Season 31 of Dancing with the Stars will be remembered for several reasons. Gleb Savchenko was partnered with RuPaul’s Drag Race star Shangela. They were the first all-male pairing on DWTS. Finally!
Beloved judge Len Goodman announced that he was handing in his judging paddle. And long-time favorite pro dancer Cheryl Burke also exited the ballroom.
But in a surprise move, Mark Ballas returned to the show after a five-year hiatus. Mark commented on how it felt to perform on premiere night. “It felt great. It felt the same but new, fresh [and] nostalgic…It was a good time,” he stated. Mark also noted that it was “funny” seeing his good friend Derek Hough seated at the judges’ table.
Mark was paired with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio. They slayed all season. The duo took home the mirrorball, besting Bachelorette star Gabby Windey and her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy.
For the much-anticipated freestyle routine, Mark opted to keep it simple. The routine was set to “Us Again” by Pinar Toprak. Mark explained why he selected that song. “It’s from a Disney short called Us Again. And I was like, ‘If I ever go back on the show, use this song.’ So, I went back and listened to it, and when I listened to it, I could see it from start to finish.” The electric routine was about two people who recapture their love of dance. Both Charli and Mark personally did that during the season.
Alas, People reported that Mark has announced that he is departing the show for good. During a Las Vegas DWTS tour performance, Mark said, “I started this journey when I was 21, 22. Honestly, being able to dance and perform for you fans, you guys are the best fans. Thank you.” Mark noted that his parents, his wife BC Jean, and his in-laws were in the audience for the final stop on the tour.
He continued, “So, I just wanna finish by saying this will be the last time you see me dance in this capacity. I’m coming to a close tonight. This is gonna be my last dance.” I refuse to accept this news. Moving on.
“I had the best time ever this season, and this freestyle was just a great way to finish it off. This song means the world to me, Charli means the world to me, the D’Amelio family, you guys mean the world to me,” Mark said. “Thank you for everything.”
“I’m not saying this is the end, [but] this is the last time I will be dancing with a [celebrity] partner. And I wanted to finish this with Charli, and I appreciate you guys so much. I wanna do this freestyle for you one more time,” he added.
Mark’s fellow dancers embraced him while the audience applauded. His announcement came almost 16 years after he joined DWTS. Mark’s rep told People he had no further comment.
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The talented vocalist and dancer praised his partner in an Instagram post after their win. “We created a body of work that I will always be proud of & to say that I’m proud of you is an understatement. Enjoy this moment with your whole heart because you deserve this Char,” Mark wrote.
Mark is a three-time mirrorball champ. In Season 6, he won with Olympic ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi. Mark’s partnership with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson resulted in another mirrorball win in Season 8. Mark even gave Shawn a fake prom when she missed hers because of training. What a cool guy!
I will miss Mark’s creative and quirky choreography. He was one of my favorite pros. Perhaps he could take over an empty seat at the judges’ table?
TELL US- WILL YOU MISS WATCHING MARK ON DWTS? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF HIM SAVING HIS FINAL DANCE FOR CHARLI? ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH THE NEXT SEASON OF DWTS?
[Photo Credit: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic]