When the performers of Dancing With the Stars come down to Vegas for work or weekend getaways, the rehearsals for the intensive ABC reality show don’t stop. As a matter of fact, they keep going in Delgado Dance Studio, owned and operated by 40-year dancing professionals Tony Delgado and his wife Dana.
A home base of sorts for DWTS contestants, the studio recently played host to Holly Madison on a weekend jaunt here for business and pleasure. But she wasn’t the first or last from the show to do so. In its three years of being open, the Summerlin studio has greeted at least 21 contestants and performers from five seasons of DWTS – including the sizeable Vegas magician Penn Jillette, who broke one of the studio’s dance bars once by leaning on it.
We caught up with studio owner Tony Delgado to find out how the stars from Vegas and elsewhere do when it’s time to gear up for those brutal performances, and he had some surprising insights to offer. The most surprising? Apparently, it pays to not be a diva when it comes to dancing.
“The warmer and more accepting a celebrity is, the easier [the rehearsal] goes. Sometimes they don’t want to be bothered, sometimes they want to sneak in and out, and other times, they’ll just come out and talk to everyone. Holly was like that; she took a picture with all the kids,” Delgado said.
Madison rehearsed with partner Dmitri Chaplin at the studio last weekend and wasn’t shy about meeting the student dancers. Delgado described a media frenzy when she arrived but said the experience was still fun, exciting, and productive.
“Holly was surprisingly nicer than I thought she would be…And Dmitri – I’ve known him since the past. He’s still acting like himself, [the fame] hasn’t gotten to his head."
Delgado has a long history with many of the performers of DWTS, which makes their coming to his studio to rehearse a natural choice. The studio has hosted rehearsals for the likes of stars Mario Lopez, Shannon Elizabeth, Kristi Yamaguchi, Floyd Mayweather, Willa Ford, and Maurice Green, as well as performers Tony Dolovani, Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, Cheryl Burke, Alec Mazo, Mark Ballas, and Kim Johnson. Interestingly, none of the stars of past seasons have returned to practice what they’ve learned.
“Once they’re finished with Dancing with the Stars, they’re done. Maybe if their dancing education had been approached in another way…but it’s crammed down their throat. If you were doing it for fun, you’d be doing it in smaller doses and enjoying it. It’s so much work, though. They don’t want to endure that experience again,” Delgado explained.
Delgado personally helps any of the celebrities who ask for assistance, especially the female professionals; he’ll sometimes step in to lead when the male stars can’t. Currently, he’s working with Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie, who’s rehearsing for the Dancing with the Las Vegas Stars charity event.
And who are Delgado’s favorites for this DWTS season?
“Cheryl Burke is my former student from the time she was 11 to the age of 13 – I started her childhood dance career. I’m not biased though,” Delgado quickly adds, “but she’s got a fantastic partner. And Tony Dolovani, who endorses our studio, also has a fantastic partner…I think Chuck, Julianne Hough’s partner, has a shot too because he’s going to put the work into it and country western people are going to go for him.”
If you want to dance like the stars, Delgado recommends checking out their orientation lesson –it’s a 30 minute private lesson for $25. And for those looking to try out their skills before taking them to Las Vegas nightclubs, the studio offers dance parties every Thursday night starting at 8:30 pm.
Delgado says most students try to sneak in a class and hide in the back, but it’s better when the instructors can work with them one-on-one. And hey, if the stars can do it, you can too.
“They can be themselves around me,” Delgado says of his celebrity patrons. “I think they feel comfortable coming around.”