Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone!

Hope you all watched the premiere! What did you think?

I can honestly say it was one of the best season premieres I can remember. I can't think of anyone who didn't impress me — everyone was so good! I love that the level of dancing is so competitive this season. I love that it promotes the skill and beauty of dance. I can imagine how tough this season is going to be for the fans, when deciding who's going to win and who will be going forward. I hope our fans like what Melissa and I are doing.

I thought Melissa did a great job on Monday. I agree with the judges, but at the same time, I don't think we deserved a 6. Melissa has a lot of potential and the only way we can show it is if we get to stay on. I think Melissa is one of the greatest people I've ever met in my life. She has the combo of everything I look for in a partner. She and Kirstie are very much alike in that sense.  Melisa is an incredible person just to be around. I want to stay on the show not just because I think she has to a lot to offer, but because I want to spend time with her. I did notice that she was a little hard on herself and therefore she stiffened up a little bit. Her personality didn't shine through on the show.  Everyone got to see the hard work she put in, but not the light, fun part of it. She's doing an incredible job, but now we have to perform so American can see our passion and know how much we're enjoying it. Most importantly, I just need Melissa to believe in herself as a contender.  I want her to have that confidence and to go out, perform and say proudly, "I put in so much hours, I killed it and this what I get for it and I'm happy."

Being the first show, nerves definitely played a part. I would say it was all nerves for Melissa. If I think she did something wrong during the routine, I would look into it and work on it, but she didn't. I'm just trying to do my best to give her the best possible chance to do great. I gave her steps that I knew she could do. I think she might've put a lot of expectations on herself. She does have an uphill climb. She has to work hard to get her to the level of "Wow!" Some people may come out, do bump-and-grind and get a crowd reaction. Gladys came out and destroyed it! I loved it! Her routine wasn't crazy hard, but she was so amazing because it was effortless. It was the last thing I expected. I expected her to have rhythm and to move, but she was incredible. The dancing was good, but it was a package of how unexpected it was and how much fun she's having. I definitely think we can make it to the finals, but we have a lot of work to do first.

Next we have the quickstep, which we already finished during the three weeks before the show. Right now, we're just running through it over again. I told Melissa that Wednesdays and Thursdays are not enjoyable. It's the beginning stages. You're blind. You just finished learning something and poof! You start from scratch again. The fun stuff is when you finish the routine and you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you say, "Oh, snap! I can do it!" It's very challenging. We have to come out with a good routine and build quality.

I am also thrilled for Val and Sherri. They did amazing! I think you can see how much fun they're having together. Val loves Sherri, and you can see that she's really into this and he's trying to give his best to her. I think what people don't realize when there are so many good dancers is that it's harder on the pros. We don't want to get sent home either. People feel like we're dancers for hire, but we're emotionally invested as well. Plus, it's difficult to be the result of someone's failure. You get a cast like this and it's great. But we have a lot of work to do to one-up the competition. I have to make my partner better than this cast. In the past, we had a few people who were good from the start and a few who were not, and you could pace yourself. Now, you have 12 couples who are very talented and you have to go above and beyond to help your partner stand out. I have no idea how this season's going to play out but I am hopeful and confident.

Something else is already different about this season for me: I had some ankle pain earlier this week, which I normally don't get until the end of the season. I'm OK with the pain. That's the nature of our profession. I have so many aches and pains in my lower back, rotator cuff, arthritic joints — everything. I usually go to the doctor when I don't know what causes the pain, so I went on Wednesday. We'll wait for the X-ray, but I'm pretty positive that it's nothing dramatic. I'm sure it's just because I'm 32 and I've been hopping around for 28 years! Something funny happened while I was there though. The nurse tried to take my blood pressure and couldn't find my pulse! She was like, "Are you dead?" I was like, "Uh, well, I'm sitting right here, so no." She had to switch arms, so maybe I'm half-dead?

Everything else is going very well. I've just signed another deal with Propel Water and I'm looking forward to working with them. They're a great team and I'm proud to be part of it. We are opening a new Dance With Me studio in Stamford, Connecticut. It's going to be our biggest studio yet! I'll keep every posted. You can find the address and contact information on dancewithmeusa.com.  We'll make a big announcement about the opening soon!

That's all for now! Thanks for reading and for your votes!

Maks