From Russia With Rhythm
Artem Chigvintsev hasn’t yet won on Dancing with the Stars but the Studio City dweller insists he’s having a ball.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY VINCE TRUPSIN
From Lea Thompson to Mischa Barton, Russian-born Artem Chigvintsev knows what it’s like to twirl and shimmy with a famous woman. This season on Dancing With The Stars he partnered with Maureen McCormick from The Brady Bunch. Editor-in-chief Linda Grasso goes toe-to-toe with the 34-year-old on how an out-of-control puck ended his hockey career and why he began his new life in the Valley.
Of all your partners on DWTS, who had the most natural ability?
It would have to be Lea Thompson. She had natural movement. We finished in sixth place. On a personal level, Patti LaBelle was the most fun.
What were your thoughts when you were paired with “America’s sweetheart,” Maureen McCormick?
I have never seen The Brady Bunch! But this season was really great. We had some rough moments with injuries, but Maureen is terrific.
When and how did you become a dancer?
I used to play hockey, but one time the puck flew into my face and practically broke it. My parents said that was the end of hockey and I needed to try dancing. They took me to ballet but it didn’t go well—my turnout was not good enough. They wanted to break my hips, but my parents said no. That is when my parents introduced me to ballroom dancing.
So you aspired to be a professional dancer?
No, I never thought that I would be a dancer. I couldn’t imagine that it would be this fulfilling. But when I started dancing professionally, I realized that I am quite good and I really enjoy it. It then became my life.
I imagine DWTS has exceeded your dreams in terms of career expectations…
As a ballroom dancer, being on DWTS is the best job you can have in the world. It gives you opportunities to be a teacher, a choreographer, and it even makes you a better person.
What does your family think of your success?
My parents still live in Russia so they can’t visit often, but we frequently Skype. My mom calls me after every performance. They both support me completely and they have practically given up their lives for me, so it is important for me to give back. And I feel like with DWTS, it is kind of a payoff for them. When they watch, they’re seeing the result of their investment.
Tell us why you chose to live in the Valley.
It is very low-key. I like a very simple life. I like my own cafes and restaurants. I don’t like to drive too far, and it is a very family-oriented place. In my opinion the best part is Studio City, where I live. You get the beautiful street of Ventura Boulevard and access to everything. Plus, the people here are so nice and lovely.
Do you have any favorite places you like to go there?
There is a great Mediterranean place called Hummus Bar. It is one of my favorites; I used to literally go there all the time for lunch and dinner. I see that place growing. It started as a hole-in-the-wall, then all of the sudden became a beautiful restaurant. Now if you try going between 6 and 8 p.m. you will never get a table, because it is so busy. I also really love Coffee Fix, which is right near me. They treat every customer like they are family. They also support local artists.
Describe your home.
My home is very modern. I actually just remodeled it, and it is almost finished. I like things to be very clean and contemporary. I have two cats, Hudson and Orlando. They are both pixie bobcats.
If you weren’t a professional dancer, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a professional dancer, I honestly don’t know what else I would be. I love watching motorcycle racing, so maybe I’d try that.