October 31, 2011 10:10pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Hope Solo Defend Awkward 'Dancing With the Stars' Moment
The people at Dancing With the Stars know they have good television in Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And the professional dancer has a fanbase to be reckoned with after seasons of speaking his mind and entertaining audiences with his ego and frequently bare chest.
So it shouldn't come as much surprise that he didn't keep a very low profile after making headlines last week.
VIDEO: Maksim Chmerkovskiy's 'Dancing With the Stars' Comments: 'I Didn't Mean it in a Selfish Way'
On the heels of his heated dismissal of the judges' critiques, Monday's performance show included a clip from a group rehearsal in which Maks got aggressive with partner Hope Solo -- at one point appearing to push her in the shoulder. He was then shown exiting the room, leaving their fellow dancers looking uncomfortable.
Hope says she has no problem with Maks' teaching style.
"Obviously it's working," she said backstage. "We're here for the 7th week. We're getting OK scores. You wouldn't want to see me if he wasn't tough on me."
Her partner, who had to sit out some of the recent rehearsals with a broken toe, once again praised her improvement, adding that she had to work particularly hard to learn the group Paso Doble.
STORY: Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Fellow Pros React to his 'Dancing With the Stars' Tirade
"Hope was the only one who had two dances to learn," he says. (Their Paso Doble teammates, Rob Kardashian and Ricki Lake, had both learned the dance before week 7.)
And while most of the other pros and competitors remained mum about Maks' apparent altercation during the group rehearsal, Nancy Grace's partner Tristan MacManus did address it backstage.
Being sure to preface himself by noting the rehearsal package is just a one and a half minute and often unflattering look at an entire week, he seemed put off by the notion of getting phsyical with a partner.
That's a different matter," he said. "That stuff you shouldn't be doing... I know just as much as everyone else knows, but certainly viewing it that way, it shouldn't happen."