Originally posted Tuesday, February 26, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
A day after his “Dancing With the Stars” show at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Val hosted an opening day party at the studio, which is behind Nordstrom’s but not directly connected to the mall.
Earlier in the day, I caught up with Val to talk about why he chose to open a studio in Atlanta for ballroom dance. The 32-year-old Ukranian-American joined “Dancing With the Stars” as a pro in 2011 and has become one of the most popular dancers on the show.
The studio, with Justin Bourdet as the day-to-day manager and coach, teaches ballroom dance for adults. With a soft opening a few weeks back, it already has 40 to 50 regular attendees.
The signature interior look, replicated from other Dance With Me studios in locations such as Houston and New York, is lush and upscale with multiple chandeliers hanging off the ceiling.
“It’s a higher-end brand that has a family business feel warmth to it,” Val said.
His goal: “Take regular people, every day people, on this self-enlightenment journey through dance. There are single people, couples, male, female. We have these parties. You’ll see girls in their 20s hanging out with people in their 80s. It’s very inclusive. It’s like-minded people, like-minded spirits in the room.”
In a world dominated by social media and increasing complaints of loneliness, Dance With Me hopes to change that even just a little bit.
“This provides organic human interaction,” he said.
Val’s older brother Maks and his father Aleksandr in New Jersey opened a dance studio in 1997 when Val was 12. Maks was the head teacher and Val described himself as “the guinea pig.”
Within two or three years, he said they had “built a little competitive ballroom dance community in Bergen County,” he said, several years before “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars” existed.
It focused mostly on kids so by 2005, they decided to open studios that were more adult oriented. The timing was great because Maks joined “Dancing With the Stars” that fall.
“We entered the market hand in hand with this juggernaut of a show that changed the landscape for ballroom dance,” Val said. “We grew with that.”
Although “Dancing With the Stars” is taking a break in the spring for the first time in its history, it will return in the fall.
Val has had a solid track record on “Dancing With the Stars.” Over 15 seasons, two of his celebrities have taken home the mirror-ball trophy: actress/singer Rumer Willis (most recently on “The Masked Singer”) and gymnast Laurie Hernandez.
“I’m going to miss it,” he said. “But I am committed this fall. I don’t have the outlook that I’m too big for the show. It’s as big as it gets for my own personal fulfillment. I still love it. I love what I do. It’s not just financial or to be on TV. It’s just great to be able to teach someone to dance and preach to them how to be better people and enjoy their life to the fullest. I found my pocket.”
Val said this gives him a chance to focus on the tour and his businesses in the interim.
“I’m the youngest sibling of a very outspoken, very popular character,” he said. “As much as I love to share the stage with him and share the narrative with him we we have had our entire lives, I have my own creative outlook on things. That’s what I’m doing at this time. I have a couple of shows I’m working on. This will also enable me to travel to more studios and be more hands on. I am the spine of this operation. My spirit is a big part of the success of a lot of the studios.”
WHERE TO GO
Teaches Salsa, Tango, Hustle, Swing, Waltz, Rumba, Foxtrot, Kizomba in both private and group settings
3500 Peachtree Road Suite 1074D at Phipps Plaza, behind the Nordstrom
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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