Today's guest post comes from Francesca Harvey, a student who came to NYC recently with Live! Starring...You!—a pop-culture media organization that trains teen reporters to cover people in the spotlight—for National Entrepreneurship Week.
Tony Dovolani and brothers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy have been famous in the ballroom world for a long time. It’s only in recent years that the trio—and several other ballroom champions—have become Hollywood celebrities.
That's what appearing on "Dancing with the Stars" will do for you.
For Tony, Maks and Val, their "DWTS" fame has also drawn attention to their business. With three other business partners, they own four Dance With Me studios: one in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, and others in Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Now, they want to expand the studio across the country.
After all, there seems to be a need.
“One of the things we run into as we travel across the country is everybody is asking us for lessons,” Tony told me during a recent interview at the SoHo studio.
Francesca with Tony, Maks and Val. Not a bad place to be! (Photo by Tim O'Shei)
The guys have developed a teaching system that blends their individual approaches and styles. They instruct their own teachers in that system so all their students are learning the same way.
“Now, all of our teachers believe in the same system,” Tony said. “They’re taught by us. If you walk into our studio, you’re getting a combination of Tony, Maks and Val.”
Our interview also included a dance lesson with Val! We thought it was pretty cool that we got to dance with him one week before he was paired with "Shake It Up" star Zendaya Coleman for the next season of "DWTS." (Tony is paired with Wynonna Judd, while Maks isn't participating in the next season.)
Learning how to groove with Val! (Photo by Tim O'Shei)
If you want to find out how we fared, click here to read our story and watch the video on the Live! Starring … You! site.
But ask Tony, and he’ll tell you they can turn anyone into a dancer!
“We’ve developed a system where there's not one person we can’t teach,” he said. “If you can walk, we can teach you how to dance.”
Francesca Harvey is the student editor of LiveStarringYou.com and a junior at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo, NY.
There's a whole lot to love about "Dancing with the Stars": celebrities, glittery costumes, live music, zany judges...we could go on. But one of the most lovable aspects of the show is getting to witness the journey of each (previously) non-dancing celeb. It's easy to get sentimental about the idea that anyone can dance.
Three "DWTS" pros--Tony Dovolani and brothers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy --are committed to spreading that philosophy beyond the show's set through their chain of Dance With Me studios. Last spring, we caught up with these ballroom boys in their SoHo studio, where they told us about their unique system of instruction that blends each of their individual styles.
And now the trio is celebrating the opening of their sixth Dance With Me studio, in Fort Lee, NJ.
"I am ecstatic to open our sixth studio...this one in my own backyard. I literally live down the street. I can't wait to give my neighbors and friends a chance to experience what we're so passionate about," says Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
The three joined Mayor Mark Sokolich and other dance enthusiasts in a ribbon cutting ceremony last Wednesday. Check out these pictures from the event, courtesy of The Star-Ledger:
Mayor Mark Sokolich and Maksim Chermkovskiy cut the ceremonial ribbon. (Alex Remnick/The Star-Ledger)
A reporter speaks with Maksim (right) and Valentin (left) Chmerkovskiy. (Alex Remnick/The Star-Ledger)
Of course, it wouldn't be a dance celebration without a little dancing! Guests were entertained by dance instructors Vladimir and Amanda. (Alex Remnick/The Star-Ledger)