EXCLUSIVE: Bonner Bolton and Sharna Burgess Open Up About Vulnerable Performance on 'Dancing With the Stars'
By Jackie Willis
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Bonner Bolton gave his most personal performance yet on Monday's Dancing With the Stars.
The contestants were asked to come up with a routine inspired by the "most memorable year" in their lives, and the 29-year-old professional bull rider chose last year when he was seriously injured on the job, breaking his vertebrae and becoming temporarily paralyzed. Bolton and his pro partner, Sharna Burgess, hit the ballroom floor with a whole lot of enthusiasm, performing the foxtrot to Micheal Buble's "Feeling Good." The impressive dance earned the pair a 32 out of 40, which is their highest score of the season thus far.
When talking to ET's Cameron Mathison after his crowd-pleasing performance, Bolton spoke in more detail about his scary bull riding injury and how he wanted the experience to play out on the dance floor. "I'm super thankful, number one, that I had someone like Sharna incredible enough to tell that story the right way and have it put out there," he said. "It's a struggle when it's something that personal for you to let someone else tell your story like that -- especially so fresh and just a year ago."
"It's hard for someone to say, 'OK, I trust you to do that and here's my heart and soul,'" Burgess, 31, reiterated. "We went through a lot of struggles this week to get to where we did to open [him] up and trust me to tell this story. I think that we are so much stronger at the end of this week because of that."
Bolton said ultimately, he came on DWTS to tell this story. "I had no real confidence that I could do any dancing but what's crazy is the way that [Burgess] can turn someone around with a major injury like me -- or like her last dance partners -- and do what she does," he noted. "She's like the dance therapist."
Continuing to praise his pro partner, Bolton added that his and Burgess' bond is only getting stronger. "Were gaining a lot of respect for each other," he shared. "She learns my story and I learn what she does as a dance instructor. It's very a growing mutual respect."
Burgess also explained to ET how she came up with the dance routine to match Bolton's emotional journey back to health. "The more I listened to him talk about [the injury], the more I understood that it's hard to leave that behind. It's all he's ever known and I wanted him to have this moment where he's past [it]," she shared. "I said, 'Please go in and live your future and don't worry about me. I'm fine and we did incredible things and you have this beautiful world ahead of you right now. You need to take it and you need to make the most of it. That's what that moment was."
Bolton said he felt that going into the routine. "I picked the cowboy hat up at the end, which means I will always be a cowboy," he said. "I will always be myself. Nothing will ever change that deep down."