While he looks like the consummate Latin lover---he even played a Hispanic heartthrob in Jennifer Lopez's 2004 romantic comedy Shall We Dance?
, for which he also served as the cast's dance instructor---Dovolani was born in Kosovo. By age 3, he was proficient in folk dancing and, after immigrating to the U.S. with his family as a teen, he was studying at a Connecticut Fred Astaire dance studio when he realized his calling. Although he was a big name on the competitive-dance circuit for years, he made a mainstream splash when he joined Dancing with the Stars
in its second season. Paired with stunning wrestling sexpot Stacy Keibler, the couple placed third in the finals, and he earned an Emmy nod for best choreography. He didn't fare as well with his next lady, Sara Evans: The country crooner left the show in the middle of Season 3 because she was going through an acrimonious divorce, and Dovolani was left without the necessary two to tango. Season 10 found Tony in the spotlight when he was paired with controversial reality star Kate Gosselin. The duo were often at odds, and Tony threatened to quit during one practice session.Tony Dovolani Fast Facts:
- Started Albanian folk dancing at the age of 3.
- Was inspired by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films as a child.
- Moved to the U.S. as a political refugee from his native Kosovo in 1989.
- Trained as a teen at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Connecticut.
- Coached Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere for the 2004 film Shall We Dance, in which he also had a small role.
- Among his titles: 2005 Ohio Star Ball American Rhythm Champion; 2005 and 2006 World Rhythm Champion; 2006 PBS American Ballroom Challenge Rhythm Champion; and 2006 Emerald Ball Open Professional American Rhythm Champion.
- Enjoys playing golf in his spare time.
- Tony Dovolani Relationships:
- Adrian Driton Dovolani - Son
- Ariana Dovolani - Daughter
- Trendelina Dovolani - Wife
- Luana Dovolani - Daughter
- Tony Dovolani Awards:
- 2006 Emmy: Outstanding Choreography - Nominee