Dancing With the Stars fans have always loved Tony Dovolani. But the popular pro dancer, who took home the mirrorball trophy during Season 15 of the ABC celebrity ballroom competition, has not appeared as a full-time cast member on the show in nearly two years. Now, in a new podcast interview with HollywoodLife.com, Tony explains why he left the long-running show after competing in it for 21 seasons in a row.
Tony Dovolani has been one of the most prolific Dancing With the Stars professional dancers. He started out in the second season of the show with celebrity partner Stacy Keibler and danced his way to Season 22 with partner Marla Maples. In the new interview, Dovolani explained that he left the show in 2016 over a “build up of things.” Tony revealed that he didn’t sign up for some of the issues he encountered while working on the show and that at times he felt like he was “babysitting” certain partners.
“Some of these celebrities, or reality celebrities, I should say, they sometimes … they have an idea of what they think they are and who they are, and they didn’t realize that I wasn’t there to deal with them,” Tony explained to Hollywood Life.
“I was there to teach them how to dance. So, when it becomes about other than teaching them how to dance, I want no part of it.”
Dovolani, who has been partnered with multiple reality stars on Dancing With the Stars, including Kate Gosselin, Audrina Patridge, NeNe Leakes, and Kim Zolciak-Biermann, added that he respects talent and hard work.
“For me, it’s like when it comes to reality stars, I mean the word itself explains it: reality star,” Dovolani said. “Which means that you’re an interesting individual, character maybe… like the villain or somebody that you like. For me, I respect talent. I respect hard work.”
Dancing With the Stars is known for showing footage from its rehearsal packages. Back in Season 10, Tony’s issues with then-partner Kate Gosselin got so out of hand that he threatened to quit the season. Dovolani eventually worked things out with the Kate Plus 8 star and they landed in eighth place that season.
Tony Dovolani initially stepped away from Dancing With the Stars to spend time with family, but he later hinted that he could return to DWTS ballroom. According to People, last February Tony told Home &Family, “I miss Dancing, of course I love the show and of course I might do another season.”
But several seasons came and went since then, and the upcoming all-athletes season of Dancing With the Stars may not feature as many pro dancers as usual since it is being described as a “mini edition” of the long-running show.
Of course, even if he hangs up his DWTS dancing shoes for good, Dovolani has said he would welcome the opportunity to be a judge on Dancing With the Stars.
“Considering I’ve had so many different partners, I know the road that every single one of those partners has taken,” Dovolani told People. “It’s not like I’ve always had the ringers.”
Dancing with the Stars returns for an all-athletes edition this spring on ABC.