Dancing With The Stars Karina Smirnoff has become a household name in recent years due to her remarkable talent on the dance floor. She won the show’s mirror ball trophy on season 13 with partner J.R. Martinez, and she and current partner Super Bowl champion Jacoby Jones of the Baltimore Ravens are currently considered one of the frontrunners.
One thing that dance fans may not know is how passionate Karina is about helping youth get involved in dance and the arts. She and Bright Future International founder Anthony Melikhov joined me for an interview recently to discuss the Beyond the Ballet event Karina will be emceeing in New York City next month and Karina also dished on what it’s like dancing with Jacoby this season.
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about the Beyond the Ballet event you’re co-hosting with Bright Future International?
Karina Smirnoff: “It’s a wonderful event called the Beyond the Ballet in New York City at the Beacon Theatre in the Theater District on May 8th. The tickets are actually available right now at Ticketmaster.com and they’re going really fast. I wanted to be involved with the charity that is in depth and teaches kids to appreciate arts and how to express themselves. Bright Future International, what Anthony is doing with disadvantaged kids around the world, not just in the United States but also in Panama and in African countries is incredible. He’s introducing them to core values like love, kindness, compassion, discipline and to be able to do that and express yourself through the form of art, whether it’s dancing modern, contemporary, ballroom, ballet or even singing is an amazing outlet.
I can’t wait to get to New York, I’m bringing Jacoby (Jones) with me, and we get to see 300 kids from the New York City area who would never have an opportunity to go and watch the ballet because of not having the finances, not having the resources, the information to them. They get to meet the stars of the present with the future stars, so you have some of the best ballet dancers performing on May 8th as well as prodigy cellist from Russia who is only 11 years old.”
Candace Rose: How important are education programs and cultural projects like this in communities?
Anthony Melikhov: “Those events teach children universal core values. I think it’s most important when children have the chance to connect with themselves. When you open your soul and open your heart to love and give back your external circumstances start changing to the better. This world needs to change rapidly to live by heart and that’s what we’re trying to do in different countries throughout the world, teach children values and this event will go a long way to help children reconnect with themselves.:
Karina Smirnoff: “To add to what Anthony was saying, kids always look- I remember when I was a child I was looking for a way to express. That’s why my parents when I was a little kid in Russia and I’m an only child, so you can imagine everything. My parents wanted me to play the piano, my dad wanted me to do figure skating and my mom wanted me to do ballet, so I tried everything. So kids always look for ways to express themselves when they are just forming to be adults. So to have someone who wants to find an outlet but they don’t have an opportunity, they will shy away and they will probably do something they see their friends doing, whether it’s gang violence or crime or whether it’s just following the footsteps of the parents who don’t know any better. So for us to have the opportunity to educate and shed some light on the world of art and how kids can bet a part of that, even if they don’t have the resources is extremely important.
And to have an event in the historical Theater District in New York City which is the capital of the world is an amazing opportunity that Anthony is bringing to us.”
Anthony Melikhov: “We don’t want to sell tickets, we want to bring those kids and fill the theatre, which is 2800 seats. The kids and obviously their parents get in free, and we want to let them experience something that they would otherwise never experience. We would hope that they’ll be so inspired that they will change their lives and try to bring art into their life, and that will change their life.”
Karina Smirnoff: “Sometimes you want to watch a great performance and wonder where do I go to next? How do I change my life? If you go to BrightFutureInternational.org, you’ll get all that information there.”
Candace Rose: Karina, you’re not only inspiring youth to get into dance, you also inspired your partner Jacoby Jones. You’re doing phenomenally well. I heard Bruno and Carrie Ann Inaba both say they can see you and Jacoby in the finals. Can you tell us about your experience thus far?
Karina Smirnoff: “He’s doing so well. This is the first time I’ve been paired up with a football player and I know why a lot of female dancers on the show always want to be with a football player- because these guys have the discipline. I don’t have to tell him ‘Come on do it again.’ He goes home and he does his homework. I do tell him let’s do it again and he hates when I say ‘One more time’ because he goes ‘It’s not one more time, stop saying one more.’ It’s like 1,000 more!
He’s very sweet and when I told him about Bright Future International, he said ‘I’d love to come, I’d love to watch the whole event and see the kids interact and be introduced to the arts. He’s coming with me to New York, and I’m excited about that.”
Candace Rose: Do either of you have any additional information you’d like to share?
Karina Smirnoff: “The website www.BrightFutureInternational.org is where you get all the information and you get to read stories on what’s happening in Panama, in the United States and around the world and in African countries as well.
If you are interested, and we would love for you to come out. I’m going to be the emcee of the event on May 8th at the theatre, and Jacoby is going to come out and meet all the kids and Anthony is going to be there, so please go to Ticketmaster.com and get your tickets.”