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The Daily Dish Dancing Queens

Wait, How Much Did It Cost Leonie Biggs to Meet with Karina Smirnoff on Dancing Queens?

Competitive dancers know that “if you want to be like the best you need to train with the best” — so that's exactly what they do on Dancing Queens.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

In ballroom dance competitions, every leg up helps. 

How to Watch

Watch Dancing Queens on Peacock and the Bravo app.    

That’s why the high-profile professional dancer Karina Smirnoff sashayed into the premiere episode of Dancing Queens.

Why Did Leonie Biggs Meet with Karina Smirnoff, and How Much Did She Pay?

In addition to being a Dancing with the Stars champion who knows her way around the intricacies of dance contests, Smirnoff is a highly regarded coach. 

Leonie Biggs, who’s one of the six competitive ballroom dancers in the amateur-professional circuit vying for top honors, is well aware of that.

“If you want to be like the best you need to train with the best,” Biggs said in the first episode of Dancing Queens.

That could be just what it takes to get an edge in the field. Leonie, just like fellow amateur competitors Gaëlle Benchetrit, Donie Burch, Pooja Mehta, Colette Marotto and Sabrina Strasser, wants that. 

Before a big competition, Leonie and her new professional partner, Koysta Samarskyi, sought expert advice from Smirnoff at a New York dance studio. The cost of the private sesh: $280 an hour, per Dancing Queens.

Margaret Josephs and Dolores Catania Get a Lesson from the Dancing Queens

“Thank you so much for coaching me,” Leonie told her. “It’s such a privilege to be here.”

Smirnoff’s first coaching step: Listening. “So tell me about what our plan is for today,” she said.

Then she got busy helping Leonie and Koysta refine their moves. 

Who Is Karina Smirnoff?

Born in Ukraine in 1978, Karina began competing in ballroom dance competitions when she was 11. She moved to the U.S. when she was 14 and is now an American citizen. As a professional dancer, Karina has won numerous honors. She is a five-time U.S. National Champion, World Trophy Champion, and Asian Open Champion, according to her personal bio

Karina Smirnoff's History with Dancing with the Stars

Karina is known for appearing for 18 seasons on Dancing With the Stars. During Season 13, she even won the much-coveted Mirror Ball Trophy while partnered with actor J.R. Martinez. 

During each season of DWTS, she had a new partner. Her experience gives her insight into the process of getting to know and feel comfortable with a new partner, which is what Leonie is going through.

Some of Smirnoff’s partners on the series include actor and TV host Mario Lopez, with whom she finished second during Season 3, actor Corbin Bleu, with whom she finished second in Season 17, and former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, with whom she finished ninth in Season 22.

Smirnoff, who has a young son, Theo Gabriel, choreographed the various routines she and her partners danced on DWTS. She played a dancer in the 2021 movie Tango Shalom.

With acting and dancing, you have something to get excited about every single day,” she told Parade.

Check out the advice Karina Smirnoff gives Leonie on Dancing Queens, premiering Tuesday, May 9 at 9/8c on Bravo.

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