Pro ballroom dancer Tony Dovolani, who is partnered with reality star NeNe Leakes on this season’s Dancing with the Stars, writes a weekly blog for Closer!

I honestly wasn’t expecting we’d get voted off last night. It really came as a surprise. NeNe and I were in the same boat — neither of us expected it. We felt we were moving along nicely and that the audience was behind us.

Still, we can’t complain. We made it to week 7 and that’s not a loss. We got to experience something beautiful on a TV show that’s been number one for a long time. NeNe got to learn a lot and experience the show in its full effect.

We actually talked about getting voted off in the beginning. There are so many great personalities and dancers this season, we thought anyone could make it far. But it’s getting to that time of the season where everyone is pushing themselves and the judges are asking for more.

tony dovolani

I’m really taking away a friend in NeNe. You never really have a true friend until you’ve had a disagreement, and we certainly walked away stronger and that was a good thing.

But what a way to go! Monday night was quite flattering. I felt the love from the audience after they voted I dance shirtless. I was even trending on Twitter!

And when the audience started cheering, “Take it off!,” it was hilarious. I’m usually so shy, but I was happy I could do it for the audience. It may not have been the appropriate thing to do for a tango, but if I’m going to go out, I’m going with a bang!

tony dovolani

My journey with NeNe may be over, but you haven’t seen the last of me on the show. I’ll still be performing the group numbers, I start a reporting job with Extra next week and we’ll be back for the finale.

I know NeNe is putting her money on James to win, and I think he has a chance, but Meryl and Charlie will probably be in the finals. Will Danica and James persevere? Candace is hitting her stride; will she be a wildcard? Can Amy recover and make it to the end?

All of them bring something to the table and I’m fine with any one of them taking the mirror ball.

tony dovolani

However, for sentimental reasons, I’d like to see Maks take it, if not Maks, Val. Those guys are my buddies and are kicking butt every week, it’d just be nice if they got crowned the champions this time around.