Mark BallasA lifelong dancer and musician, Emmy nominated Mark Ballas has wowed over 20 million viewers on ABC’s number one show, “Dancing with the Stars,” for nine seasons. No stranger to the coveted mirror ball trophy, he is a two-time champion (Season 6 with Kristi Yamaguchi and Season 8 with Shawn Johnson), and caused a media frenzy when he took performance newcomer Bristol Palin all the way to the finals in Season 11. Mark garnered a 2011 Creative Arts Emmy nomination for Outstanding Choreography for his creative pieces during Season 12, where he and his partner, Disney star Chelsea Kane, made it to the finals, finishing in third place. Most recently, he was paired with Welsh singing sensation Katherine Jenkins and they made it to the finals, where they finished as the runners-up. On April 12th, Mark’s debut solo album HurtLoveBox, was released by Hit Play Records – Sony Red. A true passion project, HurtLoveBox is an intimate, personal journey of the trials and tribulations of life and relationships. His first single “Hotwire” was the winner of MTV’s Freshman Five for 2011 and has been put in rotation on the network. Thus far, it has received over 100 million documented views, and appeared on feature reels in over 100,000 retail and business locations worldwide. Mark was named the Clear Channel “Artist To Watch” in July, 2011. Born in Houston to a family of international dance stars, Mark moved to London as a child, where he attended the world-renowned Italia Conti Performing Arts School and graduated with honors. Here, he was required to not only dance, but also sing, act and play an instrument. He began playing the guitar at the age of ten, training in classic flamenco. By age 12 he was writing and performing his own music, playing guitar, drums and bass. With guitar influences ranging from Kurt Cobain, Paco de Lucia, Gypsy Kings, John Mayer and Eric Clapton, Mark is carving out his own niche in the music word. His rhythmic style and soulful melodies showcase his talent not only as an accomplished singer, but also as a skilled guitar player.
As an actor, Mark has played the lead in the musical Copacabana. He also took on roles in the UK tour of Maria de Buenos Aires, and was an understudy in the London Palladium production of Buddy, The Buddy Holly Musical, which won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. In television, he has guest starred on “Melissa and Joey” and “Samantha Who?”. When Mark isn't performing, he is passionate about speaking to school age kids about acceptance. While on his 50 city acoustic tour this winter, Mark carved out time to visit schools in each city to discuss this topic. Six years ago, Mark and his family were forever altered by the suicide of his Uncle David. Through the grieving process, Mark and his mother Shirley (David's sister) began to align themselves with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. By forming The Ballas Foundation in the fall of 2010, Mark and Shirley are committed to removing the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide by raising money, awareness, and volunteerism in support of suicide awareness. While suicide is a somber and sometimes taboo subject, Mark's discussions with school kids are upbeat, uplifting, and fun, delivering his message in a light manner that is easy to absorb with peers. Mark believes that if we accept everyone for who they are, the lives lived by kids who are considered "different" will be easier, paving the way for all kids to grow into themselves and flourish in life.