Valentin Chmerkovskiy Shares What Qualities He's Looking for in Next 'DWTS' Partner (Exclusive)

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Val Chmerkovskiy
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Like his loyal fan base, Valentin Chmerkovskiy seems to be just as pumped about the 28th season of Dancing With the Stars!

Although ABC has yet to confirm whether Chmerkovskiy will officially be back as a pro, the dancer shared his excitement about a potential return while exclusively speaking with ET over the phone last week.

"I'm really pumped for this show to be back," exclaimed Val, who was promoting his hip-hop cameo in Teddy Coffey's "Growing Pains" music video. "I missed it, and I know our fans have missed it tremendously."

"Honestly, I'm really excited. I'm excited to contribute," he continued. "This is season 28. We really kind of push the boundaries every season. This is the first year where we haven't had a spring season, so I feel like enough anticipation is there, the excitement is there. Me, personally, I'm ready to go and dance and teach and do my thing."

When the show returns next month, fans will be introduced to "really fun format changes," according to ABC entertainment president Karey Burke, who hinted at the tweaks earlier this month during the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Speaking with ET, Chmerkovskiy said he hopes that means "moving forward to the things that made the show special," especially for the fans who have been tuning in to the dance competition show since the beginning.

"It has captured the hearts of millions for so long and that's [because of] the relationship between two people," Chmerkovskiy, a two-time mirrorball champion, shared. "So, like, really highlighting that journey between the teacher and the celebrity dancer; really highlighting that person learning how to dance and sharing that journey with their pro dancer, [and] moving away from the over-the-top production, stuff like that."

"I think there's so many shows out there that have pushed the limit on technology and all of that stuff. I think people are much more interested in real good, feel-good stories," he continued. "Not everything has to be a tearjerker. Some things can just be fun. I think what made Dancing With the Stars the number one show for so long, is that we take our craft seriously, we take our relationships seriously. It's a show that has a lot of fun, and it's kind of an escape for all of these people all across this country. Monday nights can be brutal, man! They just wanna go home, sit with their families and watch something that isn't hijacked by politics. Just feel-good television that's good for the entire family."

Although Chmerkovskiy played coy about casting rumors and what else fans can expect, he told ET that he has not yet met a dance partner. Regardless, he already has some qualities in mind for whom he'd love to share the stage with this season, if he is, in fact, confirmed as a returning pro.

"I would love to be partnered with someone who really wants to dance, who really wants to do it well. Because sometimes you get people that sign up for the wrong reasons," he explained. "For me, I don't care about what you look like, your age, weight or anything. I just care that your heart's in the right place [and] your head is in the right place. You want to work, you want to build [and] you want to have fun. That's really all I'm looking forward to."

Last season, Chmerkovskiy and his then-fiancée, Jenna Johnson, adorably competed against each other for the coveted mirrorball with their respective partners, Nancy McKeon and Joe "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile. (The trophy ultimately went to Sharna Burgess and Bobby Bones.) That being said, if they're both part of the season 28 cast, will their dynamic change in the ballroom, now that they're married?

"Well, now that we're married, you know, we have a mutual bank account," Chmerkovskiy joked. "I think we're gonna support each other as much as we can. I mean, we've been doing that anyway."

"I think there's a healthy dose of competition, but at the same time, this isn't even about us," he added. "It's about our celebrity partners and that supporting role that we play is the role that really can't get too competitive between each other. ...  I think we all just want a collective of celebrities that want to learn, have fun and just be kind to one another."

The full group of stars for season 28 will be announced live on Wednesday's Good Morning America. Fans on social media have been passing the time by trying to put together clues from the DWTS Instagram page. Many believe that Bachelorette star Hannah Brown, Queer Eye's Karamo Brown and country singer Lauren Alaina will be on the roster.

The pro dancers are also set to be revealed on GMA, but ABC confirmed on Tuesday that Chmerkovskiy's sister-in-law, Peta Murgatroyd, will officially be back in the ballroom. ET has reached out to ABC for comment regarding Chmerkovskiy and Johnson's involvement.

Dancing With the Stars returns for its all-new season Monday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m ET/PT on ABC.

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