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S25: Mark Ballas

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I hope he'll look at least somewhat engaged in what he's doing this year. I realize he's mostly doing this for the paycheck at this point, but he looked as though he would rather had been anywhere else last season.

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I thought Mark was wonderfully engaged and nurturing with Candace last season.  Funny how two people can watch the same thing and get totally different impressions.  IMHO of course.

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I think Mark was completely engaged last season and had a fun partnership with Candace.  And it's nice to see that they still stay in contact.  I think he's doing a charity run with her next month.  I've never gotten the impression on any season that he was just logging time for the paycheck.  

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I don't pay much attention to Mark's personal life but I do remember Witney saying she was single at the start of last season, when she had that very awkward exchange with Cody for their first practice. Also I know Mark is close with her and Lindsay because they were both his students at one point.

Edited by truthaboutluv

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Is he or was he dating Witney? They seem to be together a ton and she was in his video for that goofy song he sang last season.

No, he is not and was not dating Witney.  I think he kind of informally looks after both Witney + Lindsay while they're in LA and includes one or the other in his various projects when he can.  Witney has become buddies with Mark's friend + backup guitarist Dylan.  I don't think Witney + Dylan are dating, they just hang out as friends.

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So glad to see the Mark I like the most back in full force - I adore him this season. He really is at his best when he is in "big brother" mode. I was so scared that routine would be a hot mess but it was pretty adorable. I can certainly see them ending up in the finals!

 

God knows his taste is still questionable and he needs to learn that sometimes "less is more" but I will always have a soft spot for the guy (and I don't think he deserves all of the vitriol he has received over the years). Good to see that he's mellowed out a bit recently as I do I think he's an underrated, talented teacher and choreographer.

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Mark has been like a surrogate big brother to Witney for a few years now. Witney's mother has talked about how much trust they have in him keeping an eye out for her. He does seem very protective of her and even swells up like a proud parent when she performs well.

He taught both her and Lindsay well, even if Lindsay seems to lack the "It" factor that Witney has shown.

Edited by Sonoma

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I'm shocked by how much I'm enjoying Mark right now.  His choreography has been spot on for his partner's abilities and he's been showcasing her dancing so much that I don't find my attention constantly being drawn to him instead.  I had no idea Mark could tone it down this much, both during the performances and in the after-dance interviews with Erin.  He's not even mugging in the celebraquarium.  Very welcome changes, Mr. Ballas!

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Mark is awesome!!  I never thought I would see him dance in camo, but he was rocking it last night.  And I loved the choreography!  Mark and Sadie look like they are having a blast together.

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From the episode thread...

 

I feel like I am losing my mind because never would I have though that Mark was the better partner and choreographer when it came down to him and Derek.

 

 

Mark can and has been a very creative choreographer. If we recall, when Mark first came on the show, he had some brilliant numbers with his celebrities. This was also the time when he used to meet his celebrities for the first time in a suit and was all "proper British gentleman". And for awhile there was that whole nauseating "Wonder Triplets" moniker about him, Derek and Jullianne who were all still on the show at the time. It was clear that they all studied together and had some of the same aesthetic in their dancing and with their choreography - some of the same flash and razzle dazzle.

 

What happened with Mark though is one, his penchance for cheese (I blame Corky who I can't stand) got more and more over the top and then there was that period where he went all guyliner, spats and emo and just got kind of weird. I do think his choreography suffered but more than that he seemed to suddenly get this negative attitude, he didn't seem like he was having fun in a number of his seasons or that he even liked his celebrities at times. There were still moments and flashes of his past brilliance but not so much. In the more recent seasons though he does seem to be getting back to his old self.

 

I will say that while I liked him with Candace and he did do a good job with Bethany and he has been doing a good job with Sadie, I thought he did a horrible job with Ali. Yes her musicality was not the greatest but I felt Mark could have done more with her than he did and instead he put her on a pole, had her crawling across the floor while he slapped her ass for what he called a mambo and it was just dance after dance of her shaking her ass. It was just a season of massive awkwardness with her. 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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I didn't see him with anyone after his season with Shawn Johnson. I just noticed this season that he was very different than the last time I saw him and it was a pleasant surprise.

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... I do think his choreography suffered but more than that he seemed to suddenly get this negative attitude, he didn't seem like he was having fun in a number of his seasons or that he even liked his celebrities at times. There were still moments and flashes of his past brilliance but not so much. In the more recent seasons though he does seem to be getting back to his old self.

 

I will say that while I liked him with Candace and he did do a good job with Bethany and he has been doing a good job with Sadie, I thought he did a horrible job with Ali. Yes her musicality was not the greatest but I felt Mark could have done more with her than he did and instead he put her on a pole, had her crawling across the floor while he slapped her ass for what he called a mambo and it was just dance after dance of her shaking her ass. It was just a season of massive awkwardness with her. 

(quote trimmed so this post isn't a mile long)

I think what happened was, after a very frustrating S11, he was assigned Chelsea who not only had the dance ability, but also the personality to do more adventurous choreography.  He got slammed by Len for the Panic in the Disco Jive for "not enough jive in that jive" even though it was loaded with all the standard elements + by CAI for being "too soon" for creativity. But then after the show they'd praise him and say they loved it. Same thing happened with the Wizard Waltz. Len got cranky and blasted him in front of the cameras and then afterwards raved about it.  Low blows imo. You don't tell 20million people one thing and then in private say the opposite. (Both those dances, along with the slow waltz got an Emmy nom btw).  But lesson learned. Push the creativity, you'll get burned.  So he pulled way back after that. Now Len is gone for a few weeks, once again he's got a partner with dance ability and the right personality and the creativity has come out again. Len returns next week and I expect Mark will tone it back down.

 

As for Aly, she just could not hear the beat in the music, she had zero musicality.  She's the type that when every one claps to a song, she claps in between everyone else's claps as she tries to mimic but can't hear what everyone else is hearing. Mark had to train her to listen for music cues and counts which was nearly disasterous for the Afro Jazz when producers changed the music 20 minutes before the live show, taking out all the cues she had been trained to listen for.  I don't know if musicality can be trained, but I don't think it can be in the short, rushed time they have preseason or during the season. I think he does the best he can for whatever he's got to work with and tries to capitalize on whatever his partner is suited for and he does teach them at their level.  He does seem to develop solid friendships with most of his partners. Shannon, Christina + BP have seemed to disappear but he seems to have stayed in contact with the rest of them. They often show up at his Sayers shows, EP release party, etc.

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I don't really know the answer to the Mark question myself, but he's definitely come into his own again these last two seasons.  He whines about unfair scores a little bit too much for my taste, but he has been good with his celebs and also putting together good routines. It's hard to say what S17 would have produced since he got ousted so quickly with Christina though.

 

I didn't enjoy Mark with Aly at all, but I also didn't really love Aly's personality.  But I also agree with the view that Mark was always going to have issues there because Aly couldn't count the music and that was something she wasn't going to be able to fix over the course of the show.  I remember Shirley talking about it quite at length on Afterbuzz in terms of just how hopeless Aly was in that department.  But that doesn't excuse some of Mark's overly cheesy choreography, with the Aly floor crawling and bum smacking the ultimate low point.  Also there were some vaguely racist comments from Mark re: his choreography for Afrojazz.

 

Anyway, Mark has become rather enjoyable for me the last two seasons.  Which considering how much I used to not be able to stand him, that actually says something.  I thought he put together a very clever routine for Bethany and got some personality out of her.  Of course I wouldn't really classify anything she did as hip hop necessarily, but it was probably the best anybody was going to get out of her in one week.  Also I have to think Mark realizes that this is his first real run at the trophy in quite some time.  He made it to the finals with both Aly and Candace, but he had to know that neither had any real shot at winning.  This time he actually has a shot.

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Ew I do NOT want to see Sadie and Mark rumba. The sexual overtones aren't appropriate for her age, plus the slow moves are only going to highlight her gangly, poorly controlled legs.

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Ew I do NOT want to see Sadie and Mark rumba. The sexual overtones aren't appropriate for her age, plus the slow moves are only going to highlight her gangly, poorly controlled legs.

I don't know what her form will look like, but I can promise you that Mark can choreograph a not-raunchy rumba. He did one with 17 year-old Shawn Johnson that was beautiful and sweet and still one of my favorite rumbas ever.  I do think it's weird that they would assign it to them when the show is perfectly fine with skipping other dances throughout the season. Why not a waltz instead?

 

Shawn and Mark Rumba

 

I watched that video to see if it was the correct one and I forgot how cute and funny Shawn and Mark were together. When I see Mark like that, I realize why Anna says he's the best guy and kindest of all the male pros.

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I do think it's weird that they would assign it to them when the show is perfectly fine with skipping other dances throughout the season. Why not a waltz instead?

Yeah, they skipped it with Zendaya when she competed. Maybe because of his past with Shawn, they figured Mark could handle it appropriately.

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I'm not at all worried about how Mark handled choreographing a rumba with Sadie.  As said, it's not his first time at that rodeo.  I think they mostly gave it to Sadie for the drama for the package and some sort of choreographed skit with her dad.  I'm not expecting it to be her best dance or anything, but I don't think it's inappropriate.  I also think they skipped it with Z because she was only 16, so she was even younger than Sadie & Shawn at the time.  Though it was one of their options for a dance off that season, so I'm sure they most have rehearsed one anyway.

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Yeah, they skipped it with Zendaya when she competed. Maybe because of his past with Shawn, they figured Mark could handle it appropriately.

The difference was Zendaya was just 16 still the youngest on the show, and the majority of her fan base were very young, younger than the normal audience for this show, definitely younger than the PG13 rating of this show.  

Ew I do NOT want to see Sadie and Mark rumba. The sexual overtones aren't appropriate for her age, plus the slow moves are only going to highlight her gangly, poorly controlled legs.

 

It won't be good, but like the craptastic Charleston the judges are going to over score it big time.

Edited by Andiethewestie
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I am well aware why they avoided the dance with Zendaya. I was just responding to the comment that the producers could have avoided giving Mark and Sadie that dance if they wanted to.

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I loved the paso he did with Sadie! Yes, she wasn't attacking it enough, and uh...no, it wasn't a traditional paso, but I thought it was so cool! Just wish he would be more relaxed about scores in cases like these. He knows he's taking a massive risk, he's been burned for doing "out there" choreography before. IMO it was absolutely worth it because concept and realization were totally badass, but I think some pearl-clutching from the judges was expected. Or at least he should have expected it. (-;

 

He's so patient and such a good sport even with "difficult" celebs, that I tend to forget what an a extremist he can be as a choreographer. Mostly in a good way, sometimes it ends with gorilla suits. (-; Not complaining though, my favourite season of his was actually the one with Chelsea, even though his attitude could have been better. But the choreo he pulled off that season was just so striking and different. Interested to see what he'll do next week, if he'll pull back or just forge ahead on that path. I was actually surprised that he went there this week with Len back, but I guess going all out on Halloween was just too tempting...

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Here's one of the issues I have with Mark though. I think sometimes he can get so stuck on his own "genius" and "creativity", that he forgets about doing what works best for his celebrity. He did it a few times I thought with Ali and I think he did it last night with Sadie. And to be fair, I guess it's because she'd done so well before with one of his more unconventional choreography with the Samba he figured it would all come together again.

 

But I feel like Mark should have spent more time working on Sadie executing the technique of the Paso and when he realized it was one of the harder dances for her, temper some of all that theatrics and concept. Yes the concept was interesting but it doesn't really matter in my opinion when her technique was so piss poor. And the dance got manic towards the end and the more manic it became, the more wayward her technique went. And that's something he should have been aware of. 

Edited by truthaboutluv

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As I said, I don't mind the "concept eats all" approach he takes sometimes. He IMO has other great qualities when it comes to teaching and choreographing for celebs that make up for going overboard on that front from time to time. And all the other pros have pronounced foibles as well. What I do mind is that at this point he shouldn't be surprised when the judges aren't always taking to it.

 

I thought Sadie did all right, but she was tentative. You can kind of see that she acts scared first but then is supposed to get sharper and more aggressive. She couldn't make that transition clear enough in her movements. It didn't detract from the impression of the dance since scared/passive worked for the character she was portraying, but for a paso doble it was too meek. Now, he could have scaled it back , but for me the routine worked because of the theatrics and how manic it was. Scaling back would have probably lost that and who knows, perhaps Sadie's meekness would have stood out even more. The only alternative is start from scratch with a new routine, but there's only so much time in the week. I'm glad he stuck to it and I found it super entertaining, but once he's made that decision IMO he should be able to shrug off lower scores. Perhaps he can do that in private and plays it up to drum up support from the audience, who knows.

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So, belatedly just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Mark's work with Sadie this season. It's one of my fave partnerships of his, probably together with Shawn Johnson and Katherine Jenkins. (I loved the choreo in season 12, and I liked Chelsea and their partnership, but his attitude was just terrible....I understand where it was coming from to some degree, but still.) Yes, yes, the rant about Len murdering creativity or whatever he was going on about and general grumbling was a bit much at times. (-; But his friendship with Sadie, how he worked within the various restrictions her family had and still came out with awesome choreo for her week after week and the general sense of fun and enjoyment they brought this season was lovely to see. (-: And he just strikes me as a really kind and generous guy, when he's not being annoying that is. (-;

 

Sadie has some talent, but she also came with limitations like her gangly, awkward limbs (that she possibly hasn't quite grown into yet) and movements and her issues with timing/musicality. What she did bring though, was a good attitude, a certain knack for performing and the willingness to throw herself into whatever wacky thing Mark came up with. (-: There's a photo of their quickstep where they both have these OTT mugging facial expressions and it cracks me up because it shows why they worked and why many people found them entertaining: Two goofballs on the ballroom floor. And I thought she greatly improved throughout the season, the areas where she didn't...well, those are probably long-time things that can't be straightened out on a format like DWTS. She showed tremendous growth in the styles that didn't come naturally like rumba, contemporary, foxtrot, AT, which surprised me, since they seem such a bad fit for her personality. But they're among my favourite dances of hers.

 

I'm ambivalent about teenagers, particularly minors, on this show. Not even because of the supposedly "sexy dancing", since that can be adjusted, but it seems like a lot of stress and the manipulative reality TV show machinations aren't necessarily a super great environment either. Also always annoyed that it's only ever pearl-clutching about young women, never about male teenagers on DWTS.

 

Sadie has a very sunny personality, but IMO you could still see that she’s pretty sheltered and not as "emotionally robust" as the show biz people around her: Getting upset about being „in jeopardy“ in week two, the rumba, the foxtrot mistake, freaking out about the foxtrot mistake, that puking episode, probably other things not shown. That this didn’t become a major issue throughout the season is on Mark. He probably knew that he couldn’t apply too much pressure on her without freaking her out. That’s just something she couldn’t have handled IMO. In the recap when she said there was only one stressful day in her whole DWTS experience, well she was just being her usual kind and gracious self, but the geneneral idea that her experience was a happy and relatively relaxed one struck me as true enough. She also wasn’t particularly invested in winning. Major kudos to Mark for that as well…no matter his own feelings on the matter, it didn’t define his work with Sadie and she didn’t get the message that she somehow had to "win it for him" or whatever.

 

So, to sum up all this rambling, I thought it was a job very well done and he should be very proud of his work this season. (-:

Edited by katha
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i also think that Mark showed a lot of creativity this season.  I wouldn't be surprised if he was nominated for an Emmy next year.  I didn't like when he complained about his Paso and his scores but overall, he was o.k.  I did like that he made up silly songs/rhymes to help Sadie learn her choreography or get her timing better.  That was also very creative.  I think Mark is a perfect teacher for underage girls and conservative types.

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Mark did a charming impression of Sadie on GMA. I was also impressed with that rhyming song technique to get her to remember her steps and timing.

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I'm pleasantly surprised Mark got his name first in their HGTV show, "Mark and Derek's Excellent Flip."

 

Agreed. But I was a little annoyed that Derek was doing most of the narration. He has a very halting manner of speaking.

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Funny. Yes, the guys had great fun demolishing walls + stuff. Mark really wanted to learn how to put down flooring.

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I checked out the extras on the HGTV site (hoping I can catch the missed episodes on FiOS at some point). I definitely think they're doing enough work to be seen on camera doing work. Beyond that, I'm doubtful.... 

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I checked out the extras on the HGTV site (hoping I can catch the missed episodes on FiOS at some point). I definitely think they're doing enough work to be seen on camera doing work. Beyond that, I'm doubtful.... 

 

Mark tweeted yesterday that the first 2 episodes are on iTunesTV for free and he gave a link.  https://twitter.com/MarkBallas/status/593553489071968256

 

At the time the work was being done, Mark was at the house working till nearly midnight many nights. He'd send out snapchats and IGs of whatever he was doing. Derek was doing his book signing tour at the time but did go back to LA when possible for filming I guess. I think he helped out as best he could given his travel schedule.

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At the time the work was being done, Mark was at the house working till nearly midnight many nights. He'd send out snapchats and IGs of whatever he was doing. Derek was doing his book signing tour at the time but did go back to LA when possible for filming I guess. I think he helped out as best he could given his travel schedule.

I thought, "Derek is getting someone else to do his share of the work here, too!" I liked that Mark said something like, "We should call this Mark's Excellent Flip with occasional appearances from Derek." Heh.

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I thought, "Derek is getting someone else to do his share of the work here, too!" I liked that Mark said something like, "We should call this Mark's Excellent Flip with occasional appearances from Derek." Heh.

 

hee hee heeeeee!

Sorry, you just gave me the giggles! :)

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I thought Mark and Alexa did very well tonight. That's not so much the point of this post. Mark's attitude seemed to be super OVER IT tonight lol. Like... he could have been filing his tax returns if given the option. I wonder what was up with him...

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I don't know Mark, so obviously I have no idea what was going on there LOL. Perhaps a reaction to the married couple crap? It was very tiresome. And IMO Alexa not only today but since she was announced, has displayed a worrying tendency to almost promote her husband over herself. Carlos does no such thing in return, he's very much focused on his own success and promoting himself (nothing wrong with that, to be clear). How do you, as a pro, establish any kind of rapport or identity as a dance pair if your partner is so wrapped up in promoting her husband?

 

Perhaps that's just the first week and things will calm down, but those were my impressions. Thought the jive was good, the choreo was great and pretty sophisticated and he gave her a lot of content. She did well with it, though she seemed understandably nervous. Scores were appropriate for what they showed, perhaps a tad low compared to the IMO overscoring going on around them. But nothing drastic, so no big deal on that front. Saw an interview with them where they basically confirmed that Alexa was terribly nervous and rather disappointed in herself because she had performed that dance much better in rehearsal. Oh well, the trappings of live shows...you never know how you'll do in a situation like that until you're in it.

Edited by katha
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I don't know Mark, so obviously I have no idea what was going on there LOL. Perhaps a reaction to the married couple crap? It was very tiresome. And IMO Alexa not only today but since she was announced, has displayed a worrying tendency to almost promote her husband over herself. Carlos does no such thing in return, he's very much focused on his own success and promoting himself (nothing wrong with that, to be clear). How do you, as a pro, establish any kind of rapport or identity as a dance pair if your partner is so wrapped up in promoting her husband?

 

Perhaps that's just the first week and things will calm down, but those were my impressions. Thought the jive was good, the choreo was great and pretty sophisticated and he gave her a lot of content. She did well with it, though she seemed understandably nervous. Scores were appropriate for what they showed, perhaps a tad low compared to the IMO overscoring going on around them. But nothing drastic, so no big deal on that front.

 I've had so many discussions about this tonight.  The whole husband/wife thing kind of took over and we lost the concept of 2 separate couples competing against each other. Both Mark and Witney were kind of pushed aside to play up the married couple cutsie stuff.  I've also noticed that Alexa is promoting Carlos more than herself and Carlos is only promoting himself.  I don't know if  this is the producers pushing the cutsie stuff or if this is the way Alexa and Carlos really are. 

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The thing is I think Mark is one of the most creative dancers on the show but I don't think he's gotten his due credit in a long time. I think Derek and Val get a lot of the shine on the show but even if you watch the nae nae videos, I personally like Mark's the best out of the 3. I can see why Mark would be frustrated that he's gotten someone who seems to have real talent and work ethic but the producers are clearly working the "married couple" narrative and his partner is more focused on her husband. 

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It was so sad to see Mark like that.  It was almost like he saw the writing on the wall or something.  I like Mark, but whatever was going on, he's a professional and needs to act like one, regardless of what's going on around him.

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Yeah, I like Mark and I did think he did his best to stay gracious. But he needs a better game face in situations like that, he often has trouble keeping his real reactions to BS like that in check. Then again, these tendencies  probably also played a part in keeping him around for so long, you know the producers like their dramz! He might have a sense of foreboding: A potentially good partner, with some talent and work ethic. Finally an adult. But on evidence so far doing her best to throw herself under the bus for her husband, to put it drastically. There will be vote splitting with Carlos (and those fans gravitate more towards him), she doesn't have a nostalgia factor as strong as Bindi's or Nick's. Too early to tell, but it could be a Danica/Charlie White situation: Good dancer gets drowned out. And since IMO so far she has somewhat contributed to getting drowned out, I understand the (presumed) frustration. Though yeah, better game face needed.

 

LOL, this is all speculation anyway. Perhaps it's just a first week blip, perhaps it has nothing to do with any of that.

Edited by katha

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Well, there's hope...maybe TPTB won't be pitting Alexa/Carlos head-to-head with the same dances each week.

According to Mark's periscope today, his & Alexa's dances next week are salsa and rumba.

According to DWTSGossip, Carlos & Witney's dances next week are cha cha and foxtrot.

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Personally, when I see fans wishing that he changed hairstyles I always think "Don't jinx it!". IMO the man bun looks OK, it's not my personal taste, but it doesn't bother me during the dances. Mark has done much worse: That one time at the beginning of season 18 where it looked like a small animal had died on his head. Or last season the strange Boy George tribute hair. So it's really not a given that...should he change it, it will be a change for the better. (-; And I think he has just a mass of unruly hair. So if it's not cut very short, shaved etc. it's either going in all directions or he has to use a ton of product and/or man buns to keep it under control.

Edited by katha

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