Mark Ballas

Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Sandals Resorts

Dancing With the Stars is almost back and ABC's dance card is filling up fast!

With season 21 set to premiere on Sept. 14., Mark Ballas opened up to E! News about the upcoming season, DWTS judge and friend Julianne Hough's recent engagement, his dream dancing partner and... quitting smoking!

Although we won't know Ballas' partner for the new season until Wednesday when the full cast of celebs and their pro partners is announced on Good Morning America, he predicted that this season is "going to be an interesting one!"

Ballas remained tight-lipped on who he's partnered with, but said he found out who it was when he showed up to a location and there she was! (So those behind-the-scenes reels showing the moment of truth are real!)

We wondered who his dream partner would be, now that he has 17 seasons (and two titles) under his belt, and Ballas does still have a few celebs in mind.

"Shakira is always one of my top picks, Jennifer Aniston is one, Ellie Goulding is another," he revealed. "Those are a few picks. Probably will never happen, but in a dream world!"

The 29-year-old dancer-musician also quipped, "Taylor Swift maybe? Taylor Swift would be a great one. I think I would need some really high shoes for myself, but if Taylor Swift did the show, I think this is the one time the height doesn't matter."

So make that his "Wildest Dreams" partner.

Had a blast with this one and the fam last night.. @legitsadierob

A photo posted by markballas (@markballas) on

The stars and the pros don't get a say in the selection process; rather, the producers choose the pairings based on myriad factors, including height, size, and personality.

Apparently the producer's pairing process works well, because Ballas considers his season 19 DWTS partner Sadie Robertson to be "like a little sister" and the Duck Dynasty clan is "really like a second family" to him.

And speaking of friends who are like family to Ballas, dear pal Julianne Hough just got engaged to hockey pro Brooks Laich, and Ballas couldn't be happier for Derek Hough's little sis. "I've known Julianne a long time, just as long as I've known Derek," he told us. "I can tell she's just really in a good place, and that's what's important. You've got to have that inner peace and be happy, and be excited. That's all the things they are."

Also ahead of DWTS's 21st season, Ballas is promoting SELFtember to encourage smokers to quit smoking.

The Ballas Hough Band musician was once a smoker, starting when he was around 15 or 16. "I was always constantly around it growing up," he admitted. "I think at that age you think you're invincible."

Ballas had a wakeup call, though, when he couldn't make it through a class he was teaching. "I was so tired and so wheezy, coughing, really struggling to get air," he remembered about the moment when he finally decided he needed some help to quit for good. So, he began wearing patches by NicoDerm, and it "really reduced my cravings and it worked for me. Like anything you want to accomplish, you have to work for it."

Here's hoping his season 21 partner shares that can-do attitude!

Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich make first appearance as an engaged couple!

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