‘Dancing With the Stars’ Pro Tony Dovolani: Partner Melissa Rycroft Is ‘Much More Mature’ Heading Into All-Stars Premiere

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He confirms his departure at the end of his contract.
Melissa Rycroft has grown a lot since she competed on season 8 of Dancing With the Stars, according to her partner, Tony Dovolani.

In fact, when the duo returns to the ballroom floor for Monday night’s All-Stars premiere, Dovolani says fans will see a “completely different” side of the former Bachelor beauty.

“When I danced with her [in season 8], she just came off The Bachelor,” Dovolani told Celebuzz. “Back then, she was single and it was her first real experience in front of a live audience with cameras in her face. Now, she’s married, she has a kid and she’s done quite a few different TV shows. So, I feel like she’s coming back to me more mature [and] realizing where she is.”

“Now, she’s taking the opportunity by the horns and really wanting to do well,” he continued. “Back then, even though she wanted to do well, she had no idea what was going on. So I feel like she’s much more mature. I’m proud of her. I became kind of like a big brother when she first joined the show in season 8. Now, I feel like I  can actually be her dance partner, because she comes in much more mature.”

Dovolani, who recently announced a partnership with Capezio dancewear, also told Celebuzz he is more than pleased to re-team with Rycroft this season.

“I feel like our chemistry was so great last time,” he said. “It’s the right fit. We get along; we get each other … It still feels fresh.”

“We only have up to go,” he continued. “There’s not gonna be a step back, it’s gonna be all steps forward. We’re so hungry, because we came so close [in season 8] and we didn’t get it.”

Still, Dovolani — who has been training with Melissa five hours a day, six days a week — says the Dancing couple is already feeling the pressure of competing in the All-Stars season, where they will face off against favorites like Kelly Monaco, Kirstie Alley and Apolo Anton Ohno.

“There’s definitely more pressure,” he said. “Think about it: We have six previous winners; five finalists; two fan favorites. You don’t know who’s going to be the favorite, you don’t know who’s going to be the frontrunner. It’s anybody’s game.”

“We don’t want to leave any stones unturned. We really want to be prepared for this season. After all, it’s the All-Stars season. You can’t take it easy, not one bit.”

Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars premieres Monday at 8/7C on ABC.