Friday, December 23, 2011

A Whirlwind 2011! But It's Definitely Been Fun!

Well, where do I start. It's been a crazy year. So many ups and downs. But the one thing I can say is that at the end of the day, I'm just thankful to be blessed by my family and friends and the absolute greatest fans.

I feel like I haven't had a minute to just relax for such a long time between the show, events, the studio, and all the appearances. It's crazy. It's exciting. I wouldn't change it for the world. But it is exhausting.

So coming home to NY and now being on vacation finally, is letting me just get my mind cleared and finally get some rest. I'm admittedly getting older and hopefully wiser as the year has passed. And with wisdom comes understanding.

I've learned that you can only do what we (I mean all the pros, judges and Tom) do when you have a really solid foundation back home. We travel and work so much. We have to sometimes smile through tough times. We have to balance our entertaining world with the real world at home. We have to be so aware of our words. We have to remember that at all times we are entertainers. So you definitely need to come back to a home base where everything just is, normal.

So I really am thankful for coming home to normal life. Eating, talking, just being me, again. It's nice just to enjoy this moment.

Don't get me wrong. In my family, you never stop working. We are planning to do this Birthday Showcase. And I do have some travel coming up abroad right after I get back in the new year. But it is really nice to have these few days in my world with my family.

About the Birthday Showcase that I'm choreographing. I know it seems strange. My birthday is a show. Some fans don't get it.

But in my world, Ballroom Dancing is life. It is something my entire family is involved in. It is something my world revolved around but it always included those friends and family that I love. I danced. My brother danced. My parents were always part of it. My closest friends, who are today more than friends but family as well, have all been part of this ballroom dance world. It is just our everyday. It all we know.

So when I'm working on the show, it sometimes becomes just work. And I really just enjoy choreographing and expressing creativity through dance on my terms, sometimes, I guess. So to be able to put together a show and share my world of dance, that is the best birthday gift I could ask for.   

This year, I'm really excited because my studios and family have found a way to let me express myself through dance. And they still have found a way to let me bring both my worlds together.

My friends from Hollywood will see my world and where I come from. They will experience a show that they will enjoy and also get to meet my family and then celebrate my bday with me.

And the studios, my creative team, and family have also been doing some planning "behind my back" surprises for me and the fans.  I say that and smile because it is actually right under my nose and in corners, here and there when I'm around but too busy to know what they are up to.

So there will be parts of the show that  even I don't know about. I am personally looking forward to seeing what is in store. I trust them to make it fun for us both.

What I do know is Tony and Val have been contacting our La La land friends. So there are some surprises I can only speculate about. I have asked. And on this one, their lips are sealed. So if it isn't all great, you can blame them not me. LOL!   

I also know my family has been whipping out photo albums and videos in spades. I have no idea why anyone would want to even try to go through what they are for this. Because when I say my family has lots of videos. I'm talking about boxes of VHS tapes. BOXES!!! So I just wish them luck. And as I know what is in those boxes, we'll see how surprised I will be. But I think it's kind of cute that they are trying so hard for me.  And I appreciate them for it.  

So I hope to see some of my fans there. Because I'd be honored to start 2012 off with my family, my new and old friends, and with my amazing fans.

As for the rest, I just want to wish you all a very Happy Holiday and health, happiness, fortune for the New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Believe the Hype...

First thing first. I AM doing the Ukrainian version of our "Bachelor". The fact that I've turned down the American version has NOTHING to do with my 'dislike' of American women. (The statement is so absurd that I can't believe I'm even dignifying it with a reply).

My reasons for doing it:

1) This is the first time since I was 15 that I have a few months without any physical activity. I am truly tired. I've realized it this past season and can't tell you how hard it was for me to get through it. The person that helped me was Brandy and for that I am forever grateful to her. She truly was agod-send. I will never forget everything she did for me. Without her help I would probably not have lasted though all the injuries, 'media issues' and my grandmother's death.

2) The idea that I would find 'the one' on a TV show is something that I can't ever fathom. But after speaking to producers, I have realized that a show where characters are doing it solely for TV exposure simply would not work. Our audience would not understand it and the show would be a disaster. There has never been a show such as this in Ukraine. And it makes me think that a first season would be the most 'real' as far as participant's perception of 'what it’s all about' is concerned. I thought about everything VERY long. I've spoken to my family. I've spoken to people around me and decided that this might be something to try and see 'how it'll work'. I'm going into this with a thought of 'why not?'. I know it’s hard to find someone you can connect to on a project like this, but nothing is impossible. For the sake of the show I can't reveal anything, but I must say I am very pleasantly surprised so far.

3) I feel good about the fact that I can 'give back'. My family and I left when I was very young. And to have made something of myself, to come back here as a person who is looked up to is an amazing feeling. I have been speaking to lots of people for whom my family and I are an example of what is possible. And I feel great that I can help 'direct' young people's drives to better themselves, while the government here is figuring everything out. It is not an easy living here. Kids don't have as many opportunities as I had. And people aren't looking at me with a frown but with pride.

4) This might be the most important reason of all, this is the first thing in a VERY LONG TIME that I'm doing something for ME. For the first time, I don't really care what people think. The first time that I'm not being 'judged', 'placed' or 'criticized'. (Well, maybe criticized, but you know what I mean).  My profession required me to do things to 'please' others, be it audience, judges, my coaches, etc. Maybe if I weren't such a stubborn person and didn't have such strong opinion about everything, I would 'please' everyone better and would have achieved more in my life. But, I am who I am...

I am not asking for understanding or support. I do feel that on this forum (and my site and pages) I have people that like what I do and have shown love for me through all the seasons of DWTS as well as other projects. I feel that I owe you an explanation of some kind.

Well, this is the best I can come up with for now. Someone told me once, "You do not have to remember what you said, if you never lie". I follow that my entire life. In light of all of this, some of you remembered me saying that I would never do a reality show such as 'Bachelor' and are calling me out as being a hypocrite, now. I remember saying that too.   But I do believe that I am smart enough to tell who here is after some 15-minutes of  fame and who is here for the right reasons. Time will tell if I am wrong in my choices in life, but those are MY choices, MY mistakes and MY achievements. And as long as my family is taken care of, my friends are happy with who I am, and I continue to better myself as a person, son, friend and (hopefully one day as a father and a husband), I will remain who I am.

Love You All,

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Hi Everybody,

I am officially starting a blog from me directly today.  I was going to wait until after the season was over.  But in light of all of the fan mail and feedback, I figured today would be a good time to start.

This week’s results were pretty disappointing.  I admit I’m upset about the outcome.  Not even for myself but for Brandy, who is an AMAZING partner.  I can’t tell you enough how hard she has worked to return each week and perform.  So I am very disappointed. I don’t deny it.  I am sure some of you saw that in my interviews. 

But the last few days, I woke up each day to a ridiculous amount of messages and notes from fans to my website and facebook and twitter.

First, let me just tell you all how completely humbled I am from the responses, support, outrage on our behalf, and just love from all of you.  So many people are true fans and appreciate Dancesport as much as I do.  Some of you know how for me Dancing is a huge part of my life and my entire family.  We take it seriously.

Many of you said what I felt, that Brandy was AMAZING and deserved to go onto next week.  To see so many people following us and truly wanting us to be in the finals this season was amazing and just humbling at the same time.  So all I can say is thank you, everyone, for taking the time to message me.  There are not enough words to let you know how comforting it is to have that support at a time like this.  I have told Brandy some of the same things you have messaged.  She is a champion in my book regardless of those results.  I was honored to have met her and danced with her.  It was a great season. I have no regrets.

But as this is my blog, my choice of topic and my own opinions, so I do want to address some of the issues that have come up as relates to Brandy & I on various forums, discussions, and even some odd comments I received from a few gloating about last night’s results…. 

1.       My Arrogance- I am pretty passionate and also pretty blunt.  I think my passion and straight response gets sometimes mistaken for arrogance.  I may be strong in my belief.  Maybe that is tough for some people. But I have learned to live a life in black and white, with little shades of gray.  Like in dancing, there is a right way and a wrong way.  There is no middle ground. I generally am passionate about perfection and doing things the right way.  I give my point of view as I see it.  I do not say I am more right than anyone.  But it is what I believe.  I don’t mean to be rude or abrasive.  But my passion drives me and I believe being passionate about your work is important.  It is unfortunate if that my passion is mistaken for something negative.  My partners, friends and families know where I come from. I feel strongly and I express myself that way but arrogance assumes I think I am better than the rest. I don’t.  I am no different than anyone else. I just am strong in my opinion.   

A.      Brandy’s Past- I believe people make mistakes. Look at any of the magazines out there today, everyone from politicians to celebrities, to local people in your community have made mistakes. I am not sure what the right punishment is for people who make mistakes.  I come from a very tough household.  We try to be the best in all that we do.  All of my life I have striven, trained, and worked my a$$ off to be where I am.  But do you think I have never made a mistake in my life? I am sure this won’t shock anyone.  I have made plenty.  Some punishments I’ve suffered are worse than others.  But ultimately, I have learned that the worst punishment comes from myself, from within.  So one thing I learned to do is I live and I learn. And at some point, I have to move on from the past. It is unhealthy for anyone to live in the past.  And it is unhealthy for others to punish you constantly for past mistakes. 

So I am addressing this to tell everyone, leave the past in the past.  I hope you all see what I see in Brandy today.  She is a big hearted, gracious, amazing person.  She has heart.  She is a sweetheart.  And I have nothing but love for her.  She will remain a great friend to me.  I am behind her 110% in all of her endeavors today and in future.

B.      My attitude/Carrie Ann/Judges- If my attitude jeopardized Brandy, then I apologize for that and  I feel just terrible for Brandy.  The show shouldn’t be about what I think or feel or how I teach or choreograph.  This show should be about the celebrity contestants that put a tremendous amount of effort into working to learn how to dance and perform in dancesport.  My argument with Carrie Ann was about that.  Don’t judge Brandy for my choreography or how I trained her.  That is not Brandy’s fault.  Ultimately, she should have been judged for her technique, effort, and her dancing in comparison to the others. 

Did Brandy do a good job?  She did absolutely incredible every week.  I think she overcame her own issues and insecurities each time she came out onto the dance floor.  She came with composure, no drama, no tears.   She came to compete.  I couldn’t ask for anything more than that from my partner.  She did wonderful. 

Sometimes the viewers didn’t see the other side.  The struggle, the worry, the emotions she did go through just like the other celebrities on there.  That is the magic of video editing and I can’t control what they choose to show you.  I’ve mentioned that before as well.

But I apologize to Brandy,  if my passion about putting the focus where it belonged caused more an issue than my real intent.  Ultimately, I am a choreographer, an instructor, and her partner.  I wholeheartedly wanted to make it to the finals because Brandy, in my opinion, truly deserved to be there.  If this competition were about me, I would still be competing against dancers of equal skill.  But I was not competing.  Brandy was.  And she was an amazing partner and dancer and in my opinion, the best this season. 

What can I say but that I am beyond disappointed that her talent, her skill, her improvement, her technique seemed to be overlooked or undervalued in comparison to other competitors each week.  Maybe some of you will disagree. Maybe some of you feel good about certain celebrities over others.  That is not what I, as her partner and coach, am concerned with.  I pushed her to bring the best she could each week.  I was hard on her.  I trained with her daily about her movement, her technique, her footwork, her body posture.  It was tough, frustrating, hard, a work out.  And I pushed for her to give me perfection.  She did, btw.  I just wish this is where the focus should have remained with the voters.

C.      Brandy’s Response That Night- For the record, this is my job.  I have been here a few seasons now.  It does not affect me the same as my partners.  But no one should begrudge anyone the right to their own personal reaction and processing as best as they can.   Was Brandy in shock when the results were announced? Yes.  Did she assume she would be there in the finals as some have suggested? No.  We were both nervous.  But she really wanted and hoped to get a shot in the finals.  The reality of that not happening had to sink in.  Losing a competition for any one is tough. But losing so publicly with the intense focus on you is extremely nerve racking.  Brandy had a tough moment.  But who wouldn’t have in her shoes.  Give her a break.

Before this week, I have mentioned a few times that behind the stage many of the celebrities from this and past seasons have taken being voted off badly behind stage. That is the truth.  And maybe I’m one of those guys that sees black and white and feels terrible to see them go through it, regardless if they are my partner or not.  I hate to see someone hurt.  And I would stick up for anyone who feels bad after a show and reading the posts about them.  I will always also try to protect and defend my friends and those I care about from getting hurt, too.  Wouldn’t you?

D.       Voting Issues- This season more than others I heard rumblings of issue with voting and the phone lines.  Unfortunately, that is not something I control or am knowledgeable about.  If there were phone issues, let know. I hope that no foul play existed.  I assume it didn’t.  All I can say is I hope the DWTS producers look at that for future shows.  But at this point, the results are in.  It is what it is.  And I will look forward, not backwards.

E.       Politics- I am a dancer. I leave politics to the politicians who are good with using media and propaganda to their advantage.  It shouldn’t be on the dance floor.  I am simply a dancer, an instructor, and an entertainer.  I hope you enjoyed our dances each week.  That ultimately was our goal.

F.       Next season & Me- I can’t speak to next season.  All I will say is that I have had an amazing 9 seasons. It has been an amazing experience, challenging, fun and rewarding.  I have met and worked with amazing people.  I appreciate the opportunity to have been on the show and have no regrets with regard to participating.

As my first blog post, this is the start of many.  You can now get it straight from me via my twitter or my blog.  Hopefully, more to come with less heated personal topics and more positive things to focus on….

Talk to you soon.