At age 40, Tony Dovolani is balancing fitness, dance and family while capturing the hearts of millions each season on "Dancing With the Stars." Given the challenges of working with various injuries, insecurities and body types, Tony has bridged dance with fitness to become a health/wellness expert that demonstrates how dance leads to fitness, confidence and overcoming health issues.
Born in Prishtina, Kosova, Tony was proficient in Albanian folk dancing by age 3 and was inspired by watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films as a kid. After immigrating to the United States as a political refugee from his native Kosovo, Tony trained at a Connecticut Fred Astaire dance studio and eventually became one of the most dominant competitive dancers in the country.
A 6-time dance champion, Tony brought his expertise to Hollywood when he coached Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere for the 2004 film Shall We Dance, in which he also had a small role. He then joined Dancing with the Stars for its second season and captured our attention with partner, Stacy Keibler, when the two placed third in the finals. During season 15, Tony and dance partner Melissa Rycroft won the show and took home the Mirror Ball Trophy.
Tony's other celebrity partners on Dancing with the Stars have included Sara Evans, Leeza Gibbons, Jayne Seymour, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Susan Lucci, Nancy O'Dell, Kathy Ireland, Kate Gosselin, Audrina Patridge, Wendy Williams, Chynna Phillips, Martina Navratilova, Wynonna Judd and Leah Remini. He's currently partnered with reality star NeNe Leakes and the two have coined the hashtag #TeamTonNene.
Tony's professional body of work also includes choreography for the 2012 Miss Nevada Pageant and for a special Paso Doble for Pixar's animators at The Pixar Studios, which he performed and choreographed with fellow Dancing with the Stars pro Cheryl Burke. That routine provided the inspiration behind a dance sequence in Toy Story 3 featuring Buzz Lightyear.
Tony has also guest-hosting segments many shows including Ellen, Extra, the Golf Channel's The Morning Drive, ABC's syndicated show On The Red Carpet and Good Morning America. He and fellow dancers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy are partners in the dance studios, Dance With Me USA Dance Studios, in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
An avid golfer, Tony often competes in celebrity and charity tournaments. His team won the Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament and for the second year in a row won The ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic.
Tony and his wife Lina are proud parents of their daughter Luana and twins, Adrian and Ariana Dovolani. As the father of an autistic son, the family is committed to increasing awareness of autism and support for other families and their children. They reside in Connecticut.
Tony's many dance achievements include:
- 2006 Nominated for an Emmy for outstanding choreography for Dancing with the Stars for episode #208 (Dance: Jive).
- 2006 PBS America's Ballroom Challenge Rhythm Champion with Elena Grinenko
- 2006 Emerald Ball Open Professional American Rhythm Champion [with Elena Grinenko 5]
- 2006 United States Open Rhythm Champion with Elena Grinenko
- 2006 World Rhythm Champion with Elena Grinenko
- 2005 Ohio Star Ball American Rhythm Champion [with Elena Grinenko 6]
- 2005 United States Open Rhythm Champion with Inna Ivanenko
- 2005 World Rhythm Champion with Inna Ivanenko