Mark Ballas rates his Dancing With the Stars Partners highly

December 31st, 2014

By Hal Boedeker

ncer-singer Mark Ballas says fans can expect a versatile show from the "Dancing With the Stars" tour and rattles off the variety: ragtime, Gene Kelly, modern, Latin, traditional ballroom, even ’70s funk.

"It's crowd reactive, intimate, up close and personal," says Ballas, who has won the ABC contest twice.

The Orlando performance, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Bob Carr Theater, is sold-out. Current champ Alfonso Ribeiro hosts the 40-city tour, which includes professional dancers Witney Carson, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Kym Johnson, Emma Slater, Keo Motsepe and Sasha Farber.

Ballas praises Ribeiro's style. "He's got a loud voice and a huge presence. He brings the show together," he said.

During the tour, Ballas performs his songs, such as "Get My Name"; plays three numbers on guitar; and dances at least eight times.

"My goal is to entertain, not put my eggs in one basket," Ballas said, noting that he choreographs and started in musical theater. "At some point I'd like to do a Broadway show. Music is a tremendous focus for me. I don't want to succumb to the idea you can do only one thing."

He writes or co-writes his songs: "It's more personal when it's coming from the artist's heart."

His album "Kicking Clouds" has drawn comparisons to Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake, but Ballas says his guitar style, with flamenco and blues techniques, gives his music a fresh, percussive style. His song "Miss Incredible" aims to celebrate and inspire women. 

He certainly has been inspired by his female partners on the ABC show. "I loved the seasons with Kristi [Yamaguchi] and Shawn [Johnson], my two champions," he said.

He raves about his last partner, Sadie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty." "She's just a really awesome, sweet girl. She took this competition head on and had the right attitude," he said. "She had a sense of calmness. That kept me calm. Her beautiful attitude made it enjoyable for me going into my 15th season."

Was she easy to train? "She was incredibly easy to train. Her attitude was flawless," he said. "She never complained, never had any tantrums. She was there on time, a smile on her face, the sweetest disposition."

He also praises other former dance partners. His take on:

Sabrina Bryan: "Awesome. She was probably the most natural and aggressive and fierce partner. She did have prior dance training. She was young and athletic, everything was super fast. It was my first season. We got along really well. She showed me around L.A., introduced me to her friends. It was a tremendous season. We remain good friends."

Candace Cameron Bure: "She had natural ability. She started off strong. Her nerves would get the best of her. In rehearsal she'd be excellent. ... She started to crack under the pressure. We had an amazing time. I love her family and kids. I loved my time with her. We became good friends."

Kim Kardashian: She "wasn't the best dancing partner. I love her, she's awesome, we became good friends. I know the family well. Dancing was not her thing, but she's a great girl."

Dancing with Bristol Palin, daughter of former Gov. Sarah Palin, was a unique experience, Ballas said. "She was not the best dancer, she was not the most outgoing person, but people found her intriguing," he said. "People were thinking they'd be like her, a fish out of water, if they were on the show. We made the finals. There were better dancers. It showed the power of the fans."

Ballas said he couldn't say if he'll be with "Dancing" when it celebrates its 10th anniversary in the spring.

Why has it lasted? "Every season is always changing," he said. "You're seeing the same style dances but done a million different ways. It's intriguing and appealing to the audience. It's not the same, redundant things. The show lets dancers express ourselves."

Originally posted:

Healthy Resolution: Mark Ballas On Quitting Smoking and More

December 16th, 2014

For more than 13 years Dancing with the Stars pro Mark Ballas has smoked. He’s made numerous previous attempts to quit but nothing seemed to stick — until last year when he finally quit for good. The dancer and musician was recently in NYC talking about his experience. Now as a spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) — he credits the NicoDerm CQ patches with helping him finally kick the habit — he wants to help others do the same. We caught up with Ballas to learn more about what worked for him, and of course learn more about his recent DWTS runner-up title as well as how he likes to stay fit when he’s not on the dance floor. And, in case you missed it — we also challenged him to a fitness showdown.

What was different this time?

During previous attempts to quit, I went cold turkey. This time I used the NicoDerm CQ patch. It really helped me. It reduced my cravings and I didn’t feel like I was [constantly] waiting to get out [to smoke]. Nowadays when I get stressed [a former trigger] I just don’t feel that urge.

What would be your tips for someone who wants to quit smoking as a 2015 health resolution?

Admitting that you need to stop is the first step. And, persistence and patience are everything, it’s not going to happen over night. It’s okay to get external help because the goal is to quit, so it doesn’t matter how you get there, you just got to get there. It’s not the Olympics, it’s quitting something that will help you live a healthier life, so if that requires external help, there’s no shame in that.

Your promoting the “What’s Your Why?” campaign that helps others quit smoking. What was your why?

When I was between 16 and 20 years old, it [smoking] wouldn’t bother me at all, I could smoke a pack a day. In your mind you start being like “Oh, I’m invincible, this will never catch up with me.” But when I was around 25 years old, that’s when I noticed it. I was in rehearsal one day, teaching my kids in Utah where the altitude is different, and I was really struggling and breathing hard. One of my students actually made a joke like ‘keep up old man.’ That was kind of the realization that now smoking was taking a toll. Partnering with GSK and now this new “What’s Your Why?” campaign is really cool because all smokers, people who want to quit or have quit, can get online and use the hashtag #WhatsYourWhy and explain why they wanted to quit.

For me it was living a cleaner lifestyle, and also because I’ve dedicated my whole life to this entertainment industry, and I don’t want to slow myself down at a young age. It’s all about my health, stamina, endurance, vocal clarity and keeping my voice in good condition.

And you were recently named runner-up in this season of DWTS with partner Sadie Robertson. What made this season special?

Sadie, she’s like a diamond. It was probably my most stress-free season. The show is fun, but it’s stressful, it’s an emotional rollercoaster (you go through every emotion from happiness, highs, lows, sadness, stress), but I would say 95 percent was just all up this season. She had that thing, even for a person who dances really well, you have to have a certain swag/personality/outgoingness to do the kind of stuff that allows you to be creative and memorable. That’s what I was allowed to do this season. Because of her personality and her willingness to just go for it, I was able to exercise myself choreographically like that, and I haven’t been able to do that for awhile. So being able to get that creative was really awesome.

So how can we dance with this type of swag — whether out with friends or at a dance cardio workout class?

I think honestly, it’s confidence. That’s the thing with Sadie, whenever we went out on the floor, we’d always have this moment of stillness where she’d say a prayer or we’d put our heads together. I remember just seeing in her eyes [a feeling of] ‘I know what I’m doing.’ It was that mental stillness at her age that was really inspiring to watch. The mental stillness is really just focus on the task and the goal, not being deterred from what you want to accomplish and not letting your mind take over for your heart.

Dancing is an incredible workout, what else do you do to stay healthy and in shape?

I’m a pretty healthy person in general. My diet and workout regime are pretty strict, especially when I’m on the season. Most of my cardio comes from dance, it is an incredible workout, but I also like to bike ride and hike. I have a personal trainer and I do a lot on TRX cables and resistance training. I have a lot of injuries, so there are a lot of different things I can do that don’t require brute strength. 

Originally posted at 


Mark Ballas Promotes "What's Your Why" campaign

December 12th, 2014

Mark spoke with ABC News Entertainment Pop this week about this season of Dancing With the Stars, the changes to come next season  and how the show has evolved.  He also discusses how he made a life choice to stop smoking a year ago by using the Nicoderm CQ patch. He now is a spokesperson for GSK, supporting campaigns to help others stop smoking.  Their current campaign "What's Your Why?" encourages people to share their stories of why they want to quit.

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas move to final night of DWTS.

November 25th, 2014

It was finals night and the competition was down to four couples:  Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas, Alfonso Riberio and Witney Carson, Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy, and Bethany Mota and Derek Hough.  The first dance was the judges pick.  Head Judge Len Goodman selected the samba for Sadie and Mark and gave them pointers during rehearsal.  The dance earned a 38 from the judges.

The always anticipated freestyle round had Sadie and Mark dancing a Super Mario game dance to the theme to Super Mario.  The ballroom and the judges loved it and it earned a perfect 40!

At the end of the night Bethany Mota and Derek Hough were eliminated.  The champion of DWTS will be announced Tuesday, November 25.

Mark Ballas and Sadie Robertson Grab Second Place

November 25th, 2014

The finale of Dancing With the Stars found the entire cast reunited for one last show .  The three remaining finalists each danced a 24 hour fusion dance.  Sadie and Mark had a samba-quickstep dance to Nitty Gritty by Kimberly Cole.  The dance earned rave comments from the judges and a perfect score of 40.

After all the fusion dances were completed, Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy were named third place finishers. Sadie and Mark received second place and the Mirror Ball Trophy went to Alfonso Riberio and Witney Carson.

Mark Ballas Reveals Sadie Robertson Vomited Back Stage at Semi Finals

November 18th, 2014

‘DWTS’: Mark Ballas Reveals Sadie Robertson Puked Backstage At Semifinals

Hello Hollywood Life!

Tonight was a good night, indeed! It was our first time dancing first this season so that was a cool way to start the night — straight out of the gate, and getting it over and done with.

The Quickstep went according to plan, and it felt really nice. Sadie felt really light on her feet. The Quickstep is a hard dance because it requires a lot of stamina.

Here’s a little inside scoop for you — Sadie sometimes has an acid reflux reaction and she started puking backstage after the dance! I grabbed a bucket to help her out! How about that!?

I was a little worried because Sadie wasn’t feeling too hot. But she changed into her next dress — the wardrobe team did such a fantastic job on both of her looks this week! — and was ready for the Argentine Tango! It’s a really tough dance because the character is very passionate, sensual, and sultry, which is not really Sadie’s personality. That aside, I thought she did an incredible job in delivering an awesome performance. We also ran the risk of doing the dance with the guitar between us for pretty much the duration of the dance. I thought it was a creative challenge that made our dance unique and stand out, and I thought Sadie handled it extremely well — her lines were really beautiful. 

Mark & Sadie Excited For The Finals — What To Expect?

It was nice to get a couple of 10’s tonight — we got one from Len [Goodman] and one fromJulianne [Hough]. It’s so awesome to make the finals!

We have a really nice piece planned for Sadie’s final number, and I think people are really going to enjoy it! The music is going to start, and I think everyone is going to identify with it because it’s so iconic. 

It’s judges’ pick next week, which means the judges will choose any of our past performances that they really enjoyed that they would like to see again. So they will be telling us which one of our dances they would like for us to repeat! 

This week’s game-plan is to not change anything up and just keep doing what we’ve been doing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! We want to enjoy each other’s time and company — it’s the final week that Sadie and I will spend together in this competition, and we want to have a really good time. We’re going to bust a sweat and work hard, but we won’t lose sight of what’s important. 

Mark Ballas Sad To See Tommy Chong Eliminated

It was really sad to say goodbye to Tommy Chong this week. I became really close with him, and I’ve been a big fan since I was a kid! My dad and I used to listen to Cheech and Chong all the time when I was little, so having the pleasure and honor to meet him and get to know him was truly special. We love you, Tommy

Thank you again for voting for us and keeping us alive in this competition! We are so grateful for your support!

Can’t wait for you to see our final dance!

Until next week!

Mark Ballas 

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