When "Dancing With the Stars" unveiled its season 16 lineup Tuesday morning, one very popular pro was not included: ballroom bad boy Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Rumors had surfaced in the days prior that Maks wouldn't be participating in the show this upcoming season, and Tuesday, he confirmed the news to TODAY.com.
"I just want to set the record straight to all of my amazing fans that I will unfortunately not be returning for this season of 'Dancing With the Stars,' " he said in a statement. "I’ve been a pro dancer on the show for about seven years now and am eager to explore other opportunities that have been made possible because of 'Dancing With the Stars.' I'm going to take this time to dive into producing and acting, while fulfilling my sponsorship obligations.
"A big thank you to all of my fans for your never-ending support. I also want to thank the entire cast and production of 'Dancing With the Stars.' "
"We frequently rotate the professional dancers, so it is not unusual for them to rest a cycle,” ABC said of Maks taking a break. "We appreciate each of our dancer's dedication to the show, so this is a very difficult decision. Anna (Trebunskaya), Chelsie (Hightower), Maks and Louis (Van Amstel) continue to be a part of the 'Dancing With the Stars' family."
This isn't the first time the passionate dancer, who joined "DWTS" in season two, has taken time off from the show. He took season six off after finishing second with Mel B. in season five.
Maks, who has always stood up for his partners on the show when he felt they were unfairly critiqued, has famously sparred with judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba for several seasons. In season 13, he even told head judge Len during a critique of partner Hope Solo that he should retire, and cursed Carrie Ann backstage to reporters.
Though the Ukranian pro is taking time off to pursue other interests, the ballroom won't be Chmerkovskiy free. Maks' little brother, Val, is returning for his fourth season, and is paired with teen Disney star Zendaya.
"Dancing With the Stars" kicks off on March 18 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Will you miss Maks? Tell us on our Facebook page!
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