With Maksim Chmerkovskiy making his highly anticipated return to the ballroom next week, dancer Alan Bersten is speaking out about his abrupt “firing” from the hit ABC show.
In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, Bersten joked, “Last week [Maksim] promoted me, this week he fired me.”
Bersten, who has been Heather Morris’ fill-in partner since Chmerkovskiy suffered calf injury during the second week of competitions, says he knew the pro dancer was coming back all along, but it’s a bittersweet goodbye.
Chmerkovskiy announced Monday night during the show that he has recovered and will officially be back to dance with Morris for their sixth week in the competition, jokingly exclaiming to Bersten, “You’re fired!”
But it’s all fun and games for the two dancers.
“To me it wasn’t a shock, but I was sad, you know?” he said. “It’s sad, [because] we spent four weeks together — half the season’s gone, like, time flew by! I don’t even know what day it is.”
The 22-year-old shot to fame with the tenth season of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance — a year after Lindsay Arnold — before joining Dancing With the Stars, and has since competed as pro four times on the primetime favorite.
Joining the troupe since season 20, Bersten has Morris keep her scores in the 30’s each week this season. His efforts have been so beloved by judges and fans, that Chmerkovskiy is rooting for the Minnesota native to become an official pro next season.
“I’ve been thrown in a lot, but this was by far the best experience, the longest experience,” said Bersten, who has previously filled in for Gleb Savchenko, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough.
Like a big brother, Bersten tells ET that Chmerkovskiy gives him plenty of advice and helps him focus on the goal.
“Even Maks said it. He told me many times, we talked a lot outside of the show, obviously. And just making sure everything flows well with Heather, and he explained to me how much of an amazing opportunity this is. I’ve realized that from the minute it started, you know?”
“I don’t know what the producers are exactly thinking, but I know that there’s a limited amount of spots [for pros] and with Val [Chmerkovskiy], Maks, Artem [Chigvintsev], Gleb, Sasha [Farber], Keo [Motsepe]… these are all well-known names already in the show,” he revealed.
“So I feel like when there’s a spot that opens up, hopefully I will be the next one. I feel like, knock on wood, I hope this next season is my time.”
Though Chmerkovskiy has been the mastermind between most of Morris’ choreography this season, he tells ET he too was given the chance to compose dance numbers for the former Glee star as well.
Fans will love hearing this as it was one of the sexiest dance numbers, but Bersten reveals the tango to Britney Spears’ “Toxic” was his idea.
“[Maks] was in Ohio for treatment. But I obviously sent him videos, I was more nervous about him liking the routine than anyone else,” Bersten said. “I sent him the video before I even met with Heather and he signed off on it, and it was much easier — we went straight into work. For the week Heather and I did that exact routine, we did not have to do much changing. It was a difficult routine, but Heather really coped really well.”
Although he won’t be Morris’ partner any longer, he will still be on the show as a troupe dancer, cheering on “Team MaksimumHeat.”
“Heather and Maks have to win because I want a mini mirror ball,” he exclaimed. “I think we cut it in half [if they win]. I feel like I get an honorary mention, I will take that.”
Despite nailing every step in the jazz-inspired routine for Frozen on Monday night and receiving harsh criticism from judge, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bersten says, “There’s no better experience than being shoved into it. No one can teach you how to do it. You just have to do it yourself.”
See the full ET interview above.
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