Dancing's Maks: I Hope There Are "Major Discussions" in the Off-Season
Thank you for your patience and your support! First, I want to apologize for not blogging last week. Things got busier than I anticipated, but I will make it up to you now with a longer entry!
So Season 14 is over for us, competitively at least. Thank you to everyone who voted for us. We would not have made it this far without your support and votes. I obviously didn't want to get eliminated, but it's been a very successful season for me personally. I definitely made a friend for life in Melissa. Tuesday was a very emotional night for me, not just because we were eliminated. Tia was at the show and it was amazing to see her. It's almost an out-of-body experience because you pick up right where you left off, but you're also looking at a completely different person than the one you were partnered with six years ago. Back then, I was this weird Russian baby Tarzan and Pocahontas hybrid. That was my first experience on TV. Cut to us now, the show is huge and all of us pros are pretty well-known. Also, when Tia did the show, it was, like, six weeks after she gave birth. On Tuesday, her daughter was with her and she's 6 now. It's truly amazing to see that. I remember her when she was literally a newborn. It's moments and friendships like that that are important to me.
I think it was a phenomenal season. It was strange, it was interesting, it was happy, it was sad. We had ups and downs. It was not totally smooth, but it was art imitating life. It was complete. I will miss Melissa like I miss Kirstie, Hope and Erin and everyone. I try to maintain those relationships. I know everyone's saying, "You guys only fought." That's not all we did. For Melissa and me, this was a very special show. It was her coming out party again. She's a TV icon and for her to come back in the public eye the way she did against all odds after her injury is inspirational. What she accomplished was incredible. She's proven herself against people who are incredibly talented and — I don't want this to be an age issue — but a lot of them are younger than her. She learned the dances and did a great job.
The scores were what they are. If you have questions about them, I'm not the person to ask! Now that the show has been on for seven years and 14 seasons, a lot of fans know a good cha-cha versus a bad cha-cha. That's why you hear more criticism about the judges' comments. I didn't even say anything about the judges this season. On show days, there are reporters watching in the media room and after some couples get their scores, they look at us like, "What the hell are those marks?" We do a press line after the shows and I was not asked this entire season about the scores because it was so obvious that there was a discrepancy — not just for us, but for other couples as well. We've had seasons where couples were commented on lack of creativity. This season, there's some creative stuff and the couples get dinged on lack on content. Then someone has zero content and gets praised. It's no longer about ballroom and it's about performance. Some get away with that, some don't. Some can't do wrong and some can't do right. I want to reiterate that I'm not even talking about me! Take Donald: He's had some amazing dances that have been underscored.
I hope that there will be major discussions in the off-season about the show. It's a physically demanding show and I think at one point, production forgot that. This is not a scripted soap. In a soap, you can kill someone. We're not actors. We're all pushing our bodies to the limit and they keep throwing more stuff at us. The one night we had off — Mondays — we didn't have anymore for three weeks because of the Dance Duel. I understand it's about ratings, but I think we can all have a meeting and talk about better ways to go about it. But we don't have meetings. They usually tell us last minute about something. We are told about some changes, but they're so vague. It's devastating to you physically and mentally. Your partner's looking at you, like, "Maks, are you out of your mind?" And I just go, "I'm sorry. I'm not the one making you do it." It's one thing for the pros, but these celebrities have never done anything remotely close to this before and it's not fair to them to constantly put them through such a grueling schedule. I've suggested a bye week to producers, like how athletes have in sports, in midseason. Celebrities could take a week off to recharge and we pros will put on a two-hour show to die for. They didn't want it. I suggested cutting five seconds off everyone's routines and making longer rehearsal packages. They say, no, they want to see you dance. I believe that fans want to see you, whether it's dancing or in the packages.
We're dancers and professionals and we're proud of ourselves, but we all want to know what we're a part of. I would like to know the ins and outs of a show I'm putting my blood, sweat and tears into. I want to know why the judges have lost consistency and how many votes we got. How much did Kirstie and I lose by? How much did Mel and I lose by? We dancers will all pull together to get on the same page with the producers. We're all going into a season blindfolded and it's frustrating when you're in the middle of an exhausting and demanding season.
I just voice my opinion and this is how I feel about the show. I take the opportunity to speak my mind publicly. I came from a place where we didn't have that opportunity and if you did, you had to watch what you say. The only consequence now is that some crazy fan who doesn't like me will not like me even more. But at least you head my opinion. I know that I've changed people's opinions about me after meeting them. I'm very accessible and very approachable no matter how I may come across on TV. I don't have Mirror Ball trophies. I enter this race but never win. It's frustrating, but I win in so many other ways. How many people can pick up the phone and have Kirstie Alley, Denise Richards, Misty May Treanor, Melissa Gilbert, Hope Solo, Erin Andrews, Brandy and Mel B. on speed dial? Mel — she texts me all the time from Australia. Those are my wins. Nobody can take that away. And I love the show. I've been given opportunities to live the way my parents were never able to. Nobody gave it to me. I will never win a lottery. In my cards, anything I accomplish is the result of hard work, stubbornness and dedication to the craft. I don't jump around. You can call me a lot of things, but you can't say I am inconsistent. I'll be a better version of myself, but you'll always get Maks. I really am grateful. I'm thankful to the show for just existing to let us dance, speak, express ourselves. We used to be in the background. All of the sudden, we're desirable.
As for next season, it's too early to say if I'll be back. I'm the kind of person who doesn't want to say anything until it's done. It'll depend on where I am a few months from now and what I have on my plate. If I'm not asked back, then my behavior did not please someone. If I am asked back and I can come back, there has to be a serious discussion. I'm not a big deal. There are a lot of cast members. I know I bring some stuff to the show that people don't like, but I would need to know what I'm coming back for.
I know there are rumors about a possible All-Stars season. I don't know any more than you do. I know most fans' first reaction will be "Yes! Amazing!" If they are doing this, I don't know how they are planning it. I finished second with Mel and Kirstie and I think they're both deserving of being part of an All-Stars cast. Do you just ask one? What if they both can do it and want to do it? What happens next? Another thing I've heard is that the returning celebrities who didn't win last time will be paired with new pros. I think that's a terrible idea. It's like saying, "Hey, your marriage didn't work, so let's try you with someone else." What is the point of that? To prove that Derek can win trophies and Maks can't? It's not jealousy speaking. Ultimately, I would never want to deprive people of the experience — it's the most insane, stupid and gratifying experience you'll have. It's unnecessary and completely necessary. If one of my past partners says yes and they're paired with someone else, I'll rooting for them. But I don't think it's right. If there's going to be an All-Stars season, it has to be thought out.
What's next for me? More work. I have our new studio and our grand opening is later this month. Then I have some other things I'm working on that I can't talk about yet. Everything is cool. Life is good.
Lastly, I want to thank all of our fans for your undying support. I truly cannot find the words to describe the feeling when you know that strangers dedicate the most valuable asset they have — time — to you. People stay up all night and vote for us. That is crazy! And I will never be able to repay you for that. The only thing that would even come close is if we had won, which we obviously now can't. It's mindboggling to know you're all out there. We were discounted so many times and you saved us. Melissa and I are truly humbled by it. So thank you, thank you, thank you!