Michael Bolton vs. Bruno: 'Dancing' 's Pros Say Judge Went Too Far

"We're all here trying to learn something new," Mark Ballas tells PEOPLE

Photo: Adam Larkey/ABC; Richard Cartwright/ABC

After calling out an “inappropriate and disrespectful” Bruno Tonioli on Tuesday night’s Dancing with the Stars, it was clear that an eliminated Michael Bolton was still upset that his performance on Monday was judged “the worst jive . . . ever seen” by the outspoken judge.

Bolton, who rushed to a show in Napa, Calif., just after getting eliminated, didn’t make it backstage following his dismissal. But the show’s pro dancers stood up for the crooner, arguing that Tonioli’s criticism crossed the line.

“I was glad Michael said his piece like that, because no one should have to take that kind of beating,” Mark Ballas told PEOPLE. “We’re all here trying to learn something new. If you don’t think we did great, fine – but give us some constructive feedback so we can walk away and work on it. Don’t just drag me through a hedge backwards and then carry me to the ground.”

Adds fellow dancer Louis Van Amstel, “What I love is that Michael stood up for himself and said how disrespectful it was.”

Bolton’s partner Chelsie Hightower, who says elimination “is hard for Michael and I both,” believes Tonioli should have toned down his comments based on how much effort Bolton put into the routine.

“He was putting everything he had into it, and I think Bruno went over the line,” she said. “It’d be one thing if Michael wasn’t trying, but he did and he was, so I think it was harsh. I think it was a harsh thing to say to anyone.”

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