The Dancing with the Stars pro dancer was nominated for an outstanding choreography Emmy earlier this month

By Aurelie Corinthios
July 31, 2015 01:00 PM
Alberto Vargas

She’s gotten used to working with celebrities on Dancing with the Stars, but for Witney Carson, being nominated for an Emmy Award was wonderfully “surreal.”

“It’s a huge honor,” the DWTS Dancing Pro tells PEOPLE of her July 16 nomination for outstanding choreography. “You know, I idolized these people [like Julianne Hough and Derek Hough] when I was little, so to be alongside them with this Emmy nomination is incredible.”

Carson, 21, was nominated for her routines 369, It’s Not Unusual and Sing with a Swing-Apache, which she performed on season 19 of the show with her celebrity partner, former Fresh Prince of Bel Air star Alfonso Ribeiro.

“He’s kind of like my big, wise older brother,” says Carson of her relationship with Ribeiro. “He knew how to take material and really study it so he could be better and I think that’s what got us so far – his work ethic and his positivity.”

Carson and Ribeiro’s connection, which Carson calls “amazing,” helped earn them the winning title that season.

Chris Soules and Witney Carson
Courtesy Chris Soules

On the following and most recent season, Carson was partnered with The Bachelor‘s former leading man Chris Soules, 33.

“I think a lot of people see him as the Bachelor, very handsome, very put together. Like you know, the gentleman – which he is, he’s a big gentleman,” says Carson of Soules. “But he’s also a big goofball, he just likes to joke a ton. In rehearsals, I remember he worked really hard but it was a lot of laughing, just a lot of fun – he’s a huge goofball and super weird and I love that.”

Soules got engaged to his final pick Whitney Bischoff in his barn in Arlington, Iowa, on the most recent season of The Bachelor, but the two announced their decision to split in May after six months together.

“[Chris and I] grew a really great friendship on the show so we definitely do stay in touch,” says Carson, who says he “touched base a little bit” with her regarding the split.

Of how the reality star is doing post-breakup, she added: “I know that he’s doing well.”

As for Carson, she’s currently traveling the nation with the Dancing with the Stars Live Tour and is set to return for season 21 of DWTS, which premieres on Sept. 14.

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While she couldn’t give too many details about the upcoming season, she’s looking forward to working with whatever celebrity partner she will be paired with.

“Even if you’re nervous – even if you’re beside yourself, you have to get it together because you are in charge of that person that you trained with the whole week, and you have be kind of like their rock,” says Carson of working with stars on the show.

“I think that’s the most rewarding part: getting to see them grow every single week as a dancer and a person,” she adds. “You know, you were a part of that and that’s something that will be really special between the two of you.”