Asked if he derives more pleasure in teaching dance or actually getting out on the dance floor and performing a cha-cha, samba, foxtrot, paso doble or rumba, Chmerkovskiy pauses.
“Getting on the dance floor and dancing is something I do, and it’s mine,” he explains. “It’s me and myself, and it’s about self-expression – and you can’t beat self-expression. But teaching dance, first of all, gave me a trade. And, ultimately, that’s what led to Dancing with the Stars and all the opportunities since then.
“I also love the fact that I started teaching,” he says. “There’s something amazing about seeing the result of your work, especially since the results have to do with a human being. Because I started so young, right now, 17 years later, I have kids who were students and are now adults themselves. I taught them when they were 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 years old. Now they’re in their mid-20s, and I know that I helped change their life and made it better, that I created an artist. That’s an incredible achievement. So you can’t compare the two. I love to dance. I love the center stage. I love the audience. I love the response, especially when it’s a good response. But teaching is just a whole different pleasure.”
Striking while the iron is hot, or as Chmerkovskiy puts it, “pushing to reinvent myself on pretty much a daily basis,” he’s fast becoming Chmerkovskiy Inc. He writes a regular blog and lends his support to Dance Team USA, which promotes dance activities for kids. Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas production of La Reve, which he choreographed, continues to pack ‘em in. And in the works are additional Dance With Me studios (in Los Angeles, Vegas, Connecticut and Miami), as well as several endorsement deals, TV show guest spots, hosting a Ukrainian version of the British game show called The Cube, and more.
“What do I want to do long term?” Chmerkovskiy says. “I want to make a difference. It’s a very exaggerated phrase, and I can’t really specify. After that, number one, I want a family. I want a bunch of kids. And my long-term dream, which I see very vividly – and I say this with caution because I know it’s extremely romantic – but I see myself on my lawn with my wife, a bunch of kids, a bunch of grandkids and a bunch of bulldogs running around. My lawn is very big, my house is a castle and my life has been phenomenal. Everyone is happy, everyone is taken care of and …everyone is dancing.”