Dancing with the Stars - Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone,

The big day is almost here! I've been in L.A. for a week and I'm so excited to be back. It's funny because I stay away from L.A. during the off-season so that when I do come back I don't feel like I'm forced to be here. I've realized I've accumulated a whole new circle of friends here and it's refreshing not to come back to a strange place. But it turns into me needing 48 hours in a day to do everything. And obviously Erin and I have to practice!

I'm kind of taking a different approach this season. For example, we have our second dance, but I'm not even going to touch the whole routine yet. Usually by now we would have the two dances all worked out. We did the basics of the foxtrot, but not the routine, and I just said, "Let's just focus on the cha-cha now." Maybe it's a bit of a risk, maybe not. We'll see. I feel like it's very overwhelming for celebrities, and I want her to get the nervousness and frustration out on the first dance.

Erin's had a whirlwind of a week, as I'm sure you've heard. I applaud her togetherness. She's really held herself together great. She's never complained to me, did everything she was supposed to do. I'm trying to help her as much as I can because of what she's going through. She has a lot of strength. I think she represents a lot of women who've been in certain situations in life. She is something of an example. Now the subject is done. At Erin's request, we're done talking about it. But when we do interviews and the subject comes up, I try to step in as comic relief and divert the conservation elsewhere, like, "Look at me! I'm a clown!"

Our cha-cha is as good as it can be right now. We just run it over and over. Erin has moments where it looks like a cha-cha that I would compete with someone professionally. Then there are moments where she gets really, really nervous. I'm not going to lie or hide this. Yes, she's nervous. Who isn't? Having said that, all the imperfections are probably going to stay, but we're going to come out and have fun. Whether it's fun as soon as it's finished or fun during, we don't know, but I'm looking forward to getting it out of the way and moving on with the competition.

There's a smaller cast this season and we only had three weeks in the beginning versus five weeks. Quite honestly, I like it. It keeps the show what it is. We're throwing our partners into this completely different world. Five weeks was a lot. With Debi, at the end, I had no idea what to do. In reality, we don't teach dance. We teach Dancing with the Stars. In real life, I would never compress a year's worth of information into two weeks. There are rules to teaching. It's exactly like high school. You go through 12 years of high school, not three. Three weeks suits what the idea of the show is. The only problem for me this season is that this the first time I've had a celebrity partner I've had to travel with. We lost a week in the travel. On paper, it's simple: You fly here, do this, rehearse here, fly here. But you take Delta into consideration, then you're sitting in the airport for seven hours! The last thing you want to do is go cha-cha. She covers games and works a lot, and some of the places weren't really accommodating. It was really difficult. Again, with stuff she has going on in her life, where we are is great. I can't wait for everything slowing down when the show starts. Isn't it funny I'm waiting for the show to start for our schedule to slow down?

Erin cleared her schedule to do the show, so I'm looking forward to settling into a weekly routine. We have an amazing time together, just chilling. We fight, but it's much different, more like Mel and me. I've had amazing partners, who I'm very close with still and it's not to take away from anyone else (sorry, Debi, if you're reading this. I'm not saying we didn't have fun because we did!) — but Erin and I have a blast. I find myself not having to find certain words or ways to express myself. I can just talk. She's real with me and I'm real with her. I don't have to figure anything out. "Hey, she's weird, she's difficult, she's complicated." We all are! But we're dealing with each other's weirdness, difficulties and complications very well. Our arguments are like "loud noises, loud noises" and then "You're a dork!" "No, you're a dork!" And then we laugh! The producers are like, "Uh, this is weird." Our fights end in laughter and they're so confused!

There's a new addition to the set. It's going to be really, really cool. Our executive producer talked to us about it and you just see everybody's eyes light up, like "Oh my God! This is going to be so much fun!" It's going to be a lot of fun to see what it brings to the show. Now that I'm back in L.A., I can sense the positive energy on set. A lot of people are stressing out and there is tension, but it's a positive tension. It's like the storm is coming and everyone wants to run out and get wet, not go somewhere and hide. There's no drama. There's no awkwardness. It's what I signed up to be on originally. When I got on, it was so fresh and exciting, and there's an element of excitement back now.

This week flew by in three hours, so I, unfortunately, didn't have time to discuss flying Sleep out right now. Val is coming out Week 3 to participate in a pro number. Actually, my whole family and my (dance) kids will be out soon. The U.S. nationals are in L.A. this year, so our dancers will fly out. My dad's 50th birthday is April 4, so my family is coming to celebrate. Yes, my dad is that young! A lot of people think he's our brother. If I don't shave, I look older than him! Back home, Dance with Me SoHo is thriving! ABC came to do a piece on it. The Rising Star, which is the first studio I opened with my dad when I was a teenager, will be my baby forever, but I'm so thrilled with our SoHo studio. It's such an amazing environment and it's doing so well. We're getting a lot of press for it, but I want to make sure it's not turning into an advertisement! We're there to promote dance, and mental, physical and emotional well-being. We're dancing around all the little curveballs in life. At the risk of jinxing it, it's a really exciting time in my life right now.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!