Has Maksim Chmerkovskiy tangoed off to greener pastures? When Dancing With the Stars announced its Season 16 cast on Tuesday, Feb. 26, several big names were missing from the list of dancing pros paired with celebrity contestants: Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, Louis van Amstel, and, most noticeably, Chmerkovskiy, who has appeared in almost every cycle since Season 2. And now the 33-year-old is explaining why.
"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," Chmerkovskiy said in a statement after the cast was revealed on 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 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," he added. "I also want to thank the entire cast and production of Dancing With the Stars."
Asked about Chmerkovskiy and the other missing pros, a rep for the show told The Hollywood Reporter: "We frequently rotate the professional dancers, so it is not unusual for them to rest a cycle. As we consider who will be matched up each season, there are a lot of factors that dictate which couples make the best pairings. 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."
Chmerkovskiy previously expressed a desire to leave the ABC reality competition when his contract expires at the end of 2013. "What else do I have to do there after 15 seasons? It makes total sense," he told the New York Post in September. "The audience can't expect for me to want to stick around, and the producers can't expect for me to want to stick around."
"I wish [the show] the next 50 years of success," he added. "But I have to do something else. I need to move on for me."