Two Dancing With the Stars troupe members were just promoted to competing pros on Season 18 — Witney Carson and Henry Byalikov. Technically, three stars got the boost since Henry’s insane abs are professionally perfect and deserve their own 10 paddles. Henry and his spring partner, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, will hit the dance floor on Monday, March 17. In the meantime, here are six things to know about the pro.
1. He was a pro on the Australian version of DWTS. Henry is one of the many wonderful pros to come to us from Down Under. According to his website, when he was 18 he appeared on his first Australian TV show, Strictly Dancing. At age 22 (in 2008), he competed on So You Think You Can Dance and placed with the top four males in Australia. After that, he joined DWTS Australia as a pro, and was the first that season to get perfect 10s in the 4th week. Here’s Henry with his celeb partner Toni Pearen in 2008.
2. He was supposed to compete on the U.S. DWTS back in 2010. It’s been a long, strange trip for Henry to get to this point. He explained the journey to Wetpaint Entertainment after joining the pro troupe in 2012.
“It’s a funny little story,” he said. “Originally in 2010 I was supposed to be a pro on the show. And in that time Damian Whitewood ended up being a pro. I think what had happened was that the partner they had organized for me had some contractual problems and they wouldn’t allow her to be on the show so I missed my opportunity to dance. But basically how it started was I did Burn the Floor in 2009 on Broadway. One of our publicity events was to come to DWTS and perform. During that demonstration they selected a few of us to come back for an interview to become a pro. That was me, Peta [Murgatroyd], Damian, Sharna Burgess. Then as I said in 2010 they gave me the green light but unfortunately it didn’t work out. In the beginning of this year I got a Facebook message from one of the co-executive producers just asking if I wanted to be a part of the Troupe. And I said ‘Yep!’ How good is social media?” Nice!
3. He almost competed on the U.S. So You Think You Can Dance, too. So many pros come to DWTS from So You Think You Can Dance, including Henry’s fellow newbie Witney. In 2010, after touring with Burn the Floor, Henry was a guest partner at the U.S. auditions for SYTYCD, and you can watch his routine here. According to Henry’s site, “he was given the choice by the production team to compete, which he accepted and was successful in the initial round, with raving reviews by Nigel Lithgow, Mia Michaels and Adam Shankman. Unfortunately, he was unable to compete due to visa expiration.” Dang visas! That’s obviously not an issue now … right?
4. He's the Trio king. Henry ultimately joined the DWTS pro troupe in Season 14, along with fellow competing pro Emma Slater. Maria Menounos competed on that season, and she was determined for "Henry Mania" to happen. And it did, starting in part with Henry’s role in Maria’s Bollywood Trio with Derek Hough. Since then, he's been a Trio staple, dancing with future winners Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani for their Paso Trio on Season 15 All-Stars, and also with Tony again this past Season 17 with Leah Remini. And on Season 16 he danced with Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas. After so many great Trio performances, DWTS had to give him another shot as a competitor — and maybe this time he can be the one to ask a second pro to join the team!
5. He’s kinda shy. Back in 2012, Henry talked to Macmaniacs.org about his new and growing fan base. “Firstly, I can’t believe it!” he answered. “I am so blessed and humbled that people have taken to me this fast. It’s always so nerve racking performing to a brand new audience, constantly thinking what their reaction is going to be! Are they going to like what they’re going to see? But my first performance of this season left me with a throbbing headache as a result of my nerves. By nature I am actually quite reserved, almost to the point of being shy.” Aww! Who doesn’t love a shy guy (who’s still willing to flash his abs)?
6. He was a featured dancer in The Great Gatsby. Yes, that Great Gatsby — the Baz Luhrmann movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire. Henry worked on the film for three months. He was hired as a featured dancer and he was a rehearsal dance partner for the lead actress, Carey. He said it was an amazing experience and literally a dream come true.
Are you excited to see Henry in action as a competing pro? As Diana tweeted, “I hit the jackpot with Henry...phenomenal dancer & teacher.” Good luck to them!