Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your comments once again! I just finished camera-blocking for the results show. As you may have heard, I'm dancing during a Taylor Swift number. The routine is great. It's one of those really fun numbers. Jonathan and Anna choreographed it. It's very ballroom-y. We're having a great time with it. We're dancing up on the balcony and all that. It's a younger generation-type song, so we're really enjoying ourselves.

It's nice to be back in L.A. As I said in my last entry, I went home for a few days. I had an amazing time in New York. I surprised everybody when I was home. My manager thought she had an appointment for me with somebody and that I will be on a conference call. It was really funny. I like doing stuff like that, just pleasant surprises. There were a couple days of rain, but one morning I woke up and it was absolutely gorgeous! I had a great view of Manhattan from my window. It's a different vibe and atmosphere. Now that I'm back, I'm sensing a little bit of tension now that we're at the halfway mark of the show and have double eliminations coming up.

I was unable to watch Monday's show because I was flying back to L.A. I saw all the performances on video and got a recap of some of the things. I saw a little bit of the mambo marathon, but heard a lot about it. I actually really like the idea. This is something we can explore and try to figure out. I think what people don't understand is that we come from a competitive ballroom world and this is the format. Having couples dance one at a time, like Dancing does, yes, that's awesome, but we're used to everyone being on the floor at the same time dancing against so many other couples. I think Derek killed it with his competitive ability. We're trying to stand out from the crowd. We have a set a routine, but there are a lot of elements that come up from within the crowd of other couples that you can play off of. I think that's exactly what he did when he kept dropping Joanna over and over and doing that little lift thing. That's what people are not used to seeing, but that's when our true competitive spirit comes out. Couples that can pull it off pull it off.

Now that people know what it is, we will know how to prepare for it. The workload was a little overwhelming this season for everybody, so there were a lot of last-minute preparations for this or the knockout dance. Some couples prepared better than others because of dance ability and other factors. I would actually do this as a second dance when we have to do two dances in a week. I don't know if production will go for it because you have to fill up the airtime with dances. Also, from what I hear, people quite enjoyed it as well.

I also liked the marathon because the judges, for the first time, had to judge couples in comparison to other couples. Whoever is the better dancer, wins. A lot of times, somebody gets a 7 and somebody else gets a 7 and people can't believe it. A 7 given to someone who did an amazing job for them and a 7 given to somebody who is amazing but could've done better is not the same 7. In the marathon format, there was no chance for them to do that. They can't say, "Hey Michael, you did great for what you did today. You showed improvement," and "Mya, you should've done better because you're that amazing." They had to pick people based on how they compared to each other as dancers and not how they compared to themselves.

When you're in a ballroom event, you start off with hundreds of couples, then you have a number of heats where more than 15 couples dance at the same time. They choose couples out of those heats and then you go to the next round. You have to stand out from the crowd and be in the judges' memory for many heats until the end. You truly end up with some of the best at the end because they were not only able to showcase their dance ability, but their showmanship and everything else. I think that element was missing from the show. In the competition, if you're truly great, you can draw audience attention from across the room.

I may not have been the most technical dancer, but what I was is I was a great competitor. I try to teach my students that it is very important to remember it's 50 percent quality and 50 percent presentation. Then you can dissect presentation into many things, but it's important to possess or develop, if you don't have it, star quality. The idea is when you walk out on the floor, you cover the entire stage with your presence. I can go out and just stand, metaphorically speaking, or do something simple while somebody is doing flips all over the place and I can draw your attention to me. This is what we're trained to do. If you're better at it, you may have a better chance to win even if others may be better dancers.

People ask why I appear conceited or cocky and I apologize that this is how I come across. I am not that. I'm not a jerk. The thing is this is in our blood. What you call cocky, I call confidence. This is a quality we have to have. Without it, I would not be able to stand out from the hundreds of couples at the British Open and with up to 22 couples dancing the cha-cha at the same time. I have to show my cha-cha is better than yours. How do I stand out? I have to have that swagger and X factor. When dancing is your life, then it translates into your everyday life because we eat, breathe and live dancing. When I immigrated to the U.S., I was the shyest wallflower. I took the opportunity of starting my life over to engulf myself in dance and get that X factor. It was very important for me to stand out then because nobody said I should be dancing. People were like, "You're too big, too slow, too awkward, too heavy. Be an athlete." I would've been a great athlete, but the point is you told me I couldn't do it and 10, 15 years later, look at me now. That sometimes doesn't come off well and I know it. I don't take it offensively, but there's nothing I can do about it. Maybe I can soften up or talk about a few things, but the point is, the mambo marathon was the closest to what we dancers do in reality and it brings out the true competitor in all of us.

I don't know what's going to happen with the double eliminations. I'm not even going to predict, especially with what happened with Natalie last week. It's so unpredictable. Plus, the knockout dance is completely and totally up to the judges. I don't know if I like the knockout dance because it takes away from the element of people voting. It's designed to keep better dancers in the competition longer, so I guess it's a cool idea.

That's all for now!

Maks