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'Dancing With the Stars' pro on Bristol Palin playing it safe: 'You can drag a horse to water...'

Adam Taylor / ABC

Bristol Palin and "Dancing With the Stars" pro Mark Ballas.

Some ballroom fans thought that perhaps reality TV star Bristol Palin could go all the way to the "Dancing With the Stars" finals again -- as she had in season 11 -- by earning semi-low scores, mixed reviews from the judges and an avalanche of viewer votes. But Tuesday night's elimination put an end to those thoughts.

Palin and partner Mark Ballas, who performed a rock 'n' roll dance on Monday night that earned 32 points out of a possible of 40, were sent packing in the fourth week of the all-star competition, saving Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who were also in the bottom two, from elimination.

The couple endured a double rejection of sorts on Tuesday’s show -- Palin and Ballas were the odd ones out when two team captains (top-scoring duo Shawn Johnson and Gilles Marini) chose three pairs each (from seven couples) for next week’s group dances.  

Palin stayed backstage with her family after the show and didn’t accompany her partner on the post-show press line.

“It’s tough,” Ballas told reporters when asked how Palin was doing. “She’s never been eliminated before. She doesn’t know what this feels like. I remember my first time.” With faux sobbing, the two-time mirror ball winner added, “It was horrible!”

The departing pro was asked if he felt Palin’s decision to play it safer with her dance on Monday may have contributed to her expulsion. (Ballas, known for thinking outside the box, wanted to wear costumes for their routine, but Palin preferred not to do that.)

“You can drag a horse to water, (but) you can’t make it drink,” he responded. “So if she wants to do what she wants to do that’s totally fine. At the end of the day, they have to be totally comfortable. I’d never want a partner to walk out on stage and not be 100 percent confident, comfortable (and) not feel beautiful.”

However, Ballas conceded that playing it safe comes with some risks -- especially in this all-star season. “We’ve got a lot of champions and a lot of finalists,” he noted, citing Marini as an example of someone who’s willing to take chances. “Look at his (Bollywood) outfit. That’s out of the box.”

Ballas adds that Palin has nothing to be ashamed of for making it as far as she did this season. “This is someone who, compared to the others, has zero dance experience and zero performance experience,” he explained. “For someone who comes from a normal background in Alaska, this is really tough.”

Nonetheless, he’s certain that Palin will endure. “She’s got a thick skin and she pushes through. I’ve been with her every step of the way. I’m proud of her.”

Now that he’s out of the running, Ballas says that he plans on throwing his support to two of his past partners who remain in the competition: Johnson and Sabrina Bryan.

Do you think Bristol would have stayed in the all-star competition longer if she'd been willing to take some risks, or was it just her time to go? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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