Mark Ballas, Chaz Bono Mark Ballas, Chaz Bono

As the new season of Dancing With the Stars gets underway, pro Mark Ballas says he's watching the feet of partner Kristin Cavallari — and watching the back of contestant Chaz Bono.

"I've found some of the rough spots and I'm smoothing them out right now," Ballas told TV Guide Magazine at the September 10 Creative Arts Emmys of the potential he sees in Cavallari. "But she's good. I only have to tell her a couple of times before she starts getting the hang of it."

Ballas said he clicked with the notoriously pot-stirring The Hills star right away. "We get along, we have a lot in common, we have similar personalities, we find the same stuff funny, and I think it's going to be really great. We make a good team," he said. "She doesn't say 'I'm tired.' She just keeps going and that's what you need as a choreographer, someone who's willing and just up for it. She's up for it."

Ballas added that along with turning Cavallari into a full-fledged dancer, he hopes the show will reveal a new side of Chaz Bono — the transgender offspring of pop icon Cher and dance partner of Lacey Schwimmer — and defuse the negative backlash the activist has received from some quarters.

"The thing about the show is that we take people on journeys. He's a good person," said Ballas. "It's so wrong of people to accuse and to poke fun and then to be rude about someone that they've never met, that they don't know. I've met Chaz. I've spent hours with Chaz, and he is a lovely guy. I wish him the best of luck — and good for him, getting out there and just doing it. Stick it to the man, my brother. It's all good."

Ballas explained that when controversy arises on DWTS, the cast's first instinct is always to rally around the star at the center of the flack. "We'll defend our own to the death," said Ballas. "It was the same thing when I was with Bristol Palin: I would've stood in front of a bus for that girl. I'm the one in the studio with her for 12 hours. I'm the one who knows what she's really like and she's a wonderful person. And Chaz is a wonderful person. I'm really rooting for him!"