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Dancing With The Stars

Tony Dovolani on DWTS All-Stars: “I Want to Press a Refresh Button for Myself” — Exclusive!

Can you belive Dancing With the Stars fan-fave pro Tony Dovolani has never won a Mirror Ball? We find it baffling. Fortunately, Tony is re-paired with Season 8's Melissa Rycroft for Season 15 All-Stars, so we have high hopes for his chances this year.

We were thrilled to get a chance to talk to Tony recently in his capacity as an ambassador for Capezio, the famous dance shoe and clothing manufacturers. In the first part of our interview, he chats about why he's thrilled to work with Melissa again, how she's changed, and why Capezio means so much to him.

Wetpaint Entertainment: How did you feel when you found out you were paired with Melissa?
Tony Dovolani: I thanked my lucky stars! Like, "yay!" I'm very excited to be paired up with Melissa again. We had such a great run the first time. We got along great. We remained friends, which was even a bigger plus now [that we're paired together again]. It's been such an incredible joy working her, because she walks in now she's married, with a child. The first time around she was single, she had just come off The Bachelor. I almost feel like she grew up.

She's approaching this with the right attitude. She wants to do good for her daughter. It's been an absolute pleasure working with her so far.

Have her life changes altered your approach to working with her, or the rehearsal process?
I thought the first time around she was committed but she's putting the first time around to shame, because she is that much more committed. It's funny, because when I walked in to rehearsal I was like "Alright, she has a child now, she's married, so maybe the rehearsal will be limited." Absolutely not! I think we put the most amount of hours in. I mean, she drops [her daughter] Ava to school at nine o'clock, she's at rehearsal nine-thirty, we don't stop until two-thirty, and then she goes and picks her daughter up.

So, every days we've been putting in five hours, which is unheard of at this point. Normally in the first three weeks you kind of take it easy. She knows what this means to her, she knows how much this means to me, and she doesn't want to fail. She wants to succeed at this. We were so close last time. She understands what happened after that, as well. Kind of, like I didn't really come close to to the final after that; then out with Audrina Patridge. So, she knows how hungry I am as well. She wants it just as much for for me as herself.

Oddly enough, this morning, I was flying home, because I finally got a day off. I came home. I surprised my kids picking them up from school. Melissa sent me a picture I had Capezio send her these shoes that are just beautiful, and she sends me this picture, and she goes to me "I got my Capezios!" She just smiled, she's so excited.

Who do you think is your top competition this season?
This year's the All-Stars season, so there's no weak link. I think everybody brings something. We have six previous winners, we have five finalists, we have two fan favorites. I mean this is the seasons of seasons. I'm just so honored to be a part of it. It's truly an iconic show that has reached a series milestone. Who would have ever thought that a ballroom dance show would make it to Season 15? Let alone have an All-Stars seasons, which is a celebration of what we've done, and how it's affected the public.

Some of the All-Star pairings are re-paired from past seasons, others are new. Do you think those of you who are re-paired are at an advantage?
I don't think so, actually [laughs]. The thing is, we've done a lot of those dances, and now you have to create different choreography, you have to re-introduce yourself, you have to keep it fresh. We don't have the surprise factor. The other couples, no matter what they do it's like, "wow!" because it's the first time you're seeing it. While with couples you've already seen before it's kind of like "alright, we've seen what you can do." So you're already starting with going "let's see what you're going to do this time." We have a steeper hill to climb, but I'm okay with that. I'm ready to challenge us. Melissa came with such an incredible attitude, we're pulling all the stops. We want to go for it.

What do you think is going to be Melissa's biggest challenge?
I think to be honest with you I thought the challenge would be, How do we reinvent ourselves? But she's been so key in that, she's been helping, actually. Not only was she a participant [on DWTS], but she became a viewer, and also she was a correspondent for Good Morning America and all that. She was invested in our show, so she has ideas herself. I'm completely exploiting that, because I want to press a refresh button for myself as well.

I think the only challenge will be we have a lot of fan favorites [on All-Stars]. I know Melissa was a fan favorite, and I'm just hoping that the audience gets behind us again, because I feel like we have so much to offer.

As fans ourselves, we feel that. We want to vote for everyone!
I know! But for me, I feel like this is my 14th season. And if you're going to win a season, I guess this is the season to win. So I really want to go after it.

Can you tell us a little about your first dance?
It's Foxtrot, and, let me tell you, it's a very exciting dance. That's all I'm going to say. I know it sounds like a tease, but I am so excited to dance this dance. I never opened the season with this much excitement. This season I can't wait to get Melissa on the floor so we can dance and show everybody what we've been working on.

Tell us a little about your Capezio partnership
I am so proud to be a part of Capezio right now, because they have spared nothing. They put everything into their new direction. The process they're taking right now, to ballroom dancing and dancing in general, is truly inspiring. It inspires me, because I can see that dancers will be taken care of. All my teachers wear Capezio shoes. Everybody when I bought [a Capezio] goodie bag for Melissa, you should have seen her face. The name Capezio means dance, and I as an ambassador now for them, I am proud to continue that legacy and tradition.

For more from Tony, follow him on Twitter @TonyDovolani. And check back soon for the second part of our interview, where he discusses how he stays positive, why he won't teach his kids, and more about Capezio!

Dancing With the Stars Season 15: All-Stars will premiere on Monday, September 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Check out the full All-Stars cast list here.

Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.

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