Meet The Pro Dancers for DWTS Season 19
ABC's Dancing with the Stars returns for its 19th season MONDAY SEPT 15 8|7c, and this morning ABC announced the pro dancers who will be teaching the new batch of stars and competing alongside them! There are some familiar faces and longtime faves, as well as some folks who are soon to be your new favorites. So as you watch Season 19 of the series—which was recently nominated for several Primetime Emmy awards including Outstanding Reality Competition Program!—you'll see the talented dancers below.
MARK BALLAS – Mark is an Emmy®-nominated choreographer, actor and musician. As part of the professional cast of “Dancing with the Stars” for the past 14 seasons, Mark has proven to not only be a fan favorite, but is also no stranger to the coveted Mirrorball trophy. He is a two-time champion and a seven-time finalist - winning season six with Kristi Yamaguchi and season eight with Shawn Johnson.
Born in Houston, Texas, Mark moved to London with his family as a child and joined the Italia Conti Academy of Dramatic Arts Associate School where his training in acting, singing, dancing and music began.
When not dancing, Mark focuses on his other passion -- music. Mark is an accomplished guitarist specializing in Flamenco, Funk, Blues and Rock. In May 2014, Mark released his debut single “Get My Name” produced by Wizz Dumb, which Ballas co-wrote with writer Jo’zzy. “Get MyName” broke Top 40 in release week on the iTunes pop chart landing #24 and the music video debuted #1 on multiple MTV platforms. On August 3, 2014, Mark released his second single, “MissIncredible,” again produced by Wizz Dumb and written by Ballas and Jo’zzy. The breath taking cinematic-style “Miss Incredible” video features Miss Incredibles from all walks of life and is set for release August 25, 2014. Mark’s first full production solo EP, “Kicking Clouds,” will drop early Fall 2014. Both “Get My Name” and “Miss Incredible” are available on iTunes now.
CHERYL BURKE -- With over 20 years dancing experience and several championship titles under her belt, Emmy® nominated professional dancer Cheryl Burke has tangoed and sambaed her way into the hearts of millions. She recently became the show’s first professional dancer to appear in the finals seven times and the semi-finals ten times, becoming the champion twice with Emmitt Smith in Season 3 and Drew Lachey in Season 2.
Cheryl first began dancing at the age of six, taking ballet lessons and performing throughout the Bay Area. At 10, she discovered what would be her winning talent, ballroom dancing, and decided to hang up her ballet shoes to begin training in both Standard and Latin ballroom dancing. Outside of the ballroom, Cheryl has been named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful and often appears in Maxim Magazine’s Hot 100 List. She has been seen on the Disney Channel’s “Suite Life with Zack and Cody” and appeared in Ne-Yo’s music video “Camera Phone.” This year, Burke is launching her own line of active wear and workout apparel with QVC.
WITNEY CARSON --Witney was born and raised in a small town called American Fork, Utah. She started her dancing career at the age of three. Being trained in many different dance styles including Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Tap, Latin and Standard Ballroom, she has competed and performed all over the world.
At the age of 18, Witney made top six (top three girls) on “So You Think You Can Dance” season nine. She then joined ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” Pro Troupe Team, where she performed and choreographed every week for two seasons. In 2014, Witney was promoted to a Pro dancer and was paired with partner Cody Simpson.
Follow Witney @WitneyCarson
ARTEM CHIGVINTSEV -- Originally from Russia, dancing has taken Artem all over the world. In 2010, Artem made his professional dancing debut on the original UK version of DWTS, “Strictly Come Dancing.” Paired with Kara Tointon, they went on to win the coveted Mirrorball Trophy, making Artem one of the first professionals to win the series as a first-time Pro.
Additionally, Artem was one of the choreographers on the British second series of “So You Think You CanDance” and a finalist on SYTCD in the US. In 2014, Artem joined the troupe on “Dancing with the Stars” and this season, joins as a first time Pro.
VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY (VAL) -- Valentin Chmerkovskiy joined the cast of professional dancers on “Dancing With the Stars”in 2011. The 13-time US National Champion and two-time World Dance Champion quickly rose to stardom becoming one of the show's fan-favorites for impeccable performances that showcased not only immense talent and creativity, but an undeniable charisma to match.
Since his TV debut, the Ukrainian-born dance champion continues to steal the hearts of fans—both on and off the dance floor. Val has expanded upon his talents as a dancer, choreographer and instructor to create an empire that inspires others through the art of dance. Valentin co-founded Dance With Me Studios, one of the nation’s leading Latin and Ballroom dance studios, where he also lends his expertise as the venue’s Art Director. The success of the first studio ignited a passion for teaching his craft, leading him to pursue his latest endeavor Dance With Me Juniors, a program he proudly designed to keep kids healthy, focused and active. Val is also a classically trained Violinist, having performed in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center as a concertmaster of the ISO Youth Orchestra. Last season Val was partnered with Danica McKellar.
Follow Val @iamValC
TONY DOVOLANI -- Tony Dovolani is balancing fitness, dance and family while capturing the hearts of millions each season on “Dancing with the Stars.” Born in Prishtina, Kosova, Tony was proficient in Albanian folk dancing by age three and was inspired by watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films. After immigrating to the United States as a political refugee from his native Kosovo, Tony trained at a Connecticut Fred Astaire dance studio and eventually became one of the most dominant competitive dancers in the country.
A two-time dance champion and certified world judge, Tony brought his expertise to Hollywood when he coached Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere for the 2004 film “Shall We Dance,” in which he also had a small role. He then joined “Dancing with the Stars”for its second season and captured our attention with partner Stacy Keibler, when the two placed third in the finals. During the “Dancing with the Stars: All-Star Season,” season 15, Tony and dance partner Melissa Rycroft won the show and took home the Mirror Ball Trophy. Tony and fellow dancers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy are partners in the Dance With Me USA Dance Studios in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
ALLISON HOLKER -- Allison Holker is an Emmy® nominated dancer and choreographer. Holker was nominated with Derek Hough for a 2013 Outstanding Choreography Emmy® award for their work on “Dancing with The Stars.” She was also a featured dancer in two of the other nominated pieces that year. Along with her fellow Emmy®-nominated choreographers, Holker prepared a piece that was performed to rave reviews at this year’s Primetime Emmy® Awards with Neil Patrick Harris.
Holker began her dance training at the age of nine when she enrolled as a student at The Dance Club in Orem, UT. While there, she specialized in Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz and Tap, and performed in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. She has won numerous dance titles including her first National competition in Co DANCE in 2004 and as the National Senior Outstanding Dancer at the New York City Dance Alliance in 2005.
Holker first burst onto the scene when she competed in season two of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Her skill & popularity led to an invitation to return as an All-Star in season seven, where she met fellow dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss. They were married in December 2013.
When not filming or traveling around the country teaching dance, she is working on her new dancewear line, Creative Kin. Holker makes her home in Los Angeles with her five-year-old daughter and husband. They most recently collaborated as choreographers for Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars® promo directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, featuring 250 dancers. This is Allison’s first year as a Pro on “Dancing with the Stars.”
DEREK HOUGH -- Derek Hough, the only five-time champion in franchise history of the hit ABC show “Dancing with the Stars,” started dancing in his hometown of Salt Lake City, UT, at age 11. Just one year later, he moved to London to live and train with the top dance coaches in the world and attend performing arts school where he studied theatre, music and dance.
A multi-talented entertainer and Emmy® Award-winning choreographer, Hough’s professional ballroom accolades include, World Under 21 Latin American Champion, Two-time Open British Champion (Blackpool), Two-time International 'Open to the World Champion' and Two-time US Open Champion. Hough performed in London's West End where he starred as the male lead in the critically acclaimed stage version of “Footloose,” was one of the featured dancers on the Dancing with the Stars Tour and a choreographer on the BBC (UK) hit show, “Dance X.”
Hough is best known for his innovation and daring choreography on the show. His work has brought him Emmy® nominations and inquiries from the film and music world regarding his dance knowledge and ability. Hough just wrote his first book Taking the Lead: Lessons From A Life In Motion.
Last season he was partnered with Amy Purdy.
KEO MOTSEPE – Born in South Africa, Keo started dancing at the age of five after his best friend suggested they try it out for some fun. At seven, he knew that it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. In 2004, Keo teamed up with his coach and mentor, Rafick Hoosain, and garnered every national title in South Africa.
In 2012, Keo made history becoming the first South African to join the “Burn the Floor” World Tour. He quickly became the male principle dancer in the cast, and was hand-picked to perform as a soloist during the shows residency at the Shaftesbury Theatre on the West End. In 2014, Keo toured with “Burn the Floor” as principal dancer on the Australian and Japan tours, he also performed on their weekly productions on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Getaway. Keo made his television debut performing as a professional guest on “Strictly Come Dancing” South Africa in 2013.
PETA MURGATROYD --Peta was born in Auckland, New Zealand and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She studied classical ballet from the age of four and trained for 12 years under former principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet, Madame Lubov Nikonorenko.
In 2004, Peta was chosen to be a cast member of “Burn the Floor,” where she toured the world for six years. “Burn the Floor” then landed on Broadway in August 2009, where Peta was the lead female dancer.
Peta joined “Dancing with the Star’s” in season 13, where she was eliminated in the first round, but she returned with a vengeance as she and Donald Driver won the Mirrorball trophy in season 14.
EMMA SLATER -- Emma started dancing at the age of five when she joined a local stage school in her hometown of Tamworth, England. In 2005, at age 16, Emma joined the cast of “Simply Ballroom,” touring the UK (Including London’s West End) United Arab Emirates and South Africa, where she also appeared on “Strictly Come Dancing.” Emma won both the UK & British Youth Latin American Championships with her then partner, she then went onto perform in four other West End Theatre shows including “Dirty Dancing.”
In 2007, Emma played one of Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) friends in the film “Mamma Mia” and also sang on the Grammy nominated soundtrack for the movie. She went on to join Tony® nominated “Burn The Floor” for the shows debut on Broadway and continued on for the 2010 world tour.
In early 2012 Emma joined “Dancing with the Stars” as a Troupe dancer and choreographer and later went on to become a Pro dancer taking her partner, Bill Engvall, to the finals.
KARINA SMIRNOFF -- Originally from Ukraine, Karina made her way to the US with her family at the age of 12. At the age of nine, Karina was introduced to ballroom dancing and fell in love with it. After graduating from Fordham University with a double degree, she put her academic studies on hold to pursue her ballroom dancing career in the United Kingdom.
American audiences first fell in love with Karina during season three of “Dancing with the Stars,” when she swung into a second place finish with partner Mario Lopez. The next season she finished fifth with Billy Ray Cyrus. The two would team up again when Karina guest starred on “Hannah Montana.” Karina also teamed up with her former DWTS partner Ralph Macchio in her first leading role in a short film, “Across Grace Alley.” Karina also starred in two Broadway shows, “Burn the Floor”and “Forever Tango.” In Season 13, she went all the way, winning the Mirrorball trophy with J.R. Martinez as her partner.