Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas are the Season 31 Champions of "Dancing with the Stars"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas are the Season 31 Champions of "Dancing with the Stars"

Last night, after a season of incredible performances, the new champion of Disney+'s Dancing with the Stars was crowned -- and there was little surprise TikTok star Charli D'Amelio and her partner Mark Ballas (pictured at top) walked away with the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. Although runner-up Gabby Windey and pro Val Chmerkovskiy did provide some valiant competition.

Throughout the evening, the remaining four finalists each performed two routines - - a redemption dance, a do-over of a dance performed earlier in the season -- and the highly anticipated freestyle dance. In the latter, actor and singer Wayne Brady (with pro Witney Carson) performed to "Get Up/24K Magic" by Ciara featuring Chamillionaire/Bruno Mars; drag queen superstar Shangela (with pro Gleb Savchenko) performed to "Survivor/Call Me Mother" by Destiny's Child/RuPaul; Gabby (pictured below with with pro Val) performed to "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago and Charli and Mark danced to "Us Again" by Pinar Toprak.

Each couple delivered in the category, and all were awarded perfect scores, but it was obvious even before the final dance that Charli and Mark would emerge as the winners. Throughout the season, D'Amelio has consistently gone from strength to strength, receiving more perfect scores over more weeks than any celebrity contestant in the history of the show. Judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tognoli, Derek Hough and Len Goodman often equated her to a professional dancer.

With all four couples entering the final vote neck and neck, and perfect scores for frontrunners Charli and Gabby, it was anyone's guess who would outplace the other. The leaderboard toppers both performed phenomenal freestyle routines in addition to their redemption dances. But it was Shangela who blew the ballroom apart with an incredible, visually creative, freestyle routine that even saw her pro partner Gleb get into drag. (Shangela and Gleb, as Natasha, are pictured below.)

"It feels so good," said Gabby, the season's runner-up, after the show. "We worked so hard on that [freestyle] dance, and it was nice to share the floor with other amazing dancers. The piece itself, I think, was just incredible to perform." However, with one Broadway-inspired dance number to her credit, don't expect to see her treading those hallowed boards any time soon. "Oh, you know, I think I'm just baseline too lazy for a whole Broadway thing," she laughed. "But for one number, for two minutes, it was incredible."

"Oh my gosh, it just happened so fast I couldn't even really comprehend what was going on," Charli exclaimed. "But I think I learned so much about myself. Whether it's about all these new styles of dance, or just myself as a person, or learning how to perform anything -- I've learned a whole lot about it all and that's thanks to Mark."

After being told so often just how good she was during the season, at this point she has no plans to go pro. "Oh, my goodness," she pondered. "I think it would be a whole lot of work to learn how to do it the way the pros do. And that's a lot! They're incredibly talented. Really, this was a lot for me, so I couldn't imagine being a pro."

She also offered some departing words of wisdom to those contestants signing up for Season 32. "For anyone that is going to be doing Dancing with the Stars next season ... it's crazy, but it's so much fun."

In other finale highlights, judge Len Goodman bid a final farewell after announcing last week that this would be his last season on the show and actress Selma Blair returned to perform the dance she had to forfeit weeks ago due to health concerns.

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