Here’s a fun bit of “Dancing With the Stars” trivia — a professional dancer who went on to become a fan favorite initially turned the show down. Read on to find out why Maksim Chmerkovskiy said no to “Dancing With the Stars” season one and how his brother Val Chmerkovskiy convinced him to do it.
Maks Thought ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Sounded Crazy
During an interview on Olivia Jade’s new podcast, “Conversations With Olivia Jade,” she asked her “Dancing With the Stars” partner Val how he came to be involved with “Dancing With the Stars,” and he explained to her how his older brother Maks was recruited first.
“[When they were creating the show] they tapped into the world of competitive ballroom dancing, which was a very small, niche world that nobody knew and they picked out some of the more talented [professional dancers],” Val explained, adding that “a lot of the top couples said no to the project because they didn’t know what it was … [it] sounds crazy. A reality TV show where I have to teach a celebrity? Even that in itself is already like, ‘Ugh, I’m not putting up with that.'”
And Maks was one of those pros who was asked to do season one and said no — even though Val thought he should say yes.
“He was invited to season one and he was like, ‘That’s whack’ and I was like, ‘Listen, go do that!’ I’m 19 at the time, my brother’s 25 … I was at Pace University in New York City for business … my brother was a [dance] studio owner,” explained Val.
Val went on to say that luckily, “some really talented pros” said yes, and “Dancing With the Stars” became a “phenomenon.”
“The entire dance world was watching Evander Holyfield do a foxtrot and … instantly, I went from ‘what do you do?!’ to ‘oh, you do that thing that I just saw on TV!'” said Val, adding, “It immediately kind of validated my choices and overnight it went from this weird thing that my entire life people looked at me and said, ‘Why are you spending so much of you time, effort and energy and money?’ and looked at my parents like they were crazy … ‘you’re allowing them to pursue ballroom dance?!’ and overnight a project like this made it mainstream.”
Luckily, The Show Asked Maks To Do Season 2
Val said that his brother was working 60 hours a week as a studio owner, “grinding in a really kind of down moment in his life,” so when “Dancing With the Stars” came calling again, his family was able to convince him to do the show and the rest is history.
“He was still very proud and still didn’t want to go and all of us were like, ‘Bro, you have to go do this.’ This was television! At the time, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ was getting 25 million [viewers]. When it started, it was a huge phenomenon,” said Val.
Val also shared a really sweet anecdote about how back then, it was before the days of social media as we know it today. Instead, there were chat rooms and message boards — and Val created fake accounts to defend his brother online.
“My brother … instantly became this notorious personality that kind of just said whatever was on his mind,” said Val. “People fell in love or really didn’t like him, you know? He was that type of personality. And I would go on these chat rooms where people would be like, ‘Maks is so cocky! Maks is so arrogant.’ … I would go and I would comment, ‘Hey, well he’s actually really fun, he’s actually really nice’ … I would make multiple accounts, I would be his superfan lowkey making accounts that talk positive about him.”
And luckily for Maks, he went on to have a lot of success on the show, making it to the finals a handful of times (with one win, in season 18 with Meryl Davis). He also met his future wife, fellow pro Peta Murgatroyd. The two welcomed their son Shai and got married in 2017.
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on ABC.