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Johnson Ties for Second on Monday's 'Dancing'
(174 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and partner Mark Ballas overcame a technical deduction in their first dance to tie for the evening's second-highest total on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" Monday.

Johnson and Ballas scored 27 out of 30 points and earned a standing ovation for their first of two dances, the quickstep, but all three judges noted their rules infraction.

"One of the rules in the quickstep is you can do a little bit on your own at the beginning and at the end," judge Len Goodman told Johnson and Ballas. "The rest of the dance you must remain in hold, and that is the only thing you broke that didn't make it a perfect routine."

Judge Bruno Tonioli complimented Johnson's energy and technique during the quickstep.

"You came out here and danced like Sporty Spice," Tonioli said. "You brought it out of yourself. Great footwork, always precise, great delivery. Yes, you broke the hold, but it was great fun."

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who awarded Johnson and Ballas a perfect 10 last week, matched the other two judges by giving the couple a score of 9 for their quickstep.

"I think this week was your best dance ever, but I have to take the point off because you broke the rules," Inaba said.

Ballas said the couple's interpretation of the quickstep, including the hold break, was designed to appeal to the audience.

"The quickstep is a fun dance, and it's about putting on a show," Ballas said. "We really want to entertain the people at home that have kept us in. We're so grateful for them, and we just wanted to put on a good show."

Johnson said she was mainly concerned with mastering the pace and precision required for the dance.

"It's so fast that it's hard to stay graceful and do the movements at the same time," she said during rehearsals.

Later in the show, Johnson and Ballas earned 29 points (their highest total of the season) and another standing ovation for their second dance, the paso doble.

Johnson said Ballas helped her interpret the serious character of the paso doble.

"I was so out of my element," she said after their performance. "(Ballas) kept trying to make me mad backstage."

During rehearsals, Ballas said the intense, aggressive nature of the paso doble can be a challenge "for someone as sweet as Shawn."

Inaba and Tonioli awarded 10s to Johnson and Ballas for their paso doble.

"You delivered the drama," Inaba said. "You nailed it."

Tonioli praised the "killer instinct" that Johnson demonstrated in both of Monday's dances.

"You were focused and powerful, like a guided missile going for the score," he said. "You scored big."

With a two-dance total of 56 points, Johnson and Ballas tied for second place with actor Gilles Marini and partner Cheryl Burke. "The Bachelor" contestant Melissa Rycroft and partner Tony Dovolani earned 57 points, the highest total of the evening.

Viewers could phone in their votes until 30 minutes after the show ended, and could vote online until noon Eastern time on Tuesday. The couple with the lowest combined judges' total and audience votes will be eliminated during Tuesday's results show.

As the competition narrows from five couples to four, Johnson said Monday's show was particularly stressful.

"This week is make-or-break," she said. "I'm either going to stay or I'm going to go home. I don't want to go home."

UPDATE: Johnson and Ballas surviived Tuesday's results show, during which they and three other couples advanced to next week's semi-finals. Rapper Lil' Kim and partner Derek Hough were eliminated.

External Link: Dancing with the Stars

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