DANCING WITH A STAR Featured in BELLO issue #140 BY DIO ANTHONY PHOTOGRAPHS MAARTEN DE BOER STYLED BY MERCEDES NATALIA 30-year-old Ukranian Born Val Chmerkovskiy has been Dancing with the stars for over 10 seasons on ABCs demanding competitive series. With two wins behind him, and his popularity and demand on the show growing by the dance number, the New York raised actor makes two things clear—30 has never (ever) looked better, and his show’s best kept secret—he’s the star. The first time you appeared on the series was in 2006 in Season 2. Did you ever think you’d be here now, 10 years later? I never in a million years thought a show like this would exist. And then when it did, I never in a million years thought that it would last for 20 seasons. It’s very crazy! I feel grateful to be given an opportunity to see my talents fulfill themselves. To be given a platform as huge as that on average dancing for 15, 20 million people, every week six months out of the year… But mostly i’m grateful for the opportunity that this has given me to make my life better because of it, to make the lives of my family and friends better. I don’t take this platform for granted and try to do with it as much as I possibly can. You were the winner of season 20 and now just recently season 23. Looking back what has been the most memorable season for you? I’d say my season with Zendaya even though we didn’t win might be my most memorable. I got to work wth this young, strong talent. This young woman, that even back then I saw a leader, an alpha if you will—someone that was passionate. I was very driven to at the very least inspire her to be a better performer but also a better person, in whatever way I could do at the time. this past season I was paired with Laurie Hernandez, who is sixteen years old, and yet again—I’m in one of the most memorable seasons yet again, because I get to work with a young mind. A young lady that has potential to inspire and influence an entire generation of young girls. So, for me, I look at it as the biggest gift throughout this whole whole opportunity. DWTS has helped me inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Being the Laurie is an olympic gymnast. Did you pick up any pointers that could be used towards dancing from her? I wish! I’m familiar with her range and try to capitalize on that as much as I can. She obviously has flexibility and range, and to my luck she also has rhythm…which in my experience athletes don’t always have. So, in my opinion that’s already a combination for success. In terms of what I picked up from her? [laughs], very little. I could do a cartwheel which is already above average, but I’m nowhere near an olympic gymnast at all. Would you say your process changes with everyone you’re paired with, or does it typically stay the same? I’m a lot more conscious of the story of my choreography with someone like Laurie who’s 16. Versus someone who’s a little older, or a mature woman I guess, if you will. I might indulge in sexier moves or in a different narrative between us, because ultimately that’s what Ballroom dancing is. Organically something that happens between two people, that chemistry and touching, it’s what makes latin dancing what it is. However, that’s not the only thing—so with Laurie I tried focusing on other elements of ballroom dancing that make it still exciting and full of chemistry but without that sexual element in it. So, this is bit of a different question. What song currently out now can you not refrain yourself from dancing to whenever it comes on? To be honest—I love all genres, But I grew up in Brooklyn, New York—so i’m a hip-hop head, an old school one. Right now, A$ap Ferg’s new song gets me—New Level. I can’t contain myself, dude—that beat drops really heavily. Now that you’ve been on the show as a regular for a couple seasons. What helps you stay fresh and new? I try and stay current. I try and get back to New York as much as I can, because of the inspiration that’s in the city. I feel like variety, diversity, culture, history, passion—these all things that I find really, really inspiring. They are also all the things that comprises New York City. A pot of cultures, a melting pot of attitudes and egos. I find that so inspiring. The fact that there are so many people within the city with different views. It motivates my curiosity, I think that’s what keeps me going and inspired—the ability to learn something new everyday. Like many celebrities, you’ve also expressed some words on November’s unprecedented Election Results. Can I ask you, how’re you generally feeling? It doesn’t matter what my political views are but, I just want people to understand that it doesn’t matter who your president is. You are the President of the United States of whoever you are. The bottom line is it starts with local legislature and that’s yourself. You treat others how you’d like to be treated. Then it starts with your family, then your community—then it starts for the accountability for your city, for your town, for your state and then ultimately the country. But I feel like so many issues are being pointed at one person, issues that not one person created. It really doesn’t matter who I voted for, or wether you agree or not. The duty of this country is to listen to each-other. That’s the ability that this country has, the ability to improve, to be better. For us to speak out again, be able to critique. A lot of the freedom that we enjoy in this country is very unique to us. That doesn’t mean we should accept injustice. It doesn’t mean that we shoulda accept lack of this or that and so on. Rather ask yourself, what can I do now? I’m a product of an immigrant family and no matter how people feel about living in this country I would always feel a huge amount of gratitude for what the country has given me. For the rest of my life I’ll be grateful for being able to grow up in New York City. I know that it’s not the elect that many of us expected or supported but a big portion of our country did, and that’s something to think about. My advice is, go out there, and stand your ground—not just on Twitter! 2 Responses OhLaLa Val Chmerkovskiy Does BELLO - Test Site January 9, 2017 […] 30-year-old Ukranian Born Val Chmerkovskiy has been Dancing with the stars for over 10 seasons on ABCs demanding competitive series. With two wins behind him, and his popularity and demand on the show growing by the dance number, the New York raised actor makes two things clear—30 has never (ever) looked better, and his show’s best kept secret—he’s the star. Source. […] Reply OhLaLa Val Chmerkovskiy Does BELLO – OHLALAmag January 9, 2017 […] 30-year-old Ukranian Born Val Chmerkovskiy has been Dancing with the stars for over 10 seasons on ABCs demanding competitive series. With two wins behind him, and his popularity and demand on the show growing by the dance number, the New York raised actor makes two things clear—30 has never (ever) looked better, and his show’s best kept secret—he’s the star. Source. […] Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Name* Email* Website Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.