DWTS' Mark Ballas: Maksim is 'Upset' After Split
09/13/2009 AT 11:15 AM EDT
"He's doing okay but he's not happy," says Ballas, who spoke to Chmerkovskiy Wednesday night for several hours. "I know he loved Karina. He loved her very much."
Ballas says he doesn't know why his fellow dancers split but was "shell-shocked" when he learned the news. "I don't really know who made the decision but obviously he's upset," Ballas tells PEOPLE.
Other DWTS pros Derek Hough and Cheryl Burke said the split wouldn't affect the hit show. "They have been dancing together for years, so they will be fine," Burke says.
Ballas, who has been friends with Chmerkovskiy for 14 years, says reports that Chmerkovskiy's family did not warm up to Smirnoff were untrue.
"I highly doubt that," he says. "Neither his dad or his mom really speak English. I don't know where that come from."
Despite sounding "low" during their phone conversation, Ballas says, Chmerkovskiy is finding joy in his new dancing partner.
"He's having a great time with Debi Mazur and she's lifting him up a lot. He says the show is keeping him in a good mood," Ballas says.
He adds: "Maks always lands on his feet."
With reporting by CYNTHIA WANG