An internationally recognized dance champion, instructor and choreographer, Ukrainian-born Maksim Chmerkovsky is best known for being one of the professional dancers on ABC's hit TV show Dancing with the Stars. Throughout the show, he has been paired with celebrities like Brandy, Kirstie Alley and Denise Richards, showing off his versatility and amazing abilities as a dancer. Along with establishing his name on television screens across the country, Chmerkovskiy also owns four dance studios across New York and is the head of Dance Team USA as well as his own company Maksim Chermkovskiy Productions.

In our interview, he talks about his dance partner and rumored romantic fling ESPN's Erin Andrews. He says that she has a very strong character, and when asked about their relationship, labels their status as in “the divorce part.” He also talks about his past partner Misty-May Treanor's injury, his almost partner Kate Gosselin, and judge Len Goodman's critique on his revealing samba performance with Andrews. Get past Maksim Chmerkovskiy's good looks and even better moves to see what this dancer is really all about in our interview.

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Q: How do you rate your partner, ESPN's Erin Andrews. as a dancer? - Uinterview

I think there were some expectations because of things in history - for the four years of college she was on the cheerleading dance team. She does have a traditional knowledge of music and rhythm. But what happened is we started the season with the idea that we have to start from zero. The last couple of weeks have been really excellent 'cause she's really coming into her own and showing great dances and getting great results. I think we're peaking at the perfect time in the season.

Q: Who do you think your biggest competitors are? - Uinterview

I've never been competitive with anybody like that because I feel like it's a bit counter productive. For a show like this, it's as much a popularity contest as it is a competition, so we just have to appeal to the viewers and try to impress them. Nicole is obviously an incredible dancer. Evan is amazing, too, but you know we can't get worried about that.

Q: How did you react to the threats against Erin at the the beginning of the season? - Uinterview

She came into the show to get away from all the stuff happening in her life [the arrest of a man who illegally taped her undressing]. You know, I feel for her. I met her family and I heard about how hard it was for all of them to deal with all this crap so. It's not that I think of myself as the savior from this situation, she has a very strong personality. But I feel like it's my job aside from teaching her to also take her mind off these things and that's exactly what happened you know. We've had an amazing time together rehearsing 60 hours a week so everything that's coming up, she has me around to kind of buffer the situation around a little bit you know, to talk her through it.

Q: Do you think it affected her performance in the beginning of the season? - Uinterview

Not at all. I think she just always shows strength of character, and she could have been dropping a single tear somewhere in the background, but she would never show it. And she's very strong. She doesn't want people to see her weaknesses, which is fine, but it didn't affect her performance. No, she was very responsible about the job and what we're doing here on the show.

Q: What about all the rumors that you and Erin are romantically involved ? - Uinterview

I think at this point, we're in the divorce part.

Q: Why's that? - Uinterview

Because people always speculate - every season there's somebody that's been speculated about on the account that you know, [we're] two good-looking people, and the audience wants to see it happening, want to see them together, want to see certain things come out of it. It is what it is. We just focus on the competition and whatever else is happening in our personal lives and I guess we'll - there are uncertainties about it. We just hope the audience will get us into the finals - and then we'll tell.

Q: There have been a lot of injuries the past seasons including one of your partners, Misty May-Treanor. Is dancing dangerous? - Uinterview

It's not dangerous. In fact, with physical activity - any rigorous physical activity - you know there are dangers of injury and that's exactly what happened. People don't understand what kind of pressure results and how much toll this kind of activity takes on your body. If you're not trained to withstand such activity, you know the body will breakdown. We calculated it, we have about 50 to 60 hours a week of training in the studio of just moving your body. The soreness level is at an all-time high. It's very difficult, but you know it's the name of the game and this is what we got to do.

Q: What do you look for in a dance partner on the show? - Uinterview

I'm looking for somebody who's physically able you know, somebody whose mentally strong, somebody whose positive, you don't want to spend 10 hours a day with somebody in the studio whose not positive about life and pains in general. Somebody who wants to have fun because you know that's what it is about in the end, it's entertaining. It's a show so you just want to give that feeling to the people watching.

Q: Did you have any experience working with Kate Gosselin on the show? - Uinterview

No not all. [Kate's partner] Tony and I are best friends, and we're helping each other out in a lot of things. You know when he started dancing with Kate, I was trying to help him out, but I didn't work with Kate at all.

Q: Do you feel fortunate that you didn't get Kate as a partner? - Uinterview

[laughs] No, I feel fortunate that I got Erin as a partner. It's a great season, I've never looked this good, and I'm having a lot of fun.

Q: Tell us about your background. You were born in Ukraine. How did you get into dancing? - Uinterview

I started when I was four. My parents gave me an education. And it involves learning a bunch of things, opening doors for girls, growing up you know nice boy and a gentleman, and part of that education was ballroom dancing. But we're talking about ballroom dancing like what they did in 17th century balls with kings and queens, that kind of stuff. I guess I was good at it. Then it turned into ballroom dancing as we know it now. I joined the team in school, and I hated it. I was a much better swimmer and an athlete than I was a dancer, but my parents wanted me to stick with it. When we moved to America, it became my means of support you know. I was 14-15 years old in clubs and restaurants, and I turned it into a profession.

Q: Your brother's a professional dancer too, right? - Uinterview

My brother is a professional dancer and probably one of the best dancers in the United States, and we're proud of his success and career.

Q: Judge Len Goodman criticized you a couple of weeks ago for taking your shirt off during the samba. How did you feel about that? - Uinterview

My reaction is that the judges are just inconsistent. Because you can't say taking the shirt off wasn't the point because it's all about personal interpretation. The samba we got, we added into it, and you know certain things people say about Erin and I been romantically together. We just put on a show that's what it's all about. It could've been a generic samba with traditional samba moves or it could've been a dance well-thought out and presented. That's exactly what we did and it was great. Len decided that he couldn't pick on the dancing, so he had to pick on something else and that's what it was.

Q: So you don't think it was a valid criticism? - Uinterview

No not all, not for this show. It was a valid criticism if it weren't a dancing show. I would never do it, in 26 years of competing I would never [in competition]. But on the show? Absolutely! It's a show dance, it's a show number, and it's all about having fun.