The Real Stars of "Dancing"

Maks, Tony and Val being interview by a local news station, right before "Extra" stepped in for their chat session.



Last night marked the grand opening of Dance With Me Stamford, the fourth latin and ballroom dance studio in a chain co-owned by "Dancing with the Stars" pros Tony Dovolani and brothers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy (Maks and Val to their fans). The business partners held a "meet the press" session and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Stamford's mayor. A well-attended cocktail reception and a sampling of performances by the studio faculty followed.


Before this event, I didn't truly grasp the celebrity status these dancers—that's right—dancers—now hold. Now I see why I had such a hard time tracking down Dovolani for an interview last month! These guys were being interviewed by "Extra" and People magazine. After the press was finished, a mob of women took turns having their photos snapped with the debonair Dovolani (to borrow from our 2011 cover) and the apparently notorious Ukranian heartthrobs. (Where have I been?) I was lucky to get to shake hands with Tony and eventually Val, who assured me he doesn't think of himself as a celebrity, but a dancer. Lucky for him, today you can be both.


I've heard mixed opinions on what shows like DWTS and SYTYCD do for the dance world, but seeing them produce stars with enough clout to fill four new studios with dancers, I have to think they're doing something right. If it gets more people to the studio, stage or dance audience, then any publicity is good publicity, right? Even if some of it involves debating whose abs are the hottest...,,20529968,00.html

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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