Behind the scenes with Tony Dovolani

HOLLYWOOD Dovolani was born and raised for the better part of his young life in Albania. When he was a teen his family moved to the United States, and since then Tony has been dancing his way into the hearts and homes of millions in America.

When I asked Tony about his first time dancing and when he knew this could be a career path he took me down memory lane.

"I started dancing when I was 3 years old. My dad recognized I had talent from music, so he actually took me for dancing and music lessons. Shortly after I was playing an instrument. I then realized that everyone was having a lot more fun on the dance floor so I didn't want to play instruments. I wanted to dance instead," said Tony.

"It has been an incredible ride. I have done folk dancing, ballet, and jazz until the age of 15. Then when I came to the United States in 1989, I went to the Fred Astaire Dance Academy. I just fell in love because Fred Astaire is my idol. So to me to even have a little taste of what Fred Astaire could do was a special moment," adds Tony.

It is not surprising that Fred Astaire is Tony's idol, his moves are just as smooth on the dance floor.

Tony says his first competition was a bit of a challenge.

"The first time I competed in a dance competition I was 17 years old. I was dancing American Smooth at the time and I completely bombed. I forgot my entire routine. All I could do was a couple of steps forward and I kept looking at the judges thinking 'help,'" said Tony.

"It was actually one of my most memorable moments because that is when I realized that this was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. I love the fact that it wasn't easy. I love the fact that it was a sport and that it was something so special that you actually have to live it in order to appreciate it. That is something that dancing has done for me, and it is something that I always want to be able to share with everyone," adds Tony.

Tony has strong roots to his native country Albania. However, since he has been in the states and is now a household name to many, he feels as if he has become the "American son" to a number of families.

"Just recently somebody came over to me and said, 'I appreciate you not only as a talent, not only as somebody that has been on TV and shows himself as an Albanian, but you are a proud Albanian. You show everybody that just because you come from a third world country doesn't mean you have to become a pizza man.' Being here is an amazing opportunity and you can actually go and further your education and everything you have ever desired or dreamed about," said Tony.

Although "Dancing With the Stars" occupies much of Tony's time, he's managed to branch out his talent in another type of medium.

"I wanted to share what dancing has done for me. And I wanted to find a way because everybody kept asking me for dance lessons. And I cannot go to everyone's living room to teach them or go to different dance studios," said Tony.

"So I decided to come to their living room and have them move their furniture around and actually learn directly from me. So I created this Web site called Ballroom Dance Channel, which makes it very affordable for everybody to try it . Even for the people who feel they have two left feet I help you try to discover the right one we hope," said Tony.

"It is so easy and in time we are going to go mobile so you can download it into your phone and you'll be able to dance with your phone. You will receive specific instructions directly from me or Elena Grinenko if you are a guy. This means you are actually going to feel as if you are dancing with an actual professional dancer from "Dancing With the Stars," said Tony.

So you'd think with Tony's high-tech knowledge of creating a Web site he'd be a technical wizard. Well that couldn't of been further from the truth.

"Before I decided that this was going to be my career I was studying for architecture. So I was a bit of a math whiz. My dad is a math whiz as well. I could never come close to him, but he kind of inspired that in me. Architecture and dancing kind of go hand-in-hand because you are still creating and designing," said Tony.

Creating, designing, dancing are all a common practice for Tony in his world. But one thing that comes with the territory is his "sex appeal," which he still has a tough time coming to grips with.

"You know I am married with three children so when people refer to me as a sex symbol it was kind of embarrassing at first. But my wife actually made me feel really good when she said, 'Of course you are, that is exactly why I married you.' So I feel really good. As long as I am a sex symbol to my wife I am happy," said Tony.

Tony danced with "All My Children" star Susan Lucci in the 7th season of "Dancing with the Stars."

His previous "Dancing" partners include:

  • Stacy Keibler
  • Sara Evans
  • Leeza Gibbons
  • Jane Seymour
  • Marissa Jaret Winokur

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