Minnetonka High School graduate Dmitry Chaplin, a dancer known for being a top-10 finalist and a choreographer of the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance,” is coming to TV again. Starting tonight, Chaplin will appear in “Dancing With the Stars” (7 p.m., ABC), partnering with model Holly Madison.
Chaplin originally was supposed to partner with singer and songwriter Jewel. Last month Chaplin and Jewel prepared for the show at Jewel’s ranch in Texas. Jewel’s husband, Ty Murray, was ready to compete against Jewel and Chaplin on the same dance floor. But Jewel developed a leg injury and now Madison will take her place.
Chaplin, 26, is originally from Russia, where he started dancing at age 12; it became his passion and he continued dancing after his family moved to the United States in 1999.
While attending Minnetonka High, he took lessons from Foster’s Dance Sports Studio in Hopkins, Dance Shop in Plymouth, and participated in national-level tournaments. He was noticed by judges and coaches from New York, and after graduating from high school, Chaplin decided to move. “New York offers unsurpassed opportunities for ballroom dancers,” Chaplin said later.
Soon earned top titles
Within two years he earned the title “14 best in the world, category under 21.” He has changed several partners and coaches; since 2004 Chaplin’s coach has been former world champion Louis Van Amstel, who partnered with actress Lisa Rinna on “Dancing With the Stars.”
In 2006 Chaplin and partner Heidi Groskreutz became national finalists of the U.S. National Amateur Dancesport Championships in Provo, Utah. Right after that, Chaplin decided to take his chance and go through the audition for the second season of “So You Think You Can Dance.” He made it to the top-20 cast chosen for participation. Then, surviving five rounds, Chaplin found himself one of the top-10 finalists. Judges defined his dancing style as “sensational” and “exceptionally masculine.” Mia Michaels, one of Celin Dion’s choreographers, a guest-judge on the show, named Dmitry a “Greek God.”
The top 10 dancers participated in a gala tour following the TV show; Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul welcomed the show in the fall of 2006 with a full house. In 2007 Chaplin was invited to the show again, and now, as a choreographer; Chaplin directed a number of dances as well. For Season 4 of the U.S. program he choreographed a performance for Joshua Allen (who won the show) and Chelsie Hightower. Now, Hightower will be a pro dancer partnering with Jewel’s husband.
So how does all this feel?
“My life changed, and my schedule shows it. There is not much time to even think about those changes. I just move on and I know I have to do it the best I can.”
The young dancer’s parents “don’t feel that he’s a star; the biggest change for us in his status is that now he does not even answer the phone” his father, Alexander, joked. “He is just our son, and, of course, we are proud of him.”
Chaplin’s parents are getting both excited and nervious about tonight’s show. “We are going to watch him with a bottle of the calming drops in the hands,” said Chaplin’s mother, Natasha.
Crowd will gather to support Chaplin
A group of Chaplin’s relatives, friends and fans is going to support him in full force as well. A crowd is gathering in Jake’s, Plymouth, for a collective viewing, and they all are going to vote for their favorite American dancer. “We all are very proud for him,” said his cousin Boris. “He is one of us, but he is the one who really could break through.
“Dmitry misses Minnesota, you know. He works so hard in New York, L.A., and everywhere else, but he really can relax only in Minnesota.”
“I truly need Minnesotans’ support,” Chaplin said. “It is very important to know people from your state are there for you and they care. This is a power that helps to go on and win.”
Tatyana Thulien, a native of Kiev, Ukraine, is a realtor and Twin Cities writer who worked for five years for the Russian-language publishing company Zerkalo. She has contributed to the monthlies North Star and Minnesota News.