Mark Ballas tells TooFab of partner Lindsay Stirling: "We spent a lot of time having Lindsey tell me stories about her dad and listening to music... I wanted to know details like what did he wear... what did he like."
Emotions were running high during "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday night when this year's crop of contenders were asked to recall their "most memorable year." As part of the week's theme, the dancing duos performed a routine that represented the life-altering growth that resulted from that year.
TooFab was backstage to interview the remaining couples immediately after their performance to gain further insight into the emotional journeys they shared during the show.
Among the night's unforgettable stories were ESPN reporter Victoria Arlen's triumphant battle to regain use of her legs, NFL athlete Terrell Owens and violinist Lindsey Stirling on what their late family members would've thought of the performance they dedicated to them, singer Nick and wife Vanessa Lachey discussed their rollercoaster relationship that ended in true love and adopted "Hamilton" star Jordan Fisher shared details with TooFab about his birth mother.
"Well, my mom is here, my mother is here. My dad is here. The woman who gave birth to me I don’t have a relationship with, I’m not looking for one either," Fisher told TooFab. "Mom and Dad are a title that you earn and they earned it the day I was born and they said, 'You’re ours and tonight was a celebration of that.'"
See what each of Season 25's remaining couples revealed about their touching performances:
Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold on His Birth Mother
"Well, my mom is here, my mother is here. My dad is here. The woman who gave birth to me I don’t have a relationship with, I’m not looking for one either," Fisher said. "Mom and Dad are a title that you earn and they earned it the day I was born and they said, 'You’re ours and tonight was a celebration of that.'"
Victoria Arlen and Valentin Chmerkovskiy on The Wheelchair
"It was actually very daunting," Arlen told TooFab. "I think Val had originally wanted to do this when we first started dancing together and when he created the choreo, it really honestly left me speechless. But to sit back down there, I definitely lost it and was like, 'I don't know if I can stand back up right now cause I’m really, really just feeling it.' But it was amazing, it was very empowering for sure."
Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy on Her Emotional Story and Stronger Partnership
"You know, honestly, I've never really shared that story," Lachey told TooFab. "This show has made me the most vulnerable physically and emotionally...and it's true because in order to, I think, relate to people and make an impact, you have to be able to put yourself out there and Maks and I found a bond with our little guys, as well as their journey in this life and it's a beautiful thing to be able to put it to Nick's lullaby, "Godspeed, Sweet Dreams" which for me was the icing on the cake. And then being able to tell this story about how there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to just believe in love and know that family is everything."
Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd on his Rollercoaster Marriage
"[The dance] had so many different emotions, you know?," Lachey said. "There was like obviously unity and then there was a bit of struggle and can we survive all this stuff. So you know, what I love about my relationship with Vanessa is that it wasn’t just a walk in the park. We were challenged, we broke up, got back together, and there were all these things we had to overcome but in the end, we overcame them and like anything that's worth fighting for, you fight for it and that to me is what the dance was representative of. It's like this is not — I mean we're bruised, you take a look at our bodies, we're bruised and battered. That dance was brutal on us all week long and it kind of represents what relationships are. It can be brutal at times, but you find a way to get through it, you find a way to make it work and get past it so to me that was what I'm most proud of with my relationship with Vanessa and that's what I'm most proud of with this dance is that what is what we wanted the dance to be about."
Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas on Her Late Father's Clothing Incorporated in the Dance
"Oh gosh, it was a few days ago that they sent the hat and I didn't know it was there in the studio and Mark pulled it out and handed it to me and I lost it," Stirling said. "You know, I hadn't really held his hat since he passed away, but it was really amazing 'cause as I was dancing out there, I felt like I was almost dancing with my dad. Mark kind of looks like him a little bit, especially with the glasses and the hat, it really sells it. But even my mom, when we went up to say hi to her, she goes, 'You look kind of like Steve,' so it was really special."
As for choreographing a performance to accurate describe the emotions that Stirling has been holding in since her father's passing, Ballas tried to gain a feel of her father's presence though a series of questions.
"It's a massive responsibility, but also an honor at the same time," Ballas told TooFab. "We spent a lot of time having Lindsey tell me stories about her dad and listening to music. You know, I wanted to know details like what did he wear, what did he like and then we picked the song and the song that she picked was just stunning, and we kind of incorporated the red balloon. It was a process, but we got there and I’m very pleased with it and very proud of her."
Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev on Growing This Week
"I think what it was is that it really helped me to open up and let go," Bella said. "I think that's been my issue the past few weeks... I just do come out a little strong and aggressive, but that's more of a shield and so I feel like tonight is really the first night I really just let go and let that guard down."
Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke on His Late Grandmother
"Oh my gosh, I mean I honestly think she probably would have been really, really proud," Owens said. "She probably would have said, 'You did good' and so that's how she talks. We're from the South and so she probably was like, 'You did good, Son' so you know, I wouldn't have been able to get through just the rigorous hours of rehearsal if it wasn't for her. I mean tonight you saw the finished product of a lot of hard work. It was a short period of time that we had to get a lot of work in, but I think she would be very, very pleased."
Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko on Inspiring Young Women
"Actually it was really hard because I had to be so vulnerable and it's a hard story to tell and to be that open with people, but I think his choreography was incredible because it showcased that and because it was movements instead of words," Pieterse said. "Its just such a different feeling and I’m really relieved that it’s over. I have to be honest because it is really hard and the foxtrot in general was hard. It wasn’t easy getting to this point and I’m so glad that we performed it and got good scores. It's amazing. I couldn't ask for more."
Drew Scott, Emma Slater and surprise guest Jonathan Scott on Their Pranks
Drew Scott and Emma Slater didn't just surprise America by bringing Scott's identical twin brother, Jonathan into their performance, they also had some fun pranking the cast and crew during the show by replacing Drew with Jonathan in the sky box.
"Tom walks over to me at first," Jonathan told TooFab. "I'm sort of huddled back before I jump on stage and Tom's like, 'Wait, you look, oh you shaved, Drew!' and I'm like 'No, I'm not! I'm the other one.' He's like, 'What?'
"Only one of the producers noticed," Drew added.