At last year’s dance event, “Sway,” two “Dancing With the Stars” pros — Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd — got engaged on the Olympia Theatre stage in downtown Miami. Their first child, a boy, is due in early January.
Then, in October, on ABC’s live “Dancing With the Stars” broadcast, pros Sasha Farber and Emma Slater got engaged.
Could something similar happen Thursday night at the Hard Rock Live near Hollywood as 10 “DWTS” pros and Season 23 champ Laurie Hernandez perform?
Two-time mirror ball champ Valentin “Val” Chmerkovskiy, who won with Hernandez in November, laughs at any suggestion of coziness on the Dancing With the Stars: Live! — We Came to Dance Tour, which stops in 43 cities in North America before closing on Valentine’s Day in California.
“Every morning we wake up, and as attractive as Gleb is, he is not always the best sight. Sharna is a wonderful, incredible human being, unless she’s hungry — and she’s hungry most of the time. It’s a challenge,” Chmerkovskiy said during a break in rehearsals in Eugene, Oregon.
The challenge is in staying healthy. We’re leaving it all out there. We try to protect our bodies and stretch and work out and be healthy at the same time and enjoy the road and enjoy the country.
‘DWTS’ pro dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
He’s joking — we think — about fellow dance pros Gleb Savchenko and Sharna Burgess, two of the “DWTS” regulars who are taking part in the tour. Joining the trio are Lindsay Arnold, Alan Bersten, Artem Chigvintsev, Hayley Erbert, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe and Slater.
Chmerkovskiy, 30 and born in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, said part of the joy of touring is seeing his fellow dancers’ reactions to the various cities in the United States and Canada on the tour’s itinerary.
“I grew up in America — I was 7 when I emigrated,” he said. “But a lot of the cast are people who have been outside the country. It’s interesting to see them beyond Hollywood [California], Los Angeles, New York and Miami. It’s nice to be in Eugene, Oregon, or Uncasville [Connecticut] or Nashville, New Orleans and the incredible cities and regions that define this country. There are a lot of neat benefits from touring.”
Another plus, Chmerkovskiy said, are the production values a popular network show like “DWTS” can afford.
“This allows for us to just really hone in on being artistic performers. This is what we pursued in the first place. ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is an incredible opportunity to be teachers, guides, nutritionists, psychologists,” he said, laughing. “You’re lucky if you get a partner with the range that gives you an opportunity to perform at your best. But that rarely happens. The tour is a time we’re not responsible for anyone else. We are responsible to provide the best performance for our audience. People who do come to our show are familiar [with us] on TV, but I don’t think they’ve seen us at this level of dancing and performing, and it’s exciting.”
I had such a great time doing the season. I can still expand on that during the tour and show my love for dancing. Maybe this will make others want to dance.
Olympian and ‘DWTS’ Season 23 champion Laurie Hernandez.
For Hernandez, 16, who won the gold medal in team event gymnastics at the Rio Summer Olympics and silver on the balance beam, the tour is her chance to prove a gymnast belongs on a stage with pro ballroom dancers.
“The two are completely different,” said Hernandez during rehearsals in Reno, Nevada. “Gymnastics helped my endurance a couple times.” Otherwise, “Val and I would rehearse in the ballroom, and I would be sore. I was not used to using certain muscles. It’s totally different bouncing in heels; there are a few challenges in that.”
The pace of “DWTS,” which annually airs in the fall and spring, is faster, too. “For gymnastics, it would take a couple weeks to choreograph a routine and then a couple months to perfect that,” Hernandez said. “For ‘DWTS,’ every week there would be a different kind of dance.”
By comparison, the live tour is a bit easier. “We are doing dances we’ve done before so there’s not too much to fix,” Hernandez said. The champs will recreate their recent “Pure Imagination” and “Kurios” theme dances that helped them win over the formidable pairing of Burgess and race car driver James Hinchcliffe.
Hernandez said participating on a dance tour is a dream fulfilled. “As a kid, dancing was something I found exciting. And with gymnastics, I love the floor routine because I get to dance and show my personality. I was having this dream of going to the Olympics and achieving that. And now I get to achieve dancing. It’s like a gift. Maybe this will make others want to dance. That’s something I’d like to get across.”
I’m not too cool to be part of a show that is family friendly. ‘Dancing With the Stars’ brings families together. Three generations forget their problems for a few seconds. If I can be part of that elixir why, wouldn’t I be proud of it?
‘DWTS’ pro dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
Chmerkovskiy said Hernandez has the maturity to take her place among the pros.
“She’s not a celebrity on this tour. She’s a fellow dancer and is embraced by the cast,” he said. “She’s 16 going on 65. She’s a grown young lady and knows how to take care of herself, and she’s become everybody’s little sister.”
As for the TV show that puts the Chmerkovskiy family before 12 million viewers on Monday nights, the pro isn’t ready to cue “Last Dance” just yet.
“The show is moving in the right direction,” he said. “Physically, I don’t know how many more seasons I have in me, but I definitely will always be supporting the show. Not only for what it’s done for me and the dance community, but I want to show that there are many more Vals and Sharnas and Dereks and Makses out there. It’d be a shame if they didn’t get the same opportunities we did. I’m not a father yet, but I’m not too cool to be part of a show that is family friendly.”
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If you go
What: Dancing With the Stars: Live! — We Came to Dance Tour
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29
Where: Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, near Hollywood
Tickets: $85, $65, $45
Information: 800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster