Maksim Chmerkovskiy

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Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Chmerkovskiy in 2007
Native name Russian: Максим Александрович Чмерковский
Born (1980-01-17) January 17, 1980 (age 36)
Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Citizenship United States
Occupation Dancer, choreographer, instructor
Known for Dancing with the Stars (2005-2014)
Partner(s) Peta Murgatroyd (Fiancée)
Relatives Valentin Chmerkovskiy (brother)

Maksim "Maks" Aleksandrovich Chmerkovskiy (Ukrainian: Максим Олекса́ндрович Чмерковський, Russian: Максим Александрович Чмерковский, pronounced [mɑkˈsɪm olɛkˈsɑndroβ̞ɪtʃ ˈtʃmɛrkou̯sʲkɪj]) is a Ukrainian American[1] Latin Ballroom dance champion, choreographer, and instructor. He is widely known as one of the professional dancers on the American television series Dancing with the Stars, on which he first appeared in season two. In 14 appearances as a competing pro on the show, Chmerkovskiy made it to the final round five times, with two runner-up and two third-place finishes. On May 20, 2014, Chmerkovskiy, paired with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis, won his first Dancing with the Stars title.[2]

Following his win with Davis, Chmerkovskiy announced he was retiring from DWTS after 14 seasons on the show.[3] He intends to expand his chain of dance studios and is studying acting.[4]

Early life[edit]

Chmerkovskiy was born January 17, 1980, in Odessa, Ukrainian SSR to parents Aleksandr "Sasha" Chmerkovskiy and Larisa Chmerkovskaya.[5][6] He began dancing at age 4.[6] He has a younger brother, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who is also a professional dancer.[7] His father is Jewish and his mother is Christian, and he has described himself as Jewish.[8][9][10]

At age 13, he broke his right leg in a skiing accident and had a titanium rod put in to stabilize his leg. Doctors foresaw long-term difficulties and little possibility of a dancing career; however, he recovered and was dancing again six months later.[6] He eventually became a professional Latin Ballroom dancer, with the details of the recovery from the accident presented on a 2010 episode of the television show Celebrity Ghost Stories.

The family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York in 1994.[11] The challenges of immigration for Chmerkovskiy and his family included financial and language barriers.[12] Chmerkovskiy's Ukrainian ancestry and cultural heritage were referred to on an episode of Dancing with the Stars.[13]


Competitive Dancing[edit]

As a dancer, Chmerkovskiy competed as under the professional level in the International Latin category.[14] With partner Elena Grinenko, with whom Chmerkovskiy competed with from 2002-2005, Chmerkovskiy achieved the rank of 2nd in the United States and 7th in the world among professional international Latin couples.[15][16]

Dancing titles[edit]

  • 2005 Yankee Classic Professional Latin Champion[17]
  • 2005 Blackpool Dance Festival Semi-Finalist
  • 2004 Manhattan Dancesport Professional Latin Champion
  • 2004 Nevada Star Ball Champion
  • 2004 World Masters Finalist
  • 2004 Moscow Kremlin Cup Finalist
  • 2004 Philadelphia Dancesport Festival Champion
  • 2003 All England Champion
  • 2003 Ohio Star Ball Latin Champion
  • 2003 La Classique du Quebec Champion

Opening Dance Studios[edit]

At age 16, Chmerkovskiy and his father opened a youth-oriented competitive dance studio, Rising Stars Dance Academy, on the second floor of a building his father owned in Ridgewood, New Jersey.[11] Chmerkovskiy said he chose New Jersey because there was a plethora of dance studios that he disliked already established in Brooklyn. The studio relocated a few times until it ended up in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. He said in 2011 of choosing a New Jersey location, "I didn't want to open a studio that would become just one of the studios in the area. I wanted to open my studio somewhere where there was nothing like it and where people would look at it with no preconceived notions."[5]

In 2001, Chmerkovskiy had his first major success as an instructor when he helped his brother, Valentin, then 16, and Diana Olonetskaya, 15—became the first U.S. dance pair to win a world junior championship.[11] Chmerkovskiy also taught Serge Onik, a dancer who appeared on the eleventh season of So You Think You Can Dance in 2014, where Onik was eliminated just outside the top 10.[18]

In addition to Rising Stars, Chmerkovskiy owns six social and competitive dance studios under the brand "Dance With Me."[19] Five are in the New York metropolitan area (Glen Rock and Fort Lee in New Jersey, Glen Head, Long Island, SoHo, Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut) and one is in Sherman Oaks, California.[5][20]

Dancing with the Stars[edit]

Chmerkovskiy first appeared in the second season of the ABC series Dancing with the Stars partnered with actress Tia Carrere.[21] The pair's most successful dance was their tango.[22] They finished in sixth place.[23] The following season, he and partner singer Willa Ford came in seventh place.[16] Chmerkovskiy returned to Dancing with the Stars in March 2007 for Season 4, his time partnered with boxer Laila Ali. They made it to the finals and finished in third place.[24] In Season 5 of Dancing with the Stars, he was partnered with Melanie Brown and the couple received second place. Following the season 5 finale, Chmerkovskiy reportedly told TV Guide Magazine he would not be returning to the show, something he later told People Magazine he said because of stress.[25][26] Chmerkovskiy did not compete in Season 6, although he and former partner Melanie Brown made an appearance for the 100th episode.

He returned for the show's seventh season, this time paired with two-time Olympic volleyball gold medalist, Misty May-Treanor. Chmerkovskiy and May-Treanor were forced to withdraw from the competition in Week 3. During a practice for their jive, May-Treanor ruptured her Achilles tendon and required surgery. Her withdrawal gave them a finish in 10th place.

On February 9, 2009, Good Morning America announced that he would be paired with Denise Richards for the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars. They were eliminated second in the competition, giving the pair a finish of 12th place. In the ninth season, he was paired with actress Debi Mazar, during which they were eliminated fourth. Half way through season 9, Chmerkovskiy partnered Joanna Krupa for one week while Derek Hough was ill.[27] Krupa and Chmerkovskiy danced an Argentine Tango and participated in the 70's themed group dance.[27] In season 10, Chmerkovskiy, returning for his eighth season, was partnered with Erin Andrews.[28] They ended up coming in third place during the two-hour finale on May 25, 2010.

For season 11, Chmerkovskiy partnered with singer and actress, Brandy. They made it to the semi-finals but were eliminated with a fourth-place finish.[29] For Season 12, he was paired with actress Kirstie Alley. On week 3, his leg gave out causing her to fall heavily on him, earning 21 points (out of 30). The next week, Alley's shoe fell off during their routine. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called Alley The Queen of the Unexpected Mishap; they earned 22 points. They made it to the finals and finished in second place.

For season 13, he was partnered with Hope Solo and they finished in fourth place. In Solo's book, A Memoir of Hope, she wrote that Chmerkovskiy treated her roughly, once slapping her during a rehearsal.[30] Solo's claims were never corroborated.

For season 14, he was partnered with actress Melissa Gilbert. In week 4, while performing the paso doble, Gilbert hit her head on the dance floor and suffered a mild concussion. She was rushed to the hospital and was unable to be at the results show the following night. The couple was called safe. Chmerkovskiy also suffered an injury, pulling a muscle in his shoulder. The couple was eliminated four weeks later, finishing in fifth place.

For season 15, an All-Stars season, Maksim returned to the dance floor with previous partner, Kirstie Alley. In week 1, they received the second-lowest score, 19. In week 3, Alley and Chmerkovskiy danced a Cha-Cha-Cha, they scored 17 . Alley and Chmerkovskiy earned 24. Alley and Chmerkovskiy were eliminated in week 8 alongside Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd in a double elimination.[31]

In February 2013, Chmerkovskiy announced his departure from Dancing with the Stars for Season 16.[32] Chmerkovskiy returned on the fifth week of Season 16 for "Len's Side-By-Side Challenge", where he danced with Anna Trebunskaya in an Argentine Tango with brother Val and his partner Zendaya and in a Jive with Jacoby Jones and his partner Karina Smirnoff. For season 17, he was a guest judge during the semifinals in Week 10.

On February 27, 2014, reports surfaced that after taking two seasons off, Chmerkovskiy would return for season 18.[33]

For season 18, he was paired with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis. They were announced the winners on May 20, 2014, marking Chmerkovskiy's first win. At the end of Season 18, they had the highest average of any dancer of the show with a 28.4 average, and were tied for the most amount of perfect scores earning a total of 6.

Chmerkovskiy returned to the ballroom as a guest judge during Week 5 of Season 21.[34]

Season Partner Place
2 Tia Carrere 6th
3 Willa Ford 7th
4 Laila Ali 3rd
5 Melanie Brown 2nd
7 Misty May-Treanor 10th
8 Denise Richards 12th
9 Debi Mazar 12th
10 Erin Andrews 3rd
11 Brandy Norwood 4th
12 Kirstie Alley 2nd
13 Hope Solo 4th
14 Melissa Gilbert 5th
15 Kirstie Alley 7th
18 Meryl Davis 1st

Dancing With the Stars performances[edit]

  • Season 2 – With celebrity partner: Tia Carrere (Average – 23.0) (Placed: 6th)
  • Season 3 – With celebrity partner: Willa Ford (Average – 24.4) (Placed: 7th)
  • Season 4 – With celebrity partner: Laila Ali (Average – 27.0) (Placed: 3rd)
  • Season 5 – With celebrity partner: Mel B (Average – 27.6) (Placed: 2nd)
  • Season 7 – With celebrity partner: Misty May-Treanor (Average – 21.0) (Placed: 10th)
  • Season 8 – With celebrity partner: Denise Richards (Average – 18.3) (Placed: 12th)
  • Season 9 – With celebrity partner: Debi Mazar (Average – 18.0) (Placed: 12th)
  • Score was awarded by stand in judge Baz Luhrmann.
  • Season 10 – With celebrity partner: Erin Andrews (Average – 24.6) (Placed: 3rd)
  • Season 11 – With celebrity partner: Brandy (Average – 26.0) (Placed: 4th)
  • Season 12 – With celebrity partner: Kirstie Alley (Average – 24.6) (Placed: 2nd)
  • Season 13 – With celebrity partner: Hope Solo (Average- 23.3) (Placed: 4th)
  • Season 14 – With celebrity partner: Melissa Gilbert (Average- 22.9) (Placed: 5th)
  • Season 15 – With celebrity partner: Kirstie Alley (Average- 24.2) (Placed: 7th)

^* The additional score of 7.5 was awarded by guest judge Paula Abdul.

  • Season 18 – With celebrity partner: Meryl Davis (Average- 28.4) (Placed: 1st)


His professional work includes choreographing for the Wynn Las Vegas's water-based show Le Rêve.[35] By 2008, Chmerkovskiy's contribution to Le Rêve included choreographing three numbers: “Tango”, “Paso Doble” and “Piece Montèe”.[36][37] In 2014 Chmerkovskiy returned to Le Rêve to choreograph for a new scene as part of a $3 million upgrade to the production.[38]

Chmerkovskiy choreographed and performed in the Dancing with the Stars Tour 2008-2009 winter tour.[39][40] The tour kicked off on December 17, 2008 and was scheduled to stop in 34 cities.[39]

In the summer of 2014, Chmerkovskiy appeared in multiple performances of the touring dance show "Ballroom with a Twist."[41]

2014 was also the year when Chmerkovskiy started performing in Sway: A Dance Trilogy in Westbury, New York.[42] Chmerkovskiy credits his father Sasha with the idea for Sway.[43] Sway is a live ballroom dance show starring Maksim, his brother Valentin, and Tony Dovolani.[43] The show also features other professional dancers from Dancing with the Stars, So You think You Can Dance, and dance instructors from Chmerkovskiy's Dance with Me studios.[43] A few celebrities from Dancing with the Stars have appeared in the production as well.[43] Sway is primarily broken into three distinct sections: a smooth, 40's nightclub inspired section featuring Dovolani, an urban and hip-hop influenced section featuring Val, and finally a more Latin and Miami oriented section featuring Maksim.[44]


Chmerkovskiy was a dancer in the Broadway production Burn the Floor when it opened on July 25, 2009.[45] Chmerkovskiy was partnered with Karina Smirnoff for the first three weeks of the show's Broadway run, leaving to return to Dancing with the Stars. The pair learned their choreography for the production in just two days.[46] Chmerkovskiy returned to Burn the Floor in November 2009 through January 2010, this time he partnered with Kym Johnson.[45]

From July 9 to August 18, 2013, he starred in "Forever Tango", a Broadway musical, dancing and performing onstage with former dance colleague Karina Smirnoff.[47][48]


In addition to his choreography on Dancing with the Stars and La Reve,[36] Chmerkovskiy has worked as a cheorographer on other projects. Chmerkovskiy choreographed a commercial for Propel water.[49] Chmerkovskiy provided choreography for Zendaya's music video for the song "Neverland" from Broadway's Finding Neverland.[50]

Other activities[edit]

In 2009, he participated in the ABC sport show called "The Superstars" and was paired with Kristi Leskinen (Freestyle Skier). They won the competition.

In 2011, Chmerkovskiy starred as "The Bachelor" in the Ukrainian version of the dating reality series.[51] He later told a Ukrainian newspaper that he regretted doing the show, saying, "This kind of project is not for me."[52]

As of 2012, he hosts the Ukrainian version of the game show The Cube.[53]

Chmerkovskiy along with Tony Dovolani and Valentin Chmerkovskiy opened Dance with Me Studio in Stamford, CT on April 16, 2012.[54] The Stamford location is the fourth in the chain and the first in Connecticut started by Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, Valentin Chmerkovskiy and their partners. The other studios are in Ridgefield, N.J., Long Island, N.Y., and Soho, N.Y.[54]

Chmerkovskiy appeared on three episodes of General Hospital in March 2013 playing the role of Anton Ivanov, who dances with Kelly Monaco's character Sam Morgan during the Nurses' Ball.[55][citation needed]

On January 28, 2014, he appeared in a music video with country musician Stacy Burk. The video was shot at the JMJ Ranch in Thousand Oaks, California, and directed by Dave West.[56] Also in 2014, he appeared as a judge on "Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa", the Indian version of Dancing with the Stars.[57]

Chmerkovskiy is one of the creators and directors of Dance Team USA, a nonprofit educational and charitable organization dedicated to recruiting, supporting, and training future DanceSport participants.

Personal life[edit]

Chmerkovskiy primarily lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.[5] He was engaged to his DWTS costar Karina Smirnoff, a fellow Ukrainian native, in 2009.[58] He later dated another DWTS costar, Peta Murgatroyd, but the relationship ended in 2013 after 10 months.[59] He was also in a "serious" relationship with model Kate Upton.[60] In 2015, Chmerkovskiy confirmed he was once again dating Peta Murgatroyd.[61] Murgatroyd also publicly confirmed the couple's reunion telling Radar Online, "[Maks is] the most generous man I have ever met and I’m very happy." [62] Chmerkovskiy and Murgatroyd became engaged on December 5, 2015, when he proposed while onstage for a performance of Sway: A Dance Trilogy in Miami, Florida.[63]

Chmerkovskiy's native language is Russian, but he can understand a little Ukrainian.[52] Chmerkovskiy did not speak English when he moved to the United States.[64] He says he learned English from reading street signs in Brooklyn.[64]


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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Amber Riley & Derek Hough
Dancing with the Stars (US) winners
Season 18 (Spring 2014 with Meryl Davis)
Succeeded by
Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson
Preceded by
Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer

Dancing with the Stars (US) runner up
Season 5 (Fall 2007 with Mel B)

Season 12 (Spring 2011 with Kirstie Alley)

Succeeded by
Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke

Preceded by
Joey Lawrence & Edyta Śliwińska

Kelly Osbourne & Louis van Amstel

Dancing with the Stars (US) third place contestant
Season 4 (Spring 2007 with Laila Ali)

Season 10 (Spring 2010 with Erin Andrews)

Succeeded by
Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts

Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas

Preceded by
Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff

Dancing with the Stars (US) semi-finalist
Season 11 (Fall 2010 with Brandy)

Season 13 (Fall 2011 with Hope Solo)

Succeeded by
Ralph Macchio & Karina Smirnoff

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough

Preceded by
Nancy Grace & Tristan MacManus
Dancing with the Stars (US) quarter-finalist
Season 14 (Spring 2012 with Melissa Gilbert)
Succeeded by
Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff