Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy now star on one of the biggest TV shows in the United States, but growing up in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, the future Dancing with the Stars pros had little exposure to Western culture.
American goods like a “a pair of jeans or a cassette tape” were rarities, Maks says in the current issue of PEOPLE.
After the fall of the USSR, the brothers’ father, Aleksandr, started a lucrative retail business but “knew that could be taken away at any moment,” says Maks.
When the business burned down in what the family believes was a mafia arson attack, they immigrated to the U.S. Maks was 14 and Val was 8 when they moved to New York City. Within eight months, the family went through their entire savings.
“My dad had two college degrees but came here and was boxing pizzas,” says Val. “He was willing to pay his dues for the opportunity to live here and breathe this air.”
Maks was mugged for his Rollerblades on his second day in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and both brothers recall being bullied because of their accents and last name.
“We had challenges,” says Val, who is currently competing with Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei. “But we never let it chip away at the gratitude we felt for the opportunities we had.”
The tragic events at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 had a significant impact on the new American family — especially Val.
“I watched the buildings go down on 9/11. I saw how much that impacted our country,” says Val, who began ballroom dancing in the USSR and won world titles on behalf of the U.S. “I wanted to provide not only for my family but my country.”
And being immigrants gave the brothers a work ethic that brought them success. Encouraged by his father, Maks opened his first dance studio at the age of 16 and now runs a chain of studios with Alexandr and DWTS‘ Tony Dovolani. But Maks admits that work ethic can translate as abrasive in his most high-profile gig.
“I was very hard on Tia Carrere my first season on DWTS,” says Maks, who is currently competing with former Glee star Heather Morris. “But I knew if we lasted longer, we got paid more, and my legs were helping pay for Val’s lessons and my family’s bills.”
“I’ve never felt like this country owed me anything. If anything, I am forever in debt to this country,” adds Val. “I’m very aware of the political rhetoric surrounding immigrants right now, but they come here to contribute and are the backbone of this country — and that’s why we are the megapower we are.”
For more from the Chmerkovskiy brothers, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now
“Episode 2405” – The nine remaining celebrities will transform into some of the most magical Disney characters and celebrate the magnificence of “Disney Night,”
Alfonso Ribeiro Opens the Show With an Original Song and Dance Featuring the Entire Cast
Live Performances From ‘Moana’s’ Auli‘i Cravalho, Donny Osmond and ZZ Ward
One Couple Will Be Eliminated at the End of the Night
The Disney spirit shines as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, among other numerous Disney animated legends, adorn the ballroom. The show opens with a spectacular number, featuring our Master of Ceremonies, Alfonso Ribeiro (“Dancing with the Stars” season 19 winner), singing and dancing to an original song with the entire cast. Each couple will perform to songs from beloved Disney films, including the current Walt Disney Studios hit, “Beauty and the Beast,” as well as animation favorites “Pinocchio,” “Finding Dory,” “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”
Additionally, Auli’i Cravalho will perform the Oscar®-nominated hit song “How Far I’ll Go” from her leading role in “Moana,” as Simone Biles and Sasha Farber dance a contemporary; David Ross and Lindsay Arnold dance a jive to the world television debut of “Ride,” from Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3” soundtrack, performed by ZZ Ward – “Cars 3” is in theaters in 3D on June 16 – and Donny Osmond (“Dancing with the Stars” season nine winner) will perform a song from “Mulan” as Normani Kordei and Val Chmerkovskiy dance a paso doblé. As an added treat, Witney Carson teams with Donald Duck for a special dance. Each celebrity will perform a contemporary, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, jazz, paso doblé or jive.
At the end of the night, based on scores and votes from last Monday, one couple will be eliminated.
Each Couple Will Dance to the Following Songs (in alphabetical order):
Simone Biles & Sasha Farber – Contemporary – “How Far I’ll Go” performed by Auli‘i Cravalho, music & lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, from “Moana” – Live Performance by Auli‘i Cravalho
Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess – Tango – “When Can I See You Again?” by Owl City from “Wreck-It Ralph”
Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko – Viennese Waltz – “Unforgettable” by Sia from “Finding Dory”
Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater – Foxtrot – “Evermore” by Josh Groban from Walt Disney Pictures’ “Beauty and the Beast”
Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev – Jazz – “That’s How You Know” by Amy Adams from “Enchanted”
**Normani Kordei & Valentin Chmerkovskiy – Paso Doblé – “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” by Donny Osmond from “Mulan” – Live Performance by Donny Osmond**
Heather Morris & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Jazz – “For the First Time in Forever” by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, music & lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from “Frozen”
David Ross & Lindsay Arnold – Jive – “Ride” by ZZ Ward from “Cars 3” – Live Performance by ZZ Ward
Nick Viall & Peta Murgatroyd – Jazz – “I’ve Got No Strings” as sung by Dickie Jones from “Pinocchio”
Dancing with the Stars is once again facing allegations of being “rigged” after former Pretty Little Liars actress Sasha Pieterse and professional dancing partner Gleb Savchenko were shockingly eliminated from the popular ABC show during Disney week on October 16.
A number of fans hit out at the series on social media after learning the surprising news that Sasha had been eliminated and made (as yet unfounded) allegations that DWTS was somehow “rigged” against the actress.
“DANCING! WITH! THE! STARS! IS! RIGGED!” one fan tweeted after seeing the former Pretty Little Liars star sent home prematurely on DWTS, while another added of Pieterse leaving, “Reasons I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars any more since the previous season with Normani [Kordei] this s*** is rigged #teamAteam.”
“Dancing with the Stars is rigged so glad we have another season as proof,” @shookarla added following Sasha’s shocking elimination after the two danced a rumba inspired by the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.
“DONT HOLD BACK YALL SPREAD YOUR OPINION OF THIS RIGGED A** SHOW EVERYONE HAS COME TO KNOW [AS] DANCING WITH THE STARS,” another angry fan tweeted after seeing Sasha and Gleb sent home, despite Pretty Little Liars having an avid fan base of voters willing to pick up the phone for the actress.
Of course, this isn’t the first time DWTS has been accused of being “rigged” after fan favorites didn’t get the result viewers were expecting.
Fans lashed out at the ABC show during Season 24 earlier this year after former Glee star Heather Morris was shockingly eliminated from the show alongside Maksim Chmerkovskiy, despite being one of the favorites to win the series due to her extensive dance background. They were instead the fifth couple to be eliminated.
Fans of Fifth Harmony star Normani Kordei made similar remarks against the show earlier this year after she repeatedly ended up in jeopardy during her time on the show with partner Val Chmerkovskiy before then finishing in third place.
Of course, there’s no proof that DWTS is “rigged” or that anything went awry with the voting to see Sasha or any of the former contestants voted off sooner than expected, though Pieterse admitted after being sent home that she was “really bummed” to be leaving the series so soon.
“I’m not mad, I’m just really bummed. I really wanted to be here,” Sasha told Entertainment Tonight of leaving DWTS in ninth place following her surprising elimination on October 16. “It sucks, but I made some amazing friends, I had such a good time, and I feel like I’m just grateful.”
Confirming that there were no hard feelings on her part regarding the shocking news, Sasha added that dancing for America week after week has been good for her “soul.”
Gleb also confirmed that he “never expected” to be eliminated so early in the competition.
“I never thought it would happen,” he told the outlet after the show, admitting that he believed he and Sasha had “another couple of weeks at least” to dance together on the show.
“But it’s a dance competition, someone’s gotta go and unfortunately it’s us,” he then added.
Dancing with the Stars Season 25 airs on Monday nights on ABC.
“I want to be tough you know, but a lot of times I just look at her and she smiles and I just can’t. She’s so sweet….I want to be rough but just can’t. My heart beats every time…”.
-Val Chmerkovskiy explaining how he can’t help but fall under Zendaya’s charm.
*AKA killing my shipper heart*
“Age takes a bite out of your ambition and your dreams and, you know, you get a little jaded and slowed down, but being around Zendaya, she inspires not only kids, but also adults. I feel like she’s made me dream bigger again, made me believe in myself again, and gives you purpose. And purpose is everything.” -Val Chmerkovskiy. on anything you have learn from Zendaya. :)
[Announcement]: Actor Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Executive Producer/Showrunner Emily Andras will be joining us at ClexaCon
Born in Bristol, South West England, Dominique began dancing at the age of 4 and after quickly discovering her passion for all performing arts trained in acting, singing and all genres of dance to become as versatile a performer as possible.
At 16 years old Dominique went on to train for 3 years at Laine Theatre Arts and prior to graduating managed to secure a part in the West End’s hit Musical Dirty Dancing where she played the Alternate Baby Houseman at only 19 years old.
Whilst starring in Dirty Dancing Dominique discovered her real passion for straight acting. She then went on to feature in E4’s comedy series The Midnight Beast.
Paul Hyett’s ‘The Seasoning House’ (2013) was Dominique’s first feature film which was a huge success premiering as FrightFest’s opening night movie and making cinema release. Dominique then starred in the West End’s hit musical Viva Forever based on the songs of the Spice Girls.
In 2015, Dominique filmed Marvel’s ‘The Avengers - Age of Ultron’ where she gained invaluable experience.Other TV and film credits include 12 Monkeys, Murdoch Mysteries and Buckout Road. Dominique’s favourite project to date was filming Wynonna Earp in Calgary, Canada - where she played Wynonna’s younger sister Waverly. She is very much looking forward to filming it’s Second Season in Dec 2016.
The Boston-born, Calgary-bred Andras has a diverse list of television credits to her name. Currently, she is the Showrunner and Executive Producer of SyFy’s new hit series Wynonna Earp. Previously, she spent three seasons as the Showrunner and Executive Producer of Lost Girl, and recently worked as the Supervising Producer on Killjoys, where she got to write about spaceships.
Andras’ other recent credits include writer and Co-producer of the police drama King, and Showrunner and Executive Producer of Instant Star. She has written for numerous other series such as Degrassi: The Next Generation , Sophie, Total Drama Island, and 11 Cameras. She was also hand-picked by Nora Roberts to shepherd her New York Times’ #1 best-selling Blood Magick trilogy to series.
Andras is known for her fresh and witty take – CNBC called her “a genre darling” with a “cult following” – and that’s nice. But what Emily really wants to be remembered for is being pulled onstage to dance with Bruce Springsteen. Which totally happened.
Season 23 Champions!! CONGRATULATIONS TO THESE SUPERHEROES!!!!….So proud & excited for these two!. Laurie is very deserving of all the attention, praise & accolades, she’s getting & will get for years to come. Her work ethic & maturity at 16 is something I aspire to at 24. Val is a master of his craft & one of most nurturing & powerful pro dancers this show has ever been blessed with..Can’t believe it took so long to get his first with Rumer & now he’s already got two. Trophies on trophies on trophies.