Val Chmerkovskiy has taken the popularity of “Dancing With the Stars” to get adults off the couch and onto the dance floor with his Dance With Me studios.
“Anyone can dance,” Chmerkovskiy said last week on a visit to his Southlake studio, which opened two years ago. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, your race or your gender. It celebrates how different we all are, but ultimately how many similarities we really share.”
Southlake Town Square was the first Texas location of Dance With Me, a studio teaching ballroom and social dancing Chmerkovskiy started with his brother Maks Chmerkovskiy. In September, they opened a studio at the Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth, and last week they celebrated a grand opening in Austin. Other locations are near Houston, in the New York City area and in Las Vegas.
Chmerkovskiy is well known to fans as one of the pro partners in “Dancing With the Stars,” or DWTS. He won the competition in 2016 with gymnast Laurie Hernandez and in 2015 with Rumer Willis, the daughter or Demi Moore and Bruce Willis.
Dancing can help anyone become healthier and is much more fun than spending time on a treadmill, he said.
“Movement is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Christine O’Sullivan of Little Elm is proof of the health benefits of dancing. She’s lost 80 pounds since she began taking lessons at Dance With Me two years ago.
“I’d never danced before, but I’d always wanted to try,” O’Sullivan said.
When she started she was extremely shy, but now that dance boosted her confidence, she competes in ballroom and social dancing competitions.
“Anybody could do this,” she said. “I never thought I would get to this level.”
Alex Samusevich, director of marketing for Dance With Me, said the success of Southlake studio shows that in-person experiences can do well in an era of struggling retail stores. The location averages 150 to 200 students a month.
“You can’t do this online,” Samusevich said of the partner dancing and lessons the studio provides.
Chmerkovskiy said dance is great at bringing people together, especially in a time when the political divide is so great.
“You can just get away in the world of dance and just dance,” he said. “It celebrates the things that unite us more than separate us.”
In addition to working with his studios and DWTS, Chmerkovskiy has been busy writing his autobiography, which will be released in March.
It tells the story of how he emigrated at age 8 with his family from Odessa, Ukraine and to Brooklyn, New York, where he discovered dance.
“I just want people to read a fun story, laugh and be inspired,” he said.
For more information on Dance With Me studios, go to dancewithmeusa.com.