In Entertainment, Magazine, News

I’m Gleb Savchenko, and I’m best-known as a pro on the beloved reality-television show “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC where pros compete with their celebrity partners for the mirror-ball trophy.

You’re probably wondering, what the heck is he doing here in Las Vegas writing for Vegas Prime Magazine – he hasn’t won a mirror-ball trophy yet. I’ll be honest. I’m here to ask you to vote for me for Season 33 this fall (I’m kidding … LOL!).

Now that I have your attention, here’s the scoop. The secret’s out that I’m trading my ballroom dance shoes for the bow tie and cuffs for a limited engagement with the iconic Chippendales as a celebrity guest host right here at The Rio through May 12 and this summer in Atlantic City from July 18-21.

So thanks to Chippendales, Vegas Prime Magazine gave me the honor to contribute as their first “celebrity takeover.” Now I get to step outside my comfort zone and tell you all something pretty personal. Wish me luck …with a little shimmy, shimmy, it’s story time!

Not a lot of you know that I grew up in Communist Russia. My parents lived on food stamps. We ate soup, rice and potatoes. We were completely broke and had absolutely nothing. I always dreamed of getting out; I wanted more. I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a professional dancer.

It started in Moscow when I was 7 years old in the first grade. In the middle of class, a dance teacher walked in and told the students they were organizing an after-school dance program, so raise your hand if you’d like to sign up. The girl sitting next to my desk raised her hand. I remember she was my first secret love.

I was obsessed with her blue eyes and blonde hair – she was super cute. I came home that day and told my grandma that I really wanted to start dancing. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “You know that boys don’t dance? They play soccer and hockey?” But I didn’t care. I really wanted to spend more time near my first secret love.

I remember that first day in the studio, I kept staring at her – and, of course, my teacher noticed. He walked across the floor and said, “You two will be dance partners from now on.” Suddenly, I got what I wanted. Since that moment, I never stopped dancing. Thank you, Grandma, for listening to me and trusting my instincts.

Fast forward to age 19, I moved to Queens in New York City with $97 in my pocket. I lived in a small room, used my towels as my mattress and my snow jacket for my pillow. In exchange for rent, I cleaned the whole apartment.

I’d take a $4 round-trip subway to Manhattan to teach for $25/hour in a dance studio (aka the floor fee), which I paid $9/hour for. OK, so if you do the math, I was left with $12 profit per lesson.

On the way back from teaching, I’d pass this tiny Chinese grocery store where the employees were so kind. They knew me by my first name, but the only problem was I barely spoke English. They quickly figured out it was the Singapore noodles that I wanted … every single night. It was all I could afford.

So now I reflect on the decision to leave my family, and Russia, for the opportunity of a lifetime to become a pro dancer on “Dancing With the Stars” (a dream job!) in the greatest country in the world. It was only a few years ago, I got my citizenship, and, wow, that was a really big deal.

Well, that’s all the time I have for today’s story time. Perhaps I’ll be back again soon for another “celebrity takeover.”

With love,

Gleb

Chippendales performs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays (dark Mondays and Tuesdays), with additional shows Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. at The Rio. Gleb Savchenko’s limited engagement runs through May 12 (Thursday through Sunday performances). 3700 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas. (702) 777-7776; Chippendales.com.

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