Mark Ballas is best known as a pro and two-time mirrorball champion on Dancing with the Stars, but these days he is more likely to be found with a guitar in hand, performing original music with his equally talented wife, BC Jean. They call their band Alexander Jean (a blend of their middle names) and they are a match made in musical heaven. Broadway Wiz was invited to see Mark and BC perform at the Charmin Restrooms Wrap Party in Times Square and it was evident how much chemistry they have on stage together.
Mark, what came first, your love of music or dancing?
Mark: For me, it was kind of all at once. I come from a family of musicians. My dad was a flamenco guitar player. My grandmother was a flamenco castanet player. My uncle is a guitar player and my mother was a dancer, so from a very young age I was always introduced to cool music, whether it be from flamenco to rock, blues, funk, soul. And then I was always around dancing. I loved music first because without music you can’t move and vice versa. They go hand in hand for me. My dad is a great guitar player, so I wanted to be a guitar player and then I discovered Kurt Cobain and then it was over, everything just kind of came together at once. From age 4 I went to musical theater classes on the weekend where I would do singing, acting, dancing, tap, jazz, all that stuff. I kept up with that every week until I was 21 years old. I went to a high school and college for musical theater. I started playing guitar at age 9 and then I started getting really heavy into dance when I was about 12. So, always been in the arts.
BC, where does your love of music come from and when did you know you wanted to create music?
BC: I have always loved music and I always would sing and it was always in me since I was very little. When I was five or six I would write poems. I would hide in my closet at night and write my emotions and cry and be romantic and then my poems became songs. When I was 13 I started writing actual songs and that turned into me wanting to sing and then I started taking voice lessons. I did piano lessons too when I was very young. My grandparents were also in the arts and did Perry Como and Fred Waring. They lived in upstate New York, so I grew up watching them always practicing and performing together, which was so cool. They were really talented. I think at 14 is when I convinced my parents I am serious. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Stop talking about college because I already know what I want to do. I want to go to LA and just write music and express myself. And they went for it, so since then I have been doing this.
Mark: Raw for one because it always starts with the acoustic guitar and our voices.
BC: Acoustic pop.
Mark: It’s honest.
BC: Honest. Soulful.
Mark: It’s insightful to our lives. We are kind of telling our stories but try to tell them in a non-selfish way so everyone can relate to them. I would like to say it’s a cocktail of rock/pop singer‑songwriter but yes, just very honest and raw.
Can you tell us the story behind Paper Planes? Who’s idea was it to use wedding footage in the music video?
Mark: Well, the cool thing was I had the riff for maybe two years and I would always play it. It was kind of a practice riff for me.
BC: And we knew we wanted to write a song based upon our vows and our wedding and our love story. Something that other people can dance to at their wedding if they wanted to. Something very romantic. So when those two connected, we decided to do Paper Planes, Mark was folding up our vows into a box like a keepsake. It was an origami thing or paper planes. So that’s where the concept came in. I am not sure how it came about, but we ended up talking about it