Dancing with the Stars hunk, Val Chmerkovskiy, is visiting Seattle for the first time and performing in Ballroom with a Twist! He and his brother, Maksim, join Karina Smirnoff and Sharna Burgess on stage at the 5th Avenue Theatre tonight through Sunday. Val took some time to talk about Ballroom with a Twist, DWTS, his family and life in general. Don’t miss Ballroom with a Twist! Get tickets here.
ED: What is your favorite part of Ballroom with a Twist?
VC: My favorite part is the human element. For me, it is very inspiring to share the stage with people with this caliber of talent. They have such a passion for what they do. Being able to collaborate with such incredible singers, dancers and motivated artists is just a great feeling. I am a fan of everyone in the show so I get an amazing sense of joy from performing with them.
ED: Can we expect any surprises during the show?
VC: Oh yes, there are plenty of surprises. One of the things I love about the show is that there are a couple of times throughout the show where we come out and address the audience. It becomes a sort of improv scenario where we interact with the audience and even dance with them. Those are the surprises. They are the parts where nothing is planned. These sections become very impromptu and fun. The audience doesn’t really see what is coming up and we don’t know what to expect.
ED: How do you feel about returning to DWTS next season?
VC: I am very excited. The announcement was just made Wednesday. I feel very fortunate to be able to perform on a show that provides me the platform to share my talent and passion with an average of 20 million people a week. I am incredibly lucky for that. I am very grateful to be called back. I love all the work that goes into the show. It is a lot of work. It isn’t easy. I am also very excited to meet my new partner. I have no idea who it might be. I love the process of meeting someone new and finding out more about them while building a lifelong relationship with them. This journey that we go through each season is the greatest thing ever.
ED: What do you think about your brother (Maksim Chmerkovskiy) leaving the show?
VC: About time man, he is always hogging the spotlight (laughing). I am joking. It is rare these days for siblings to work in the same city much less the same industry. To be able to work in the same industry at the same job that also happens to be the number 1 TV show in America is just crazy. For me it has been an incredible ride. We are super close and it has been great for our family to witness that and watch us together. I think it will be amazing for our future children to know that we had that experience. Our lives didn’t start with Dancing with the Stars and it certainly isn’t ending there. My brother and I have a lot of projects that we want to do together. We are very close. We love one another and support each other. I am sad that this chapter of our life has come to an end and we won’t be able to share the stage on DWTS anymore. But at the same time, there are plenty of other projects that we will partner in. I do think it is a great time for him to exit gracefully. Leaving on top after last season is an incredible blessing. He has a decade of commitment to DWTS and I think it is time for him to work on other projects.
ED: Are you and your brother competitive off screen?
VC: We are very competitive but not with each other. We are very driven and competitive individuals together against other people. We are a very tight-knit family. He and I have been together our entire lives. We literally shared bunk beds until he was 22 and I was 16 years old. It is a long time. We have zero competition between each other but we have a lot of ambition collectively.
ED: What have been some of your most memorable moments of DWTS so far?
VC: I have had a lot of great experiences. I really enjoyed my season with Kelly Monaco when we went all the way to the finals. Every week we were expected to be eliminated and we made it all the way to the finals. Obviously that was a huge year for me. The fact that I got to dance the flamenco in a speedo on national television was pretty exciting as well. Then the following season I was with Zendaya and that was a magical time together. Those memories are amazing. I think one of the top three most memorable moments of DWTS for me is watching my brother win last season. For me that was a huge moment. It was very exciting. It meant a lot to me. Those are a few moments that stand out but every week is a highlight. I love the journey overall.
ED: How do you feel about having such a large LGBT fan base?
VC: I am humbled. I don’t know about that but if I do, I am very grateful for that. I don’t discriminate against people. I know that the gay community loves and supports the arts. They usually have very passionate personalities and pursue their dreams. It is a very big compliment to be embraced by a community like that. It is awesome.
ED: Do you have a message for LGBTQ youth?
VC: Yes! If you do find something different about yourself, that is something to embrace. It is something you should celebrate. I think the worst thing is to be like everybody else. You should be proud of the differences that you have. Right now, there has been sort of a renaissance of dance and art in America, especially among the youth. It is not taboo anymore for a boy to dance. It is not gay or straight, it just is. It is cool. As a young kid, I grew up dancing at a different time and was bullied for many different reasons. I was different, being an immigrant, I didn’t speak the language. I had a good family and some people that gave me the confidence to not let that get me down. I think everyone is entitled to happiness. I am not an entitled person. I don’t believe people should take things for granted or feel like they are entitled to something in this life. They need to get out there and earn everything. Happiness is free. I do believe that happiness is the one thing that everyone is entitled to have in their lives. I feel that happiness comes from within. Embrace your differences and whatever it is that sets you apart and find that happiness.