Olympian Laurie Hernandez and her pro partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, are blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about their quest to take home the Dancing With the Stars Season 23 Mirrorball Trophy! Check back each week for their latest update on the competition.
So far I’m doing really well! Dancing is so much fun. I’m getting a lot of blisters from wearing heels, but that’s OK! I have worn heels more in the past two weeks than I have in my whole life combined! Today I was walking around in rehearsal and one of the producers was joking with me and said, “You’re really working those heels today!” So I think I must be getting a lot more comfortable in them!
Even though I’m a gymnast, I’ve always loved dancing. People have always asked me why my favorite event was floor, and my answer was always, “Because I love to dance!” So being able to come on the show is just awesome. I remember coming home from practice and watching DWTS with my family and my dad would jokingly say, “You’re going to be on there one day!”
And then mid-workout at the Olympics, I was told, “You’re going to go on DWTS!” I was freaking out! I was like, “This is insane!” Of course I immediately called my parents and told my dad he was right! My teammates are so psyched for me too. They are going to try to come out for a show but even if they can’t, I know they’ll be home watching and they better be voting for me!
When I first met Val I was so excited when I realized I’d be dancing with him! The first thing I thought was, “Oh man, this is going to be a good season!” I’ve watched him on the show, so I’ve seen how he moves and how passionate he is about dancing. He’s been really nice to me! I think there was only ONE time when he wanted to kill me so far! Just kidding! Even when I kept messing up the footwork, he’s been pretty patient with me.
We have so much fun, we’re always joking around and finding stupid stuff to do before or after rehearsals. My biggest challenge is that in gymnastics, you dance solo, whereas with this, you’re dancing with a partner and I need to be mindful that he’s right behind me all the time! I’m constantly stepping on his toes – but I’m working on it!
I don’t know if you’ve seen it on our social media, but we’re calling ourselves Team Valaur. We asked our Instagram followers what our name should be — some people were suggesting Team Lava which I thought was pretty cool, but then we saw “Team Valaur” and we thought, “Well that’s a pretty sick name!” Valor means “courage in battle” and being in competition, that’s a pretty awesome definition. It ALSO has something to do with Pokémon, but stay tuned —I can’t tell you any more than that right now!
My schedule has gotten really hectic ever since I started dancing. I haven’t begun my school year yet because I’m home schooled, but for instance, yesterday I had a morning dance rehearsal with Val, then I ate lunch, then I had an afternoon workout to rehearse for the Kellogg’s tour, and then I had a small break where I got to relax for about 10 minutes, and then I had to do an interview, and then I had a workout until about 10 p.m. And then it starts all over again today! It’s crazy. Some of my friends are like, “I never hear from you anymore!” and I’m like, “Guys, I don’t have time to be on my phone anymore!”
So Monday will be my first time dancing on live TV, and we’re dancing the Cha-Cha! I think we already have it all down. I’m so excited! I can’t say too much about it but I can tell you I’m wearing silver so that will be really cool! Dancing is different than gymnastics, but it’s a good different and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to try. I’m not too nervous, I’m more excited to just show everyone my personality out on the dance floor. All the support we have gotten from everyone is just awesome! We are excited that they like what they see — and we haven’t even started dancing yet! Wish us luck!
Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday, September 12, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.
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