Maksim Chmerkovskiy Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone!

Hope you're all well and safe and sound, especially if you're on the East Coast. My and Kirstie's thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

It's been a very hectic few weeks and we're glad we don't have a Tuesday show this week. (I hope you all voted, by the way!) We decided to just take the day off completely. We didn't have rehearsals or anything. It's gotten to the point where last week was so draining physically and mentally for Kirstie that she could barely stand. We've  never taken a day off, so it's good to let her have a chance to rest.

A lot of people have been saying to us, "Well, she's already done the show. She knows what to expect. How can she be so exhausted?" Yes, she's already done it, but this season isn't a direct replica of Season 12. None of us has any idea what the show is going to throw at us each day, let alone each week. When you don't know what's coming, everything's a surprise and you get more anxious and stressed. It's human nature. Suppose someone said, "Drop and give me pushups." You're going to keep going until they tell you to stop, but you don't know when they're going to tell you to stop. Psychologically, it's a lot easier to be told to do 50 pushups and be done with it. Kirstie knows about the group dances, the trio, the marathon and everything, but she doesn't have the schedule in front of her for the season. We get told each week what's happening the next and it's overwhelming. She's a trooper. I want her to hold on and keep doing her thing. I think the "incidents," as Len called them, during our fusion routine took a mental toll on her. She put a lot of effort into learning the dance and the one time she messed up her count was on show night, and it was a big blow to her. Her feeling backstage was, "What the hell is the point? I'm putting so much effort into rehearsing and I just messed it up." I feel really bad and there's nothing more I can ask of her. I want her to realize that there are only a couple weeks left. One thing I can promise is that she's not giving up. She's doing more than she should. She's doing more than she can. The end result, whether we win or lose, will be a tribute to her resilience.

The thing that kills me the most is that I can't help her learn to dance the way she wants to and the way you probably normally would in real life. If I were to tailor a program to her, it would be longer and more in-depth. She's not the type of person who's like, "Tell me the steps and I'll do them." She's a cerebral person, an educated actress and woman. She knows her craft and she approaches everything the same way, including dancing. She needs time to learn. It's not that she's not capable of learning; it's that she doesn't have the time. There is no way I can tell her what she wants to learn in order for her to learn it well in four days. I'm trying to make her understand that she's not learning just dancing. The show is basically: "Show me what you're able to learn in four days." If she gets it, I think it will help a lot.

I believe in Kirstie. I don't care about the outcome. I don't care what position we're in right now. She's a person that we need on the show. She brings a great contrast to the show, and I'm not talking about skill level. Everybody left is incredible. I know everyone is predicting Shawn, who continues to make our jaws drop, to win, but I don't think it's a slam dunk. Melissa is fantastic. I'm so happy for her and Tony winning the marathon. Apolo — wow! He is amazing and kills it every week. Kelly is just stupid good. Emmitt's still got it and Gilles is arguably one of the best male celebrity dancers we've ever had. They're all so good that sometimes you can't even differentiate, but the show is not just about dancing, and as you saw in our package, Kirstie has realized that. She knows she belongs here. She brings something to the show — entertainment, inspiration — that cannot be scored. Even in professional dance competitions, it's not always the winners or best dancers who are the most memorable. The paradox of taking your non-dancing friends to a dance competition is that they usually point out the dancers with the most personality who maybe finished in the quarterfinals or semifinals. If you don't know about dancing, most people don't care about technique or turns or extensions. They just want to be entertained. They're looking at it from a different perspective. They don't look at it like a dancer. I didn't understand that for years. That's why you had Maks speaking out about Bristol in Season 11. I know people reading this right now will be like, "He's backpedaling." I'm not. I am making my own discoveries about the show that I probably should've made a long time ago, but better late than never. Same thing with Kirstie — I believe we still have a big breakthrough in us. I believe she can make the final. Everybody is working hard, but I wouldn't count us out.

We have two dances this week: The Viennese waltz and a trio with Tristan. I can't wait to work with Tristan. Just having another person in the room would alleviate the pressure Kirstie. We're good friends with Tristan and we hang out. I made a joke that we picked him because we just want him to be paid, but I was so happy that we got the first pick so we could grab him. We didn't want to throw away the first draft pick, so to speak. Tristan's very positive, very fun, lighthearted and he's a very good dancer, so I'm really looking forward to the trio.

Check out Maks' previous blogs