Twenty-nine-year-old professional bull rider Bonner Bolton was sent home after Monday night’s pre-semifinals episode of Dancing with the Stars. Season 24 of the popular celebrity dance show was a big challenge for Bolton, and even though his final night was marred with harsh criticism, he still managed to hang up his dance shoes with his dignity intact.
Last year, Bonner Bolton suffered a severe injury when he fell on his head after incorrectly dismounting the bull he was riding, leaving the young heartthrob with a broken neck. Bolton was temporarily paralyzed and wasn’t sure he’d ever walk again, but luckily his mobility was fully restored once the swelling had subsided.
Needless to say, when it was announced that Bonner Bolton would be competing on Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars, fans were amazed by his remarkable recovery. Not only was he walking again, but now he’d be dancing too.
But how well can a bull rider dance?
Teaming up with the fabulous Sharna Burgess gave Bolton enough of an edge to keep him in the competition longer than many others. However, the judges did not share those sentiments. After harsh and brusque criticism of the couple’s form and technique, the judges expressed surprise at the fact that Bolton even made it this far.
The head judge, Len Goodman, bluntly referred to Bolton’s escalating frustrations during rehearsals as a sure sign that he was not cut out for the dance floor.
‘You’ve got frustrated — please don’t blame the judges, blame the viewers, because really you’ve gone a bridge too far. I’m sorry but you should’ve been…”
And as Goodman’s voice trailed off he made a slicing gesture with his hand to indicate that Bonner should’ve been cut from the show right at the start. For this, Goodman got his fair share of boos from the audience, who have supported Bolton enough to keep him coming back episode after episode. Bonner, on the other hand, maintained his composure and offered a humble response.
“I don’t claim to be the best dancer, I’m not here still because I am, but because of my heart and the guidance of this young lady.”
Which was an affectionate acknowledgment of his partner, Sharna Burgess. The dancing couple experienced a few tense moments during rehearsals over the course of the season. One instance was when Bonner left the rehearsal room in a huff because Sharna had decided to use the Imagine Dragons song “Believer” to pay tribute to Bolton’s incredible strength in recovery.
“It’s definitely a struggle for me to have to revisit that over and over for the show. That stuff I’d rather not have to talk about or think about. I think tensions have gotten a little high this week because of that.”
Sharna had all the best intentions when she chose a song to describe how he “was broken from a young age,” yet kept “singing from heartache from the pain,” until ultimately he saw the “beauty through the…”
Not yet. The couple scored an adequate 30 out of 40 points for their Argentine tango. It was their second dance of the night that would inevitably bring on the pain of the judges’ criticism. However, the blow may have been somewhat softened by judge Carrie Ann Inaba’s compliments in the look department.
“I feel like I need to take a shower. It was kind of raunchy. I mean, you guys looked amazing and very sexy, and I loved the high concept — it was very clean and pristine. And I felt like Bonner you didn’t pop as much as I needed you to pop next to these two booty-popping — but you didn’t booty-pop, I noticed that… a lot, but not quite enough Bonner from you.”
According to the judges, Bonner did seem like he was not quite in synch with the other two, keeping his body too rigid instead of relaxing into the flow of the dance. It was performed as a trio, with Britt Stewart joining Bolton and Burgess for a steamy ballroom encounter to the tune of Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like.”
Judge Len Goodman said that for him, the conceptual dance “was a little bit too raunchy for [a 73-year-old], really.” Julianne Hough shared the “raunchy” sentiments of her fellow judges, saying that she was “still recovering” from the performance before she gave her comments.
“I feel like we watched like the security cameras and I feel bad. The production was awesome. The girls are sassy as can be. I definitely saw some step touches and some hip thrusts and that’s who’s going to be voting — America — and they like that.”
The couple scored 28 out of 40 for their dance Britt Stewart, leaving Bolton and Burgess with an average score of 29 points. At the end of the night, it was Rashad Jennings and Bonner Bolton who were in the bottom two, but it was Bolton who’d had his last dance. The hunky Texan gentleman was very graceful during his exit from the show.
“I was very, very surprised at how far I went. I went further than I ever knew I would. I’m so thankful for the journey that I got to take. I found out how far I can really push myself and how much I can take.”
Bonner Bolton’s fans were sad to see him go.
The semifinals will be danced by Jennings, Ross, Kordei, and Biles as they compete for the finals slots. ABC’s Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
[Featured Image by Sanford Myers/AP Images]