Meet the no-nonsense, super-competitive, celeb-twirling pros of ABC's new hit

By People Staff
February 13, 2006 12:00 PM

Louis van Amstel, 33

Celeb Partner: Lisa Rinna. “I really push her—running hills at the beach, sprints, then five hours in the studio.”

First Dance: At 10, in Amsterdam. “My parents thought it was important for etiquette, so when you go to a wedding you don’t look stupid.”

High Steps: The 2000 U.S. National Latin Dance champ also brought his dance-revue sensation Latin Fusion to Broadway in 2002.

Edyta Sliwinska, 26

Celeb Partner: George Hamilton. “He just wants to have fun and talk. He doesn’t, like, ‘strictly work.'”

First Dance: Age 10. “I wandered by a dance school near my house in Warsaw, Poland, and got hooked.”

Dance Card: Sliwinska is engaged to dancer Alec Mazo (who won the first Dancing competition with Kelly Monaco). The two ran a San Francisco kids’ dance studio—which came in handy with goof-off Hamilton. “If you can teach a 6-year-old, you can teach anybody.”

Maksim Chmerkovskiy, 26

Celeb partner: Tia Carrere. “She’s a joy, but she had an aura of ‘I just had a baby. I am doing the best I can.’ I said, ‘You didn’t have a leg amputated, you had a baby!'”

First Dance: Age 4, at a performing arts school in the Ukraine.

High Step: After he broke his leg in a skiing accident at age 13, doctors told Chmerkovskiy he would likely walk with a limp. Six months later he invited his doctors to a dance competition: “I had a metal rod in my leg, and I made the finals. Everyone had tears in their eyes.”

Cheryl Burke, 21

Celeb Partner: Drew Lachey. “We’ve gotten close. He’s like a brother to me, but I get on his case about his posture.”

First Dance: Age 9, in San Francisco. “My parents brought me to a ballroom competition. I loved it. From then on I took lessons.”

High Step: Won the 2005 World Cup Professional Rising Star Latin dance competition.

Tony Dovolani, 32

Celeb Partner: Pro wrestler Stacy Kiebler. “She works hard. I’m a bit of a drill sergeant. We drive each other nuts and have fun at the same time.”

First Dance: Age 3, in Kosovo. “My dad realized I had a musical ear and placed me in folk dance.”

High Step: He tangoed alongside Richard Gere in 2004’s Shall We Dance.

Dance Card: He proposed to wife Trendelina after one blind date. Future partner: 6-month-old daughter Luana.

Anna Trebunskaya, 25

Celeb Partner: Ex-49er Jerry Rice. “He’s not coordinated as a dancer; it’s hard for him to retrain his muscles. But he has a great work ethic, so it’s easy for me.”

First Dance: “My mom owned a dance studio in Russia. I started at age 7.”

Dance Card: Trebunskaya is married to Jonathan Roberts, who was paired with journalist Giselle Fernandez on this season of Dancing (they were eliminated in week 3).