When the Dancing With the Stars 2013 cast made its debut on Good Morning America on Tuesday, Sept. 3, one familiar scruffy face was missing — long-time pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Alas, DWTS fans, it looks like the fan favorite decided not to return for Season 17.
When Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with Maks at his New York City dance studio back in June, the busy dancer told us that he doesn't imagine he'll return to the ABC reality series as a pro anytime soon. "I would love to be part of the show in one way or another. I just don't know if I see myself being a pro," he said. "Obviously, I love everyone there, but it's not for me right now."
But don't worry too much, DWTS fans. The original sexy Chmerkovskiy brother is still under contract until 2015, which means this isn't the last we've seen of Maks. Sure, we may have to get used to watching Dancing With the Stars Season 17 without him, but Maks told Wetpaint that he'd love to return to the series — as a judge!
"Absolutely! I want it to have the ratings we used to have, and if me judging will spice some things up, then I'd love to do it," Maks said. "I would never belittle anybody. I've called out the judges before for saying certain things I didn't think were in the spirit of the show. If I'm ever given the position to judge, I'm in. Watch out, yes, but it's never going to be derogatory."
So what is Maks doing with his time off? Having recently starred in the Broadway show Forever Tango with fellow DWTS pro Karina Smirnoff, Maks is now focusing on his acting career. After decades of professional dance training, the TV personality is ready for a new kind of challenge.
"I'm taking this time to sit back and start over," he said. "It's a process. It's a different language for me! I'm enjoying not being good at it right now, but I'm looking forward to knowing a lot of things. I'm excited to get an education that I haven't had before."
Whatever Maks does during his time off, we're sure he's still going to support his baby bro Val Chmerkovskiy as he strives for the Mirror Ball with his celebrity partner, Elizabeth Berkley.
Are you going to miss Maks on Dancing With the Stars? Or are you happy to see him pursue his dreams? Sound off in the comments!
Catch the premiere of Dancing With the Stars Season 17 on September 16, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fan-girl for all things Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time. She speaks fluent geek. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!