Source: ‘Dancing with the Stars’ pros reject offer to help prevent on-set injuries


Published May 14, 2013


Karina Smirnoff put on a brave face Monday night, dancing up a storm even though she was hospitalized on Sunday after she fell during a "DWTS" rehearsal, accidentally landing on her jaw.

But injuries on the ABC show, even for dancing pros like Smirnoff, are by no means rare.

Just ask Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill, who was forced to withdraw from the current season of  “DWTS” -- the show's 16th -- due to a spinal condition. Or professional dancer Mark Ballas, who was sidelined last week he compressed two discs in his lower back during a lift with his partner.

However, FOX411 has learned that two classically-trained dancers -- Dame Nadya and Sir Golden Koscuik, both of the Masterpiece Dance Theater in Los Angeles -- offered their services in an effort to train both the pros and the stars in injury prevention techniques. 

The offer was rejected.

“Dame Nadya and Sir Golden became very concerned last season as they watched "DWTS" due to not only the celebrities getting hurt, but the dancers also getting injured. They were so concerned that they reached out to a producer of the show, and this producer agreed that help was needed,” an inside source told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “The producer met with the couple and felt they could help make sure stars did not get hurt for this new season.”

But the show’s professional dancers weren’t in favor of being trained, the source said.

“Some of the dance professionals on the show were intimidated by Dame Nadya and Sir Golden and were not receptive; it was voted down,” continued the source. “But not by all of the dancers -- one male pro in particular, who has a big ego, convinced the other pros they did not need outside help to teach the stars, but as a result we see more and more injuries. The show has the budget, but the dance pros don’t want it.”

The famous dance duo has danced injury-free for more than 40 years. Together they have coined a highly-acclaimed technique and training system known as the “Vaganova Method,” to eliminate the risk of getting hurt.

Dame Nadya said that the injuries seen on “DWTS” are definitely preventable.

“I have danced for over 47 years as a professional with no injuries due to the great training I received from the Kirov Ballet. This is the legacy that Golden and I are committed to,” she told us. “To make sure no one who dances gets injured, we have been teaching this technique for 35 years with great success, and those we taught this technique to have never been injured.”

The duo’s method is reportedly simple, yet it is apparently crucial that this technique is properly taught, and in the U.S now only two people – Dame Nadya and Sir Golden – are authorized to teach it.

On “DWTS,” many of the performers have endured tough injuries. “The Bachelor” veteran Melissa Rycroft was diagnosed with a disc herniation on her spine following a rehearsal last year, and in her first “DWTS” run in 2009 she was set back with a hairline rib fracture. Others, including Melissa Gilbert, Maria Menounos, Ralph Macchio, Jennifer Grey and Debi Mazur have all endured rough injuries.

Then there was Gilles Marini, who underwent surgery to treat a separated shoulder. And the series proved too rough for “Jackass” star Steve-O, too. He had to rest after being injured flipping onto his back. Singer Jewel fractured tibia in both legs, and Steve Wozniak fractured his foot and pulled a hamstring.  

Even elite athletes aren’t immune. Figure skaters Evan Lysacek and Kristi Yamaguchi were both hurt on the show. Meanwhile, pro dancer Maskim Chmerkovskiy is rumored to be suffering ankle and back issues that could prevent him from returning to the show next season.

So why do so many things go wrong on the popular reality series?

“They seem to be doing more dances and more challenging choreography, which then involves a lot more rehearsing. Thus, overuse of muscle and joint syndrome,” explained former professional dancer and co-founder of the Exhale Core Fusion fitness program, Elisabeth Halfpapp. “If possible, they need to have more time to recover between each dance and rehearsals, or massage and acupuncture daily which will help sore muscles and joints.”

And according to Lani Muelrath, a fitness expert and author of “Fit Quickies,” something has to give to stop so many sprains, strains and snaps going forward.

“’DWTS’ should bring in a specialist in correct movement form and alignment to teach the basics of core stabilization, as well as how to maintain position anchor points as a safe foundation for dance,” she said. “This is a set of skills that can be taught and transferred easily to safely support movement.”

Yet, on the flipside, others argue that some of the injuries can be attributed to the fact that the contestants are often out-of-shape, non-dancers. Some say the celeb injuries are pretty much inevitable.

“Dancing at the level that appears on the show requires intricate physical maneuvering, and people who aren’t regularly used to moving their bodies in that way run the risk of injury. Frankly, age can play a factor as well,” noted veteran reality television talent agent, Marc Marcuse, of Reel Management.

And given that the show has been in-momentum for an impressive 16 years, he added the pros have had few injuries considering the time it has been on the air.

“Keep in mind that although the dance moves the amateurs do are advanced for them, they’re really fairly standard for the pros,” added Marcuse. “When a professional has been dancing like that for so long, muscle memory kicks in and keeps them fairly safe.”

A rep for the show did not respond to a request for comment.