Just weeks after Melissa Rycroft injured her neck, her partner Tony Dovolani hurt his back during practice on Sunday while rehearsing for “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.”
But on Monday night, you would have never known anything was wrong with the longtime “DWTS” pro, as he led Melissa to strong scores of 27.5 for their caveman hustle and a perfect 30 for their Argentine tango.
Practice footage aired on “DWTS” showed Tony writhing in pain on the ballroom floor, and after the show, he updated reporters on his condition: “I had an MRI this morning. I have a severe back sprain. The doctor has been an angel; he made sure that I was okay. When I found out my bone structure was fine, I was just trying to figure out what I was going to do to manage the pain and I’ve got a nice cocktail in my body right now of interesting drugs.”
Melissa said, “It’s like an epidural. He can’t feel anything right now!” Tony agreed, laughing, “You can punch me in my back and I’d be like, what’s that?” His partner added, “But he’s going to die tomorrow. He’s going to hurt.”
Although the couple appeared happy backstage, it’s been a long hard journey to get to the semifinals. Four weeks ago, Melissa had to go to the hospital after suffering a disc herniation in her spine during rehearsal. But incredibly, her dancing on “All-Stars” only got stronger after doctors cleared her to perform with Tony.
After enduring that, Melissa confided that she worried Tony’s injury this week might knock them out of the competition. “When we went for rehearsal this morning, I was in tears,” she recalled on Monday. “I went, ‘we can’t do this, Tony. There’s no way.’ We were trying to do the lifts and I would either end up upside down or he’s moaning in pain. [Luckily] he pulled through with his medicine.”
Tony and Melissa were also devastated this week when a close friend of the “DWTS” family, casting director/producer Deena Katz’s mother, Barbara, passed away. The pair said she was the den mother to everyone on the show and will be greatly missed. “It’s heavy on our heart,” Melissa said.
Summing it up, Tony told reporters, “It’s been an emotional week for us.”