Elena Grinenko, a native Russian, is a professional National & World Ballroom dance champion, choreographer, and instructor who appeared on Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) in Season 3, partnered with conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, and Season 4 with NBA legend, Clyde Drexler. But it was a long way from Russia to the stage of the popular ABC television series.
Elena was born in Moscow, where she began ballroom dancing at the age of seven. In her first few months of dancing, her teachers noticed that Elena stood out of the crowd and in her first year of dancing, Elena became a champion of Moscow in her age category. In her Junior & Youth career, Elena became a Moscow, Russian and Soviet Union Finalist in all divisions of ballroom dancing: Standard, Latin and 10-dance. Elena won many more competitions all over the former Soviet Republics.
After moving to the U.S. in 1998, she won many competitions and eventually partnered with future DWTS pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy with whom she went on to win the International Rising Star Championship and they became one of the top twelve (semi-final) Professional Dancers in the World. Elena and Maksim starred as lead dancers in Latin Fusion on Broadway, which eventually evolved into the now-popular touring show Ballroom With A Twist. She then later began a long-time partnership with Tony Dovolani and they were undefeated National and World Champions in the American Rhythm Category. Both of them then made it onto Dancing With The Stars. Although Tony still appears on the show and Elena serves as a consultant for talent, they both recently retired from dance sport competitions and continue their careers as coaches and adjudicators all over the country. In addition, Elena owns a talent agency to help youth realize their dreams.