For just over a decade, Dancing With The Stars, has been taking viewers by storm by showcasing their favorite celebrities compete in season long dance-offs with their professional partners. While the stars are intended to be the ones who steal the show, some of the pros have also become stars themselves. Tony Dovolani, who joined the show at the start of the second season, has become one of the most popular dancers on the show, and fans love watching him. Although he gets more popular with each passing season, some fans may still feel like they don’t know as much as they’d like to about the handsome dancer. With that being said, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Tony Dovolani.
His first name isn’t actually Tony
In the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon for people to change their names. After all, some names simply sound better than others, and it seems like there are certain names that are better suited for the spotlight. While some stars choose to use a different or shortened version of their name, others go with something completely different. While you may have assumed that Tony’s full name was Anthony, his real name is actually Driton which is an Albanian name that means “light.”
He’s been in commercials
Tony is best known for his work on dancing with the stars, but he’s also been doing some other work on the side. Tony appeared in informercials including one for the Omega XL supplement, and another for the Core Rhythms workout system.
He’s been dancing since he was only three-years-old
Most people who are really good at something have dedicated most of their lives to it, and Tony Dovolani is no exception. He’s been dancing since he was three years old, and eventually got the opportunity to take classes at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. It looks like all of his hard work has more than paid off, and he’s made a successful career in an industry that’s tough to find a niche in.
He has an autistic son
Tony Dovolani is a proud father of three, including a set of twins, one of which is autistic. While some parents of children with special needs feel sorry for themselves and their children, Dovolani says he and his wife took a completely different approach. According to Dovolani, “It’s funny because a lot of the times parents feel sorry for themselves and we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves once. We were like, ‘Alright, this is what it is and let’s find the best help for him. Let’s see what we can learn from him.’ With every case of autism, there are amazing kids; amazing people and you learn so much from each one of them. We thought, ‘Let’s see what field he can excel in.’ It has been very educational so far.” He’s also learned to see his son’s differences as a blessing, stating, “You can learn so much from an autistic kid. You start realizing that a lot of the petty stuff that you might have paid attention to that consumed your life, it’s not important anymore. You see things for what they are; they are not judging you or anything. It’s such a beautiful way to look at the world.”
He’s a very accomplished dancer
While some people think it’s impossible to make it as a professional dancer, Tony Dovolani is living proof that it’s very possible. Throughout the course of his career as a dancer, Dovolani has earned several accomplishments including an Emmy nomination for DWTS, two World Rhythm Championships, and two United States Open Rhythm Championships.
He has his own dance studio
Aside from strengthening his own dancing skills, Tony is also in the business of helping others. Along with two partners, Dovolani has opened four Dance With Me studios with locations in New York and Connecticut. According to the company’s website, “We have the perfect combination of first-rate dance instruction, unparalleled facilities, an incredible social community, and a commitment to provide the best experience to our students.”
He met his wife on a blind date
It looks like love at first sight might be a real thing after all. Dovolani and his wife, Lina, met back in 1998 during a blind date, and within just a few hours, Dovolani had already proposed. The couple married in 1999 and has been happy ever since. With more than 15 years of marriage under their belts, it seems like they’re definitely doing something right.
He was working on DWTS when he was called about his wife going into labor
Dovolani was in the middle of working with his DWTS partner, Susan Lucci, when he got the call that his wife was going into labor with their twins. Fortunately, Dovolani was able to make it home in time to help his wife get to the hospital.
He’s coached some big name stars
Tony Dovolani has worked with some pretty impressive stars on DWTS, but he’s also worked with some big names outside of the show. He coached both Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez for the dancing parts of their roles in the 2004 film, Shall We Dance. Dovolani also had a small part in the film.
He credits his wife with his success
While his talent has definitely been responsible for much of his success, Tony credits his wife with being the driving force in his life. According to Dovolani, “She takes care of the kids. She takes care of the house. She makes sure that I am successful. If I didn’t have her, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” “Marrying her is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”
(Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for The Lopez Foundation)