After a neck injury forced Derek to the sidelines, Mark Ballas, Shawn’s winning partner from Season 8, stepped in, rehearsing with Shawn to Derek’s choreography. Mark also filled in for Derek in Monday’s (Nov. 5) performance show, leading Shawn to her first perfect score of the season.
When we asked Derek backstage how he felt watching from the audience, he insisted: “I was happy, it was part of the process. All season long, I felt really strong about performances regardless of the scores, and this week we dedicated to doing choreography that was clean and more traditional — and I think that paid off tonight.”
Judge Len Goodman certainly didn’t complain about “frippery.”
“I was delighted,” said Mark about their performance. “I just felt really good all week.”
“He was laughing,” Derek revealed, “because it was a Wednesday, and he said, ‘Man I haven’t felt this good on a Wednesday in a long time.'”
“Let’s not go there,” Mark warned with a chuckle. (He was partnered this season with Bristol Palin before their elimination in Week 4.)
“It was good to be there, like Season 8 all over again,” Mark enthused about reuniting with his winning partner. “I had a great time, [but] my No. 1 concern is Derek gets better.”
Derek shared some encouraging news from his doctors. “I got my proper diagnosis this morning from my MRIs, CAT scans and all that stuff. I have to get surgery on it eventually, but I found out [dancing is] not going to do more damage.”
“It will probably still be painful,” Derek acknowledges. “Some days will be worse than others, but now that I know it’s not going to do more damage, [I have] peace of mind. Pain is something I can always push through.”
“Today is the first day it feels I can go back, and I’m ready to go.”
You can see Derek back on the dance floor when “Dancing With the Stars” returns next Monday, Nov. 12.