'Dancing With the Stars' pro Val Chmerkovskiy: I'm pushing Zendaya past her limits
"Dancing With the Stars" pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy will be blogging about his experiences and thoughts on his fourth quest for the mirror ball trophy in The Clicker throughout the season. The 14-time US champion in dance is paired with 16-year-old Disney star Zendaya, who plays Rocky Blue on "Shake It Up!"
First of all, thank you to all the fans for all of your support, the really encouraging, really great comments I received after the debut performance with Zendaya! It means a lot that people take the time to write something nice for us to see, whether it’s on Twitter or Instagram or a website. I want to say that I really appreciate all the love and support. It makes me stay motivated, and it really inspires me to do better.
Last Monday’s performance was so inspiring! Not just for people watching. When I dance, I’m just in a different zone. When she dances, she’s in a different zone. That Monday night performance, it was heaven on earth! It was a feeling that you can’t really explain. At the end when we took our bow, and just hearing the roar and understanding that we just did something special? All the hard work paid off. It’s an unexplainable high. That kind of feeling is what we’re fighting for every day, every week. It’s worth the sweat, it’s worth the hard work.
I feel the thing about Monday’s performance with the contemporary wasn’t even the choreography or the dancing. It was just her performance. She’s a star now. Mark my words: I’ve worked with her for three weeks. She’s going to be a superstar. She’s the next Beyonce. She’s the next mega superstar.
This week we’re doing the jive. The jive is a very fast, very upbeat type of dance. The origins are -- vaguely speaking -- of the rock ‘n’ roll genre and era of dance: swing, Lindy, all those higher-paced, energetic dances. This is where having an understanding for connection and synergy and bonding and understanding each other and dancing completely in unison is very crucial to making this dance work. She’s put on three-inch heels, which is very difficult to dance in, and is something that is pretty new to a girl who is 16 years old. She’s a sneakerhead! She loves her Nikes and her Adidas! So it’s a challenge.
I’m not going to reveal too much about it. The dance is … honestly, I’m so happy with how the dance came out! We don’t need too much production. We don’t need too much story. The story is simple. The song is very old-school sounding. When I hear the song, I think 1920s flapper vibe. I’m going to wear my pinstriped suit and she’s going to wear her flapper dress, and we’re going to come out and show a jive.
I basically choreographed the routine that I would’ve been dancing with a pro. That’s how challenging it is. I basically drove her, destroyed her into doing it pretty damn close to a pro! I’m excited to do an authentic, really competitive, challenging routine that doesn’t have a lot of fluff, but is something different. … I’m glad that I finally have a partner that I can showcase those things with. Zendaya is somebody that I don’t hold back anything with choreographically. I’m not sacrificing anything.
I want her to be Zendaya at her best. It’s not easy because it’s constant work. I’ve put her through the same grueling practice schedule and work schedule that everybody else goes through, if not probably more. When she goes through that, that’s the result that you see -- Monday’s performance. And it doesn’t matter if it’s contemporary, jive or tango. I will put the pressure on and I know a diamond is going to be the result. I just want to keep doing that, keep creating beautiful things, keep putting the pressure on, and see what she can do. I think she can do anything.
Whatever the judges want to give us, I’ll be happy with. I’m looking for what I want to see. At the end of the day, this is a matter of my pride and my integrity – my integrity to her parents, my integrity to “Dancing With the Stars” and the production, my integrity to everything that I represent as a teacher. It’s my integrity to my craft. That’s all I want. I want to come out and I want to surprise the people that I love. I want to surprise her parents. I want to surprise my parents. I want to surprise our fans. Those are the people I’m really prioritizing here.
Tune in Monday night to ABC, “Dancing With the Stars”! And vote for Team Valdaya (3406)! We really appreciate it!
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