On Dancing with the Stars season 25, Mark Ballas has made it to the finale with his partner, Lindsey Stirling. It will be his 10th appearance in a finale, tying the all-time record of Derek Hough. He also has more finale experience than the other three pros of season 25 combined (this will be Lindsay Arnold’s fourth finale and the third for both Emma Slater and Witney Carson).
The highlight of reaching the finale is getting to perform a Freestyle, the ultimate competition that can often help decide who will win the Mirror Ball Trophy. Mark has a very impressive Freestyle track record, with 7 of his 9 routines earning a perfect score (the two exceptions came with Bristol Palin and Candace Cameron Bure).
Looking back, it’s interesting to see how many different styles and flavors Mark has brought to the Freestyle round. Whether his inspiration is a Broadway musical, a rave, Disco or even a video game, you can see elements of Jive. Argentine Tango, Salsa, Cha-Cha-Cha and Contemporary, revealing something different for each of his partners.
As Mark prepares to show off his creativity with Lindsey, here’s a look back at Mark’s nine previous finale Freestyles, ranked from worst to best.
#9 Season 18’s Candace Cameron Bure
The decision to go full Disco didn’t make much sense as I don’t associate the Fuller House star with boogie fever. Her dancing was weak and it featured some of the most awkward lifts I’ve seen. This certainly deserves to be Mark’s lowest-scoring Freestyle with all 8s.
#8 Season 14’s Katherine Jenkins
Mark went for a Roaring ’20s vibe with this routine filled with more fast footwork than any of his other Freestyles. It was bursting with energy, but not his flashiest or most entertaining effort thanks to his rather tame partner
#7 Season 11’s Bristol Palin
An unexpectedly sexy Argentine Tango inspired Chicago routine, this was an inventive battle of the sexes with a lot of cool and clever choreography, even if Bristol wasn’t the best dancer.
#6 Season 12’s Chelsea Kane
Mark went for a weird Latin rave vibe with this dance that was so jam-packed, I broke a sweat just watching it. This was back in the olden days when Freestyles weren’t as ambitious with the concepts, but there was a lot of fun dancing.
#5 Season 8’s Shawn Johnson
An extremely energetic and acrobatic Jive-based Freestyle, this was full of entertaining attack, cool flips and tons of fun. The problem is that we can compare it to her Freestyle during the All-Stars season with Derek Hough, which shows us what she can really do.
#4 Season 22’s Paige VanZant
A beautiful and tender routine, this dance showed off the UFC fighter’s sensitive side that evolved throughout the season. It was simple and elegant with some superb lifts.
#3 Season 6’s Kristi Yamaguchi
The graceful Olympic figure skater got extremely funky in Mark’s first-ever Freestyle, filled with a ton of swagger and lifts.
#2 Season 16’s Alexandra Raisman
Mark raised the bar with this futuristic routine that included a pair of poles the two danced on in perfect unison, climbing and leaping. It’s easily the most ambitious Freestyle he’s ever done, right down to his design of the set.
#1 Season 19’s Sadie Robertson
Sadie’s dancing may not be perfect, but conceptually, this is Mark Ballas at his finest. He adapted Super Mario Brothers into a routine, complete with appearances by Luigi and Toad. It was so wildly inventive and brilliant that I can overlook some of Sadie’s mistakes and just love what Mark brought to this Freestyle.
What was your favorite Mark Ballas Freestyle?
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
(Image and videos courtesy of ABC)