"She does not understand what ballroom dancing is," Dovolani toldPeople in a report published Monday. "She's never done it herself."
Dovolani's comments stem from Dancing with the Stars' live fifth-season performance episode on October 15, in which Inaba criticized several competing pairs -- including Dovolani and Jane Seymour, his celebrity partner -- for performing lifts, which are prohibited per the show's rules. Dovolani told People the moves he and Seymour performed during their waltz routine that week fall into a "gray area" that Inaba knows nothing about.
"She's the inappropriate judge to pick on the lifts," Dovolani told People. "She does not have a ballroom background... She really comes from the hip-hop world. While we have the utmost respect for her as a dancer -- it's not as a ballroom dancer."
Dovolani added it's not as if Inaba doesn't know how he feels about the matter, as he told People that he presented her with a ballroom rule book the day after she criticized the couple's waltz for containing illegal lifts.
"Because she does not know anything about ballroom, I figured she should at least read the rule book," he told People. "I highlighted the parts I wanted her to read including the description of what a lift is."
Inaba apparently didn't respond to Dovolani's gift with a thank you.
"She laughed about it and gave me the finger," he told People. "I thought it was a very ladylike gesture. I laughed because I thought I hit home. And then I paid for it [last] week because we got the lowest score from her."
Seymour also addressed the issue on her personal blog last Thursday, calling Inaba's lift criticism "ridiculous." While she was also "upset" because she "worked really hard to make sure" her feet never left the ground, Seymour offered an explanation as to what she thinks happened.
"What happens is the judges watch the dress rehearsals... That's how they come up with their comments," Seymour wrote in her blog. "In the dress rehearsal, yes my foot did come off the ground, maybe an inch, certainly slightly more than it did on the actual performance. So I think Carrie Ann was kind of looking at that and realizing she was going to make an issue of this point with other people later on. I just got the brunt of it."
Seymour apparently wasn't as fired up about it as her professional partner.
"I made a point of going up to Carrie Ann and giving her a big hug and thanking her profusely for putting Tony and I in the spotlight," Seymour wrote. "We're all friends, so anyone that feels badly about what Carrie Ann did, it's so over."
People could not reach Inaba for comment, however a source "close to the judge" said she never received a rule book from Dovolani and thus never flipped him the bird. In addition, the source told People that Dancing with the Stars official rule book is different than ballroom dancing's rule book.
"There is no lift crisis... We're in a big season," Dovolani told People. "We have to come up with something more interesting. As professionals we have to push the envelope."
"I wish the judges would take into account that Jane is 56 competing against women who are more than 30 years younger than her," he told People. "When [Dancing with the Stars 3 participant] Jerry Springer and [fourth-season participant] John Ratzenberger would go out there, they would basically show up [and that was it]... Jane is actually dancing."