Patrick Gomez
November 07, 2016 05:06 PM


Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy is chronicling his season 23 experience exclusively for PEOPLE. Follow Chmerkovskiy, 30, and his partner, Olympian Laurie Hernandez, 16, on Twitter!

Getting emotional isn’t an every day occurrence for Val Chmerkovskiy.

“Shedding some tears, that was a different light,” the pro dancer says in his PEOPLE vlog of gushing about Laurie Hernandez on last week’s Dancing with the Stars.

But “all jokes aside,” Chmerkovskiy thinks “it was a beautiful moment … I feel like she finally graduated into this wonderful world of dance.”

Tonight is Showstopper Week on the ABC reality dance competition and Chmerkovskiy and Hernandez have prepared two dances, including a “dual dance” with country star Jana Kramer and her partner Gleb Savchenko.

But with Gleb injured, “this week was especially difficult,” says Chmerkovskiy, who adds that troupe member Alan Bersten was a “wonderful” substitute.

Craig Sjodin
Craig Sjodin

For their second dance, Chmerkovskiy and Hernandez will perform an Argentine tango.

“Argentine tango is a very sexy dance and it’s very, I think, outside of Laurie’s comfort zone,” Chmerkovskiy says of his 16-year-old partner. “And, for me, that makes me really excited. I think it’s really important to challenge her and I’ve done so all season and to see her yet in another light this week is exciting because I think she has it in her.”

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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