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Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy

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Elisabetta Canalis

"The Italian Beauty"

Known for her gorgeous figure and striking expressions, Elisabetta became an instantly recognizable figure in the world of high fashion and advertising. Now we get to see her center stage on Dancing With The Stars!

Elisabetta has worked with some of the world's greatest fashion icons, including Roberto Cavalli, and has graced numerous magazine covers such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and Cosmopolitan. Born in Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, her mom and dad enrolled Elisabetta in the elite school Liceo Azuni where she studied throughout her high school years.

After graduating, Elisabetta moved to Milan to study foreign languages at the prestigious Universita Statale. It was there Elisabetta made the bold career decision to pursue acting rather than foreign languages studies, and her passion for her craft landed her a series regular role on the infamous Italian television drama Striscia la Notizia for three years. Sounds like that bold career choice was for the best.

The exposure and critical acclaim she received presented Elisabetta the opportunity to work in American and Italian film and TV. She has since appeared in the comedies Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalo and Virgin Territory. In Italy, she appeared in the films La Seconda Volta Non Si Scorda Mai, La fidanzata di papa, A Natale mi Sposo, as well as Christmas in NY.

On television, Elisabetta has appeared in Italian series Carabinieri and the sitcom Love Bugs. Elisabetta has also demonstrated her impressive dramatic capabilities in America with a recurring role on TNT's smash hit Leverage. Her drive for success and passion for music united when she hosted the Italian version of Total Request Live as well as Italy's annual music festival, Festivalbar 2007. Recently, she co-hosted the 61st edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, which is considered to be the most prestigious television event in Italy.

Elisabetta is also known for her great philanthropic endeavors. Combining her deep love of animals and her passion for modeling, Elisabetta recently participated in an upcoming anti-fur campaign with PETA. An avid equestrian for the past 10 years, she says that her opposition to animal cruelty began as a young girl. Her work with PETA solidifies her determination to end all forms of animal abuse and neglect.

Elisabetta currently resides in Los Angeles and Milan but she loves returning to Sardinia, the island she was born and where part of her family lives. Wonder if any of her relatives will fly in to cheer her on as Elisabetta takes center stage on Dancing With The Stars!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

ABC

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Val Chmerkovskiy

CELEBRITY PARTNER: Elisabetta Canalis

BACKGROUND:

Valentin Chmerkovskiy is the brother of Dancing with the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Val has appeared on Dancing several times to critique his brother's routines and participate in the dance offs. Now he's taking center stage as a pro just like Maks. Oh brother!

Val was seven years old when he started dancing and at the age of 12, he went to his first oversees competition, the German Open, as one of only two U.S. couples there (his brother being the second). At 15, Val won his first IDSF World Championship and became the first and last American to ever do it.

Val is currently the United States Amateur Latin Champion with partner Valeriya Kozharinova. They are one of the first couples from the United States to win a championship title at the prestigious Blackpool competition in England and were the 2006 champions from the Professional Latin competition at Philadelphia Festival Dancesport Championship.

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Is it bad that I'm more excited about seeing Maksim's brother all sweaty and partially dressed? I'm so glad the season starts tomorrow.

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I feel bad for Val because he'll soon be sitting on the sidelines and studying dances for the group numbers. I don't see her lasting long with that stiff and highly awkward dance style. Even if it was just first night nerves she didn't scream graceful and dancer.

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too bad, cuz I would love to see lots of Val ...

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