“Dancing with the Stars” can be a rocky road for the celebrity contestants and their professional dance partners. The close quarters, weeks of tough competition, and hours and hours of training make the perfect conditions for tensions to run high and the long-running ABC competition show is infamous for seeing dance partners either get very close — or in some cases, very not.
“Dancing with the Stars” has brought us some adorable romances between celebrity and professional dancers over the years, including Kym Johnson and Robert Herjavec, and Artem Chigvintsev and Nikki Bella. The pros are not immune to finding romance through the show either, as Maksim Chmerkovkiy and Peta Murgatroyd, Val Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson, Daniella Karagh and Pasha Pashkov, and Emma Slater and Sasha Farber all found love on the series.
But what happens when things go the other way and all that time spent together in the dance studio turns into disdain? Read on to find out about some of the most infamous feuds and short-lived conflicts to ever grace “Dancing with the Stars.”
Cheryl Burke said 'nasty' things about Ian Ziering
Cheryl Burke’s feud with Ian Ziering is likely one of the most high-profile in “Dancing with the Stars” history. Burke and Ziering danced together on Season 4 of the show in 2007, and Burke made it very clear she wasn’t the biggest fan of the “Beverly Hills, 90210” star almost a decade later.
Speaking on the “Allegedly” podcast in 2016 (via TMZ), Burke did not hold back. “Think of spending time with that for, like, eight to 10 hours a day, seven days a week, for three months,” Burke said of Ziering, claiming competing with him “made [her] want to slit [her] wrists.” She added that things were so bad that she asked producers to eliminate them, but her request was refused. “I swear, every time I asked, we just kept going. We would last till the end,” she said.
In 2021, Burke apologized for the aforementioned remarks. The professional dancer said on the “Pretty Messed Up” podcast that she “truly” regretted what she said and wanted “to make amends with” Ziering, adding she “was completely out of line.” Burke apologized and admitted she used Ziering as her “punching bag,” adding, “I took it to that next level of nastiness. I was so nasty and I’m here to publicly apologize to Ian and his family.” Burke also shared how she “lost a lot of respect for [herself]” for her comments and noted, “It haunts me till this day.”
Mischa Barton didn't like dancing with Artem Chigvintsev
Mischa Barton made it very clear that she didn’t have the best time dancing with Artem Chigvintsev on “Dancing with the Stars.” The two competed on Season 22 in 2016 and the former “The O.C.” star went on to slam the series while suggesting she and the professional dancer did not get along.
Barton shuddered when the subject of “DWTS” was brought up during an interview with The Ringer as she admitted she “had no idea it would be so bad.” She claimed she was “told off” by Chigvintsev and said part of the reason she signed on to do the show was because she was told she would get more creative control over her costumes. “That didn’t happen. It wasn’t collaborative like a choreographer on a film set,” she said, adding that she “was so confused by it.” Barton went on to liken her experience to being part of the Hunger Games, before calling it “awful” as she admitted she “was so glad to get kicked off.”
After her elimination, a source claimed to Radar Online that Barton “acted so rude” to her co-stars and supposedly “did not even seem to want to say goodbye to anyone.” The insider also said Barton “just never seemed into it from day one.” However, a rep for the star denied the claims to the Mirror and said the report was “absolutely not true.”
Jaleel White reportedly 'flipped out' at Kym Johnson
There were whispers of drama between Kym Johnson and her celebrity partner Jaleel White in 2012. A source told Us Weekly that the “Family Matters” star apparently “flipped out” at Johnson during rehearsals and things got “heated.” According to Us Weekly’s “Dancing with the Star” insider, White accidentally stepped on Johnson’s foot, after which he supposedly “got in her face” and accused her of “acting like a baby.” The source even claimed the actor was “shouting at her” and “calling her an ‘idiot.'”
According to Us, Johnson reportedly started crying and a source claimed White “started going off on the producers and shouting about how they put him with a ‘stupid’ partner.'” But it wasn’t just Johnson who White is said to have had an issue with. Professional dancer Mark Ballas reportedly stepped in after hearing the commotion as he rehearsed with celebrity partner Katherine Jenkins which caused another argument. White is said to have told Ballas, “‘You remind me of that annoying sitcom neighbor who gets into everyone’s business!'”
In reference to the reports, a rep for White told ET, “[White and Kym Johnson] are getting along great” and urged fans to tune in to the next show.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy's relationship with Kirstie Alley turned sour
Things went well for Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Kirstie Alley when it came to their relationship on “Dancing with the Stars,” but, while it’s during the close quarters and constant time together that many others fell out, it was actually after the competition that this relationship turned sour. The two danced together in 2011 during Season 15, but it wasn’t until 2014 that Chmerkovskiy confirmed they were no longer on the best terms.
Appearing on “Watch What Happens Live” (via ABC News), Chmerkovskiy claimed Alley “stopped getting along with [him]” and suggested it was because of her connection to Scientology and his friendship with Leah Remini, who has been very outspoken since cutting ties with the organization. “I think the world of her. I’m not judging people by their religion. I’m Jewish. I don’t really believe in science fiction, whatever,” he said. Alley seemingly responded on Twitter, writing, “Dear Sir..after you have a** r**** me there is really no reason to include ‘I wish you the best’.. It’s rhetorical.”
Chmerkovskiy also touched on their friction with Us Weekly in 2016 when asked what went down. “Scientology happened. You can thank Leah Remini for that. A note was sent to a friend telling me I was ‘disconnected,’ as in, I am no longer allowed to be Kirstie’s friend,” he claimed. “I find it ridiculous for an adult human being to ‘disconnect’ from someone. But everyone is entitled to their own insanity.”
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Vanessa Lachey reportedly clashed
Another season, another drama for Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The pro dancer also reportedly didn’t see eye to eye with his “Dancing with the Stars” partner Vanessa Lachey, and things apparently got so bad between the two during Season 25 in 2017 that Chmerkovskiy failed to attend a show amid whispers of tension. A source claimed to Us Weekly in October 2017 that there was supposedly “a lot of fighting going on” between the two backstage and they were “playing nice for the cameras but both are miserable paired with each other.”
When the professional skipped the episode, co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews told viewers that a “personal issue” prevented him from dancing, leaving Lachey to perform with fellow pro Alan Bersten instead. At the time, People claimed there was “a big chemistry issue” between her and Chmerkovskiy and reported the latter had supposedly refused to rehearse. A source added, “They both have big personalities and that’s not always the best recipe for a good partnership” and doubled down on reports they’d been “fighting a lot.”
Chmerkovskiy returned to the dance floor the following week and publicly apologized to Lachey via social media. “I had to leave the show last week to take care of some personal issues,” he tweeted. “I take full responsibility for my absence and want to apologize to my partner Vanessa.”
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Hope Solo 'didn't have a good time'
Maksim Chmerkovskiy just can’t seem to get along with his celebrity partners, and perhaps his biggest drama happened with soccer player Hope Solo. They danced together during Season 13 of “Dancing with the Stars” and in her 2012 memoir, “Solo: A Memoir of Hope,” Solo accused Chmerkovskiy of crossing the line during practices. “He manhandled me in rehearsals from the start, pushing me, whacking my stomach, bending my arms roughly. Maks was rough and mean with me, flinging me and pushing me around,” she wrote (via ET). Solo continued by claiming the other dancers saw him get physical with her and were “shocked,” as she alleged he “wanted [her] head in a specific position. To achieve that, he slapped [her] across the face. Hard.”
Chmerkovskiy denied the allegations and didn’t have good things to say when asked about Solo on the “Allegedly” podcast in 2015. “She’s just a s****y person. People can be bad or good or whatever. You can have a s****y life growing up. You can have a tough upbringing. You can have history. You can have whatever. But if you are just a bad person, you know what I mean? There’s no excuse for that,” he said.
Chmerkovskiy also went in on Solo on “The Real” that same month. “We didn’t have a good time on the show and it’s been highly documented,” he pointed out. “I don’t like her and that’s the end of it.”
Artem Chigvintsev fell out with his partner on Strictly Come Dancing
It’s not just on “Dancing with the Stars” where the drama goes down. On the British version of the show, “Strictly Come Dancing,” Artem Chigvintsev was accused of getting physical with one of his partners. Chigvintsev, who’s danced on both versions of the competition, found himself on the end of some pretty serious allegations in 2015 when British TV host Fern Britton — his dance partner in 2012 — said at an event hosted by the Times (via Huffington Post), “He would look at my feet and just kick me or shove me.” She also claimed he said things like “You just stand there and don’t move, I dance round you” and “Shut your face. Go home before I kill you.”
Britton added, “I would say, ‘Oh please just kill me, it would be easier.’ Or what was his other one? ‘If you go for a cup of tea now, I will blow off like an atomic bomb.’ I thought, well I won’t correct him on that one.”
Chigvintsev denied the allegations. “Recent statements apparently made by Fern Britton, whilst not reflecting any situation I recognise, are difficult to ignore,” he said in a statement, per Digital Spy. “I believe I treated Fern with respect and genuine care, and these claims about me are the opposite of everything I believe in and the person I am.” He added, “I cannot imagine what has prompted such statements which come as a shock to me.”
Tony Dovolani joked about his season with Kate Gosselin
Getting paired up with Kate Gosselin on “Dancing with the Stars” Season 10 evidently wasn’t a highlight for Tony Dovolani. The professional dancer made that very clear during an appearance on Anderson Cooper’s talk show “Anderson” after the host said, “I always felt bad for you because you got stuck with Kate Gosselin. I remember watching her dance. I’m still traumatized by that experience.” Dovolani laughed and said they “didn’t dance.” They didn’t leave it at that. After Cooper asked if Dovolani needed “a long vacation” after the season, the “DWTS” pro replied, “There was a lot of therapy involved.”
In a since-deleted blog post for CouponCabin.com (via E!), Gosselin admitted she was “surprised” by her former dancer partner’s comments. “I think it is a shame that Tony has been left only with a negative impression of our time together, especially after we spent SO many hours, days, nights and weeks working hard together doing our best in the competition,” she wrote, noting that she actually enjoyed it. “I was left with a very positive impression of the entire experience! I very much enjoyed the challenge and the [camaraderie].”
Gosselin also noted that she “made many lifelong friends, have tons of great memories, and learned a lot about [herself]” while on the competition series. She said she didn’t “regret a single moment,” adding, “I wish nothing but the best in future seasons for Tony and his prospective dance partners.”
Peta Murgatroyd cut her first rehearsal with Nyle DiMarco
Okay, this one isn’t even close to a longstanding feud, but it is an example of partners kicking off a season on the wrong foot. Peta Murgatroyd and Nyle DiMarco got off to an uncertain start when they competed on Season 22 of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2016. Though they appeared to get on well after getting to know one another, DiMarco, who is deaf, shared in an April 2016 interview with Time that things were a little rocky at first because his partner wasn’t sure how to teach him the choreography to the music. “She cancelled our first rehearsal,” he shared.
He explained that it took them a little while to find a teaching technique that worked for the both of them. “I’m actually very visual. Whatever Peta does and shows me how to dance, I’m able to pick up all those small, little details,” he explained to Time. Proving there were no hard feelings regarding the cancelled rehearsal, DiMarco added, “Peta brings out the performance. She’s a performer. I feel like I can see the music and can see how the character of the music actually flows. For me, that’s music to my eyes.” Their season couldn’t have ended on a better note: The pair won the competition.
Now, that’s not to say there wasn’t any drama that season. According to Radar Online, DiMarco may or may not have been at odds with some of the other “DWTS” pros.
Kym Johnson reportedly struggled with David Hasselhoff's 'diva' behavior
“Dancing with the Stars” notoriously takes a lot of a celebrity’s time, and it sounds like some stars have been a little less flexible with their precious hours than others. According to reports, Kym Johnson apparently found it difficult to find studio time with David Hasselhoff when they were partnered up on Season 11. A source told Us Weekly that “Kym thought getting Hoff as a partner was quite a coup, but then quickly realized it was a mistake.” The insider also claimed Hasselhoff’s team “would call staffers 20 times a day, changing rehearsal times, canceling shoots and even suggesting things like camera angles and poses.”
Whatever was or wasn’t going on behind the scenes, the pairing didn’t last too long; Johnson and Hasselhoff were the first couple to be voted off that season. Speaking to Access Hollywood, the “Baywatch” alum didn’t touch on the rumors regarding scheduling conflicts but admitted he did “feel bad” for his pro partner. “It’s been a great ride and I feel bad for Kym because she worked so hard to try and get me where I was going,” he said.
Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough got into an argument
Even the resident all-round nice guy of “Dancing with the Stars” has experienced a little drama with his partners. Derek Hough had a blowout fight with Jennifer Grey in October 2010, which they both opened up about during a joint interview with People. Despite things getting dramatic, they downplayed the tension. “Let’s just say we’re human beings. I’m very sensitive, and you know, he was frustrated. So what? We’re human beings. Whatever. It’s not that big a deal,” Grey said, adding that being on the show and rehearsing hours and hours a day was like being “caged animals.”
As for what made the two butt heads, Grey explained that Hough wanted her to do something specific that she thought she was doing, but he felt differently. “He was like, ‘Just walk! Just walk!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m trying to walk!'” the “Dirty Dancing” star recalled. And it sounds like things got pretty tense before they got better. Hough added, “I rarely, rarely, rarely lose my temper or anything like that … I’ve seen this one lose hers before — scary!”
Luckily, the two managed to reconcile and went on to win Season 11, despite Grey suffering a nasty injury.
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