PEOPLE is celebrating the Sept. 18 premiere of Dancing with the Stars‘ 25th season with 25 days of exclusive interviews, fun retrospectives, and new details about what fans can expect from the milestone season.
Gleb Savchenko is just weeks away from taking to the Dancing with the Stars ballroom floor with his new partner — but there isn’t a lot he can say about who that will be.
“I can’t tell you who my partner is yet!” the pro dancer, 33, tells PEOPLE. “She’s very easy-going and so fun. That’s all I’m going to say!”
But there is a lot Savchenko is able to say about returning for his fourth season of the ABC dance competition.
As he gears up for the Sept. 18 premiere, the pro opens up about welcoming a second daughter with wife Elena Samodanova earlier this month, how Samodanova serves as his muse and what he thinks about his competition for season 25.
PEOPLE’s special issue 25 Seasons of ‘Dancing with The Stars’ is out Sept. 15.
How have rehearsals been going so far?
It’s very important that you listen to your partner and try to create routines that let her shine. The beginning of the season is all about listening and learning about them and their strengths. As long as they are emotionally open to trying things and telling their story, then choreographing is very easy. There are fun dances, emotional dances and dramatic dances, so it’s different every week, and I enjoy pushing myself to my limits and trying new things.
Two seasons ago, you were temporarily sidelined by a knee injury. How are you taking care of yourself so that doesn’t happen again?
You have to pace yourself. As the competition progresses, it gets tougher and tougher. You’re all of a sudden doing three dances or more in a week. That’s pushing yourself to the limit. So you try and take it easier in the beginning and make sure you’re teaching your partner correct technique and taking breaks so that neither of you gets hurt.
You became a dad for the second time on Aug. 1. Are you exhausted?
When they tell you your second kid isn’t as life changing as having your first kid, that’s absolutely not true. It’s been absolutely life-changing. It’s a new life and it’s amazing. All my girls are doing amazing, and I love them so much. I was on tour with DWTS, but I was able to fly back to them and spend time with them, and now I’m back in L.A. getting ready for the show, but they’re going to be coming here soon. I’m looking forward to being a father to these two cutest little girls. It’s great that [older daughter Olivia, 6] can help, too. She can kind of babysit and watch her if we need to do something for a second. It’s great. The house is full of toys. It’s just awesome.
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Your wife has served as a choreographer on the Indian version of DWTS, a pro on the Australian version and a judge on the Russian version of the show. Does it help to have such a talented dancer at home when you’re choreographing?
She’s such an amazing dancer and she’s always excited to give me feedback. If I’m stuck or just want some help, she’s always offering to get into the studio with me and start moving around. Working with her on choreography always makes it go easier, and she has helped me create some of my favorite dances.
Do you think it will be a competitive season?
I know pretty much everyone in the cast now, and I think it’s a really strong season. We’ve got some amazing dancers back – like Mark [Ballas] – but also some really athletic-looking stars. I’ve been seeing them moving at rehearsals, and there’s a lot of people who seem like naturals already. It’s going to be a really competitive season. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Season 25 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Sept. 18 on ABC.