For Xochitl Gomez and Val Chmerkovskiy, their journey on Dancing with the Stars Season 32 is all about collaboration – and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Remezcla had a chance to talk to the dancing duo as they prepared for the show’s “Latin Night,” on October 3rd, 2023, where Gomez and Chmerkovskiy are set to dance salsa to the tune of Camila Cabello’s “Don’t Go Yet.”
Gomez, who’d never done salsa before, confessed the preparation was anything but easy. “Yeah, it’s super hard,” she shared. “I don’t have the experience. So, he had a lot to do,” she told us, pointing to her partner, Chmerkovskiy, who was quick to praise her. “I’m very proud of her, because obviously, this is not just social salsa that you will be doing at a party, it’s gotta be a performance. So, we’ve put in a few things in there that are going to spice things up, no pun intended,” he told us, adding that he was excited for fans to see what they’d come up with.
The duo, whose dancing chemistry and ease came through as they teased each other in a very siblings-like manner, also went into the significance of “Latin Night,” with Gomez telling us that it’s great to not be the only Latine representing our communities. “We’ve got Lele, we’ve got Mauricio and there’s also me, so I don’t think that’s such a huge thing to carry.” This is particularly important in an industry where, too often, people from our communities are tasked with representing the whole of our communities.
Chmerkovskiy, meanwhile, called it “a pleasure,” to get to dance with “a young Latina, a style that is authentically Latin,” calling it “ironic that this Ukrainian kid is teaching her how to salsa.”
Gomez was ready for the challenge, which she called very different from superhero training, where you “get to train for months in advance,” adding that with stunts she had a “bunch of things on my side: I did martial arts, I did swimming, I had a bunch of athletic stuff in my background that helped me a lot.” With dancing, however, “I do not have that. I have no dance experience, no training. I didn’t even do ballet. So going into it, I was freaking out a little because I’m like, gosh, I don’t know anything.”
Plus, there’s the added issue of the shows being live, which is very different from filming a movie, where “you have multiple takes on things.”
But Gomez put in the training – and the research, sharing with us that she was forced to look up even the terms Chmerkovskiy was using. She also had a lot of opinions about her look. “I’m really lucky that they allowed me to collaborate,” she said, sharing that she’s reached out with “inspiration or references.”
For Chmerkovskiy, it’s a great thing that Gomez has been so hands-on creatively. “These are priceless lessons,” he told us, sharing that for him, this is what the show is about, “giving our contestants the journey that they want for themselves. It’s not so much about the trophy as much as going through the experience that you always wished for yourself while watching the show.”
Gomez agreed, telling us it’s been “such a confidence builder to be able to come up with concepts and picking songs and making outfit choices.” Confidence that Gomez will take with her as she moves on to do other things, and play other roles, superheroes or not. If she can conquer dance, after all, she can conquer anything.
Catch Xochitl Gomez and Val Chmerkovskiy on Dancing with the Stars Season 32, which airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.