Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy are getting Stripped Down, going from the ballroom to the road with their own live show this summer. After the pandemic put a damper on any touring last year, the Ukrainian-American brothers are happy to see their vision realized before audiences across the country with dates running July 24 through August 21.
The Dancing With the Stars Mirror Ball champs-turned-entrepreneurs took a break from rehearsal to chat about their newest passion project, collaborating together and DWTS entering its milestone 30th season this year on ABC.
What inspired you to do Maks & Val: Stripped Down?
Maks: It came from reflecting after the disastrous year we’ve had. The fact we were told, ‘no, you can’t go out to do that thing you love to do.’ Once the chance came about, Val and I said, ‘Let’s strip it down to what is needed for this to be possible. Though in the process, let’s not lose the integrity or quality of the show we want to put out there.’ Everyone needs a little bit of therapy, maybe a lot of therapy. This is ours. We put our souls and hardships on stage. We let people connect, and enjoy laughing, crying, reflecting as we are being very honest. Inspiration to be an honest performer is not something you seek out. It’s something you feel. I think Val and I were lucky enough to be in this position where we are connecting true life stories on stage, which we hope will resonate with people who come see us.
How has it been working on this labor of love?
Val: I’d say it’s split in the middle — 50% labor, 50% love. It has been wonderful to have created and worked together for close to 30 years. We have whole new respect and appreciation for each other [after Stripped Down]. I think in the past we’ve taken each other for granted. Now, we have an absolute love for each other through this process. This tour especially is coming from a place of incredible love. As time passes you realize how special this relationship is and the art that comes from it.
While the world stopped, you guys did not. How did Dancing With the Stars and The Masked Dancer respectively help you to stay in shape?
Val: It was huge. We also have dance studios with locations around the country. We danced and taught. I did conventions on weekends. My brother and I created an app this last year that teaches dance remotely. One of the catalysts for these types of adventures is this self-serving desire to stay in shape. The second we stop dancing, we start decaying. Dancing keeps us healthy. [I am] very grateful for Dancing With the Stars to continue inviting me back and keeping me in shape physically and mentally as an artist.
This past season I’m sure gave you a renewed appreciation for an audience, too.
Val: I’ve never taken our audience for granted, but this last season was a shadow of itself because of that element being gone. I love the congregation. I love the gathering and getting together. What we create [is] one part and the other is the audience to share it with.
We’re going into the 30th season of DWTS. Looking back, how does it feel to be part of its legacy, and how it has brought attention to dance?
Maks: In the beginning, most of us weren’t looking at it as a big thing. Some of us were still competing for world titles. We had no intention of being a part of this. It felt like selling out for some sort of TV project. If we knew then what we knew now about what this would have become, there would be a line of thousands of dancers applying. That is what it created. It created an avenue.
It opened doors to So You Think You Can Dance and others. It became a career. We didn’t have this before. Regardless of what it seems like with my relationship with Dancing With the Stars, I’m not going to dwell on that. But I’m personally one of the biggest, if not the biggest fan of the show. I will do anything I can contribute to see it stay on TV because it’s very important to our industry.
I’m sure people would love to see you come out of DWTS retirement, Maks.
Maks: They can see me come out of retirement with these [Stripped Down] live shows.
Val, have you gotten any word about this season?
Val: I can’t necessarily talk about this season just yet, but I can say I am excited that I will be a part of it. Hopefully, everybody is going to tune in and enjoy the best season ever.
What would folks be surprised to know you like to do outside of dancing?
Val: We love basketball. I play pretty regularly. It’s my other escape and form of keeping me in shape and competitive. I’m a huge basketball fan.
Maks: I’m a little older. I’m into golf. Watching it is a different story. It’s like watching paint dry. I love the game though. I enjoy joining Val on the basketball court. I love playing on the same team. I think people don’t realize we live very normal lives. I love spending time at home. Everything I want to do has to do with my family. I love being around people who I love. It’s a blessing to be on the road like this because it also means I get to have Val all to myself.
Dancing With the Stars, Season 30, TBA, ABC
For more information on Maks & Val: Stripped Down, visit their event website.
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