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After her impressive 2006 debut, professional dancer Karina Smirnoff went on to star in six more seasons of Dancing with the Stars.
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The show features professional dancers who partner with celebrities in a dance competition. Smirnoff paired with actor Mario Lopez and the couple finished second, behind Cheryl Burke and Drew Lachey. While competing together on the show, Smirnoff and Lopez also began a romance that lasted until they parted ways in 2008.
After her impressive 2006 debut,
Smirnoff went on to star in six more seasons of Dancing with the Stars. Her varied list of celebrity partners included singer Billy Ray Cyrus; child pop star Aaron Carter; boxer Floyd Mayweather; computer guru Steve Wozniak; and chef Rocco DiSpirito. Smirnoff again mixed business with pleasure when she began dating fellow Ukrainian and Dancing with the Stars co-star Maksim Chmerkovskiy in 2008. The couple became engaged later that year but called off the engagement after nine months. Smirnoff never won Dancing with the Stars and left the show after seven seasons in 2009.
Already well established as one of the world's premiere ballroom dancers and a television celebrity, in 2009 Smirnoff took her talents to a new venue: Broadway. Smirnoff performed for two months in the Broadway production of Burn the Floor, a ballroom dance show that received rave reviews. The brief stint on Broadway fulfilled a lifelong dream of Smirnoff's. She said, "Broadway was a dream of mine as long as I remember. So when the opportunity presented itself, I thought it was a dream come true." After her first taste of life on the Broadway stage, Smirnoff says she is eager to return.
Smirnoff has also added animal rights activism to her growing list of activities. In 2009, she posed nude in a racy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals advertisement over the caption, "I'd rather dance naked than wear fur."
Smirnoff says that she has no intention of slowing down the pace of her career. Once a child plagued by ADHD, Smirnoff still bursts with energy and relishes her nonstop lifestyle as a professional dancer and celebrity. Asked what it's like balancing dance practice with her growing list of activities, Smirnoff responded, "You end up practicing in the middle of the night. You're under-sleeping, overworking. But it beats any rollercoaster in the world."
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