Mark Ballas Reflects on ‘DWTS’ Return, Derek Hough Reunion

Make way for Mark Ballas! The pro dancer has returned to the Dancing With the Stars ballroom for season 31 after a five-year break — and he couldn’t be more excited.

“It felt great,” Ballas, 36, told Us WeeklyAfter the Monday, September 19 season premiere, he and his partner joined other reporters. Charli D’AmelioThe highest score of the night was achieved. “It felt the same but new, fresh [and] nostalgic. … It was a good time. It felt really good tonight.”

The Texas native and the TikTok star, 18, performed a cha-cha to “Savage (Major Lazer Remix)” by Megan Thee Stallion and were a hit with all of the judges — including Ballas’ close pal Derek Hough. They have a long history together, even competing against each other. DWTSDuring the years that Hough was alive, 37-year-old Hough joined the judges panel in season 29.

Derek Hough and Mark Ballas
ABC (2)

“You know, Derek and I have been friends since we were 10,” the Emmy nominee gushed of his “bro” on Monday. “Like, we’ve lived together, we went to school together every day. Dude used my clothes to steal. Like, we’re friends, you know what I mean? Brothers even. So it was really cool to be out here and … it was funny seeing him on the judges table ’cause I haven’t been here since he’s done that.”

The Broadway veteran made his DWTSWith the fifth season of 2007, debut Cheetah GirlsStar Sabrina BryanHe was seventh in the final standings. He competed in 18 more seasons with his partners, including Kim Kardashian, Candace Cameron Bure, Kristin CavallariAnd Aly Raisman. Ballas took home the mirrorball trophy twice — first with Kristi YamaguchiSeason 6 and with Shawn Johnson two seasons later — before bidding the ballroom goodbye during season 25.

Mark Ballas and Derek Hough Mark Ballas Reflects on DWTS Return Derek Hough Reunion Dancing With The Stars

Derek Hough and Mark Ballas
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

ABC announced earlier this month that the “Roses and Violets” singer would return to the series for the first time in five seasons — and it seems as though his hiatus left him feeling even more hungry to win. After their first performance of the season, Ballas couldn’t help but rave over the D’Amelio ShowStar for giving everything she has.

“It’s great to be in the top spot. We weren’t anticipating that,” the choreographer told Use. “The only thing we wanted to do was work super hard [and]Maximize your rehearsal time and do everything you can to make it a great night. We had a great night tonight. So I’m proud of [Charli].”

Charli D'Amerlio and Mark Ballas 2 Mark Ballas Reflects on DWTS Return Derek Hough Reunion Dancing With The Stars

Charli D’Amerlio and Mark Ballas
ABC/Eric McCandless

The Connecticut native is competing with her mother Heidi D’AmelioPro, who took to the dance floor in style Artem ChigvintsevMonday night’s cha-cha will be held. Following the season 31 premiere, Charli said she “can’t wait to see” what Heidi and her partner have in store for the weeks to come.

“I’m really excited. We all spoke a little during rehearsal, the four us. [and] it was a great time,” the influencer added after the show. “I have the best partner that I could have asked for, and I’m really proud of what we did today. … I’m excited to see what everyone else does.”

Dancing With the StarsSeason 31 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Disney+ ET.