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!
This week was the partner switch and I had to say goodbye to NeNe to dance with Candace [Cameron Bure]. My goal was to help Candace and show her off in the best possible light, get the best score and provide tools she could use in the rest of the competition.
I just wish I could have gotten Candace better scores, as the dance deserved it. The judges were harsh on us, but that seems to be the trend. No matter who I’m paired with, the judges tend to be harder and look for anything they do wrong.
I did feel bad for Candace. She really worked hard for me this week and we had a great, great week. I wanted her to reap the rewards of working hard and having a positive attitude for her first real ballroom dance.
Afterwards Candace was wonderful. I kept apologizing to her for the scores, while she kept trying to bring me back up. Her husband even said we didn’t deserve those scores; he won a show like this ice dancing in Canada, and he couldn’t stop complementing me on how impressed he was.
So from that perspective, it was a great night. I really don’t have any ill will about the night, but the criticism was unjust and very difficult to swallow.
After 17 seasons, some with more challenging situations than others, I truly believe that Candace did a fantastic job and I didn’t feel the comments were just. Every once in a while it does get to you. This was one of those tough weeks for me.
I was so proud of NeNe’s dance with Derek, I even coached her from the sidelines! I tried to keep NeNe focused and motivated, as she was looking to me for advice and I was more than willing to help her out. I kept telling her she was the Queen Bee and to go out there and show it off!
Honestly, there are no sour grapes, and this week NeNe got to do what she likes to do – shake her hips and have fun – but as her teacher, it was a little hard to hear it was her best dance of the season so far.
Still, you’re not judged on what you did last, it’s what you do now, so it’s a new week and you pick yourself up, brush yourself off and try it all over again.
Given the scores all factor into the elimination next week I really hope it’s not Candace – I would be devastated. On the bright side I have NeNe back for Disney week.
We’re dancing a character driven Foxtrot with a comedic twist. However, I doubt we’ll go the Disney Princess route; think more Disney queen. NeNe is a Disney fan but hasn’t seen a lot of the movies so I think I’m going to have to introduce her to some of them.