With the premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" Season 18 less than a month away (March 17!), fans are buzzing about all the changes taking place. For one thing, longtime music director Harold Wheeler and his orchestra won't be returning. And neither will co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet—she'll be replaced by Fox Sports reporter and Season 11 second runner-up Erin Andrews.

This week brought us some more shocking news: After quitting two seasons ago, our favorite ballroom bad boy is returning to the show.

That's right, guys, Maks is back.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy (ABC)

The details surrounding Maksim Chmerkovskiy's departure from the show were somewhat hazy. The then 32-year-old pro admitted to wanting to take sometime for himself after eight years on the show, but rumors suggest there may have also been some other, more tense, reasoning (including an on-camera scuffle with judge Len Goodman).

But, you know, let bygones be bygones, right? MAKS IS BACK! And we're absolutely swooning over it.

Twenty points if you made this connection (looking at you "DWTS" devotees): New co-host Erin Andrews was paired with Maks back when she took third place in Season 11. Here are the two performing their almost-perfect-scoring Argentine Tango:

It'll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out!

The Season 18 celebrity contestants will be announced this Tuesday, March 4, on "Good Morning America." And who knows, maybe Maks will be paired with someone who can help him bring home his first mirror ball trophy. Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

We called it (well, almost)! One of the fabulous Final Five is going to be cha cha-ing her way around the "Dancing with the Stars" ballroom in two weeks. And while Simone Biles might have to wait until next season to don her dancing shoes, the gymnast gracing the floor this go-around is an even more natural fit for "DWTS": Laurie Hernandez, whose deliciously dance-y Olympic floor routine earned her a forever home in our hearts.

We'd like to request that all her "DWTS" routines begin with this exact wink, please and thank you. (via Giphy)

The full Season 23 "DWTS" cast list was revealed this morning on "Good Morning America," and while some of the other celeb choices left us scratching our heads (Ryan Lochte? Jeah no), there's lots of happy news on the pro front. For starters, the lovely Allison Holker is returning to show off her incredible post-baby body (dancing with, fittingly, Babyface). But also: Maks is back! Derek is back! CHERYL IS BACK, YOU GUYS!

Get your spray tan on and pull out your favorite bedazzled mini (as if you aren't already wearing it): Season 23 premieres Monday, September 12 on ABC. Here's the full cast list:

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Amber Rose

Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Laurie Hernandez

Artem Chigvintsev and Maureen McCormick

Sasha Farber and Terra Jole

Derek Hough and Marilu Henner

Witney Carson and Vanilla Ice

Lindsay Arnold and Calvin Johnson

Jenna Johnson and Jake T. Austin

Allison Holker and Babyface

Sharna Burgess and James Hinchcliffe

Emma Slater and Rick Perry

Cheryl Burke and Ryan Lochte

Gleb Savchenko and Jana Kramer

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Zendaya’s official Finding Neverland: The Album music video, for her remixed version of the song “Neverland,” is filled with some awesomely dancey moments—and a little Broadway magic.

Zendaya surrounded by waltzing dancers. (screenshot via Vimeo)

The video takes place on a glam theater stage and features choreography by Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Ian Eastwood, who both also make dance appearances. There are some great duet moments (Zendaya herself gets swept away in a waltz with Chmerkovskiy), some gorgeous group-dance sequences AND a slower hip-hop segment.

The hip-hop sequence (screenshot via Vimeo)

The video also adds an enchanting Peter Pan-esque plot with a mysterious Hook character played by Tony Award-winner Bryan Cranston (one of the producers of Finding Neverland), who lets Zendaya in on a little industry advice.

Watch below and prepare to be #obsessed.

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"Dancing with the Stars" pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy officially put a ring on it when he proposed to girlfriend and fellow "Dancing with the Stars" pro Peta Murgatroyd this past Saturday night—basically cementing the pair’s cutest-couple-of-all-time status.

Audience members captured the magical moment, which Maks later posted on Instagram. (Photo by @maksimc)

The proposal story has us swooning, and, quite fittingly, took place on the dance floor. During a performance of Sway: A Dance Trilogy at the Olympia Theater in Miami, Chmerkovskiy surprised the audience and his cast mates by getting down on one knee and popping the question, telling his future bride “I’m in love with you, and I will be in love with you for the rest of my life.” OMG.

The pair later posted more adorable love notes and photos of the moment on Instagram, Chmerkovskiy’s captioned as “She said ‘yes’” and Peta’s with the caption “I said yes!!!!!! You have my heart forever my love. Love always wins.”

AWWWWWWW. (Photo by @petamurgatroyd)

Later that night, Peta was spotted flashing her new bling and posing with her future sis-in-law at the Sway Alfalit Gala.

Just look at that rock!!! (Photo by @petamurgatroyd)

They're SO happy! (Photo by @petamurgatroyd)

Congrats you two lovebirds!!

P.S. We're gonna need wedding details, NOW!

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Oh, dance #pranks!

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd, as if it needs to be said, are incredible ballroom dancers with multiple "Dancing with the Stars" championships to their names. (They're also a smokin'-hot offstage couple.) But what if Maks and Peta were just two not-so-talented olds trying to shuffle their way through an open dance class?

That's the question "Good Morning America" posed this week. For a special "GMA Undercover" segment, the show put Maks and Peta in some pretty effective disguises—fake bellies and aggressive wigs were involved—and dropped them into a musical theater class at NYC's Steps on Broadway, where the duo did their best bad dancing.

Maks and Peta's alter egos (via @petamurgatroyd)

Basically, they tried to look like Aunt Linda and Uncle Jerry* on the dance floor at cousin Ashley's wedding—and because they're overachievers in everything they do, they were darn convincing. Not that it was easy for them to go against all their better dance instincts. “I was trying not to laugh at the people who were laughing at me,” Murgatroyd said. “It was kind of hard to be off beat, actually.”

Eventually Maks and Peta couldn't help but bust out a fabulous little salsa number, cluing in their legitimately clueless classmates. You just can't keep world-class dancers down.

Enjoy all the delightful awkwardness:

*For the record, their official code names were Bob and Ronda. Which is amazing.

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Edward Villella, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and one of the most celebrated American danseurs (not to mention the former artistic director of Miami City Ballet), is returning as co-artistic director of "Shall We Dance on Ice"—a show that features both ballroom and ice dancing. Villella has been choreographing for ice dancing, of late, so he seems like the right guy to bring a critical eye to the show.

"Shall We Dance on Ice" will feature several champion ice dancers, including everyone's favorite from Season 18 of "Dancing With the Stars." That's right, Season 18 winner Meryl Davis and skating partner Charlie White (the two also happen to be the first Americans to win a gold medal in ice dancing...nbd) will appear on the show, along with fellow Olympic ice dancing champions Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat and a host of other top skaters from around the world.

Of course, Meryl has proved her chops on the ballroom dance floor, too. Here's hoping she'll join her former "DWTS" partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy and our friend Chelsie Hightower, along with the other dancers appearing on the show.

Tune in to ABC on Saturday, March 7, at 4:00pm EST to catch the action.

 

 

"Dancing with the Stars" announced its cast for Season 18 earlier this morning, and holy moly we're excited. Not only did our suspicions about Olympians competing for the mirror ball trophy come true, but the list of athletes involved is even better than we had hoped.

Charlie White and Meryl Davis sport their gold medals at the Empire State Building last week. Photo via OK! Magazine.

First up is Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Sochi's ice dancing gold medal winners (USA! USA! USA!), though they won't be paired together—Meryl will dance with Maksim Chmerkovskiy (#TeamMaksyl ...eh, we'll work on that one) and Charlie will dance with Sharna Burgess. Next is Paralympian Amy Purdy, a snowboarding champ who is also a double amputee. She'll be paired with the unstoppable Derek Hough (is there anything he isn't doing these days?).

Sean Avery, before he retired from hockey. Photo by Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press

Dancing with Karina Smirnoff is Sean Avery, the NHL dreamboat who's played for the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings, the Los Angeles Kings and the Dallas Stars. Rounding out the sports category is Diana Nyad, a long distance swimmer who is the only person in history to go from Key West to Cuba—that's 110 miles—without stopping and braving sharks, jellyfish and exhaustion. Let's just say her partner, Henry Byalikov, better bring it.

Of course, what would the show be without a smattering of TV celebs? This season does not disappoint. Two words: Winnie Cooper. Another two words: D.J. Tanner. That's right, Danica McKellar from "The Wonder Years" and Candace Cameron Bure from "Full House" will be going neck and neck in just two weeks. Winnie Danica will dance with Val Chmerkovskiy and D.J. Candace will work with Mark Ballas.

(R to L) Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) in "The Wonder Years"; D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) in "Full House"

Cheryl Burke will be paired with Drew Carey, whom I can't believe hasn't been on the show yet. And Real Housewife of Atlanta NeNe Leakes (also known as Roz Washington on "Glee") will be swept off her feet by Tony Dovolani.

(L to R) Lando (Billy Dee Williams) with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewy and Hans Solo (Harrison Ford)

Star Wars nerds rejoice: Billy Dee Williams (you know him as Lando Calrissian) will also dance, paired with British musical theater vet Emma Slater.

Cody Simpson is the youngest competitor. At 17, the Aussie pop singer will dance with Witney Carson, the Season 9 "So You Think You Can Dance" bombshell from Utah. And James Maslow, the 23-year-old sweetheart from Nickelodeon's "Big Time Rush" will be competing with Peta Murgatroyd. From the looks of this picture of the duo out on the town earlier this February, it may be a match made in "DWTS" heaven:

Peta and James leaving a restaurant in West Hollywood in early February. Photo by SPW/Splash News

All in all, it's going to be a great season. Who are you most excited to see? Any early predictions? Don't forget to set your DVRs (or just tune in!) for the two-hour season premiere, March 17 at 8 pm ET on ABC.

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