Dallas — Widely known as the Bad Boy of the Ballroom, Maksim Chmerkovskiy waltzed his way into America’s heart during Season 2 of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Since then he has come close to winning the mirror ball trophy four times before finally accomplishing the fete this year (Season 18) with 2014 Sochi Olympic Gold Medalist Meryl Davis. But Chmerkovskiy’s love of dance started long before the formation of DWTS.
Born in 1980 in Odessa, Ukraine, Chmerkovskiy began dance classes at the age of 4. During his teenage years his family immigrated to the U.S. and Chmerkovskiy got serious about his dance career. He is the founder of Rising Stars Academy, a studio focused on the youth and their pursuit of Ballroom dance, and is also the co-founder of Dance With Me Dance Studios. He choreographed the Wynn Las Vegas water-based show Le Reve and has also performed in the Broadway show Burn the Floor. He joined the cast of DWTS in 2006.
Dallas audiences can see Chmerkovskiy in addition to dance celebrities Cheryl Burke, Karina Smirnoff and Tony Dovolani when Ballroom With a Twist comes to the Music Hall at Fair Park July 19 for two showings. Also performing is So You Think You Can Dance finalists Jenna Johnson (Season 11), Legacy (Season 6), Randi Lynn Strong (Season 5) and Johnathan Platero (Season 5) along with American Idol finalists Von Smith (Season 8) and Haley Scarnato (Season 6).
TheaterJones asks Maksim Chmerkovskiy about choreographing for television, winning the mirror ball trophy and what audiences can expect to see during Ballroom With A Twist.
TheaterJones: Besides receiving the mirror ball trophy, what does winning Season of DWTS mean to you?
Maksim Chmerkovskiy: It means everything to me! I have been with the show for about 8 years and every season has been a wonderful experience in different ways. This season with Meryl was a completely different experience from the rest. Meryl is such a hard-working and dedicated woman who pushed me to do my very best and I did not want to let her or my fans down.
How did you get involved with Ballroom With A Twist?
I agreed to a few shows to be able to meet the people who have supported and voted for Meryl and I throughout this past season of DWTS, as well as my fans that have been there for me throughout the years. It is a way for me to give back to my fans and let them know how much I appreciate them.
How would you describe the production? Is it DWTS on tour?
Ballroom With A Twist is filled with amazing performances, fun music and an outstanding cast that is perfect for the entire family.
What dance styles can audiences expect to see?
People can expect to see classic Ballroom along with Ballroom mixed with Contemporary and Hip-Hop like styles.
Do you have a favorite Ballroom or Latin dance?
Dancing is my passion and each and every dance I perform has something different to it, whether it’s emotional or physical. A lot depends on whom I am dancing with as well.
What sort of impact has DWTS had on Ballroom dance in the U.S.?
I think DWTS has allowed America to appreciate and fall in love with the act of dance beyond just Ballroom.
What advice do you have for young dancers who want to dance on television one day?
The best advice I can give is to follow your heart. Work hard and love what you do, that’s what is most important.
Outside of DWTS, what do you enjoy doing?
Outside of DWTS I spent a lot time working on my dance studios, Dance With Me, which now has five locations throughout New York/New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. I also love giving back and helping others. I work with a charity called Childhelp which helps victims of child abuse and neglect. I also love spending time with my family. They’re everything to me!
» Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com