Women aren't the only ones who have the prerogative to change their minds. Dancing with the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who told TV Guide that he would not be returning for Season 6 (starting in March), has had a change of heart. He wants to be asked to return to the show.
His comments, he says, were a result of the fatigue after a very long season and the strain of being away from home (Maks lives and works in Edgewater, New Jersey) for the six months that it took to do two seasons of the show during 2007. "Being away from home for so long was taking its toll," says Maks. "I'm one of those people who get very homesick and needs to recharge the batteries. I've missed all the Hanukkah parties and all the dinners. I haven't seen my family in four months."
But after seeing his words in print, he realized that it was the end-of-season letdown talking. "When I read the article, I was like, 'ah… what have I said?' It was very tear-jerky for me," he says. "I'm honored to be part of this show, and the most important thing is the promotion of ballroom dance. When I had a free moment, I read all the e-mails and looked at my fan site and people were just devastated, to say the least. I didn't mean to do that."
All of this has come as a wallop of a wake-up call to a ballroom dancer who has never experienced this kind of fame. "I don't know how to deal with this," says Maks. "I never had fans outside of my family. People were tuning in to see what I was going to do next, and that, to me, is mind-boggling. I'm not used to that kind of attention. In our ballroom world, we don't have fans like that. But a lot of people, when they found out that I was supposedly quitting the show, there was a ridiculous amount of support."
Maks is currently in Las Vegas choreographing a New Year's Eve show at the Wynn Las Vegas. He'll be there for another week and then will finally be able to go home and enjoy the holidays with his mom, dad, grandmother, brother and the 300 others he calls family but who are, in reality, his students and their families. "I bought a home in New Jersey while I was here in L.A., and the father of one of my students stood in line all night on Black Friday [the day after Thanksgiving] to buy me a television set," says Maks. "Another father is screwing paintings into the wall and doing other little things around the house. And the mothers, along with my mother and grandmother, went shopping for plates and curtains for the windows. They're all my family."
After the holidays, he says, he'll think about what he wants to do next. Never fear: That includes Dancing with the Stars. The pros make dancing look ridiculously easy, but Maks says that dancing this season with Mel B., who already had a punishing schedule getting ready for her world reunion tour with The Spice Girls, put an enormous strain on him. Like all the other pros, he had to worry about new choreography each week. But with Mel B., it was almost impossible because he had to teach her a whole new routine — not in a matter of days — but hours. "It seemed like, at any moment, [the announcer] would say: 'Here's the next dance from Maks and Mel' and we would just walk down the stairs and take the microphone from Tom and say: 'We apologize, but we don't have our dance ready.' That's what I really thought."
But now that he's had some time to recoup, Maks knows that nothing can give him what this show has. He says he just has to learn how to have more fun with it. "Dancing with the Stars opened up all the doors and all the opportunities," says Maks. "I don't want to change anything about it."
You can watch Maks' Dancing moves in our Online Video Guide.
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