‘Our Way’ a story of immigrants

Strip the show “Maks and Val Live on Tour: Our Way” of the lights, the costumes, the music and the choreography, and it’s really about something so simple.

It’s a love story.

“It’s an homage to our parents,” Maksim “Maks” Chmerkovskiy said of the 48-city tour that makes its San Diego stop Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the San Diego Civic Theatre. “You look at me and Val onstage and doing what we love — dancing. We’ve gone through a lot, growing up in New York after moving to this country from Ukraine in 1994. This show is to honor our story, our parents’ story. We love everything they have done for us.

“We’re going to spend our entire lives trying to pay them back and make them proud.”

“Maks and Val Live on Tour: Our Way”

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10

Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown

Tickets: $47-$77

Phone: (800) 653-8000


When Maks, 36, embarked on the national tour with his 30-year-old brother, Valentin (aka “Val”), they purposely created a dance show that wouldn’t be a replica of the TV series that vaulted them to fame: “Dancing With the Stars,” the ABC competition show that’s been on the air since 2005.

“We knew we had a story to tell — our upbringing, our parents, our passion for dancing,” Maks said Saturday morning by phone shortly after arriving in St. Louis, where they were performing that night at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

View the Video Maks and Val Tour_ Our Way.mp4

“We give the audience a story of two immigrant kids — their struggles and the life lessons. I’m not a softy or emotional, but I have to admit that this does soften me up. It’s a very inspiring show.

“It represents the story of people coming to America for a better life — a story that resonates in our country because so many did just that. And it’s very relevant right now with what’s going on in the U.S. So in a way, we’re showing what being an immigrant actually means and what it’s not.”

The journey from the tour’s first date in Florida to its eventual final stop in San Jose on Aug. 14 has not been easy, but still, Maks can’t help but feel a tinge of melancholy that the tour is nearing the end.

“I’ve done of a lot things in my life, but nothing like this,” he said. “Whenever you have to do something 50 times, you get tired, your body gets tired, your mind gets tired. I’m 36. The wear and tear is enormous. But there is something about this show — it’s special, it’s personal. There is a big part of me that’s sad it’s almost over.”

He’s quick to admit, though, that these days, he’s high on life. Why shouldn’t he be? He’s one of the most prominent faces of “Dancing With the Stars.” Even before he landed on the popular TV series — which ended its 22nd season May 24 — he was already an accomplished professional dancer and choreographer, having won ballroom titles around the world. He retired from the show in 2014 after winning that season’s top trophy with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis, and now he’s focused on other endeavors: acting and Dance With Me, a national chain of dance studios of which he is a co-founder.

But perhaps his biggest project is yet to come: He and his fiancee — fellow dancer Peta Murgatroyd — are expecting their first child.

“It’s a great time in my life right now. I’m so happy.”

Another love story in the making, and this one’s set to begin in January.

Michael James Rocha

Michael James Rocha

Michael James Rocha is the arts and entertainment editor. He oversees coverage of pop music, classical music, visual art, theater, dance, things to do and dining both for online and print. Rocha started his career at The San Diego Union-Tribune in December 1997 as a features page designer. He eventually became the features design editor, managing a staff of 15 designers and 17 features sections. Through the years, he has done stints as the front page designer, audience development editor and home decor editor. He previously wrote a monthly column on outdoor living, which focused on outdoor decor. Rocha graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications (with an emphasis on print journalism) from California State University-Fullerton in 1994. He has worked as a reporter, copy editor, city editor and designer for numerous Southern California newspapers, including The Orange County Register, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and the Ontario Daily Bulletin. He is one of the founding members of the Asian American Journalists Association's San Diego chapter and served on the national AAJA board for many years. Until 2017, he taught an upper-level magazine journalism course at Point Loma Nazarene University, where he was an adjunct professor. He also loves dogs.