Just for show? After watching Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis' relationship unfold throughout season 18 of Dancing With the Stars, many fans were convinced that the two are—or should be—more than just tango partners. And that's what you're supposed to think, says Chmerkovskiy's ex-fiancee and fellow DWTS pro Karina Smirnoff.
Speaking about her ex's chemistry with Olympic ice dancer Davis, 27, both on and off the dance floor, Smirnoff likened it to "when you go to the movies and you see a romantic scene that you believe so much that you kind of believe that they could be a couple in real life." It's "great acting," she explained to Us Weekly at the DWTS finale party in Beverly Hills on May 20.
"When you're on the dance floor...you want to create that story, you want to create something where people believe that what you demonstrated was real," she continued. "And [Maks and Meryl] were able to do that."
Davis' longtime skating partner, fellow DWTS competitor Charlie White, offered a similar explanation. "You know, Meryl and I got [those rumors] a lot coming out of the Olympics, because what you create artistically is something that people want to believe," he told Us, noting Chmerkovskiy's "amazing talent" for choreography. "To have every reporter ask if they're in a relationship is just a tribute to what they were able to produce on the dance floor."
Indeed, DWTS judge Bruno Tonioli said in part one of the finale on Monday, May 19, that Chmerkovskiy and Davis' performances throughout the season were like different chapters in the same great love story.
"In the last few weeks, your dances seem to be developing and linking into a storyline that is almost like watching the dance version of a concept album," he raved from the judges' table after their perfect-scoring freestyle routine. "It is a story that continues, evolves, ever more stunning, ever more beautiful, ever more surprising. It really is incredible."
Smirnoff—who was engaged to Chmerkovskiy, 34, for several months in 2009—echoed that praise after the finale, telling Us she was "happy" to see her ex finally take home the Mirrorball. "I was rooting for them," she said. "It's been a long season, and Amy [Purdy] and Derek [Hough] did an amazing job, but Derek has five Mirrorball trophies, so it was nice to see Maks walk away with one." Click here to see the complete list of previous DWTS winners.