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‘DWTS’: Mark Ballas dances with Shawn Johnson, hasn’t ‘felt this good…for a long time’

Somebody’s in a good mood!

Three weeks after he and Bristol Palin were sent packing, Mark Ballas came off the bench Monday to dance with his season 8 partner Shawn Johnson — and earned a perfect 30 for serving as a stand-in for the injured Derek Hough.

“I just felt really good,” Ballas told reporters afterwards. “All week it’s been feeling good. I’ve danced with Shawn before and we’ve been friends for a long time and I grew up with this guy [gesturing to Hough].”

“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!’” quipped Hough.

“Let’s not go there!” Ballas replied. (No, let’s!) “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.”

Not surprisingly, it’s been a little awkward for Johnson. “Everybody’s like, so who’s the better partner?  I can’t answer that! And [Derek] would be like, ‘you want me to come back?’ And Mark’s like, ‘no, you want me to stay.’ I’ve been calling him husband and him ex-husband all week … They have very different styles. I thought they were like brothers and stuff but having them in the same room, they’re completely different. Take it from me!”

All kidding aside, Ballas knows he’s only the temp here. ”My number one concern is Derek, that his neck gets better,” he says.

And it has. Hough will dance next week. ”Today is the first day that it feels like I can go back, 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 it’s [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.”

So what was it like for Hough to see Johnson earn her first 30 with Ballas and not him? “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.”– With reporting from Carole Glines

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