Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone!

Hope you had a great week! Well, we're almost there!

I cannot wait for Monday. I'm just looking forward to getting the season started again. The off season flew by and this is the calm from the storm. But I say we might as well just get right back into the middle of the storm! It's a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to the routine of things, the nervousness, the stress and the good times, of course.

Brandy is freaking out and excited at the same time. I think she's nervous, but who wouldn't be? But it's a good nervous. It's a "I can't wait!" not a "What have I signed myself up for?!" I'm very happy with where we are. We are ready to go! I feel secure in Brandy in the fact that she's not going to fall apart when it's time for us to dance on Monday. We'll see what the judges are going to say and what the fans think. If we have to step up our game, we will. If it's good enough, great, but there's always room for improvement. That's my strategy: come out, do a first number, see how it goes.

We have not been on set yet. They're finishing building it right now. We won't get to rehearse there until Sunday for camera blocking. I know how it's going to work and look. That's mostly for the celebrities so they get a feel of what it's like. Our Viennese waltz is ready. It's just a straight dance. No gimmicks. I want Brandy to come out and be comfortable. Hopefully the judges will like what we've done. If we're lucky to stay on for a long time, I think we're going to pull out a bunch of stuff. Last season, there was stuff we did that was necessary. Erin wasn't a natural dancer, so some stuff wasn't coming easy to her. I wasn't trying to mask her imperfections with gimmicks, just but added things to highlight her strengths. With Brandy, I feel like I can bank on steps and cool choreography. I think we will remind fans of my partnership with Mel or Laila. I always try to evolve, but I'm still going to be Maks and you can see my style. You're bound to see some signature moves, signature choreography. We have the luxury of improving from week to week, adding to the choreography, adding to the difficulty. We don't have to come out right away and do our best. It's a risk. Maybe after next week, people will say we're not good, but I don't think it's going to happen.

As for our jive, we're working on it at our pace. When it's time to jive, we'll jive. I want to get the season started because I think we're ready for the four-day turnaround to learn new dances and routines. I have confidence that she'll be able to pull it off.

I've been asked what Brandy's strengths and weaknesses are. Honestly, I can't tell. I don't want to say something generic, like her lines are her strength and her weaknesses are her feet. I don't know yet. But she's a fast learner and everything's looking great. Let the show start rolling and we'll see. Hopefully you won't see the weaknesses because if you seem, then it means I'm not doing my job.

Speaking of doing my job, I hear Tom says he would be insulted if I don't pinch his butt this season. Well, I can assure him and all of you that he's getting his butt pinched every season! The only thing that's difficult is getting my partners to understand the love and humor behind it. I actually have not brought this up to Brandy yet!

As far as everything else, things are going great. The studios are doing well, and now some of my students and teachers are running a guerilla marketing campaign for me and Brandy. They're filming some things and maybe, hopefully, they'll get posted on my YouTube channel. I hope some of you have had a chance to check it out. The BBQ video I mentioned last week is up there. I've become more Internet savvy in the past few years — months even, with my website getting updated. I feel like you've all been so great and supportive of me that this is my way of returning the favor — letting people seem who I am. The videos are fun and silly and answer a lot of questions sometimes. Maybe you perceive me a certain way and you realize I'm not that or there's more to me than that. I'm enjoying doing them. They're not scripted, are fun, straightforward, simple and friendly.

Thursday was Sleep's first birthday! I missed the party back home, but my parents called me during it. I'm not sure if he knew what was going on, but I'd like to think he did — he's a smart one! I'm sure many of you have heard, but there was a tornado in New York on Thursday that was quite scary and unfortunately killed one person. I want to send my thoughts to everyone back in New York and hope all of you are safe. My family, by the way, is fine and was not affected.

One last thing: If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have seen this already, but I will be at a charity event for Lupus LA on Wednesday, and I hope you can make it. If you can't, I hope you will consider a donation. It's a great cause and one that's dear to my heart. My roommate's mom died from lupus, and we've been doing a lot of work with Lupus LA and Lupus NY on silent auctions, events and the like. Again, having become more Internet savvy, I've become more heavily involved with charities and just trying to do my part in spreading the word. If someone tweets to me about retweeting a charitable cause, I will do it. I think we should all do whatever we can do help others and help the world. The event will be fun. Tony will be there too and it's a poker game, but we'll have an ab-off! I don't know if you saw the picture Tony tweeted of his abs, but that thing is five years old! I'm game though. My abs are in good form, if I do say so myself! Maybe I'll even find a way to show them off during the Viennese waltz!

That's all for now. I hope you all enjoy Monday's show!

Maks