Karina Smirnoff Biography

Rachel Hanson
Ballroom Expertise

Any Karina Smirnoff biography will detail her many dancing titles and successful partnerships, but readers may also be interested to know that Karina Smirnoff graduated from college with a double major and had intentions to go to law school. Of course, her dancing career is what has made her famous, and her dancing career eventually overshadowed her academic career.

Early Karina Smirnoff Biography

Smirnoff was born in the Ukraine in early 1978 and began dancing at the age of five. In addition to the ballet lessons that were the start of her dancing career, she also took up ballroom dancing lessons, piano, and gymnastics, among a few other related activities. Her talents were apparent early, and a personal preference for ballroom dancing made ballroom her creative activity of choice.

In 1992, Smirnoff moved to the United States and eventually became a U.S. citizen. In her early years in America, she stopped dancing in order to concentrate on her education. She graduated from a public high school in New York City and then attended a private university (Fordham), where she completed a double major degree in information systems programming and economics. It was during this time that dancing became a focus in her life again. As she began dancing again, dancing slowly took over more and more of her daily life. The rest, as they say, is history. She is now considered one of the very best female ballroom dancers in the world.

Dancing Career

Smirnoff is hailed not only as a fantastic ballroom dancer, but also for her unique ability to shine with multiple partners. While many dancers are dependent on having the perfect partnership with one dancer, Karina Smirnoff has won many different awards and championships with several different partners. This ability makes her a prime partner for the television show Dancing with the Stars.

Karina Smirnoff has appeared in several seasons of the hit dance show Dancing with the Stars. One of her most memorable partnerships was with Mario Lopez, the actor perhaps best known for his role on the television show Saved by the Bell. This partnership yielded a strong finish (second place)-the best finish Smirnoff has had on the show. In addition to their dance partnership having impressive results, Smirnoff and Lopez became a couple after meeting through the television show. Their relationship lasted two years.

Other partnerships on Dancing with the Stars have been less fruitful; however, her dance partnerships in other competitions have yielded several first place finishes. Smirnoff has won the U.S. National Championships no fewer than five times! She has also won several titles at the U.S. Open, the U.K. Open, and the Asian Open.

Over the years, she has had several professional partners-the first of which was Roman Nabotov and the most fruitful partnership was that with Slavik Kryklyvyy. They won several competitions together before moving on to new partners.

Personal Life

As for the personal life of Karina Smirnoff, biography sources also present an interesting story. As mentioned before, Smirnoff immigrated to America when she was still young, which influenced both her dancing career as well as her personal life. Attending high school and college in America, her personal life is now rooted in the U.S.

Her many dance partnerships are paralleled by a few romantic relationships. She had a relationship with Dancing with the Stars partner, Mario Lopez, as well as a relationship (and engagement) with fellow Dancing with the Stars professional Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Their engagement began at the end of 2008 and was called off in the Autumn of 2009.


Smirnoff is a ballroom dancer with talents reaching far beyond knowing the steps and the choreography. Her flair, grace, and technique make her one of the most exciting of ballroom dancers to watch. Still young, she is likely to remain a key dancer for many years to come.

Karina Smirnoff Biography