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Chmerkovskiy & Hightower Will Not Return to DANCING WITH THE STARS

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DANCING WITH THE STARS will be out two professional dancers when season 16 kicks off next month.

According to TMZ, both Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Chelsie Hightower are departing ABC's glitzy competition. Chmerkovskiy seems to be exiting on his own terms - Hightower, not so much.

Chmerkovskiy has performed on DANCING since its second season, but now, it appears he wants to pursue other projects. He told the site he intends to get into film and philanthropy.

In the seasons he's been apart of the show, he and his various partners have made it to the final round four times, twice as runner-ups and twice in third place.

Hightower, meanwhile, may have been forced out. "Sometimes we take breaks," she told TMZ. Which hints that this might not be a permanent departure. We'll see in the coming months, and ultimately, next season.

The cast of DANCING WITH THE STARS will officially be revealed live tomorrow, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 exclusively during "Good Morning America" (7:00-9:00 a.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

The next season is set to begin on Monday, March 18 at 8/7c on ABC.

Hosted by Tom Bergeron ("America's Funniest Home Videos") and Brooke Burke-Charvet ("Dancing with the Stars" Season Seven Champion), "Dancing with the Stars" is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines which will be judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

"Dancing with the Stars" is the U.S. version of the international SMASH hit series, "Strictly Come Dancing." This version is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Conrad Green serves as executive producer and Ashley Edens-Shaffer and Joe Sungkur are co-executive producers. Alex Rudzinski directs. "Dancing with the Stars" is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.


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