When the world learned that the Nickelodeon star Zendaya from “Shake It Up” will be partnered with Val Chmerkovskiy on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” we had simple thought:
But you know what’s cooler?
We got to dance with him one week ago!
On Feb. 18, as part of National Entrepreneurship Week, three Live! Starring … You! reporters got the chance to dance with Val at his New York City studio, Dance With Me. The event, which also included an interview with Val’s DWTS co-stars and studio co-owners, Maks Chmerkovskiy and Tony Dovolani, was to celebrate Dance With Me’s inclusion on the National Honor Roll of American Entrepreneurs. (Two years ago, LSY! founder Tim O’Shei was also named to the national honor roll.)
Check back soon for more of our interviews with Tony, Maks, Val and their fellow owners Jhanna Volynets and Sasha Chmerkovskiy. And in the meantime, here’s an up-close look at the experience of dancing with Val, courtesy of Bryanna Gwitt, Francesca Harvey and Narmeen Karzoun:
Narmeen: As I moved toward the center of the dance floor, knots formed in the pit of my stomach. I was suddenly very aware of having two left feet and lacking the ability to move them in a coordinated manner. I could hardly walk on a daily basis, let alone ballroom dance. What if I tripped and made a fool out of myself? What would Val think?
Bryanna: Val took off his jacket and said, “Today, we are going to learn to salsa!” At first, I was excited, like, “Oh my God, I’m going to be doing the salsa with Val!” But then my next thought was, “What if I hurt him? I’m so clumsy!”
Francesca: Dancing with Val is … quite the beautiful experience, let me tell you. Basically, I couldn’t breathe.
Narmeen: Maybe it was his neatly slicked-back hair or the way he made suspenders look incredibly stylish or quite possibly the smoldering smirk he shot Bryanna, Francesca, and I every so often making our cheeks fluster a bright red.
Francesca: Every time he looked at me I died just a little bit. Val showed us a few simple steps at first and how to shake our hips.
Narmeen: His hips moved effortlessly as he swayed backward and then forward shifting from his right leg to his left. Val did this several times before turning to face us to see if we had the steps down. I, of course, was stumbling over my feet, but making a huge effort to look as though I knew what I was doing.
Bryanna: After he taught us the first couple of steps, he grabbed Francesca’s hand and started dancing with her. Since she was right next to me I knew I was next.
Francesca: I am a cheerleader, not a dancer so trying to learn ballroom was not the easiest task. However, with Val as my partner it did not matter.
Bryanna: When he grabbed my hand he could tell I was nervous because my entire upper body tensed up. He called me out on being tense and tried to get me to relax.
Narmeen: It was as though I was back in middle school and my longtime crush was finally paying attention to me. I needed more than a few minutes to calm down the giddy 13-year-old inside my 21-year-old adult’s body.
Bryanna: When he spun me out and pulled me back in I accidentally elbowed him…I felt TERRIBLE! I stopped. He laughed at me, pointed to his arm muscle and said, “I think I will be OK. Don’t you?” Before I could even think about what I was doing, I touched his muscle! How embarrassing is that?
Narmeen: He danced as if it were second nature to breathing. It made me incredibly grateful to experience someone else’s passion.
Francesca: When we left the studio, I screamed in delight. As we were trying to hail a cab and leave, Val came around the block, went out into the street, and got us a cab. He thanked us again and said goodbye. What a gentleman. Best day ever. Ladies, this is the kind of man WE ALL NEED.
Francesca Harvey is LSY!’s editor and is part of our program at Mount St. Mary Academy. Bryanna Gwitt and Narmeen Karzoun are both communications students at SUNY Buffalo State.
* Also check out DWTS’ Tony, Maks & Val: They can dance, you can’t breathe!