STAMFORD, Conn. — Before teaching Martina Navratilova, Chynna Phillips and others the steps on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” Tony Dovolani danced food and drink orders to tables at the Country Diner in Stamford.
The television star and champion dancer will return to his former hometown when Dance With Me opens its Stamford dance studio April 16. Dovolani is a partner in the studio, which has three other locations in the New York tristate area.
Born in Prishtina, Kosova, Dovolani and his family moved to Stamford in 1989. He jumped at the chance to open a studio in the city. “I want to share my success with my hometown,” he said.
Dance With Me was started by Dovolani and fellow “Dancing With The Stars” professionals Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, their father Sasha Chmerkovskiy, and Jhanna Volynets when the first studio opened in Ridgefield, N.J., in 2005. They also have locations in Soho and Long Island, N.Y.
Students and visitors of the Stamford studio can expect to see the partners because all take an active part in leading classes and overseeing the daily operations — except when they are in California taping “Dancing With The Stars” or when they have other career obligations.
“I will know all of the students here and will know all of the students all over,” Dovolani said. Before checking on the Stamford studio Monday, he had been in Soho in the morning and was heading to the Long Island location later that night.
The studio will offer private and group lessons for adults, kids lessons, showcases and competitions, as well as Zumba classes. Dovolani said he hopes to offer a free class to police officers and firefighters as thank you for serving the community.
Dovolani and the other partners say they can teach anyone how to ballroom dance, no matter how much or how little talent they have. “I can share the passion of dance with anybody,” he said. All instructors are selected and trained by the studios partners.
The dance studio is located at 20 Summer St. in downtown Stamford and can be reached by calling 203-674-8100 or by email.