Pop Culture

‘DWTS’ pro Val: Returning to the show is like getting drafted for NFL

“Dancing With the Stars” pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy is blogging about his experiences and thoughts on his sixth quest for the mirror ball trophy on TODAY.com throughout the season. The 14-time U.S. champion in dance is paired with Danica McKellar, who captured hearts with her performance as Winnie on “The Wonder Years.”  

Craig Sjodin / Today

I found out I was coming back for season 18 about a week before the big kickoff announcement and two days before I met Danica. I was in my kitchen watching “SportsCenter” when I got the call, so I felt like I was being drafted by the NFL.

Our producer has a British accent, so when he calls and tells you “congratulations,” it’s a great feeling. I called my mom and told her everything was all right. I was very happy. I love the show. I love being back. I had a great off-season, but I’m always motivated to get back into the show.

There are a lot of changes to the show this year. People are already talking a lot about the switch up, where stars and pro dancers will change partners. I want the show to be successful. I’m part of a team and I’m a team player, so whatever I can do to contribute to the success of this production I’d love to do.

My opinion on the switch up is that it’s good as long as the fans love it. If it will make our show more successful and satisfy our viewers, then that’s what I’m willing to do. Is it a cruel little concept? Yeah! But it is what it is.

I knew of Danica before I met her and I’m a fan of hers. I never had a lot of time as a kid to sit and watch television, but I remember “The Wonder Years” very well. I know Danica’s character, Winnie. I am a fan of “The Wonder Years.” I loved Fred Savage on that show, too. It was a “feel good” show. I was around the age of the people they were targeting when I was watching it.

The first dance Danica and I are doing is the foxtrot. It’s all right. It’s definitely not one of my favorites, but it’s a dance that I enjoy dancing. There are certain dances that are very effective and that the audience enjoys more but that I may not enjoy doing as much. Some just don’t have the capacity to be as powerful as others. The foxtrot doesn’t have the passion or the drama that a paso doble has, but it’s still an awesome dance to dance.

I’m committed to Danica’s well-being and growth. You build a connection with your partner. If there’s a switch up, I still want to see her do well, of course. I hope that whoever she may be paired with will want the same and will treat her well. If she ends up getting higher scores than I do with whomever I’m later paired with, then I’ll be very happy for her.