Russian-born Latin ballroom dancer Dmitry Chaplin has become a familiar face on television since bursting onto the scene in “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2006. He joined the cast of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009 and has become famous for revealing his chiseled torso during the popular ABC show’s fiery Latin numbers.
The 32-year-old phenom is now touring the country in “Ballroom with a Twist,” an entertaining program that teams up the talented pros from “Dancing with the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol” all on one stage. The show comes to Miami’s Arsht Center for two performances on Saturday, Jan. 31.
SFGN spoke with Chaplin about his career, the challenges of performing on television and just how he keeps that body in shape:
When did you begin dancing?
I started dancing when I was 13 in Rostov, Russia. My friend was taking dance classes in one of the local schools (it was free back then) and I decided to go with him. Next thing I knew, I was partnered up with a good-looking girl and my teacher was very impressed with how quickly I was picking up the routine. He told me that I had three weeks to get ready for my first competition and learn all the dances...three weeks later, I finished second!
You are known for ripping your shirt off and frequently dancing shirtless. Has ballroom dance gotten sexier since it became popular on TV?
Ha! Ballroom dancing was always sexy, it’s just you guys weren't aware of that.
In addition to dancing, what do you do to keep in shape?
When I have a crazy dance schedule, I honestly don't need to worry about staying in shape because dancing is the best cardio. But, no matter what, I always stick to a healthy diet.
What was the biggest challenge for you as a competitor on “So You Think You Can Dance?”
Honestly, overcoming the fear of being in front of the camera and speaking in English to over 22 million people! What you guys don't know is that the image I portray on the dance floor is not how I am in real life.
What is the biggest challenge for you as a pro on Dancing with the Stars?
The biggest challenge for me is to not get emotionally attached to my partners. When you spend a lot of time together and share the experiences related with the show, want it or not, you create a strong bond and I always find it difficult to say goodbye.
What do you enjoy most about Ballroom with a Twist?
I enjoy performing together with my friends and, most importantly, the amazing support we receive throughout the show from our audience. “Ballroom with a Twist” is the only show where we can interact with the audience by answering everyone's questions and teaching them a few easy steps. I always come away with the feeling that I know everyone at the end of each night.
When you're not dancing or teaching, what do you enjoy? Do you have any hobbies?
I am an outdoorsy kind of guy and enjoy anything that has to do with the nature. I also play the guitar and do martial arts.
What's next for your career?
I would like to transition into acting! No, I didn't say that I want to become a movie star—there is a big difference between being in love with an art form and going after fame. I always try to express myself in one way or another and after guest starring on "Bones," "Baby Daddy" and "Manhattan Love Story," I realized that I enjoy being an actor as much as I enjoy dancing! Another big plus about acting is that it has an incredible longevity and I can't say the same thing about dancing.
“Ballroom with a Twist,” featuring Dmitry Chaplin and the pros of “Dancing with the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol” will be presented in the Knight Concert Hall at Miami’s Arsht Center at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31. For tickets, go to ArshtCenter.org.