ABC/Eric McCandless
Maks Chmerkovskiy
October 11, 2016 AT 07:19 PM EDT

This season on Dancing With the Stars, fan favorite pro-dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy will be blogging for EW to give us the behind-the-scene scoop on each week’s competition. Here, he brings us into season 23, episode 5.

On last night’s Samba routine:

I think our performance went as well as it could have — it was also a giant wake-up moment. As you saw yesterday, us pros sometimes have to motivate our celebrities more than they are able to motivate themselves. Not everyone can push themselves the way they need to. It’s like having a teacher who’s kind of an asshole in the moment, but ten years later you appreciate the way they pushed you and what you learned from them.

This whole week was great for Amber [Rose] and I because she had to do some extra work to get this result. It’s easy for someone like Calvin Johnson to know how far he can push himself because as an athlete, he does that professionally. Amber is a little timid sometimes because she’s afraid she’ll fall, or something will go wrong. Plus, this week she also got sick — when you’re sick, you’re already frustrated and you probably don’t want to listen to me telling you what to do! But once you sweat a little bit, you almost always feel better, so that’s what I was trying to show her. After all of this though, I’m so proud of her, and I want her to do well because I think this competition is something she can benefit from immensely.

I think for us moving forward, this week had to happen the way it did. My personal test was, “How much can she do, in order to stay here and be here for this competition?” And I told her, “Hey, if you do this and it doesn’t work, you still attempted something great! I’m still proud of you!” And I’m glad it was a success, in this case. I was so excited that she finished the end, the Bachacata part where she sort of pushed me away. It’s a really crazy Samba step, and it’s a hard thing to pull off, but she totally nailed it in our routine.

I think if you watched those packages they play before the dances, you saw that there were a few couples this week where the pros were really involved and invested, and that’s when the passion comes out. And you saw me look at my partner and say, “I get it, but I’m not here to talk about what hurts or what’s wrong. I’m here to make sure you get sh-t done for Monday, and that’s what we have to do.”

ABC/Eric McCandless

On Amber’s amazing Samba dress:

First of all, I love how my involvement in these dresses is constantly overlooked! [Laughs] Let me tell you, Amber does not give any f—s about her costumes. It’s usually too much for her to work on all of these things throughout the week, so I try to save her time and end up in the wardrobe consultations without her. But no one gives me the designing credit! She told Erin she was going to go buy the dress she wore last night, and I said, “I can make you another one!”

I want to give her the opportunity to look incredible and also be functional for the entirety of the show, so these outfits have to be styles that look good, while being appropriate for the dance and what’s happening onstage. Last night, she looked amazing, stunningly beautiful.

Two secrets: First, I’ve put together all of my partners dresses for 15 seasons! Tailoring them to their body type and personality. I’m in the wardrobe fitting, suggesting cuts and design, all of those things. And secondly, this particular dress  of Amber’s was actually made from all white Swarovski crystals. But then, the wardrobe department had a Sharpie party, and colored all of those crystals on the dress!

The wardrobe department is really incredible. Daniella Gschwendtner and Steven Lee have been there since day two and they’re amazing. Even during my show with Val over the summer, ABC let us use those resources, and it’s amazing to work with someone who knows you and your body – that’s always a gamechanger. The wardrobe department always has one of the most stressful jobs because things can go wrong at the last minute, but their efforts always end up looking amazing.  

On next week’s Latin Night:

I’m definitely looking forward to our Cha-Cha for Latin Week. I’m figuring out Amber’s style, and what she looks good doing. We don’t have to play current poppy songs for this to be suitable to Amber, so I think I’ve found an amazing song for her that will make this into a beautiful, seamless performance. I think this past week made Amber skyrocket in dance fitness, and generally moving her feet in ways she didn’t before.

Each week is building on the previous one, so each workout provides steps for the next dance. Working on the Samba this week made us more able to do parts of a Cha-Cha next week, and so on. I think that having the Samba this week was the best way to get her ready for the next performance. It’s all about pushing yourself — it’s a conveyor belt of creativity. I’m like a personal trainer, a dancer, a designer, and a psychiatrist all in one.

Some thoughts on coming back to the show:

I just keep noticing little things that make me feel great about the decision I made to come back to the show. I want to give credit where it’s due — there’s an incredible production team here. They’re doing a great job to keep the show both modern and entertaining. I’m having one of the best seasons, mentally and emotionally, that I’ve ever had, and I think it’s because of everyone who’s involved in this show, the way things have been communicated, and how things are working. I’ve criticized the production in the past, and so I really wanted to take some time to say just what a great job they’re doing.

—As told to Christina Ciammaichelli

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