“Dancing With the Stars” Season 20 ended in pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy’s first mirrorball win – with celebrity partner Rumer Willis – and after hearing judge Carrie Ann Inaba suggest on Monday night she saw a similar chemistry in how he’s working with “Bachelorette” Gabby Windey, the ballroom star couldn’t help but reflect on the comparison.
“That’s a huge compliment,” Chmerkovskiy told reporters over Zoom. “I think Rumer is an amazing artist. She had the right attitude when she entered the competition. We had great chemistry because of that, because she wanted to be a student of dance; she loved dance; she loved this experience. And I gravitate to that. You know, that’s really where a lot of my chemistry comes from – my camaraderie with my partners comes from their dedication to this process. And there are similarities because Gabby is that dedicated, and I hope, you know, Rumer’s season turned out to be a very fruitful one, a very successful one. So, I hope Gabby and I could have our own season that we can celebrate years down the road.”
On Monday night’s show Windey and Chmerkovskiy performed a Viennese waltz, earning 32 out of a possible 40 points, landing them at the top of the leaderboard in a three-way tie with Charli D’Amelio and pro Mark Ballas, and Wayne Brady and his pro, Witney Carson.
“I think we both worked our asses off, mostly me, this last week and just like getting the basics of ballroom and stuff. So that validation felt great,” Windey said during the same interview. “And I feel like it’s given me more encouragement for the future.”
At the end of their routine, Windey shared a smooch with her new fiance, Erich Schwer, who was in the audience. Finally being out as a couple now that they no longer have to keep their romance a secret with “The Bachelorette” having just wrapped up, made it extra special.
“Oh, my gosh, having him here was amazing,” Windey said. “Just like me being excited to perform for him and him to see a different side of me that we don’t get to share with each other every day. And then this last week has been, honestly, like a dream come true. I feel like I’m on cloud nine.”
Next week the pair will tackle the cha cha during James Bond-themed week.
“I’m excited to show a different side of Gabby as well. The cha cha is a little bit sexier, a little bit more fierce. You know, we show the beautiful side, the romantic side, now we can get into the competition,” Chmerkovskiy said.
“DWTS” streams live Monday nights starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Disney+.