Rehearsals are in full swing as the new slate of celebrities prepare for the first night of competition on “Dancing with the Stars.” Because the premiere is rapidly approaching, it’s a great time to look at each of the couples on season 17. This article spotlights Leah Remini and her pro partner, Tony Dovolani.
Remini, who made headlines this summer when she and her family decided to leave the Church of Scientology, told Ellen DeGeneres on Monday that she lost friends after making the break. Concerning her difficult decision, she stated frankly, “No one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to.” She added more positively, “Our family is stronger and that’s all I can ask for.” The “L.A. Times” reported that the actress left the church because it allegedly forces members to disconnect from their families.
The native New Yorker got her start as an actress on HBO’s “Vietnam War Stories.” Her first television appearance was in an episode of “Head of the Class," and she landed her first starring role shortly thereafter on a spin-off of “Who’s the Boss” in the TV series “Living Dolls.” From there she went on to guest star on shows such as “Friends," “Cheers," and “NYPD Blue.”
Leah Remini landed a starring role on “The King of Queens,” a CBS comedy that ran for nine seasons and was a huge hit. It ended in 2007, but continues to enjoy success through daily syndication in more than 30 countries.
Leah resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. She also has three stepsons. In her spare time, Remini is very active with numerous charities including the Children’s Hospital and others. She has no previous dance experience, so Leah is relying on her experienced dance partner, Tony Dovolani. To see Leah and Tony talk about “Dancing with the Stars,” be sure to check out the “Extra” interview above.
Dovolani was born in Kosova and began folk dancing at age three. He was 15 when he and his entire family moved to the United States. Tony attended Fred Astaire Dance Academy and knew he had found his passion. Since then, he has been a strong and successful competitor in the ballroom dancing world. Tony and his partner for many years, Elena Grinenko, have retired from competing and remain close friends.
When he isn't dancing on "Dancing with the Stars," Tony teaches and does personal appearances around the country. He and fellow dancers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy are partners in the dance studios, Dance With Me Dance Studios, located in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Tony Dovolani has been partnered with the following celebrities on “Dancing with the Stars”:
- Season 2: Stacy Kiebler (3rd place)
- Season 3: Sara Evans (6th place)
- Season 4: Leeza Gibbons (9th place)
- Season 5: Jane Seymour (6th place)
- Season 6: Marissa Jaret Winokur (4th place)
- Season 7: Susan Lucci (6th place)
- Season 8: Melissa Rycroft (3rd place)
- Season 9: Kathy Ireland (14th place)
- Season 10: Kate Gosselin (8th place)
- Season 11: Audrina Partridge (7th place)
- Season 12: Wendy Williams (10th place)
- Season 13: Chynna Phillips (9th place)
- Season 14: Martina Navratilova (12th place)
- Season 15: Melissa Rycroft (1st place)
- Season 16: Wynonna Judd (11th place)
“Dancing with the Stars” premieres at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 16 on ABC. During last season's finale, Kellie Pickler defeated Ally Raisman, Jacoby Jones and Zendaya to win the mirror ball trophy.
So, who will rise to the top this season and take home the coveted mirror ball trophy? Below is the new cast and pro pairings for brand new season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
- Elizabeth Berkley from "Saved By the Bell" and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
- Corbin Bleu from "High School Musical" and pro Karina Smirnoff
- Brant Daugherty from "Pretty Little Liars" and pro Peta Murgatroyd
- Bill Engvall, country comedian, and new pro Emma Slater
- Valerie Harper, who was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year, and pro Tristan MacManus
- Keyshawn Johnson, NFL wide receiver for 11 years, and pro Sharna Burgess
- Christina Milian, actress/singer/entrepreneur, and pro Mark Ballas
- Bill Nye "The Science Guy"and new pro Tyne Stecklein
- Jack Osbourne from "The Osbournes" and pro Cheryl Burke
- Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi from "Jersey Shore" and new pro Sasha Farber
- Leah Remini from "The King of Queens" and pro Tony Dovolani
- Amber Riley from "Glee" and pro Derek Hough
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