Recently, ShockYa had the opportunity to speak with “Dancing with the Stars” ballroom dancer Tony Dovolani. The dancer, who is currently starring on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” with partner Melissa Rycroft (who recently suffered a herniated disc), was able to tell us about how this season is faring for him, his new partnership with dancewear brand Capezio and how non-dancers can start on their path to dancing excellence. “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.
(This interview was conducted before Rycroft’s injury.)
How fun is this all-star season this time around?
Dovolani: It is fantastic. I have to say it’s such a pleasure and such an honor to be a part of this season, first of all, and then to be paired up with one of my favorite partners, I think, arguably, the best partner I’ve had, Melissa, it’s a phenomenal ride so far. We’re at Week Five already, and each week…I’m having to almost pinch myself to see if this is actually really happening, I’m having so much fun. Since you’ve said you’ve watched our show, you know I’ve had my ups and downs, but if there’s a season to have a good partner, this would be the season, and I’m so happy I got paired up with the show.
For those of us who watch the show all the time, it probably looks easier to watch it than it is to be on the show. So how hard is it to actually compete from week to week?
Dovolani: You know, it’s funny, because you said it looks easy–we always strive to make it look easy, but at the same time, we get upset when someone says, ‘It’s easy.’ (laughs) We know how hard we work to make sure it looks easy because you have to work really hard to make something difficult look easy but at the same time, it’s kind of like you accomplish your goal of trying to make it look easy, but it never comes without really putting the hours in the studio, working your tail off. I have to say, the amount of work these celebrities put in–my hat [is] off to them. Especially…Melissa. She’s a new mom and she’s been getting away from her job, which is difficult, but at the same time, she always comes in with such motivation, such drive, and a great perspective on life. Last time…she was single, she had just come off ‘The Bachelor,’ she was kind of happy-go-lucky, whereas now, she’s marries, she’s got a kid, she has so much more to work hard for. So I feel like she comes with such a fantastic attitude because she’s creating such a nice archive of dances…for her daughter.”
I’ve also read that you’ve partnered with Capezio.
Dovolani: Yeah…Capezio has been such an incredible company, and traditionally, they represent class, they represent hard work, and they’ve always designed for ballet, modern, for tap, for jazz, and all that and when they decided to go to ballroom, they contacted me, and I have to tell you, it’s a match made in Heaven. They listened to everything I had and they truly stand…for dancers by dancers. They wanted to know everything a ballroom dancer needs in order for them to [succeed] and they came up with the greatest designs that have my name on them. [I]t’s going to be released in December, but I’ve already been testing all the different shoes and I have to tell you it is a joy dancing with the right shoes on your feet. It’s kind of like, you have to put the right tires on a high performance car and when you dance at the level that we’re dancing, you can’t get away with putting any kind of shoes on your feet. Not only did they go for performance and not only did they go for the right support, they never relinquished the style. They made sure that the style was great. They’re setting the trend basically on how to have the best shoes on the market. It gave me the opportunity to design, which is something I’m very passionate about, and along with the most incredible team that they have, they came up with the best material, the best shoes, and I can confidently say they are the best shoes in the market.
Out of all the ballroom dances, which one is your favorite?
Dovolani: It’s funny–all of the dances are so different for me. I’m a little bit of a historian, so I studied where they came from, what the character is and all that, so it’s hard for me to compare, because I feel like I’m a different person for each dance…but I think the more dramatic dances tend to favor me a little bit more because my looks are more dramatic. But then again you look at the lindyhop last week, and I think that matches me as well because [it's] full of style and full of fun. I think the more you embody the character the more the dance comes alive, so it’s kind of hard to compare…but if I had to pick, I’d probably say the Latin dances are more my cup of tea.
For anyone who hasn’t danced before but wants to get into ballroom dancing, what is the best piece of advice you can give them?
Dovolani: First of all, if you’re in the tri-state area–New York, New Jersey, Connecticut–come to our schools, which are called Dance With Me. We have locations in all three states and if you think you have two left feet, we can prove to you that you have two right feet. We’ll make a perfect pair. In my extensive years of teaching–21 years–I’ve yet to come across anyone who couldn’t learn how to dance. So I encourage everyone to get off their feet and learn how to dance. Not only does it help socially, but it really works on your physique. In one ballroom class, 45 minutes, you can burn up to 273 calories, and at the same time, you’re dancing to music, you’re having fun. It really attacks the muscles that we don’t think about. Everyone goes to the gym to work out the big muscles. When you dance, you work the very muscles that help you function in everyday life…It elongates your muscles and gives you the body you always longed for. So I really encourage everyone to get off their seats and go dancing, because life, as you know it, will never feel the same. You’ll have so much joy, so much laughter, and there’s nothing better than dancing.
(In this photo released by Capezio, “Dancing With The Stars” professional dancer Tony Dovolani, decides which Capezio ballroom shoes to wear for rehearsal on Friday, October 12, 2012 in a dance studio in Texas. Dovolani designed his namesake shoes with the brand this year. Photo credit: Photo by Brandon Wade/Invision)