Notably absent from the newly-announced cast of season 16 of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" are several recurring pro-dancers, including fan favorite Maksim Chmerskovskiy, who had previously started he would appear on the upcoming cycle of the ABC ballroom dancing competition series.
"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 to OTRC.com on Tuesday, February 26, hours after the celebrities and their partners were announced on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"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 the show," he added. "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.'"
Chmerkovskiy had said last year that he planned to leave the show when his contract expired at the end of the year. (Check out a Q & A and 15 facts about Maksim Chmerkovskiy). His spokesperson declined to comment about whether or not he would return to "Dancing With The Stars" after season 16.
"We frequently rotate the professional dancers, so it is not unusual for them to rest a cycle," an ABC spokesperson said.
The new cycle of "Dancing With The Stars" includes celebrities such as comedian and actor Andy Dick and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Lisa Vanderpump and is set to premiere on March 18.
On Twitter, Chmerkovskiy congratulated dancer Sharna Burgess, who was promoted to pro status on the new season, where she will partner with Dick.
"ABOUT TIME! CONGRATS BABE!" he said
Chmerkovskiy made his debut on "Dancing With The Stars" in 2006 during season 2. He has never won a Mirrorball Trophy but has made it to the finals four times. During season 13 in October 2011, the pro-dancer made headlines after getting into a heated argument with Len Goodman, the most acerbic judge on the panel of three, who had criticized his routine with partner and soccer star Hope Solo.
Backstage with co-host Brooke Charvet, Chmerkovskiy said: "With all due respect, this is my show. I help make it what it is." He later told OTRC.com: "I've had it. I've had it a long time ago. I just kind of kept it cool but, look, she doesn't deserve it. That's all it is. Look, whatever helps the ratings. You're welcome, show!"
Despite the much-publicized outburst, Chmerkovskiy went on to star in last fall's "All-Stars" edition, partnering with soap star Kelly Monaco. They came in third place.
Who else is not returning to "Dancing With The Stars"?
Chelsie Hightower: She told TMZ last week in a video interview that her exclusion was "not by choice," adding: " Sometimes, we take breaks and seasons off."
Louis Van Amstel: He commented about his absence on Twitter.
"Of course I'll be performing on some of the episodes and maybe even write the @GMA blogs every week," he said, adding: "Not being on DWTS is bitter sweet, but I'm so busy working on expanding LaBlast worldwide n more exciting projects I've kept under the radar (sic)," he said.
Anna Trebunskaya: She reTweeted a fan's link to an online petition calling on ABC to bring her back.
Peta Murgatroyd: The pro-dancer, who won last year's season 15 with football star Donald Driver, said on Twitter that the season 16 roster was "an awesome cast!"
"As we consider who will be matched up each season, there are a lot of factors that dictate which couples make the best pairings," the ABC rep added. "We appreciate each of our dancers' dedication to the show, so this is a very difficult decision. Anna, Chelsie, Louis and Maks continue to be a part of the 'Dancing with the Stars' family."