Talent, check! Personality, check! Sex appeal, check! Hmmm, what are we missing here? Hmmm… oh yes, NOTHING! Dmitry Chaplin’s got it all. You may recognize him from Dancing With The Stars or So You Think You Can Dance. He’s the guy with his abs of steel glimmering on your television screen. But, there’s a lot more to this guy. That’s what I found out after a short chat with Chaplin. Sure we talked about his body, his fitness routines, his style, but we also dug a little deeper to learn more about his career and personal life as well. So, who’s the guy behind the abs? Read on and find out…
So, you’re apparently known for your shirtless performances. Can you give me a few steps you take in order to maintain that rock-hard physique?
Absolutely. First of all, dancing by itself is already a crazy workout because not only you have to cope with the insane speed of the music and lift your partner, but you also have to show no sign of fatigue! So, when I'm on the season of Dancing With The Stars I don't even try to work out anywhere else since we are in the studio from 6 to 10 hours a day and you burn a LOT of calories that way! But, in my off time I like to take martial arts classes, go to the gym once in a while (I don't want to bulk up too much), and keep on healthy diet. (He smiles.)
I got ya. So, about this healthy diet of yours… What words of wisdom can you give to guys looking to get into better shape?
All I can say is that it's not the crazy hours in the gym or on the treadmill that will get you into better shape, but how and what you eat. If you are working out you have to follow a diet and I don't mean not eating at all. Basically, a lot of small portions a day and no red meat or carbs in the evening.
Man! You’re cutting out all my faves. Okay, how about fashion? When you are wearing shirts, what kind of style do you tend to roll with or do you feel suits you best?
(He laughs.) I wear shirts almost all the time; just prefer to keep them open when I dance. I don't have a specific style that I go with. I have shirts that are very classy that I can wear with suits or nice pants and I also have those that are more “rocky” to go with jeans. It all depends on how I feel that day. (He coyly grins.)
Well, what kind of fashion trends do you like and which ones do you try to stay away from?
I try to stay away from short skirts. (He jokes.) My fashion changes all the time, but I do like to stick to more European looks and not because I'm Russian. (smiling) Basically, jeans with some cool top and a jacket or leather jacket will do it for me.
Okay, let’s move back to your performances. Tell me about your days on Dancing With The Stars.
I really enjoy my experience on Dancing With The Stars because not only do I get to meet and dance with different celebrities, but I find the whole process from putting the choreography together and teaching your partner to dance, picking the music, costumes, and then performing live in front of 22 million people every night as one of the most exciting and memorable experiences ever! This show has made an incredible impact on people around the world and changed the industry completely! I received some very touching emails from people around the world telling me how watching us dance has made a huge impact on their lives and that dancing has given them a new hope and inspiration!
Wow, that’s awesome. Ya think any more seasons on the horizon for you after this past one then?
I hope that I get a chance to come back to the future seasons as one of the regular pros on the show and that I can continue to enjoy my dancing career as I'm doing it now!
Was your schedule strenuous and exhausting though?
There are a lot of responsibilities when you have a celebrity partner and it takes a lot of time to turn them into a dancer! I always try to find their best qualities and then try to showcase them on the dance floor. If they have a fun personality I try to have them do some exciting moves so they could really connect to the dance. If they have good lines like Petra for example, I definitely try to give them some lyrical moments that will make us stand out! In reality it takes some time to learn about your partner and make them trust you, so rehearsal hours can be very long...
How did you balance your personal life and other obligations during that time?
I pretty much don't have any time for my personal life when I'm on the season. The schedule is so packed that I would literally leave my apartment at 8am and get home around 10pm and by that time you don't feel like going out or doing anything else but going to bed. (He laughs.)
How about when you were on So You Think You Can Dance?
So You Think You Can Dance is a completely different show that has changed my life completely! It's an incredible opportunity for young dancers and choreographers to get seen and to improve yourself as a professional! Even though I was one of the top dancers in America to represent US in all major open to the world competitions before the show, I was really struggling with work and had no future in that department, but soon after the season and our live tour, I had things line up for me from teaching conventions and seminars, to choreographing on other future seasons, and then getting my Emmy nomination for that and finally moving on to Dancing With The Stars!
Your dance style on that show has been said to be very masculine. Is that how you get all the ladies? (I joke.)
(Laughing) Even though I dance in a masculine way, that doesn't mean that I'm a macho man in real life. As an artist I believe in self-expression and masculine dancing for me is very authentic. I think every male dancer has to have that quality to make the dance more attractive to the audience, just like a female dancer has to have a very clear feminine quality about her dancing and when you get the two opposites together the result is – magic!
What was the atmosphere like on set for that show?
When I was on So You Think You Can Dance we all lived together, practiced together, and performed for more than half a year (with the live tour) and that was a very strong bonding experience! We became pretty much a family and it was really weird to go different ways when it was all over... Of course I see some of the dancers once in a while and it's always a little reunion every single time!
Well, that’s good that you guys get to catch up and reminisce about the show. Aside from these shows though, you’ve appeared many, many times on Entertainment Tonight. Tell me about some of the things you did on it.
When I do the news shows I always enjoy the chatting because the hosts are always so entertaining and of course I have to dance there once in a while. (He chuckles.)
So, I understand your specialty is Latin-style Ballroom dancing. What other dances do you consider to be your strengths?
Pretty much just Latin ballroom styles are my strengths because I've been trained in them since I was 12. It's hard to pick up other genres like jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop because my body just refuses to move like them and a few days of practice are not gonna change that... In order to be great, you have to dedicate your life to that particular style of the dance otherwise you're just a bad copy.
Tell me about your career as a choreographer.
I was fortunate enough to gain the trust in the producers of So You Think You Can Dance and in particular Jeff Thacker, who really liked my solos on the show and who asked me to try and choreograph a samba routine for season 3. I was lucky to get Danny Tidwell and Lacey Schwimmer for that number and that dance is still considered one of the best on So You Think You Can Dance! After that, I was asked to choreograph in Holland, Canada, and Ukraine, where I got a lot of great feedback from the audience. I think the turning point was putting a number for season 4 in America when I got Chelsie Hightower and Joshua Allen to perform the Argentine Tango that week and this is what I got nominated for the Emmy! I love choreographing because I can really step out of box and express myself to the fullest! I feel that it's a very special process since I'm helping other young dancers to get seen and to make a statement!