‘Dancing with the Stars’: Veteran Maksim Chmerkovskiy aims for a return to the top

Dancing with the Starsannounced its cast of 12 celebrities for season 24 of the dance competition series, but just as important as the stars themselves are the professional dance partners who train them for the ballroom, and this year Maksim Chmerkovskiy rivals the celebrities for star power. The internationally decorated 37-year-old pro has been on the show off-and-on since season two. Does his seniority give him the advantage this year?

The new season starts on March 20, so before he and his competitors hit the dance floor let’s consider the pros and cons.

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Experience. None of this season’s pros has competed on “Dancing with the Stars” going back as far as Chmerkovskiy. So he’s developed a long relationship with fans at home who will be voting and knows the “DWTS” ballroom like the back of his hand.

On his off seasons, Chmerkovskiy has occasionally revisited the show as a guest judge. Having spent time on both sides of the table may give him added insight when it comes to choreographing and delivering just the right routines.

He’s a proven winner, having claimed the Mirror Ball Trophy in season 18 with Olympic figure skater Meryl Davis.

There’s arguably no one in this season’s celebrity roster with more previous dance experience than “Glee” actress Heather Morris, and that’s exactly who Chmerkovskiy has been paired with. He may be able to skip the basics and challenge her right away with advanced routines.

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Despite his extensive experience, he wasn’t able to win the Mirror Ball Trophy until his 14th try with Davis, and to date that’s his only victory despite making the finals four other times: with Laila Ali (season four), Melanie Brown (season five), Erin Andrews (season 10) and Kirstie Alley (season 12). So he hasn’t shown the consistency of other long-running pros.

Chmerkovskiy is known for his tough and demanding coaching style. Could that turn off voters who prefer a kinder, gentler approach?

This will only be Chmerkovskiy’s 16th season overall, but it will be only his third out of the last nine. Will audiences still respond to him as favorably as they have before?

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