Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy are exclusively taking ET behind the scenes of their rehearsals for their Maks & Val: Stripped Down Tour!
In their first in-person interview in over a year and a half, the Dancing With the Stars pros open up about how excited they are to get back on tour, what fans can expect from the 19-city show and more.
“It was kind of a play on words,” Val told ET’s Lauren Zima of how he and Maks came up with the name. “It wasn’t supposed to be so literal. Maks is ready to strip down literally, I am ready to strip down creatively, emotionally.”
Maks added that the show is family friendly, but assures fans that they’ll still take their shirts off at some point, “in a very artsy, artistic, creative” way.
The tour marks their first time on the road together since 2018. Maks and Val were supposed to head out again last year — with their respective wives, Peta Murgatroyd and Jenna Johnson — but unfortunately had to cancel their plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The talented brothers said they’ve both changed a lot within that time, both physically and mentally.
“I was very depressed for a very long time, not being able to go out and perform, do what I love and also interact with people,” Val admitted, adding that performing is such a big part of his identity. “In front of a lens performing is one thing, but being live, this is where we are at our best. Because there is that spontaneity, that relationship with our fans and the audience in general. It’s ecstatic.”
“The psychology of it, the creativity of it is great, but also the physicality of it,” he continued. “Like, my body changed [during quarantine] and I didn’t like it. I’m not really a gym type of person. I stay fit because I’ve been fortunate enough where my profession keeps me fit. So not being able to perform and dance every day [was hard]. But the abs are back, just for Stripped Down!”
Maks echoed what Val said, telling ET, “For me, it was a devastating blow thinking of me as, like, somewhat of an athlete at the end of his career, having that last final chance of things to get that chip, that championship trophy.”
“It’s a reality for a lot of performers. You won’t see them back on your television or in competitions or in whatever it is that they do because we just got a year and a half older and no longer are in the shape that we could do it,” he explained. “So I actually pride myself, and am glad for my family and our surroundings, the way they are, that I was able to push myself. I stayed ready for this.”
“I feel like I’m already on borrowed time with all the physical activity on this level. I’ve been retiring for 10 years, I’ve been trying to retire for the last five, actively,” he joked. “And still here we are, getting ready for the tour happily!”
That being said, ET of course had to ask Maks if there’s any chance he could return to Dancing With the Stars for the show’s upcoming 30th season. The OG pro joined the series in season 2, and last competed with Vanessa Lachey during season 25.
“This is a natural way of things. I created a big void when I left. I do have to probably with a pat on the back acknowledge that, which was successfully filled by people who by people, by characters, by talent, by incredible dancing, I would only wish that the show remains,” Maks responded. “Am I going to be on it? Most likely not. I just don’t have the emotional capacity to withstand what the show is today and I don’t know how I did it back then either.”
“But I am saying that I want to be the fan, I want to continue being the fan,” he added. “I want to continue to be on the sidelines. I bring [my son] Shai to the studio, we go and he knows that this is Mama’s work. This is my new Dancing With the Stars representation. It is not the same for me. I had my time, and it was incredible.”
Val, on the other hand, said he would absolutely love to come back, if producers give him the call.
“I love the show. I love how many opportunities that it created for us, and for dance in general,” he gushed. “We were talking about that yesterday, how dance had such a golden age, if you will. And part of everything that happened last year, with everything coming to a hold it’s like, ‘How are we still going to be a priority as an entertainment form?'”
“I think we are also not just telling our stories, but we feel compelled to give back to our dance community, and continue to push dance to the community,” he added. “I think the 30th season’s going to be the biggest season ever. And you know what? I’m calling it right now. I’m gonna win this damn thing!”
Maks & Val: Stripped Down Tour kicks off July 24 in Walnut Creek, California, and wraps Aug. 21 in Tampa, Florida. Tickets are on sale now here. In the meantime, hear more on the Chmerkovskiys in the video below!