In this brief interview before Tristan begins weeks of travel, performing, and Strictly Come Dancing, we talked about last weekend's Dizzy Feet Foundation's Celebration of Dance Gala. We also asked him about costumes, his upcoming travel schedule, the differences between certain dance styles, his "nevers" and lots more.
You were part of Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman’s Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala last weekend. Would you tell us about how you got involved, your performance, and the event itself?
Yeah, we did the Dizzy Feet Gala downtown - it was great craic. I had heard of it before and had wanted to be a part of it last year but I was traveling so missed out. I had been teaching recently and somebody asked me about it and then Louis Van Amstel who is on the board asked me if I’d be free for it and if I knew anyone else who would be free for the 'Ballroom Extravaganza'!! I called a few and he called a few and then we all performed a rehash of a Samba routine Louis had choreographed for SYTYCD this season. I danced with Emma, Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello danced, Chelsie danced with Trent Whiddon, and Anya Garnis danced with Jonathon Platero. It was great to be part of it for a great cause and I enjoyed meeting Nigel and Adam who I hadn't before and I got to catch up with Travis [Wall], Teddy [Forance] and Twitch and Allison and watch some amazing performances. I had a great night. That young kid from Australia came over to do his crazy routine that’s been floating round online. It was amazing.
We recently did a MacManiac trivia post and several told us things they have never tried, never eaten, or never visited. We’re curious. What are your “nevers”?
I've never been to South America (well, I was in Brazil for a few hours but that was it. Amazing, but because I didn't get to see anything there it felt like I wasn't there!) I’d love to go on a tour there and Africa is still on the bucket list. I’ve never skydived or scuba dived which I’d love to do. I never want to eat shellfish! I never had a pet but we got Pikey so I’m happy now. There is loads of stuff I haven't done but I’ve been lucky to do a lot of stuff that others haven't been able to as well so I'll keep trying to tick things off as much as I can. Where there is a will there is a way......
One of our website members asked if you could explain the differences (from a teaching standpoint) between dances such as the Jive, Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. How closely related are they to each other and to other dances like the Quickstep and Charleston? Among these dances do you have a favorite to teach and to perform?
I guess they all derive from each other so there is a lot in common for them all, style for a lot and timings for a lot just like triple time swing and single time swing. Lindy was the original Jive, I think, which all came from Charleston so they for sure all intertwine historically but are very different when it comes to how we use them on the show. This isn't the right way but I think of Lindy in terms of kicks are highest, jive in the middle and Charleston lowest or wildness same order. In terms of teaching it seems strange but you can teach anyone a step and say it’s a particular dance and you wouldn't know the difference but the style in which you do the steps or characters or rhythms will always let you know what you are doing so in that sense it never really matters what you are teaching more than how you are teaching it....for me!!! And there are arguments with these statements I have just made as well. Quickstep came about because the dances had stayed slow while the music got faster.
Is there any particular dance style that you have not yet learned to do?
Individually there are a lot I haven't learned to do. I’ve dabbled as they say with a lot but again in terms of the show you can learn what you need to know which is a big jump from knowing what you are doing. I never teach anything I don't understand myself. I would love to go to Argentina and learn Argentine Tango and I’d love to go to Brazil and learn Samba and I’d love to go to Cuba and learn Rumba and Cha Cha but instead I stay where I am and learn syllabus to compete, you know what I mean??!!! It’s madness - haha - but that's what we do. We all travel around and learn how to do and what to do instead of why to do, so that’s something I’d like to do more of in the future.
You have had good luck in the costume choices for the most part, but what costumes or accessories do you hope you never have to wear? (or never have to wear again)
Well, I’m still waiting to see what’s in store during Strictly. I don't like wearing sparkles and stuff but I feel I might have to compromise somewhere down the line although I'll fight it all the way – haha. The wardrobe department have been great with me over the last few years and they help me out whenever they can. They know what I don't like and they know how to butter me up. At the end of the day if you are in charge you make the decisions, and if you aren't you follow them so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and keep on trying to convince people I shouldn't be wearing them – haha.
Are you going to have any free time at all in between the cruises, Dance Temptation, and Strictly Come Dancing?
No, ha! I leave in a few days to do the cruises and then I get home for a day or two to rehearse and re-pack for Dance Temptation and from Toronto I fly to London. I land, I move in, and then I go and play catch up for whatever I have missed in the first few days while I was in Toronto. It’s tiresome but I have had a lot of time where I couldn't pay someone to give me work so I’m not complaining! I’ll get a rest when I get booted off the show – haha - hopefully it won't be a while yet though. You can't really afford to rest these days especially with the talent that is around and coming through. It’s the same as everything in life in that there is always somebody who is just waiting for their chance to work as hard as you are complaining about.
Finally, as you know we reached 500,000 forum views recently and we had a contest for the last few weeks where the site members guessed the date and time we hit 500,000. Our winner, Anne, made her guess in June and guessed it within 37 minutes. We are doing something special for her and thought you might want to make her day (and ours).
Anne, I don't know how you did it. To be honest I didn't ever think there would come a time when people would check to see what I was doing 500,000 times....well maybe my Ma.....but bar that I don't know so fair play to ya for even coming remotely close to picking the time and if you were even checking in just once of those 500,000 times I appreciate it as much as all 499,999 more. Hopefully I can keep you entertained and hopefully I can make you all as happy as you make me. Go raibh maith agat!!!!
The above photos might very well be Tristan's reaction if he ever read this post. It's probably more MacMania or MacLunacy than he ever wanted to know, but you have to admit that we're an "interesting" group of supporters. Yes, we're feisty and energetic, but we are also fiercely loyal.
We’ve a diverse group that has grown substantially since Tristan MacManus first began wowing us on Season 12 of Dancing With the Stars. By Season 13, things were in motion for a website. A Facebook Fan Page was established early on and that has grown to more than 14,500 page likes. As times have changed, so have we. Instagram and Pinterest, Twitter, fan Twitter accounts, Twitters for Tristan’s hair….you name it.
As the MacManiacs have grown in numbers, we went to a few of them – mostly those who are forum members of MacManiacs.org - and we decided that we wanted to know a little more. After all, we ask Tristan random stuff and he answers it; so did the MacManiacs. Some posted their random trivia on the forum, others emailed or messaged it to us. What did we ask? We asked for people to tell us something we might not know about them. What did we learn? Well, see for yourself below.
One brave soul traveled to Argentina a few years ago and a handsome man (she didn’t really say he was handsome, but it sounded good so we added the adjective) tried to teach her to Tango. She insists that it might not have been her wisest move but she had a great time anyway so it’s all good.
Many of the website/forum members have been around since the site first launched in November, 2011. Before that, many were active on the ABC message boards but jumped ship to join MacManiacs.org which is a much friendlier place. Since them the forum alone has more than 500,000 views and the rest of the website has way more than that.
The website has added many new members since June 1, 2014 when the Strictly Come Dancing pros were announced. We have several from London, Grimsby and other cities in England as well as several from Ireland.
At last count, at least 9 website members have taken a group or private lesson with Tristan. Not everybody is talking but from those who posted on the forum, emailed, or messaged us, 37 have seen Tristan perform in Ballroom With A Twist and at least a dozen saw him in Burn the Floor. One saw him in Dirty Dancing: The Musical, and one admits to seeing him in BWAT four times in 2013. Lots more have seen Tristan in BWAT more than once.
A bunch of website members met Tristan at the Princeton, New Jersey Grassroot Soccer fundraiser in January 2013. One saw him dance with Kym Johnson at the New York Red Cross Ball in 2012, and more than we can count have seen him dance in Life’s A Dance in Pensacola, Florida.
Included among our members are a former competitive gymnast, a funny lady who wrote a novel (of sorts) when she was seven, one former Gerber baby model, one childhood model for eyeglasses, and a bunch of moms who have stayed home to raise their babies.
Several were born in Ireland but have lived in the USA most of their lives. Another was born in Puerto Rico, another in France, another in Australia, and another in Japan. Current website members live in almost every state in the United States but many come from all parts of Canada, and we have members from many parts of Europe and South America.
3 mentioned that they did college semesters in Europe – 2 in London, 1 in Paris.
2 of our website members went to a college in Kentucky at the same time but never met each other until they began speaking on our forum.
None seem to be big skiers, and one confesses to dislocating her kneecap the one and only time she tried it and ended up in a thigh to ankle cast. Maybe she should try the Cha Cha instead.
We have other klutzes. One broke 3 toes once by running into a closed door and then messed up her shoulder by running into the same door years later; another is so graceful that she attempted Zumba on her carpet and then stepped on her own foot and fell into a chair. Yes, we are multi-talented performers.
Cell phone accident lessons learned… these are all true.
Don’t drop your phone outside your car when you go to pick up your kid from school. Those things bounce and slide and when they go way under your car and you have to get on your hands and knees to retrieve them….well, it could get ugly.
Cell phones and toilets must have a magnetic attraction because if you get near a toilet with a cell phone, it’s going to end up there. Guaranteed.
When going to Dunkin Donuts don’t throw your cell phone in the trash along with your coffee because all that leftover coffee will spill and end up in the phone – killing it.
If you go to a bar and tuck your cell phone into your bra and then proceed to sweat a lot while showing off your dance moves, your cell phone will die a painful death.
Speaking of cell phones and bars – if you drop one into a tropical drink, the little paper umbrella won’t protect the phone like a big umbrella protects you from the rain.
That’s all we have on the cell phone stories so…
There are these admissions and/or accomplishments of other special MacManiacs. . .
One took piano lessons for 17 years.
One sings in an a capella group.
We have an actress – sort of – she was the female lead in The Frog Prince in her first grade play.
Included in our little group are also a songwriter who can’t carry a tune, a recreational softball player, an athlete who received a soccer athletic scholarship to college, pastry chef who took ballet, tap, and jazz lessons for 10 years (and swears she can’t dance at all in spite of it), a marathon runner (okay, she ran one marathon), and a bookshop owner.
We have several writers, including a cookbook author, freelance writer, romance author, and book reviewer and plenty of us are fans of Jane Austen. Don't forget the former jewelry maker and the 2 who have really wonky eyesight. These are the same 2 who don't drink alcohol at all. You think there's a connection there?
Lots of teachers spend time on MacManiacs.org - Latin, ESL, French, Spanish, English Literature, History, Montessori Pre-School, Elementary School and Middle School Literature. One of the most fun jobs has to be that of our former bartender who worked at a beachfront bar in Puerto Rico.
Fun facts about a few MacManiacs…
One spent her entire life in Kentucky but has never been to the Kentucky Derby.
One worked during college at an Irish pub in Boston, ironically about the same time Tristan was teaching there. Their paths didn't cross. He’s probably forever grateful for that.
One went to Ireland on her honeymoon; another went to Tahiti on hers; another went to Norway. We’ve been to other places, but those 3 are pretty colorful and also, they are the only 3 who told us which is why you're hearing about them.
6 traveled to Ireland from the U.S. last year and 2 more are leaving on the same day in August for vacations to Ireland. They are not traveling together nor are they going the same places, but it is quite the coincidence.
Two admit to having huge crushes on JC Chasez of ‘N Sync fame back in the day.
2 told us about live DWTS shows they saw – Seasons 12, 14, and 16 (one went in 2 different seasons).
One is very scared of heights; another took ballet for 20 years, another took 6 dance classes a week for years but none of those dancers dance professionally these days.
One speaks 4 languages; another speaks 3. We’re all working on English.
The ‘nevers’. . . (A few of our braver MacManiacs volunteered this information)
Several never had S’mores – apparently it was the marshmallows that ruined a good thing.
One never had a milkshake. Another has never seen a Disney movie, and 3 admit to never having a banana split.
One never had coffee, tea, or alcohol (that means no Venti anything from Starbucks – that’s impressive).
Several have never been to Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, or Yosemite even though they have lived in the U.S. their entire lives.
Three have never read a Harry Potter book or seen any of the movies.
Can’t stands. . . (We don’t like everything so here are a few that made the cut)
Raisins, cheese, fruit pies, shoes (the shoes come off as soon as these people walk into their houses)
Some of us collect stuff. . .(besides the dust bunnies on our furniture)
Beanie Babies, cheap snow globe paperweights, teddy bears, books, Hallmark Christmas ornaments, and Gone With the Wind Christmas Ornaments
Confessions. . .
We have a few shy ones (believe it or not).
One admits to aspiring to be in the roller derby – or that’s what she wanted to be when she was 8.
One really wants to be a cruise blogger.
Based on very important surveys on the website, Snoopy is one of our favorite cartoon characters, ice cream is a basic food group, we can name 13 varieties of cookies in a very short period of time (long story), and perfectly acceptable karaoke songs include “Ice Ice Baby”, “Paradise By the Dashboard Light, “Turn the Beat Around”, “Eternal Flame”, and “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Trust us, you don’t even want to know how that came up.
Had enough yet? MacManiac Trivia is useless information, but we had a lot of fun doing this. We hope you enjoyed getting to know us a little bit better.
In just a few days, Tristan will be back on Holland America’s Dancing With the Stars: At Sea. Immediately after that, he will head to the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Canada where he will headline Dance Temptation along with Peta Murgatroyd. After that? Tristan will be in London for Strictly Come Dancing where he will be a competing pro for the 2014 season. We were lucky to catch up with Tristan one more time before his travels begin again.
In this interview, Tristan refers to current and past DWTS pros Sharna Burgess, Sasha Farber, Peta Murgatroyd, Emma Slater, and Damian Whitewood and Strictly Come Dancing pros Natalie Lowe, Robin Windsor, Kevin Clifton, Joanne Clifton, Karen Hauer, Janette Manrara, Pasha Kovalev, Aljaž Skorjanec, Artem Chigvinstev, Anya Garnis, Erin Boag and Anton du Beke – many of the dancers that he has crossed paths with during his career.
After two years of interviews with us, you’ve answered lots of questions and have had lots of changes in your life. You’ve always seemed like an “in the moment” kind of guy who doesn’t live in the past. That being said, has there ever been a decision or move that you looked back on and wondered if you could have done things differently?
No. To be honest there is nothing I can do about the things that I’ve done so there is no point in worrying about it. Sometimes your perspective on some things is way off anyway at different times so what seems like a mistake at one time is the best thing you could have done and sure, no matter what you do it leads to where you are now. That’s the only decision you have to make. Let it ride or change. I think I’m doing alright at the minute – ha!
Way back in our first interview in July 2012, you talked briefly about your Burn the Floor days and the time with Simply Ballroom. Would you share more about those experiences? How long were you with each, what was special/unique about each, and who are a few of the people you performed with?
I contacted Burn The Floor when I first tried to get back into dancing in my late teens but they had just cast their 'last tour' so there was no place. The guy I contacted about BTF called me a few weeks later with an offer to do Simply Ballroom. Sharna and her partner Patrick had just left Simply to go do BTF so I kind of replaced them and Emma was already on that show so I done that for a few months in England. On some shows we had Anton and Erin headline a few. Then BTF started a new tour with two companies and the one I joined had Dame, Sasha, Peta, Tobias (DWTS- Sweden/Denmark/Norway), Ash-Leigh and Gosper (DWTS Australia). Nat and Robin were in the other company in Sydney that lasted for three months then back to Simply in Vegas where I rehearsed with BTF in the day and done my Strictly show at night. Then we did a few world tours with BTF again and I blew my knee out so I had a knee op in Melbourne. Then I went to Boston to teach for a year before going back to BTF again in Reno and then another world tour. Kevin was in the cast so I stayed with him and Jo in Grimsby. After that I got dropped from the show in San Francisco so I stayed and learned how to operate the spotlights and sold the merchandise front of house. After a few months Robin broke his toe or hurt his foot so I covered the show for a few numbers. After a few months I left to do Dirty Dancing in London for a year and when BTF came to London I joined that cast again for six months because Robin and Artem were leaving to join Strictly. I danced then with Karen and Janette. Aljaz, Pasha, and Anya were there then as well. Then I was asked to do DWTS. You notice that BTF had their last cast maybe six years ago and it is still going strong now - haha. I have been sacked and dropped from so many shows it’s unreal. Haha!
In an early interview you addressed the issue of making your dance partner’s journey as enjoyable as possible. You said this: “I want my partner, whether they are one of the other professionals or ladies competing on the show to feel as comfortable as possible, trying to take all the stress out of the situation and have as much fun as possible at the same time. That can sometimes conflict with what people want to see and 'expect' from us.” How do you make that happen? How do you go about putting her at ease and creating a balance?
Well, you just can't take it all too seriously. It’s an entertainment show and that’s what it comes down to. You have to keep reminding people of why they wanted to learn it, and I try to teach in a way that relates to things that people feel comfortable doing so when you remove the fear of doing something you don't know how to and replace it with things you do then everything is easier and more fun to do. We are hardly saving lives, you know. We work hard to entertain people who follow the show so good or bad, right or wrong, people like it or don't like it. When you are trying to do something you want to learn how to do and entertain 'strangers' or friends at the same time, then where is the stress? Even if you are shocking, who cares? Work hard and learn how to have a sense of humor about yourself!
Artists tend to have big imaginations and think outside the box. How about you? What gets your creative juices flowing? What about when you were a child? Did you have a big imagination?
I don't really have anything - haha! Sometimes things come to me but sometimes they don't and that is hard to understand sometimes for me and for others but there is a difference in trying to portray stories and then trying to show choreography and all that’s in-between. Sometimes my ideas come from experiences but sometimes they come from interpreting things differently - like when you hear a story and read something and completely hear and think something completely different to the next guy!! I don't 'think like a dancer' because I’m not a 'dancer'. I’m just someone who likes to dance and knows how to teach it the way I understand it. We all come from different places and have all learned different ways so you just follow your own path and give information. If people don't agree then that’s cool. They go do it the way they want. I don't remember what I was like as a kid - I just laughed and talked a lot.....probably too much bordering dumb – hahaha.
If you had complete creative control and could choose any five dances to perform (either on SCD or in a show), what would those dances be – 1-5?
As you move on to Strictly Come Dancing after 3 years and 6 seasons on Dancing With the Stars, would you share one special memory from each of those six seasons? (a performance, interview, rehearsal, someone you met or danced for, etc.)
First season was great fun with a great bunch - Kiki, Nicole, Teddy, Oksana and Peta. We had great craic then and randomly - Hanson – haha!
Nancy was great fun as well so just fighting every week was actually very entertaining for me. It was all real but we got on great and that almost led it all to being a bit of a parody after that. I have no problem with drama when it's natural, as annoying as it is, and that was the last drama I enjoyed!!!
Meeting all the Motown legends and getting to spend time with Gladys was the best memory. I got to sing with Gladys, Bubba and The Temptations. I got to meet Kiss that season as well which was bittersweet. Let’s say the majority of the band are really really cool!
Joey Fatone is one of the coolest guys I know. We had some good nights out. I did no dancing that season! Haha!
Dorothy got injured so I felt terrible for her but bar that Victor was cool. We hang out and D.L is a great guy. I have a lot of time for him - he got a raw deal a bit on the show.
I had a great time with Valerie so I didn't really care too much about the competition. It was just keeping happy and enjoying the experience. Everyone that season was really cool. I remember most thinking that was a season where everyone was really comfortable with who they were. There was no pretense from anyone, and that is a great place to be. It was really fun and it was the most enjoyable all round.
We know you love to laugh. What makes you laugh these days?
Funny things........... I still love when people are in uncomfortable situations or if they 'get struck'.
Since we’ve gotten to know you a little bit, we’ve noticed how strongly you support various causes and how you’ve been able to help get the word out. Is there a particular charity or cause that you are involved with currently that we could mention or help spread the word about? Or do you have a message about the importance of being involved on some level?
Merryn [Lacy] is still the biggest foundation I’m involved with. Unfortunately that is one that we keep having to dig deep for but she is such a great kid and deserves it all. I love how my town has come together so much over it and of course so proud of Merryn for her fight. I am not involved in too many foundations really although I try to help where I can and get the word out as much as possible. It does do my nuts in though when people don't follow through on what they promote.
[For more on how to help, links are provided at the end of this interview.]
Obviously the choice of music is a big part of any performance that you do with your pro or celebrity partner, but what do you do when you feel like the music just doesn’t work? How do you work around it?
It’s difficult for sure and there is no right or wrong but I think if the music doesn’t work and there is nothing you can do about it, you dance to the music and you take the dance’s characteristic and then that’s that. Dancing is expressing yourself to music so that's what you do. If you just need to express a dance, then you use the dance’s characteristics and then you find the balance.
As a teacher, you see different strengths and weaknesses from each student, but in terms of new dancers, is there one thing that most struggle with? Along these same lines, is there a particular move, dance, or step that surprises you when an inexperienced student does it well?
Usually the major obstacle is somebody’s confidence or opinions standing in their way. There are certain people (not everyone) who act like somebody else and find it hard to let go and just be themselves. When you are so afraid of what others think you forget what you think and it becomes more difficult. Confidence or carefree go a long way when dancing. Just remember what it’s like dancing in the mirror –haha - you are the best and you don't care if you can translate that to time in front of people who are on a winner. STEPS ARE STEPS!!!
If you could trade places with one person (past or present) for a day, who would it be and why?
We know you play football, but if you had the time and inclination to learn a new sport and become proficient at it, what would it be? Growing up in Ireland, did you play other sports besides football?
I’d like to be a decent boxer. I’ve done some before but I’d love to be good at it or martial arts would be pretty cool. I played Gaelic Football and Hurling in school - they are the best sports. I’m getting more into Rugby but only when Ireland play really.
You’ve been in Los Angeles for a while now. What (if anything) will you miss about it when you are in London?
I will miss wishing I was closer to home!! I’ll miss the sun a little bit but I like the trade.
Will little Pike be packing up and moving to London too or will he be enjoying the California lifestyle just a bit longer?
Yeah - Pikey is coming for sure. He has all his shots and is getting the passport now. (How stupid is that!!) He is a happy dog so he is gonna love it.
Lots of Strictly Come Dancing fans in the UK are asking us about you but since you’re the expert, how about a couple of sentences describing yourself?
What are you supposed to say about yourself??!! I’m grand I don't take myself too serious. I get annoyed by simple things like everyone else. I don't pretend to be anyone else. I like dancing but I like other things more. I love teaching and I am normal—I’m dying to see midweek championship games. Haha!
More nosy stuff:
Around the house, how good of a handyman are you? (Or should we just call a plumber, electrician, or carpenter?)
I can fix most things around the house but I’m pretty good at breaking them as well. I have electrocuted myself more times than I would have liked to and I’m pretty handy in the garden. I love painting the house and cleaning the garage.
Favorite flavor of ice cream
Ever surfed? How did that go?
Yeah, last Christmas in Sydney. I wasn't the best but I loved it so I’m gonna take it up when we get back. It’s great craic.
Ever played tennis, golf, or gone bowling? Results?
I like tennis but I have a terrible serve. I like to hit hard and go home – haha. Bowling is the best but I get hard shots and miss easy shots so that means I’m no good! I can be real good or real bad. Golf is the most boring game I have ever played.....tried to play! I don't get why people like it so much but it’s not for me....no I’m actually bored talking about golf.
For more information on the Merryn Lacy Fund:
Thanks to Tristan for another great interview! Since our first on July 17, 2012, Tristan has answered hundreds of your questions, and we can't thank him enough. We'll be catching up with him when he's in London. Until then, thank you, Tristan!
Just when you thought that we were done telling you all about our favorite Tristan MacManus performances, we decided to keep it going. In Part 1 we talked about our favorite Tristan pro dances on DWTS and then Part 2 consisted of our top Tristan performances with his celebrity partners (links provided below).
We’ve got more – that category of “other” performances on DWTS or elsewhere. We had to limit it to those which had links available because we didn’t want to tease you with dances that you might not be able to view. We also couldn't stop at five. This time our "Best of the Best" includes six performances.
These are all pretty spectacular.
Tristan and Kym Johnson once again made it happen with three red hot performances at the New York Red Cross Ball in 2012. Just sit back and watch. In this clip you get a Viennese Waltz, a delicious Rumba followed by several minutes of Tristan hosting while Kym changes her costume (plenty of laughs and worth watching), and then a passionate Paso Doble – all 3 dances performed in limited space. It didn't matter.
In February, 2013, Tristan danced with Anna Trebunskaya at Toronto's Dances With the Stars. Their Quickstep, Rumba, and Paso Doble were electrifying.
Quickstep - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j9CL1HrRkc
Rumba - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbSuhdd15rM
Tango - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3upa7AKAAA4
Tristan was a special guest on Katherine Jenkins' 2012 holiday special “Steppin’ Out With Katherine Jenkins." Ever since we had a taste of their chemistry in the Cha Cha Trio in Season 14 of DWTS, we hungered for more. Yeah, we got it all right. Wowza. Tristan and Katherine do a sizzling Argentine Tango at 35:00 in this clip. We’re still wondering what an entire season of them dancing together would have been like!
Tristan, Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas performed together in our favorite Trio Dance from DWTS – ever. This sexy Cha Cha was flawless – in spite of Katherine’s wardrobe malfunction.
Tristan and Emma Slater danced along with Lindsay Arnold and Victor Ortiz in the Season 16 Side-By-Side Challenge. This Viennese Waltz is still a favorite – not only because we saw Tristan teaching but because we finally got to see Tristan perform a Viennese Waltz. It was worth the wait.
This Paso Doble Trio Dance in Season 16 with Tristan, Kellie Picker, and Derek Hough could make you get the heebie jeebies and drool at the same time. "Welcome. Come on into me world,” said that Irish dude who was luring Ms. Pickler to the dark side. Oooh, it was good.
Tristan has had so many beautiful performances both on DWTS and at special events. We hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane.
*****Our Best of the Best - Parts 1 and 2
Part 1 (Tristan's Top 5 pro dances on DWTS)
Part 2 (Tristan's Top 5 performances with his DWTS celebrity partners)
In the middle of a very busy travel schedule, Tristan took the time to answer your questions. Enjoy this latest in a Q & A series with our favorite dance professional.
You just returned from 2 weeks on the Holland America DWTS: At Sea cruises. As far as the cast and crew as well as the show itself, how was this different than the January cruises or those from last summer? From looking at the photos, it looks like some of the numbers might be the same, but which ones did you do this time, and were there any new dances?
There were little changes here and there, yes. We have a great cast so usually that stays the same but Kiki [Nyemchek] came on this last cruise to cover for Jaymz [Tuaileva] who went back on tour with Cher so we all learned little changes to cover each other in certain numbers. I danced the Paso and Cha Cha with Sabrina again and myself and Kym did a Foxtrot that we hadn't before. Bar that, it was much of the same. There was no Jive this time but it may come back in for the cruises at the end of July because we will be missing Iveta [Lukosiute] so Emma Slater and Anya Garnis will be joining to mix things up. I'm not too sure which numbers will be in and out as yet.
Did you do any teaching or demonstrations?
I don't teach or demonstrate on the ship, no. I had wanted to but it’s very hard to find space on the ship with all the events they run although Kym added a Latin fitness class a week to the cruise. I wanted to do some privates as there are usually a few people who like them on the ship but space ruled that out unfortunately.
During the cruises, Iveta Lukosiute and Anya Fuchs posted daily photos from DWTS “Boot Camp.” We were exhausted just looking at the pictures, but we are curious. What was Boot Camp, who participated, and how did it all work out?
The boot camp was great, yeah, and was something that became a regular daily event for us. Brent [Borbon] had a friend on board, Matt, who is the strength and conditioning coach for La Reve. For the first week and we started doing some programs each morning and pretty much everyone in the cast joined in. Some mornings were too early, so now and again there was only a handful of us but it was great fun. When Matt left after the first week Brent and Jason [Venner] kind of took over so we had busy mornings with the stretch and abs classes onboard then myself Jase and Brent done the spinning classes. Then Boot Camp - myself, Jason, Brent, Kiki, Magda [Fialek], Anya [Fuchs] and Iveta. I think Kym may have come up for one of the classes over the two weeks as well.
You’ve been on the Alaska cruise before but was there something that you did this time or something that you saw that was new or especially fun? Favorite spot you’ve visited in Alaska or even seen from the ship?
This last cruise left from Vancouver instead of Seattle so we got a night in Vancouver before we started which was cool. It’s such a beautiful city and because we left from Vancouver, two of the stops were different. On the cruise we went to Skagway where we went hiking - myself, Brent, Kiki, Jason and Sabrina. The rest went on a train ride which they said was cool. I guess I trained a lot more on this cruise than any other. I took a month off the swig so I’ve been keeping myself busy training which was different - early nights, early mornings kind of thing. We had the mother-in-law on board which was great so it was a very relaxing time with great friends. The cast really are the best. Looking forward to the next one in a few weeks.
Did you have much free time to sightsee?
We saw a lot more this time around for sure. The schedule let us rehearse a lot the days while we were at sea so when we came into port we had free time and then because we rehearsed Kiki into the show week 1 we had more free time on week 2. Good old Kiki is a quick learner – haha. I went back to the lumberjack show again which I seem to do every time we get on the cruise. I don't know why I love it so much but its great craic! Everyone went this time as well so we had a blast.
You’ve told us previously that you really enjoy Jersey Boys and that you were looking forward to seeing the movie. Have you had a chance to see it yet, and if so, give us your thoughts.
Yeah, I went to see Jersey Boys once we got off the ship. I thought it was good. I’m a huge fan of the stage show so when a film tries to follow it’s always difficult to match up but I thought they did a good job. The cast were super of course. I had seen them all in the stage show. Some find the story easier to follow in the film but I preferred the show. You can't beat being in the theatre and hearing the music live. As soon as 'WHO LOVES YOU' starts in the show something hits me when I’m watching it but I didn't get that from the film but I still liked it. The story is a great one and the music is the best.
We’re been talking to a lot of people about Strictly Come Dancing, and we’ve been told that the pro partners tend to remain the same throughout the SCD season. Obviously you’ve danced with some pros more than others, and in your experience, do certain things become instinctive as you dance with the same person frequently, or is it still like starting all over again each time you rehearse a new dance?
I guess it’s different all the time but sometimes you know what to expect from certain people you know - haha. I don't know who I will be dancing with on Strictly yet as there will be a few chafes but I’m excited to start. I have been in shows with a few of the cast, danced with some and just been on stage with some and some I have never met so I’m looking forward to it. It can be different because some always play to the camera and some mix it up but for sure like anything the more you practice with and work with someone the more in sync you get with that person. Sometimes you change your lead for people and sometimes they change their follow. It’s a partnership, so always give and take. Some don't follow but some don't lead either!!!
In our last interview you mentioned that you had been rehearsing with Peta for Dance Temptation. Do you have any more rehearsals planned, and how much time will you have available to rehearse with the rest of the cast in Toronto?
Yeah, for sure we will rehearse more. I will miss the group rehearsals as I will be on the ship so I will have a day to play catch up afterwards before the stage tech but I will rehearse when we have time before this cruise and then try keep it fresh in my body for the show as it’s a quick turnover between DWTS: At Sea and Dance Temptation. We were in the other day running things again with Edyta so we are keeping on top of it between my shows and Peta’s.
Favorite food or meal from the DWTS: At Sea cruise
Steak from the Pinnacle Grill all day every day if I could!
Any seasickness or balance issues on the cruises so far?
Yeah, for sure. The day of the show on the cruise is always the rockiest because we are out at sea, so usually the ship is calm until right before the show and then the swells come but we are getting more used to it now. A few props topple now and again but sure what can you do? The Holland America dancers do it all year round!!
Breakfast of choice
Porridge/ Oatmeal - I love it! Eggs Benedict as well but you can't eat that all week.
Favorite snack food
I’d eat a banana or cashew nuts/ almonds.
Favorite junk food (if any)
Do you get bored easily?
I‘m the worst! I get bored so easily- too bored to do anything even. How sad is that!!
If you had 24 hours with no obligations or commitments and could just relax, what would be your idea of relaxation?
I’d grab a bottle of whiskey, sit in a hammock and watch football or GAA and listen to Luke Kelly.
How is Pike doing these days?
Pike is sound, yeah. We took him to the beach the other day for the first time. He lost his mind chasing seagulls. He had the best day of his life. He sprinted into the sea before he knew it was water so was like a drenched rat and then he would run away from it for the rest of the day. As soon as we got back in the car he conked it. He's a great little fella, running around with his tongue out all day.
If you have questions for Tristan, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave them on our forum (MacManiaLand tab at the top of this page) or send them to us in a message on the Facebook Fan Page https://www.facebook.com/TristanMacManusFanPage. Every now and then we will choose a few, and you just never know when the next Q & A will happen!
"I like to surround myself with positivity and there is nothing better than seeing a smile on somebody's face when they achieve something they didn't think they could or trying to convince somebody they can do it however long it takes."
"Choreography for me can be simple as telling the story. The difficulty and trickery are irrelevant to me - it's all about the delivery."
In future posts, we will touch on Tristan's unique skills as a teacher, performer, and storyteller as well as his special approach to choreography, and as you will see here, all of those talents come into play when considering how he puts dances together for his celebrity partners. In our last post, we told you our choices for Tristan’s Top 5 pro dances on DWTS. This time it is the Top 5 performances with his celebrity partners. Who cares if he had a few shortened seasons due to unforeseen circumstances? We still had trouble choosing just five!
Tristan and Gladys Knight's Week 1 Cha Cha was 100% fun. There were no gimmicks or crazy costumes, and it was a delightful way to start off Season 14. Tristan and his 67 year old partner brought the house down. We also still giggle when we hear the obviously scripted intro, “I’m Tristan MacManus, and I’m the hot one from Dancing with the Stars.”
Tristan and Dorothy Hamill's Contemporary was another Week 1 super hit. This Season 16 performance to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer", as Len Goodman said, “…should be designated an area of outstanding beauty.” Tristan and the 1976 Olympic figure skating gold medalist were spectacular and while their season was cut short a week later because of Dorothy's previously undiagnosed back problem, this dance was a memory maker. Carrie Ann Inaba said, “You brought the athleticism but told a story.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a Tristan MacManus’s trademark.
Tie: From Season 17 - Tristan and Valerie Harper's Week 1 Waltz and their Finale Viennese Waltz. Both were pure joy. In the finale footage, Valerie said what so many were thinking. “I just love you Tristan Macmanus. You’re as good as it gets.”
Week 1 Foxtrot to “Some Kind of Wonderful”
Finale Waltz to "What A Wonderful World"
Tristan and Nancy Grace's Foxtrot in Season 13 was great entertainment. When Tristan and Nancy took the floor during Broadway Week with “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python's Spamalot, we knew that our storyteller was having a blast. Everything fit – from the coconuts at the beginning to the flat on his back on the floor ending. We loved it then, and we love it now.
This was a tough choice, but we went with Tristan and Gladys Knight's Samba from Season 14 as number 5. It was fun, it was playful, and it was without the props that some pros use to distract you from the dancing. Tristan let Gladys be the focal point, and it was the party dance so we ended up with the best possible scenario. It was also our first taste of a Tristan MacManus Samba, and boy, was it worth it. Like he so often does, he made sure his partner was showcased and not himself.
These are our Top 5 (6) favorite dances with Tristan and his celebrity partners on DWTS. What are yours?
If you missed our post on Tristan's Top 5 pro dances on DWTS, go here: