Tony Dovolani: I Won’t Quit Dancing With the Stars Until My Wife Tells Me To!
By Shari Weiss | 9:12 am, August 16th, 2014EXCLUSIVE
The pro has been on the show since season 2 — winning the 2012 All-Star edition with Melissa Rycroft — and plans to keep giving it his all, even though he says he’s no longer a “spring chicken.”
“It’s about showing people that just because you get to a certain age, it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to mail it in,” says the 41-year-old. “Still fight, still go out there and give it your best.”
Dovolani tells Gossip Cop exclusively, “The moment that my wife [Lina] tells me I don’t have it anymore is probably the moment I quit.”
“She’s my honest opinion,” he shares. “When she looks at me and says to me, ‘Honey, it’s time for you to step aside and let the other ones take it,’ then I’ll stop.”
In fact, Dovolani says “all the credit in the world” for his success goes to Lina.
“If I didn’t have a strong wife like I do, I would not be able to do what I do,” says the dancer. “Honestly, she’s the secret to my success.”
Lina and their three kids are based in Connecticut, and he spends 6 months of the year — 3 months at a time for “DWTS” — in Los Angeles.
“My wife is the most incredible person I’ve ever met. A lot of people say that — I actually mean it,” says Dovolani. “She takes care of the homefront.”
He goes on, “[Lina] makes sure that I do what I’m supposed to do, and [keeps] me real as well. This Hollywood life has never gotten to me because she keeps me grounded.”
Dovolani acknowledges he had a “very emotionally-charged season” earlier this year with NeNe Leakes, but notes that unlike his “real” feud with former partner Kate Gosselin, the show played up tension with Leakes a tad, and they actually remain good friends.
“We’re still in touch,” he reveals. “Her and her husband, once a week I get a text from them randomly, which is really, really cool.”
So, what kind of partner would he like for his next waltz in the ballroom?
“I want somebody that wants to be there, and that’s prepared themselves a little bit,” he tells Gossip Cop.
Dovolani continues, “Obviously I get a lot of the interesting folks as my partners and I don’t mind it because that’s my personality. I have the patience. I can put up with a little more crap, or whatever you want to call it, than other people.”
“I think it’s great that they count on me for that and I try not to disappoint them,” he adds.
But don’t count on the season 15 champ for another All-Star season.
“If I’m dancing with Melissa again, sure!” jokes Dovolani, adding more seriously that it “was so special that I wouldn’t want another” one.
He points out, “All he greats were there — from Emmitt Smith to Kirstie Alley to Drew Lachey to Joey Fatone to Gilles [Marini] to Shawn Johnson, we had everybody. I want to be the only All-Star winner ever!”
Whatever the future holds, he’ll be sharing it with Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy, his fellow “DWTS” pros with whom he’s a partner in the chain of Dance With Me studios.
Asked about being best friends with the brothers on and off the dance floor, Dovolani says, “We’ve been very honest with each other from the start and we always remain that way.”
“I think that’s our strongest bond, that we can always tell each other when somebody’s having a weak moment, or a good moment,” he says. “We can lean on each other both sides.”
Indeed, when Maks won “DWTS” for the very first time last season, “I don’t think anybody could’ve been happier for him than Val and I,” says the star.
“It was great. I walked up to Maks, and I was like ‘Dude, it was just like my All-Star season,’” recalls Dovolani. “And he stops me and he’s like, ‘Nothing was like your All-Star season.’”
“Dancing with the Stars” season 19 premieres on September 15 on ABC.