Dance pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy and celebrity partner Spice Girl Mel B mamboed and waltzed to second place on the latest edition of TV's Dancing Withthe Stars.
Now, the 27-year-old Ukrainian-born immigrant, whose friends call him "Maks," has been tapped to choreograph part of the Le Rêve extravaganza at the Wynn Las Vegas casino resort. The oft-retooled show returns from a hiatus Saturday with two new ballroom numbers that he created. Tickets start at $112.85, including tax.
Elaine Wynn, wife of Vegas casino hotel mogul Steve Wynn, is a fan of Dancing and brought Chmerkovskiy to her husband's attention.
Le Rêve ("the dream" in French) previously had been more about Cirque du Soleil-style aerial and gymnastic feats and water acrobatics, but the flashy dancer says he came up with two routines that feature three couples executing ballroom moves on a narrow stage while synchronized swimmers perform. But he won't be onstage.
"It might be a good (career) move" to dance in a Vegas hotspot, he says. "But from outside, I can be a lot more helpful. If I'm dancing, it's going to turn into a one-man show. This is an ensemble."
As for Dancing With the Stars, his contract calls for two more seasons, he says. But he doesn't know whether he'll appear on the next one, due to start rehearsals this winter.
"They say they want me back, but it's a last-minute call always," he says. No celebs or dancers have been announced for the next installment.
Known for his confidence — some would say arrogance — he says he did Dancing not to become a star himself, but "because I didn't like the way the ballroom dancing world was portrayed."
The chest-baring, 6-foot-2 Chmerkovskiy, who came to the USA at 14 and started teaching dance at 16, says he has seen the best and worst sides of celebrity.
"Yes, I am tough. Yes, I can be difficult if you try to sway me in a way I don't agree with. I'm honest, and I probably get myself in trouble for it. I don't go the way the wind is blowing. My thing is I make the wind."