Entertainment

Maks & Val dance their life story at Van Wezel in Sarasota

Val, left, and Maks Chmerkovskiy of “Dancing with The Stars” fame bring their U.S. tour to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall tonight.
Val, left, and Maks Chmerkovskiy of “Dancing with The Stars” fame bring their U.S. tour to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall tonight. Michael Rosenthal

It was only about a week before the tour was set to start, and Maks Chmerkovskiy was still in the dance studio putting the show together. His brother, Val, was just finishing up competing in the latest season of “Dancing With the Stars,” and joining Maks in between DWTS segments.

“It’s such an incredible pleasure to put it together,” Maks said in a phone interview. “We’re enjoying the process as much as the result.”

Sarasota audiences will be among the first anywhere to see that result. The brothers Chmerkovskiy, who are collectively known simply as Maks & Val, are setting off on their first tour together, and there’s only one stop on that tour before it comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall today.

Maks doesn’t know the hall, but he’s intrigued after seeing the name on the tour itinerary.

“Is that really the name?” he asked. “Van Weasel? Is that what it’s called?”

After Maks gets the pronunciation of the venue’s name correct, he goes into a little detail about the autobiographical show, which is titled “Maks & Val Live On Tour: Our Way.”

“It’s a story about an immigrant family who came to this country, who worked hard and realized their dreams,” he said.

But he’s careful to point out that it’s a show, not a lecture. There’s a narrative, but it’s told mostly through spectacular dance, music and video.

It’s the first time the brothers have collaborated on stage. They spent several seasons together on “Dancing With the Stars,” but they were competitors, not partners.

Maks was the first to appear on the show, in season two. He managed a couple of second-place finishes before he and partner Meryl David won season 18.

Val didn’t join the DWTS team until season 13. He finished second with Zendaya in his third season, and then won season 20 with Rumer Willis.

But they were both major stars in the ballroom dance world before they set foot on the DWTS stage. Val was a two-time World Latin Dance Champion and a 14-time U.S. National Latin Dance champion. Maks had won numerous international dance championships and opened his own dance studio when he was just 16 years old.

For “Our Way,” Maks said, they’ve enlisted some of the finest choreographers in the world, plus some of the best dancers. Some have been students at Maks’ studio since they were kids.

“We have a cast of 10 more people besides the two of us,” he said. “Two of the boys have been with us since they were 7 and they’ve stayed with us ever since. One of them just celebrated his 25th birthday with us after rehearsal.”

Fans will see the kind of Latin ballroom dancing that Maks and Val are known for from their TV appearances and competitions, but they’ll also see the Chmerkovskiy brothers perform in ways that may surprise them.

“The music includes everything from the hardest hip-hop to Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’,” Maks said. “Personally, I will be doing things I have never done in public before.”

Maks and Val and their cast and crew have put in long hours putting the show together, he said, and the results are even better than they imagined.

“We got lucky with everything,” he said.

Details: 8 p.m. June 16, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $70-$85. 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.

Marty Clear: 941-708-7919, @martinclear

  Comments