Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough by Kelsey McNeal/ABC
Weren't we just saying that Season 6 had no drama? Scratch that. On Tuesday morning,
, Mark Ballas and Julianne Hough were rehearsing an up-tempo routine to Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head," when Derek threw his head back "and I just felt my neck go," he says. "It crunched and popped and I said, 'I need some help.'"
Paramedics rushed in to stabilize Derek's neck with a brace, put him on a gurney and drove him to the hospital where it was determined that he had strained a neck muscle, much like whiplash. The doctors gave him a neck brace and advised him to go to bed for three days "to get the weight off my neck," says Derek, who plans to forge ahead and dance next week.
"We were really worried because Derek isn't one to complain," says his little sister, Julianne. "And so when we saw him run off the dance floor, we were like, 'uh, oh.'" Mark's father, Corky Ballas, was in the ballroom and witnessed the whole thing. "The studio was really cold this morning," says Ballas, "and these three walked in from the street and immediately started rehearsing. No warm-up, nothing." The elder Ballas, who taught the Houghs how to dance when they were still children, is a ballroom champion who has been teaching for decades. His own son, Mark, suffered a dislocated shoulder during the season five finale. "These kids think they're bullet-proof."
Before the show, Derek removed the neck brace "because it was embarrassing," he says. But he had to sit out his dance number and let Mark and Julianne make it a dance for two instead of three. During the commercial break after he and his partner, Shannon Elizabeth, were saved from elimination, Julianne reached out to give him a hug. Big mistake. "He said, 'Jules! Jules! My neck!'" says Julianne. "And I'm like, 'I'm SO sorry! I forgot.'"
Derek was given painkillers that make him, he says, "loopy." But you can bet he'll be having a rough Wednesday morning because even with medication "the pain went all the way down my right arm," he says. "It's still aching like crazy."
Elizabeth looks concerned, standing by his side. "He probably needs to eat, and he needs to lie down," she says. "My first concern is that he's okay." Asked if he got any advice from fellow pro Karina Smirnoff, who underwent arthroscopic neck surgery during the week before the season premiere, Derek says, "She asked me if I wanted to go see her doctor - and I might take her up on that because she had an amazing recovery."
On a much lighter note, there is baby news to report: Pro
and his wife, Trendlina, are expecting twins at the end of August. Dovolani is over the moon about the news, which will mean at least one brother for his two-and-a-half year old daughter, Luana. "We're not sure of the sex of the other twin," he says, "because a leg was hiding it in the ultrasound."
What makes the story even better is that his celebrity partner, Tony winner
Marissa Jaret Winokur
, is also expecting a child - through a surrogate - on July 17th, "which happens to be my birthday," says Dovolani. When the two of them were saved from elimination, they couldn't stop hugging. "My husband came and cleaned out my trailer today," says Winokur, who was sure she was going home.
The one who IS going home is
, who still had the biggest smile on his face, win or lose. "Are you kidding?" he says. "This is wonderful. My life is wonderful. Live my life for 20 minutes and you'll know what I mean." But isn't he sad to be leaving so soon? "No!" he says. "This is a TV show! There's nothing to be sad about." And then he reconsiders. "I am sad that Anna (Trebunskaya, his pro partner] doesn't get to dance and be on the show more weeks. But she's going to be my teacher for life." -
Deborah Starr Seibel
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