Xochitl Gomez and professional dancer Val Chmerkovskiy are partners on season 32 of Dancing with the Stars. You can watch new episodes live on Tuesdays at 8 PM ET on ABC as well as Disney+, and stream on Hulu.
Over Zoom, I spoke with the pair about their Halloween marathon win, the difference between blocking and performing live, building trust, and more. Keep reading for everything they shared!
Last week, you two killed it for Monster Night, so I want to talk about those dances. I mean, not only did you get such a good score on your Contemporary, but then you won the marathon.
Xochitl Gomez: It was really fun. It was so funny because for the dance marathon, we had already kind of — not rehearsed it, but you have to kind of go through it so that you know what to do and what those vibes are gonna be like, so it was kind of like rehearsals and stuff and it was in chronological order because obviously, they don’t want it to seem favorited or whatever. So, yeah, in rehearsals, because it was alphabetical order, my name is at the very end, so I had to do it for four minutes and then we had the show and so I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so tired, that contemporary had me dead,” and I was like, so ready to be tapped out. Then I hear Val and he was like, “Smile! Keep going, smile,” and we just kept going.
Val Chmerkovskiy: Just words of encouragement.
Gomez: Words of encouragement at a level 10. And so, I mean, it was crazy because it’s like four whole minutes is a long freaking time and when you’re tired, it feels like eight minutes. It actually went by really fast and so, by the time it was at the end, I was just like, “Wow, we made it to Charleston, we’re here,” and then I was like, “Wait, we’re the last ones here. We’re the last ones here!” It was pretty fun.
Chmerkovskiy: Yeah, that was a really good moment.
Gomez: And it was also Val’s first time actually winning.
Chmerkovskiy: Yeah, out of all the marathons that I’ve done. So, it was cool.
Really? So how did that feel for you, Val?
Chmerkovskiy: I mean, overdue. It felt great. It was fun to last that long. You know, like I said, I love dance. I love performance. I did things, by the way, spontaneously. I did three splits I haven’t done in seven years, I’m like thinking about why my hamstrings are so tight. I love the spontaneity of the moment because it’s also a live show. It’s not just for cameras and there’s a lot of things that didn’t show up even in the cuts.
Gomez: Although, your splits did!
Chmerkovskiy: I don’t know if you noticed, but I had a jacket on in the Hustle and then no jacket in the Charleston, something happened there.
Gomez: But it’s not like you had a bare chest.
Chmerkovskiy: No, but I chucked my jacket at somebody.
Gomez: You did, someone definitely had that and that thing was drenched. It was drenched, you already know.
Chmerkovskiy: That spontaneity is something that I really like.
You really are the perfect partners and I’m curious, was there a moment where you felt your trust for each other build? It’s one thing to rehearse, but to be on that dance floor and perform live together has to be a very vulnerable thing and there must be a lot of trust there.
Chmerkovskiy: Yeah, it’s a terrifying moment and I’ve done like 18 seasons now.
Gomez: Why are you so terrified?
Chmerkovskiy: Because the stakes are high, you work so hard and you get a sprint to prove this week-long process. That’s a lot of work. You have one time for one minute.
Gomez: That’s so funny because actually, it’s so much easier for me to do it live than in the blocking.
Chmerkovskiy: But that’s the thing, I mean, when I say petrifying…
Gomez: No, the blocking, I’m sitting there biting my nails. I’m like, “Oh my God. Oh my God,” and then live, I’m like, “We did it at the blocking, we good.”
Chmerkovskiy: Well, that’s you, girl. And that’s the whole trust thing. There was a week that, like I said, I was nervous as usual and I just saw her lock-in, you know, it felt solid, she was composed. I think it was the Pasodoble and I was so hectic, the speed of it was really… and she just locked in, it wasn’t hectic, it was awesome. I just saw her rise to the occasion and I found a lot of confidence in that because again, most of my fear is because I’m nervous for you. I know what I’m doing.
Gomez: Until you missed…
Chmerkovskiy: Yeah, that was one time because I was nervous like, is she gonna hit– oh, she hit it.
Gomez: That was like, I think, the one move that I did not miss ever and you were freaking out about that one.
Chmerkovskiy: Next question.
Next question, Xochitl, what is one dance of Val’s that you were impressed by, or included moves that intimidated you or blew you away?
Gomez: I think I’d like to say the one that impacted me the most was Val and Kelly’s Surfer Flamenco. That thing had a lot of interesting aspects to it that I think about daily, almost hourly sometimes. Gotta say that one really just…
Chmerkovskiy: Memorable, I guess.
Gomez: Very, very memorable. I think everyone would remember that one. The other one that I also think about a lot is his and Laurie’s Viennese waltz, the one with kind of Alice in Wonderland. That one’s really pretty. I mean, Val has some really pretty ones but then there’s ones that are just like, “Val, you did that on TV live,” I guess you did really say, in the moment.
Chmerkovskiy: In the moment, yeah. Very few of that was planned.
Chmerkovskiy: What’s funny about that is in the off-season before that season, I was at a pool function, being obnoxious as usual, and I was like, “I’m gonna wear a Speedo and make everyone uncomfortable.” And so, I was the only one in the Speedo while everyone was in traditional shorts, whatever. It was like a brunch in the Hamptons. I actually found a lot of strength in that moment and I was like, “I could really pull off a Speedo.” Fast forward to week nine of that season, I was like, “This is perfect, perfect opportunity for you to do it now in front of millions of people and make millions of people uncomfortable.”
Gomez: I think you successfully did that.
Lastly, Val, which dance are you most excited to see Xochitl tackle?
Chmerkovskiy: The next one and after that one, the next one, you know? For me, every single one is something that I look forward to, every single week.
Well, like I said, you guys killed it with Contemporary.
Gomez: It was lovely seeing him struggle.
Chmerkovskiy: I couldn’t wait to put, at least, my socks back on.
To vote for Xochitl and Val, you can text XOCHITL to 21523 or vote online here, ten times each. Voting opens at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET.