Mark Ballas Warns: ‘Freestyle Routines Will Make or Break’ Finalists

Mark Ballas Warns: ‘Freestyle Routines Will Make or Break’ Finalists
Adam Larkey/ABC

updated 11/23/2009 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 11/23/2009 12:00AM

Dancing’s remaining three couples have been hitting the ballroom floor at warp speed the past five days to prepare four dances for the season nine two-night finale.

Singers Mya and Donny Osmond, along with reality star Kelly Osbourne, have been working their tails off, season eight champ Mark Ballas tells PEOPLE. “The freestyle routines will make it or break it for the finalists,” Ballas says, noting that now in his fifth season on DWTS, veteran pro dancer Louis van Amstel “is in his first finale ever. I’m so proud of him.”

Van Amstel is working hard with Osbourne, while fellow pro Kym Johnson is putting the finishing touches on her routines with Osmond. Mya, who’s arguably the most talented dancer of the three remaining contestants, is paired with pro Dmitry Chaplin.

“In some ways the pros have even more pressure than the celebrities because that freestyle choreography has to create a vibe, an excitement in the room. It has to be off the charts,” Ballas says.



In order to bring home the mirror ball trophy, Mya has to “show a little more of her personality. I want to see the camaraderie between her and Dmitry a bit more,” Ballas observes. “Donny needs to bring it in the freestyle round and Kelly needs to really let go of any inhibitions and just go for it.”

As for who should win Ballas says he’d be pleased with any of the remaining three contestants. “Donny is an entertainer through and through. Kelly is the little engine that could. And Mya is awesome,” he says.

Things kick off Monday with a 90-minute show in which all of the contestants will perform three routines, including the highly anticipated freestyle and the ‘mega-mix challenge’ where each couple will perform one-third of a routine to the same song.

Tuesday night’s two-hour live results show will be jam-packed with entertainment, including pop queen Whitney Houston’s first-ever ballroom appearance. She will sing "Million Dollar Bill" from her latest album I Look To You, and her 1987 hit "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." The telecast will also include dancing showdowns between NFL greats Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, and Iron Chef America’s Mark Dacascos and ultimate fighter Chuck Liddell. Former contestants Jeffrey Ross and Adam Carolla will share their keen comedic observations on the season, including a special induction of season nine’s first cast off, actor Ashley Hamilton, into the ‘Loser’s Club.’ At the end of the night, a new couple will be named the season nine Dancing champs!

Dancing with the Stars airs Monday at 8 p.m., and Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ABC. -- Monica RizzoAdam Larkey/ABC



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