For the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars, professional dancer Tony Dovolani will take In Touch readers along his incredible journey by providing a behind the scenes look at DWTS and reflecting on that week’s performance. This week, he is talking about what it is like to work with his latest partner, Leah Remini.
This week has been grueling. The first two weeks you have a little extra time to get the dance ready, but now it's like five days and it has to be ready. But I have to say Leah is coping with it really well. I've noticed a change with Leah from the beginning in that she comes in and wants to attack these dances more than ever.
As you saw, last week Leah went through a lot and it was hard on her, but I applaud her for being so open. She shared her feelings and this is a big year for her. It's a year of facing her fears and that was one of the challenges she needed to face. She did it with courage because doing what she did is not an easy thing and what she's done is amazing.
She is out to prove something and for people see how hard she's working; that hard work does pay off and while sometimes things may go against you, you have to make sure you keep working hard because hard work always pays off.
I signed on to the show as a teacher and in way have become and mentor and therapist, but in Leah's case she has really become a friend. My wife and I consider her family.
I just want to be there for her and when you get to know her and her heart, you can see how giving and special she really is. Every now and then I will give her a hug and tell her I'm proud of her because I know what she went through and the fact that she's put herself out there and is going for it - that says something about the person.
I think the show is definitely a distraction for Leah; it's an escape. Dancing is a wonderful thing for that and a wonderful way to work through a difficult time. It's a wonderful thing after you've danced to see your whole family supporting you and telling you how great you are.
In a sense Leah has conquered some of her fears in that she knows what the show is all about. She now understands what fear does to her. After the first couple of shows she watched her dances back, which I had to make her do because she hates watching herself, and she said, “Tony, I can see that I'm afraid I want to stop that.” But now she wants to show everyone she's not afraid anymore.
Leah's told me this week her least favorite and most favorite thing about the show is Monday. She loves the performance, but dreads the elimination. But we thought Monday went really quickly and was really good.
The best thing is we’re learning from each other. She's learned how positive I am in life and often asks “How do I stay so positive?”’
I just tell her to try and find the fun in it. She's taught me to never stop believing in yourself and never doubt your talent and hard work - if you do that you will always persevere.
Till next week!