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Dancing With the Stars Season 16 won’t premiere until March 18, but it’s already different from what we expected just a week ago. Pro Derek Hough had planned to take the spring 2013 season off, and we expected Maksim Chmerkovskiy to be around for at least the next two seasons. Nope! Maks is gone, and he explained why in a statement, and Derek found room in his busy schedule to dance with American Idol star Kellie Pickler.

Entertainment Tonight asked Derek how the show can survive without Maks, who has been with DWTS since Season 2 (and may return next season or later). “It's the nature of the show, you know," Derek said. "People aren't asked back certain seasons and come back later. It'll be a different dynamic but that's what it's about I suppose. I'm excited for the new pros."

We have three new pros competing: Gleb Savchenko and Lindsay Arnold are brand new, and Sharna Burgess was promoted from the DWTS pro troupe. And it is the nature of the show for people to come and go. Derek himself took off Season 12, and we have many beloved pros missing for Season 16, beyond Maks.

Derek also added to ET that DWTS is aiming for a more positive atmosphere this season, and considering how often Maks sparred with the judges (and sometimes his partners) it could be considered a veiled reference to a less dramatic season. "We had a meeting with the producers, and like, we really want to bring the innocence back to the show and the positivity and the fun and not — [yes] be competitive, but we don't want to make it a negative competitiveness," Derek said.

We’re all for a fun, positive season, although Andy Dick is already off to a rough start on the innocence front with his chant of “Dick! Dick! Dick!” during the ABC cast reveal.

Source: Entertainment Tonight