrating for me this week because I really had to articulate it.
Shawn: I had to tie him to a chair.
Derek: Because I was like, I have to show you!

Q: That was weird, guys!
Derek: I know. It was a threesome. Tie me to a chair. It’s getting crazy, Shawn Johnson!
Shawn: I’m a crazy person! So watch it.

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Q: What was it like dancing with Mark again, Shawn?
Derek: We work really differently, which is what I think was weird for her.
Shawn: What’s so weird is this entire week, I’ve been with Mark dancing and he’s been overseeing and everybody’s like, so who’s the better partner? I can’t answer that! And he’d be like, you want me to come back and Mark’s like, no, you want me to stay.
Derek: I kind of clean it up as I go and Mark whips out the routine really fast and then cleans it afterward. She was a little confused.

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Q: How’s your neck now, Derek?
Derek: Today is the first day that it feels like I can go back [to dancing], that I’m ready to go. I got my proper diagnosis this morning with all my MRIs, cat scans and all of that. I have to get surgery on it eventually but I found out [dancing] is not going to do more damage. It will still probably be painful and some days will be worse than others but now that I know it’s not going to do more damage, it’s peace of mind. Pain is something I always push through but this was different. This was my neck I felt not my muscle around my neck.
Shawn: I’ve been calling him husband and him [Mark] ex-husband all week.
Derek: I forgive you.

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Q: Mark, you got a perfect 30…
Mark: Yeah! I was delighted! I just felt really good. All week it’s been feeling good and I’ve danced with Shawn before and we’ve been friends for a long time and I grew up with this guy.
Derek: Mark was laughing because it was Wednesday and he’s like, man, I haven’t felt this good on a Wednesday for a long time!
Mark: Let’s not go there! But I understand and I know Derek extremely well. All week for me I knew this was going to be fun and I just wanted to go out and not stress and it’s amazing to be dancing with Shawn again. My number one concern is Derek, that his neck gets better but I’m happy to step in and we haven’t skipped a beat. It was like Season 8 all over again so I had a great time.

Q: What was it like to see Shawn get her first 30 with Mark?
Derek: I was happy because it was part of the process but for me, all season long I felt really strongly about our performances regardless of the scores and this week we dedicated to doing choreography that was clean, that was more traditional and that flowed from one routine to the next and I think that paid off tonight and they got three tens.

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

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