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At a glance, Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani don’t have a lot in common.
She’s a Kentucky-born, all-American country star with fans for days. He’s a suave ballroom superstar and native Albanian who has risen to fame thanks to his upbeat personality and competitive drive on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.
But it was Wynonna who had watched and read about just enough of the reality competition series to know Tony's style and name, to request him as her partner. If she couldn’t get her man, she tells CW, she wouldn’t do the show.
But ABC was eager to please Wynonna, who had turned down the show at least a half dozen times in the past, and so Tony became her knight in tight dance pants.
“Other people who I know who did [Dancing With the Stars] said, ‘Don’t ever do this,’” she says of her hesitation. “It’s just too much pressure. It’s not just that it’s a lot of work. It’s like being in the Olympics.”
Wynonna and Tony have been together for more than a month now and already he’s taught her the cha-cha and the quick step and she’s taught him how soulful country music can be, he says.
“I’ve heard her sing now a couple of times and she’s got an incredible range,” Tony raves. “She’s not into this whole flash-in-the-pan-type of stuff. Wynonna wants it to have meaning. She wants to connect with the song, and that’s the sign of a true artist.”
The two hang out and joke a lot but have also butted heads. When Wynonna lost her cool because she couldn’t nail the last maneuvers of her quick-step routine, she had a self-described “meltdown” and Tony made her walk it off. Wy says the confrontation was brief and beneficial.
“He’s leading me. I’m the student. He’s the teacher,” she says. “Even when I have my little meltdowns, he’s the most positive teacher I’ve ever had. I didn’t want dictatorship. I wanted a relationship. I didn’t want someone saying, ‘Come on. Come on,’ because I don’t thrive that way. He makes me feel like I can do anything.”
Because Wynonna has stepped out of her comfort zone and into heels and glitter, Tony has promised to do the same for her musically.
“She’s challenging me to sing at one of her concerts. She’s going to hand me a guitar,” says Tony, sheepishly admitting he can’t play or sing very well. “Listen, she accepted a challenge, I’m going to accept a challenge as well.”
Look for more on Wynonna and her experience on Dancing With the Stars in the April 22 issue of Country Weekly, on stands April 15.