Tag Archives: Tony Dovolani

CT’s Dancing Dovolani and Remini Onto ‘DWTS’ Semi-Finals

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dovoConnecticut resident and professional dancer Tony Dovolani and his partner, actress Leah Remini, are causing a ballroom stir on season 17 of the tv reality show “Dancing With the Stars.” The couple, who was less than impressive at the start of this season, have amped up their skills and performances, garnering good scores from judges and solid support from viewers who are voting each week to determine who moves on in the competition. Dovolani, the married father of three, and Remini are headed to the show’s semi-finals. The 40-year-old professional dancer who won the show’s coveted “mirrorball” award just once before, was in between show rehearsals on the West Coast recently, when he Spilled the Beans with Java.

Q: You are still in it! Are you surprise? You and Leah seemed to be a bit of a dark horse at the beginning of the season.

A: Am I surprised? Yes. We didn’t make it a secret that we thought we may be going home and didn’t expect to get all the way here. Leah has been working so hard. I have never seen anyone overcome the fear or anxiety the way she has when it comes to doing something she knew nothing about. Even when she has been injured she still performs. I am so impressed. As the weeks went on I could see winning within grasp and I said to her last week, ‘all of a sudden I have hope we are going to make the finals.’  

Q: Any tricks up your sleeve going forward and is this the year you take home the trophy again?

A: Choreography is critical. I have to push her. Unlike most of the rest of the professionals’ partners, she has no dance experience so I have to find things that look good on her and that she can learn quickly. I have to be clever when it comes to designing the dance and she has to believe in what she is doing.

Q: How did you begin dancing?

A: I started when I was 3 years old in Kosovo. My dad saw I could dance and had me start lessons. I still take lessons. Dance is something you never master.

Q: What don’t viewers see as far as the show?

A: The unbelievable hours of rehearsal that are put in each week. People don’t see where we start and where we end. Every week you start from zero. People watch the show and think ‘oh, now he or she is a dancer!’ But every week you are starting new with each dance.

Q: You mentioned Leah has no dance experience and it does seem rather unfair that some of the amateur dancers on the show really do have professional experience. Is it really a level playing field?

A: Our show is never based on fairness but our viewers want to see a little bit of everything. Some of our viewers want to see people who are immediately good dancers and others who want to see people like Leah, who is on a journey.

Q: Do you ever have any second thoughts about being on the show year after year?

A: I was actually approached when the show was first conceptualized but could not do season one because I was defending my world title in a competition. But then I joined the show and have never had any second thoughts about it. It is a piece of history. Cyd Charisse and Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, dancers who shared it with the world. I want a piece of that. And I love dancing and the fact that is has made a comeback. Dancing represents relationships, romance, a couple bring music to life. Music would not be music without dance. Dance brings the notes to life.

Q: How is life in Connecticut?

A: I love Connecticut. April 21, 1989 is the day I moved to Connecticut. I was 15 and my uncle lived in Stamford and so that is where my father brought all of us from Kosovo. The people are great. And I am still there. My wife and children love it. I love the four seasons. I love it so much that it is why I don’t move to California. When I get back to Connecticut from here, I am home.

Q: I assume your wife is a dancer?

A: Everyone assumes dancers marry dancers but she doesn’t dance. She does take lessons but not from me. I own dance studios including one in Stamford. It’s better for our daughters that we are not both dancers. We have a good combination and each bring something different to our daughters’ lives.

Q: I hear you are a golfer. Do you golf as well as you dance?

A: I love golf. It is one of the best sports invented. I started five years ago when my wife suggested it while I was watching the U.S. Open. Lo and behold that afternoon I went out and bought golf clubs and went to the driving range and was awful. Now I have an incredible teacher and my handicap is 4.  When I turned 40 my wife asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate and I took my oldest daughter to the course and we played nine holes together. I would love to be a golf analyst. Back9 Network has approached me and I am hoping to do something with them. Golfing, as in dance, is about timing and rhythm.

Q: Who would your dream dance partner be on the show?

A: Jennifer Aniston. I don’t know why. She is so private and just seems like someone you would want to get to know

Q: Who is your favorite dancer?

A: Fred Astaire by far. There is a scene in “The Band Wagon” to “Dancing In The Dark” where he is dancing with Cyd Charisse in Central Park. It is the most difficult piece of choreography you will ever see but they do it effortlessly. It is beautiful and romantic. I have never seen a scene that speaks as loud as that one.

Q: What is something no one knows about you?

A: I love poetry I write it. And I want to write about my dad someday. We don’t hear much about dads in books, no offense to moms. My dad sacrificed a lot to get us to the United States. He risked his life to save his family.

“Dancing With the Stars” is on Monday at 8 p.m. on the ABC network.


CT’s Dovolani Geared Up For DWTS Rematch

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On Monday Season 15 of the popular ABC tv reality show “Dancing with The Stars” begins with a bevy of past “star” competitors trying once again to win the coveted “Mirror Ball.” And dancing with the stars are the dancing stars themselves, including Connecticut resident Tony Dovolani, who is reunited with Melissa Rycroft, his partner from Season 8. The 39-year-old father of three, who lives with his wife and family in Stratford, is also a local businessman. He and fellow DWTS professionals, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Valentin Chmerkovskiy and partners, recently opened the fourth in their chain of “Dance With Me Dance Studios” in Stamford. Dovolani has also recently partnered with Capezio and launched his own line of dancewear. Between traveling back and forth to Los Angeles as he and dancing partner prepare for the show and his business ventures, Dovolani is busy, but not too busy to take a few minutes to Spill the Beans with a dance-challenged Java.

Q: How did you initially get selected for DWTS and what surprises you most about the show’s success?

A: I was the World Rhythm champion when the show was being cast and it was quite an exciting time for me because I was the first American to hold the title and held it for two years in a row. I had appeared in the movie “Shall We Dance” with Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere and that was the connection that prompted the producer for DWTS to contact me about being part of the tv show. I couldn’t be in it the first season because I was still defending my national title but began the second season. I’m not surprised at how popular the show is. I knew people would eat it up. Everyone knows Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The idea of watching ballroom dancing just had to be reformatted. In this day and age of social media and no one ever talking directly to each other, dancing is the last form of relationship-based interaction.


Q: How did a kid from Kosovo like you end up in Connecticut?

A: My father is very driven by demographics and studies about the different areas of America. He felt Connecticut looked like home with its four seasons. So we settled here and now this is where my wife and I are raising our children.

Q: What will you secret dance weapon be with Melissa this time? You came so close to winning last time you danced together.

A: I’m working on keeping her healthy. We have redesigned her shoes so she is more comfortable and we have her in Capezio from head to toe. Now I can push her more.

Q: Ahh, a plug for your new business venture. Tell me about it. I always think of Capezio as pale pink tights and pointe shoes.

A: Capezio represents tradition in dancing so when I had the opportunity to join them, I did. I saw the company had a vision, a fashion forward vision that helps a dancer achieve creativity. I have designed dancewear and dance shoes the are comfortable and flexible. You should see the sneaker. It is so cool.

Q: What would viewers be most surprised to learn about Dancing with the Stars?

A: How much time is put into each routine. We dance five to seven hours a day when we first start and as the competition gets tighter we are spending eight hours a day and more in the studio.

Q:  Your three children, are they dancers?

A: The twins are four and do dance and gymnastics and my seven-year-old daughter also takes dance lessons but loves playing golf. My wife is taking dance lessons, too at the Stamford studio. I won’t teach any of them. As far as the children, I want to be their dad, not their dance instructor. I support all them in their lessons.

Q: Who do you think is your stiffest competition in the upcoming season?

A: Apolo Ohno and Emmett Smith because they are fan favorites. You can never be sure who the biggest competition is going to be. It’s anybody’s game and comes down to who gets the most votes from the audience. I am trying to keep my choreography challenging and fresh. Melissa is back with a great attitude. Now that she is a mom she wants to win badly to show her kids she can do it. The challenge this season is we don’t have the surprise factor when we step onto the dance floor. The audience is going to expect more and rightfully so because all the stars have danced before.

Q: How old were you when you first started dancing?

A: I was three and it was with one of my classmates. I used to watch my mother and father dance tango in the living room and decided I wanted to dance too. It inspired my dad to take me to dance class. I went to school for architecture but without dance in my life I would go out of my mind.