Valentin Chmerkovskiy is best known to fans of Dancing With the Stars as the pro who brought home last year’s mirror ball trophy with celebrity partner Rumer Willis. Some might still refer to him as Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s brother, since Maks’ abrasive and outspoken personality was a feature of DWTS for such a long time.
But last week, the editors at Glamour discovered that Val has interests that go way outside of dancing, perhaps even to online publishing. At least, that’s the impression Chmerkovskiy gave Glamour blogger Jessica Radloff when he dropped by their New York offices in early September.
“He came away wanting to know more about the magazine and digital business. From writing articles to editing, the dashing Russian was interested in what goes on behind the scenes (ironic, considering we’re always wanting to know what goes on behind the scenes at his work place!).”
That’s when the lightbulb went off at Glamour to give Val some digital ink space to discuss his Dancing With the Stars experience. It’s not Val’s first time blogging — he wrote for Today about competing with math whiz and actor Danica McKellar back in 2014 — but he nonetheless showed a bit of a different side of himself by revealing what his past partners have taught him.
First up — who remembers Kelly Monaco? She was the first winner of Dancing With the Stars. She was also Val’s first DWTS partner during the 2012 all-stars season. They hit the ballroom again in a “steamy” performance (in the words of People) during the 10th anniversary special this past April. Kelly and Val started in full costume, but soon stripped down to their underwear.
From Monaco, Val learned to “always know [his] audience,” which proved invaluable because he was, at the time, new to the spotlight of television.
Val had high praise for Zendaya Coleman, whom he said was an outstanding dance student. The star was then only 16-years-old.
“Her talent and work ethic really inspired me to be the best teacher and choreographer I can be.”
Comedian and former co-host of The View, Sherri Shepherd, taught Chmerkovskiy about overcoming adversity. Making it is always possible, “if you have faith in yourself and your abilities.”
Val said McKellar taught him Math — no really! He also complimented her ability to transcend the “child star” label and find success in other areas of life.
Chmerkovskiy seemed to save his most moving words for Willis, who had to overcome the difficulties of living in the shadow of very famous parents — Demi Moore and Bruce Willis.
“A caring, beautiful soul, Rumer taught me how to love people when you have a million reasons not to.”
This season, Val Chmerkovskiy is paired with singer Tamar Braxton. He revealed in a Glamour interview with Radloff in June that he would be returning for the next season, which is currently underway, because he wanted to, and not because of a contractual obligation. So far, Tamar and Val have done well overall, with some disappointing performances.
Val told People last week that Tamar was upset about the most recent pre-performance package where the singer was shown saying she’s the best dancer in the competition. Val stepped up to defend his partner.
“Everybody is asked to say something in a friendly way [about being competitive] but, like I said, all that banter out of context is going to look extremely rude and a bit vain. And given her nature in general, it can really come off as negative. That’s what she’s upset about.”
Tamar Braxton and Valentin Chmerkovskiy will be back competing on Monday night at 8 p.m. on Dancing With the Stars.
[Main photo Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment]