"Her whole energy, her spirit is infectious," the Dancing with the Stars judge tells PEOPLE

By Michele Corriston
Updated September 21, 2015 04:00 PM
Credit: Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic;Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Dancing with the Stars judge Julianne Hough is already impressed by the moves season 21’s cast is bringing to the ballroom.

PEOPLE caught up with the bride-to-be at the Hallmark Signature Pop-Up Shop at New York Fashion Week on Wednesday, and she named terror train hero Alek Skarlatos and teen conservationist Bindi Irwin (who’s partnered with her brother, Derek) as two celebrities she’s excited to see more from.

“I was shocked with Alek, I think he was even shocked by his ability, too!” said Hough, 27. “I don’t think anybody had any idea what to expect from him, and he was really graceful. He’s really charming, and I said it when I was judging him the other night, but I feel like he is the everyman, the everywoman, America’s representative. And then Bindi was fantastic, her whole energy, her spirit is infectious.”

The Emmy-winning choreographer is also inspired by Bindi’s conduct outside competition.

“I just feel like she’s a really great role model for young girls because she looks like she is so comfortable in her own skin, where therefore makes everybody else feel comfortable in their skin,” Hough said. “So I just think she’s a great person to be on the show, to represent that she’s 17 and she likes herself, you know? It’s pretty awesome.”

Dancing with the Stars airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET and Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.