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'Dancing With the Stars' pro Val: I'm toning down the sexiness this season

Steffen Thalemann

"Dancing With the Stars" pro Val Chmerkovskiy.

"Dancing With the Stars" pro Val Chmerkovskiy will be blogging about his experiences and thoughts on his fourth quest for the mirror ball trophy in The Clicker throughout the season. The 14-time US champion in dance is paired with 16-year-old Disney star Zendaya, who plays Rocky Blue on "Shake It Up!"

First of all I want to say thank you to “Dancing With the Stars” for asking me back. I’m very honored. I treat my role on the show with a great sense of responsibility, not only to production and the network, but also to my partner and most importantly, to my fans that support me. The last three seasons you have seen me blossom into the performer and dancer that I am today. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I have been given.

Having said that, I’m very excited for this new season to start. I feel like I’ve been dealt a pretty good set of cards. Zendaya is an incredible talent, along with her already successful career. Being only 16, I think she has incredible potential, and I’m really looking forward to having that potential develop further on "Dancing With the Stars."

I met Zendaya for the first time on Feb. 24. This was a very brief on-camera meeting – it was a chance for us to get to know each other a bit. It’s premature for me to tell you much about Zendaya’s dance ability, but based on her "Shake It Up!" background, I think she has dance ability and I look forward to our first official practice.

But this show is "Dancing With the Stars" -- in particular the foundation of the show is ballroom dancing. Even though it goes in a few different directions, I think the core of the show still remains the same, that is, the authenticity and the charm of what ballroom dancing is. Historical and modern-day ballroom dancing is about a man and a woman dancing beautifully together. That leads me to the next challenge: I’m a 26-year-old man, and Zendaya is a 16-year-old young lady. It’s a vast contrast between my experience on the show last season!

I will most definitely do things differently. Zendaya and I have contemporary as our first dance. And it’s so funny because her mom came in after our meeting the next day and she said, “Hey, you know, I looked you up on YouTube and wanted to get a better idea of what a contemporary dance was all about, so I looked up the contemporary from last season. And yeah, it’s uh ... very interesting!” And I was like, “Yeah, you know, last time I did contemporary, half the nation got pregnant!” So I’m probably going to tone it down with Zendaya and take a different route! Less about passion and more about inspiration!

I’ve been teaching since I was 15 years old and have been educating and instructing kids for very long time now. This is familiar territory for me. The challenge is I’ve never had to perform with somebody of such a young age. As a teacher, I know I will have absolutely zero problems teaching Zendaya how to dance. But the performing, that’s where the challenge is going to be. This partner is a bit different than last season’s, and we’re going to have to come up with certain strategies where the product doesn’t look “off.” It needs to look natural and, at the same time, still be very much appealing and of course, delivered with taste. That’s the exciting part about the show. It’s about really being open-minded to do the different challenges that it throws your way.

My focus right now is to make sure Zendaya lives up to her incredible potential. Not only surpasses the great, great, great expectations that I think the audience has for her, but also that she reinvents herself a little bit and she walks away from this project -- forget the mirror ball trophy -- but that she walks away from this project not only proud of herself, but also feeling like she has made a great deal of accomplishment and of course has an amazing time.

"Dancing With the Stars" premieres March 18 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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