By Shirley Halperin
February 16, 2008 at 10:47 AM EST

One of Dancing With the Stars’ most beloved pros is diversifying. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who tangoed his way to second place twice, with celebrity partners Leila Ali and Mel B., is taking next season off to pursue other projects. “There are a lot of things in the works that I want to tend to,” says the 28-year-old Latin ballroom champion. “People say this show opens doors, but you’re so busy doing the show, that you’re not able to use the doors.” Speaking from the set of the second Dancing with the Stars fitness DVD, due out this fall, Chmerkovskiy, known to fans as Maks, says he’ll be back the following season, but won’t be specific about his immediate future. The sixth round of DWTS premieres on ABC on March 17. On Tuesday, Feb.19, Good Morning America will break the top secret news of which celeb will be waltzing with which dancer this season. The only thing we know for now is that Maks won’t be one of them.

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