Chmerkovskiy: Working with Davis is a 'blessing''DWTS' veteran praises Olympic gold medalist's tireless work ethic
Monday night's Dancing with the Stars action was intense. Although Meryl Davis and Charlie White wound up on opposite ends of the leaderboard, both delivered breathtaking performances that left the studio audience inspired.
After several frustrating weeks, White and partner Sharna Burgess finally achieved the perfect score they had been hoping for. Their quickstep drew praise and 10s across the board.
In their "dance duel" contemporary routine with Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas, White showed his exceptional partnering skills, doing an extended lift with Cameron Bure with multiple position changes. They received two 9s and two 10s.
Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy performed a dramatic and electric rumba that left the audience breathless, but garnered scores of 9, 9, 8 (from guest judge Abby Lee Miller of Dance Moms) and 10. Their dance duel was a samba alongside Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, which received two 8s and two 9s.
The remarkable performance level is all the more extraordinary given that Davis and White have met all of their obligations to Stars on Ice, carving rehearsal time with Chmerkovskiy and Burgess in addition to skating.
"The amount of physical activity that Meryl has endured has been so overwhelming that it makes anything that I'd say that may sound remotely like a complaint absolutely ridiculous," Chmerkovskiy said. "She has been incredible."
Davis has sustained two dance-related injuries. She hurt her toe while rehearsing for the Argentine tango in week four. That healed, but she hurt another toe before Latin week. Chmerkovskiy said knowing she's in pain is devastating, but he's in awe of her ability to fight through it.
"She doesn't say when something hurts," he noted. "She's the best partner I had. She's one of the best human beings I've ever met. I have absolutely nothing but praise and admiration for her."
Creating pieces to perform with Davis has been a "blessing" to Chmerkovskiy. He says all the pros on the show dream of a perfect partner, and he and Davis are perfectly imperfect. Their height difference is a challenge. The grueling schedule is rough.
"She did this masterpiece -- nothing short of a masterpiece -- this week, and got the low score out of the whole cast," Chmerkovskiy said with reference to their rumba, performed to Emeli Sande's "Read All About It." "That's disheartening.
"All of the little things are very hard," he continued. "The way Meryl overcomes them, not just the way she overcomes them, but the way she makes me overcome them. She's the only person that comes up and in midst of all this…and pats me on my shoulder and says, 'You have to relax. It will be OK.'
"I'm a big, intimidating figure. I can only compare myself to a tiger in a zoo. ... Nobody in their right mind would ever want to pet a tiger. She's the type that walks right up and pats him on the head, and the tiger is so confused he has no idea what just happened. This is literally me."
This week, Davis and Chmerkovskiy will perform a Viennese waltz and a jive. Chmerkovskiy says that when he was stressing out about choreography, Davis somehow soothed him.
Throughout the season, people have commented about Davis and Chmerkovskiy's chemistry and speculated about a romantic connection. While he gave no answers on the latter, he did admit how much he appreciates how Davis has pushed him to to be more genuine in how he presents himself and care deeply about their performances.
"With Meryl, I'm opening up and I'm speaking because she's that real and she deserves me differently than the way I was on Dancing with the Stars before," he said.
After this week's discouraging scores, they are back at work for two new performances. Chmerkovskiy said the expectations that are put on Davis are a bit unreasonable, and despite being tired, she's giving 100 percent.
"Both dances have potential to be amazing," he said. "Meryl has already proven herself above and beyond. I don't think we need to prove anything to anybody. We need to go and enjoy and dance.
"I'm dreading that the show is almost over, whether we make the finale or not, because I won't get to dance with Meryl," he added. "If the show was 20 weeks, I would gladly accept it and continue experiencing this with such an incredible person."
Monday night is American Icon week. White and Burgess will dance a foxtrot and a samba.
"The more we enjoy what we do, the more people will enjoy watching us," Chmerkovskiy said.