Val Chmerkovskiy on ‘DWTS’ Partner Victoria Arlen: There Are ‘No Pity Parties’

Val Chmerkovskiy and Victoria Arlen Dancing With The Stars
‘Dancing With the Stars’ partners Val Chmerkovskiy and Victoria Arlen Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

She’s up for the challenge! Val Chmerkovskiy‘s season 25 Dancing With the Stars partner, Victoria Arlen, developed two rare medical conditions as a child and eventually had to re-learn basic skills, including speaking and walking. Now, she’s ready to defy the odds and tackle the ballroom.

“I never really sought out to be an inspiration,” the former Paralympian swimmer, 22, exclusively told Us Weekly at Planet Hollywood in New York City on September 6. “To go from not walking to dancing in a matter of two years, it’s pretty crazy. I think walking is a little easier than ballroom dancing … but I’m really grateful and blessed to be working with Val.”

However, Chmerkovskiy, 31, is already showing his partner some tough love. “There [are] no pity parties,” he told Us. “It’s hard work and you gotta earn your celebration and earn your rest and your sleep. I just know she’s that type of person and wants it anyway, so I’m going to squeeze every ounce of her potential out of her. Then I can live with the results.”

Though the season hasn’t even begun yet, rehearsals have already proven to be somewhat difficult. “It’s been challenging,” Arlen admitted. “I think anyone that goes in and says it’s easy hasn’t really dove into it. It’s really challenging, but I like a good challenge and I have a really good teacher.”

By competing on the ABC reality series, the ESPN personality hopes to inspire viewers battling their own personal struggles. “I think there are a lot of people out there that need a little hope and if I can be just a small vessel of that then I’ve done my job,” she told Us.

The Ukranian pro dancer added, “Everyone falls down, but you have to stand up and keep going.”

Dancing With the Stars season 25 premieres on ABC on Monday, September 18, at 8 p.m. ET.

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