dancing with the stars

Step by Step

Karina Smirnoff takes the stage with fellow Dancing with the Stars titan Tony Dovolani for a festive holiday outing. But the beloved dancer proves she has never been a stranger to taking big leaps.

Greg Archer Arts & Entertainment

dancing with the stars
Dancing with the Stars Mirror Ball winner Mirror Ball winner Karina Smirnoff is part of Dance to the Holidays coming Dec. 3 to Rancho Mirage.

Dancing With The Stars is a cultural phenomenon. But then there’s So You Think You Can Dance. And American Idol, too. Place these modern-day behemoths and its celebrated stars on stage for a live touring show and you give birth to Dance To The Holidays!

Dancing With The Stars Mirror Ball winner Karina Smirnoff is truly jazzed about the upcoming show, which unfolds Dec. 3 at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage. Joining the performer for the holiday soiree is Dancing With The Stars cohort Tony Dovolani, along with finalists from So You Think You Can Dance (Jonathan Platero), London's Strictly Come Dancing star Oksana Dmytrenko. American Idol finalists (season 14) Rayvon Owen and Adanna Duru enter the mix, too, among others.

With choreographer Jaymz Tuaileva (Donny And Marie's Vegas Holiday Show, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance) at the helm, the seasonal show promises to deliver news twists on longtime favorites like Let It Snow, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Seasons Of Love and All I Want For Christmas

Smirnoff shares more with Palm Springs Life.

Palm Springs Life: What do you love most about what you do?

Karina Smirnoff: Connecting with the audience. Whether it’s on TV with Dancing With The Stars, or on Broadway performing in live theater, and even with Dance to the Holidays! It’s three very different ways actually being able to share what you love to do the most. I believe dance resembles life.

PSL: How so?

KS: You always have a direct relationship from the emotion you are portraying from the floor because it comes from a real truth, if you are really an artist. Having the opportunity to be your true self in front of live audiences is quite an incredible opportunity.

PSL: Did you know at a young age that this was your true form of creative expression?

KS: No. Not at all. I’ve always loved dancing. It has been a big part of my childhood but my mother played the piano for, like, 30 years. My grandmother also wanted me to learn piano. I started playing at a young age. I tried ballet, ice-skating, gymnastics, but at one point, during the time I was also playing the piano, I tried ballroom dancing and I fell in love with it.


Tony Dovolani will join Karina Smirnoff from Dancing with the Stars.

PSL: What was it about that?

KS: It had everything — glamour, show business, sport, and art. It was expressive and therapeutic. It involved all the things that I loved and enjoyed from all the other sports, but it had it all in one. I loved it. But I never thought it would be my main thing. I went to law school. That was my stable idea of what my career should be.

PSL: Fascinating.

KS: But dancing always stayed there. It’s hard to walk away from doing what you love.

PSL: Why do you think America is so enamored with DWTS and dance, in general?

KS: I think it’s always been there — that fascination. It’s been there in history — Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly. They were the biggest things. Before anything else, they were dancing. But everything rotates. It comes full circle. Dancing took a backseat a little bit to some of the other art forms, but now, thanks to DWTS, and some of the other TV shows, dancing is back as its own form of art. It’s a good era to be a dancer. I also think, deep inside, we are great dancers — we want to learn.

PSL: What can we expect in this outing?

KS: You get different artists from different shows. The shows that everybody loves — those people come together. And it’s the holidays. To this day, I still think something awesome is going to happen around the holidays. You can feel the spirit of the holidays in this show.

PSL: Was there any dancer that truly inspired you?

KS: One of the biggest inspirations for any dancer in the world was Michael Jackson. He was able to transcend, not just specific regions, but the whole world. And all of that happened before we had the Internet and social media. He did all purely with his talent and his ability to connect with people. He was one of the biggest pioneers in the movement of dance. And Isadora Duncan — she truly inspired me.

PSL: And what is your favorite kind of dance?

KS: It’s not so much the dance, but the music. If I have the most inspiring piece of music to perform to, I just live in that moment.

Dance To The Holidays, 5 p.m. Dec. 3 at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; hotwatercasino.com/dance-to-the-holidays.