- (Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
"Dancing with the Stars" season 17 is sure to win ratings with another cast of celebrity contestants, but will the show's beloved professional dancers be coming back?
Some of the pro dancers on "DWTS" have become household names and fan favorites, including Cheryl Burke, Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough and Maks Chmerkovskiy.
Chmerkovskiy is currently performing on Broadway's "Forever Tango" and had reportedly clashed with "DWTS" judges in past seasons. The dancer did not appear on last season's "DWTS," which crowned singer Kellie Pickler and her partner, Hough, the champions.
However, "DWTS" executives said that Chmerkovskiy could be back this fall.
"Maks is a part of the family," said ABC's president of entertainment Paul Lee while at Sunday's Television Critics Association meeting. "He may well be back. We love having him be part of the show."
Recently named in gossip headlines linking him to model Kate Upton, Chmerkovskiy remains one of the most popular "DWTS" professional dancers, despite his departure from the show last year.
At the time, the 33-year-old explained why he was not among season 16's dancers.
"I just want to set the record straight to all of my amazing fans that I will unfortunately not be retuning for this season of 'DWTS,'" Chmerkovskiy said in February 2013 while on "Good Morning America."
"I've been a pro dancer on the show for about seven years now and am eager to explore other opportunities that have been made possible because of 'DWTS,'" he continued. "I'm going to take this time to dive into producing and acting, while fulfilling my sponsorship obligations."
The upcoming 17th season of the reality dance competition will premiere on ABC on Monday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. EST.
This season, the show will only air on Monday nights, eliminating the Results Show that usually followed on Tuesdays in past seasons.
Speaking about the change in airtime, Derek Hough revealed optimism.
"We've got one show a week now," said the reigning "DWTS" champ speaking to Access Hollywood. "But I think it'll make a better show, more jam-packed. And so I'm excited about it."
The dancer's sister, Julianne Hough, was also a former professional cast member on the popular series.