This week, we decided to talk about a topic often neglected by the media, but a topic near and dear to our hearts – the DWTS Troupe. Besides giving us a Dancing With the Stars style introduction to Tristan MacManus, the 3 seasons with this cast of characters have been an amazing combination of electric energy, surprising talent, and extraordinary quantities of fun. Each Troupe member has amazing credentials and is a true pro in every sense of the word. We love each and every one of them (past and present), and in this particular blog entry, we are going to tell you exactly why we adore them (in no particular order).
Sasha Farber – Here you have a wild, wacky, and incredibly gifted package of unbelievable energy, unquestionable talent, and unstoppable charisma. We saw something amazing in Burn the Floor: The New Show ‘Floor Play’ where Sasha took on many roles and played them convincingly – from the suave leading man to the imp that got away with everything. He was (and is) a showstopping bundle of more talent than we can possibly describe. The backflips? Unreal. The stage presence? Off the charts. His looks? He’s gorgeous. The best part? He keeps it real. Oh, and his performance on DWTS India? Brilliant! We loved every single delicious second.
Emma Slater – She’s beautiful, she’s kind, she’s appreciative of her support, and she gave us an interview. (Thanks, Emma). But forget that. She was superb in Burn the Floor, and she brought a new dynamic to DWTS with her way of being a lethal combination of edgy, sexy, sensuous, and artistic. We loved her performance with Tristan, Sharna, and Henry to Carrie Underwood’s Good Girl, but we also loved her amazing performance, among others, in Dance With Me Tonight where she immediately won us over. Then there is the impression she made in DWTS Live in Las Vegas and her Rumba from DWTS India. Perfection.
Sharna Burgess – What’s not to love about Sharna? She’s gorgeous, fun, edgy, and brilliant. We loved her in Burn the Floor, we loved her from the day she stepped onto the DWTS stage in Season 13 dancing to Edge of Glory, and each performance endears her to us even more. One of our favorites? The Cobra Starship You Make Me Feel performance with Tristan, Sonny, and Kym in which she not only performed but choreographed as well. That was spectacular, and she was spectacular. She still is. She is one of the most innovative choreographers on DWTS, and DWTS would be well to keep her in their sights for a very long time.
Oksana Dmytrenko – The tiny fireball of power and skill is one of the reasons we love the Troupe dances so much. We still remember her Samba with Kiki from Season 12 and in our opinion, that was one of the most superb performances yet by any troupe member. She and Kiki were pure magic and made the party dance believable, exciting, and off-the-charts fun. Her performance to the music of Madonna in 80s week of Season 13 with Val, Peta, and Sasha was nothing short of miraculous, and we won’t likely forget how she lit up the dance floor in Dance to the Music – still our all-time favorite troupe performance.
Sonny Pedersen – Sonny is a super addition to the troupe, and he will add an entirely new facet to this diverse group of multi-dimensional performers. What do we know about him? He is amazingly gifted with a very impressive resume that includes singing, dancing, acting, choreographing, performing, etc., and we are still reeling from You Make Me Feel from Season 13 and that sexy number with Lacey, Kiki, and Chelsie during a Nicki Minaj performance in Season 12. Talk about bringing the WOW factor! We can’t wait to see him next week. Welcome to DWTS, Sonny.
Henry Byalikov – Do you remember when Wetpaint named Tristan as their “fake boyfriend” way back in Season 13? That expression stayed with us, and we decided to borrow it. We hate to tell you this, Henry, but you are now our fake boyfriend (sorry, Teagan, we will try not to be too possessive and no worries, Tristan, you are still our #1 fake boyfriend). Henry is charming, fun, friendly, gorgeous, has great abs (just a little detour into the shallow waters there), multi-talented, and a sweetheart who is a good sport for putting up with us. We can honestly say that when we first saw him in Dance With Me Tonight, we were hooked, and nothing since then has changed our opinion. We also did a little informal survey on this site about a potential Trio Dance for Season 15 and the question was this: If Tristan and Pamela are in a Trio Dance this season, which DWTS pro or troupe member would you most like to see in this performance? The overwhelming choice? Henry. So we won’t wax poetic too much more because the man is a dancing dream and a choreographing prodigy, and suffice it to say that he probably now has more fake girlfriends than he could ever want. Welcome to MacManiacs.org, Henry. You’re stuck with us.
Of course, we won’t ever forget the magical performances by Kiki, Teddy, Dasha, and Nicole who have moved on to other professional endeavors, and Peta who continues to add so much to DWTS. They gave us so many wonderful moments from Seasons 12-14, and we will treasure all of them.
Oh yeah, the biggest reason why we love the troupe? It brought us Tristan MacManus – the man who is number one in our hearts and the inspiration behind this website.
In July, Tristan was kind enough to give us an interview, and since then he also graciously answered many of our questions on the DublinDown330 “Q and A” series. Today, he willingly took on a few more of our questions, and we can't thank him enough for that. Enjoy!
Now that you have had a couple of weeks of rehearsals with Pamela, what do you see as her strengths?
Pam is great. We haven’t had as much practice as we would have liked. The first week Pam was away for half of it in Europe and then away for Rio, where finding time to rehearse was very tough. Now she is in Bulgaria for a few days. Her strengths are that she really wants to do the show and that she is great at retaining information. That’s so important when you have a lack of something - time in our case. When you get a second shot at the show you have something to base your experience on. You can decide what you didn’t do the last time that you want to do this time or mentally prepare yourself for performances. Her biggest strength is that she is Pam before, during, and after.
One of the members of our website was curious about what a typical day of rehearsal is like. Or is there a typical day?
We don’t really have a typical day. We rehearse away from everybody else, generally early mornings for maybe five or six hours. The balancing act is I think what people find hard sometimes - it’s not just about finding the time to rehearse but it’s really being productive on your time. You can rehearse intensely for three/four hours, physically just power through running the dance and working yourself into the ground, and you can take in huge amounts of information after information - which Pam is great at. You have to be careful that it’s not counter-productive. If you have done that, it’s impossible to stay in five six seven hours a day. What I always always get from Pam though is total and utter commitment and attention but also entertainment. We are fighting not just against finalists and champions but also against a large unforgiving population that no matter what she does will have a negative attitude towards her so to have the strength of character she has to want to better herself is very inspiring to me not just as a dancer and teacher but as a person.
You once said that you like to tell a story with every dance. How is it that you are able to consistently weave a storyline into your choreography, and how do you even come up with the story you want to tell?
It can be difficult to tell your story all the time certainly to the degree that you want. You can’t throw somebody around, lift them up high, or different things that go against the rules so you have to do some subtle things and hope that you can pull it off – ha! It's difficult to come up with a routine before you start with your partner because you don’t know what they are capable of. Whether they have been on the show or not you just have to take the time to get to know your partner, figure out what they want from this experience, what stories they want to tell. Either way I will dance whether it’s on tv or not. These people won’t so its fully their experience. I want to know what they want to tell and then I’ll try to make that happen. You are restricted in a way with how much you can do to portray certain things but you just gotta play the cards you are dealt.
Tell us what we can expect to see from you and Pamela this season or perhaps just from DWTS All-Stars in general.
I don’t know what you guys can expect - maybe just some honest people trying to have a good time. We will work as hard if not harder than anybody else without playing 'the games' that go along with a lot of this stuff. The trophy is a bonus but it’s not the goal - the goal is to push ourselves and try and inspire others to try something new, give something another chance, close a door on something, make a tough decision, take a break whatever it is you want to do and feel that choice is for everyone. Don’t fit in, stand out, be different- there is a place for everyone in everything.
During the DWTS season you have so many commitments that you probably rarely have time to relax. Is there anything you like to do to relax when there are so many demands on your time?
There is a lot to do. I don’t find it too hard to relax. I can shut off to a certain degree but I know sometimes as well that I dwell on things but that is purely the thought inside that I may not be doing enough to help my partners or giving them the right tools to fully express themselves. I’m comfortable being around friends all the time but sometimes I just need to be on my own doing nothing - watch the football, stuff my face with food - when I eat I think of nothing else – hahaha! That usually works - turn on the food channel and I’m good for a few hours! Hahaha!
Do you ever get nervous before a performance, and if so, how do you calm your nerves?
I don’t get nervous anymore. I used to alright during stage shows and stuff. I’d go missing for a bit and right as the music started I’d burst back in the room with a pale face and just run straight on stage . I don’t know what it was. I think it was the adrenaline taking over or wanting to do so well that it got the best of me. With a show like this though I’m fine. It’s my role to be the shoulder or the go-to guy so that calms me. I spend time convincing my partners it’s a doddle what they are doing and that it will be fine. The last thing they want to see is me walking in circles around the trash cans crying!!!
Finally, is there anything you want to say to the supporters of both you and Pamela as you get ready to begin Season 15?
Just want to say thanks for the incredible support you guys give us. Some have already jumped on with thoughts that schedule is taking over and that there is a lack of commitment but I can tell you now it’s certainly not the case. We will do the best job we can. We won’t complain. We won’t look for excuses. If we are good enough we will stay around. If not we will go but not before making some sort of impact. So thank you thank you. Enjoy the ride because we will.
A special thanks to the beautiful Emma Slater from our DWTS Troupe who so graciously agreed to answer a few of our questions. Please be sure and follow Emma on Twitter (@EmmaSlaterDance).
First of all, we were amazed at your recent performance with DWTS India. How did you and Sasha end up working and performing there? Would you tell us a little bit about that experience?
BBC Worldwide produces many of the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ series for different countries all around the world so we actually got invited to go through the BBC (a lovely producer called Richard!). I was so excited to go; travel is one of my favorite things to do. And India was on my list! Sash and I both had very popular celebrities on the show who were such beautiful people too. Actually everyone in India was so friendly and polite. The country itself was very beautiful and I wish I could have had more time to go explore (Although it was monsoon weather!) Working on ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’, the Indian DWTS, was a wonderful experience.
We know you began dance training at a very young age. We would love to hear more about that training and how you knew that your career path was going to include dance.
I actually wanted to be an actress all my life! It wasn’t till the age of 12 when I realized I couldn’t give up dancing and it had to be my career because I loved it more than anything else and I was so passionate about it. At a young age I took Ballet and Jazz at a local dance school and joined a couple of theatre groups for children. I remember seeing a demonstration of Latin and Ballroom dancing and I was in complete amazement of how electric it was. I joined a Latin and Ballroom dance school a few months later, and it quickly escalated to competitions. A year or two later, I was completely decided that dance was going to be my career and I would somehow make it work.
We’ve read about your amazing range of experience, including the George Michael music video, the film Mamma Mia, Burn the Floor, and so much more. You have an incredible resumé for someone so young and have performed all over the world. Is there a particular performance that has special meaning for you on a personal or professional level?
I was recently chosen by R&B Singer Usher to perform a duet dance with him to his new song ‘Scream’ at the American Billboard Awards in Las Vegas. I was over the moon when I got a call from my agent. I’m a huge fan of Usher’s music. Unfortunately the day of the awards turned out to be camera blocking day for the Finale of Season 14 DWTS in the US so I couldn’t do the Billboard Awards. But I did get to choreograph the duet for Usher along with Sasha who helped me! That’s the difficulty with being a performer in the TV industry. The contracts are often short or bitty so you have to try and co-ordinate your work life so that you can go from job to job as seamlessly as possible.
On a personal level, my favorite job would have to be Burn the Floor because of the life long friends and MASSIVE amounts of fun memories I made whilst on that show. Broadway was a magical part of that whole experience too but by far the best thing to come of it was finding Sasha. Cheesy I know! But true. :)
Would you tell us about your experiences in Burn the Floor? How long were you in this amazing show and how did you ultimately end up on Dancing With the Stars?
I was in Burn the Floor for two years. Burn the Floor fueled my love of travel; the show goes everywhere. My first tour was China and I think we did around 10-12 cities in 16 days! Then the show went to Broadway, then Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, London’s West End, USA, Holland, Belgium, South Africa and that was when I left to go visit Sash when he was doing his first season of DWTS. Burn the Floor doesn’t do anything by halves. The show is wild to put it mildly! I’m very passionate about the dancing in it and the choreography; it’s high energy and totally mesmerizing. All the dancers work 110% and we’re totally knocked out at the end of the show!
Sash had left to do DWTS and towards the end of his first season I flew out to visit him. I ended up having an interview with the producers and it must have gone fairly well because they contacted me just before the next season asking me to be in the Troupe! To say I was mad with excitement was an understatement; as soon as I had my visa I got on a plane two hours later!!
We have already seen you in so many wonderful dances on DWTS. If you had the opportunity to dance with any pro (past or present), who would it be? Why?
Well I always love to have a whip around the floor with Tristan! (I’m sure many people would agree with me there!) I love his expressions when he dances especially with his celebrity partners. It’s like a cheeky grin just between them! Derek is also a wonderful dancer and he’s so passionate about it. Every step he choreographs has a thought process behind it and he’s intense when he dances. I’d like to dance a fierce Paso or Tango with him.
Do you have a particular favorite ballroom or Latin dance? Or do you have a particular performance from over the years that is a special favorite?
My favorite dance changes all the time and I think for me it’s more about what performance best reflects and expresses the way I’m feeling at that moment in my life. It’s so easy to put your absolute all into a dance if the mood and intensity reflect your exact emotions at that point. Because dancing is all about expressing yourself, when I dance, I’m emotionally attached to what I’m doing and it becomes very real. That’s the part I loved about dancing. You don’t need words. I can’t pick a favorite dance although I do tend to favour the extremes. For example I’d love dancing a rocky and fierce sexy Cha Cha just as much as a very vulnerable, delicate and meaningful Waltz.
Along those same lines, what is your favorite performance so far on DWTS, and what do you like most about being on DWTS?
My favorite performance on DWTS so far would be either the rumba Sasha and I did to Smokey Robinson for Motown Week or dancing a snappy Cha Cha to Santana for Latin week. I really liked that one because it had a strong Latin flavor to it and Santana was amazing! You get to meet and work with some incredible people on DWTS from the Macy’s Dancers who are unbelievably talented to the crew and production team. They are always so busy and still have time to treat us really well and have a laugh. I love everyone who works at DWTS, it’s just so easy to work there! So that twinned with getting to perform on America’s biggest TV show every week is the best thing about working on DWTS. I also love being here in LA too. It means Sash and I can both work together in a great city and we don’t have to choose between England and Australia!
Just from what we’ve seen and heard on Twitter and on our own website, you have developed an enormous fan base, and you’ve proven to be very responsive to the fans. How is it that you stay so grounded with all of the attention focused on you?
I love what I do and I’m very happy to be able to say that. It’s even more wonderful when people see my performances and want to show me support with lovely comments and messages. I’m honestly flattered. So I like to let all those people know how much I appreciate their support just because I honestly do. It just takes a few seconds to post a thank you reply!
What was your experience like in DWTS: Live In Las Vegas?
I can’t even describe how much I enjoyed my time on that show! Vegas is such a party town, but I actually didn’t go out all that often. It was more about the day to day coming into work and laughing with all my friends on the show. To be fair, I ran into some obstacles at the start of the contract. I got strep throat after 4 days of being there, and then a week in I sliced the back of my hand cutting some watermelon in the green room! Then I had a knee problem so I was convinced that Vegas was bad for me! But I got over all that and by the end I was super sad to leave. The show was great too and we played to really packed and loud audiences most nights so it always felt like a fun atmosphere.
You have traveled and worked all over the world. Do you have a city or country that you’ve visited or lived that has special meaning for you?
I have a few favorite cities. My first one would have to be New York. To go there for a holiday would be amazing but for me to wake up on my first day there not knowing anyone or anything about the city, I was captivated. I walked around for so long before I had to be in for work, just looking at the buildings. So different. But I have a love of European cities, I just think the history, culture and flavor that very European city has is so unique compared with the rest of the world; it’s unmistakable. Other cities I think are beautiful would include Vancouver and Sydney. I will always love what I consider to be my city though, London. Everyone must go there.
Please tell us a little about what you like to do when you’re not dancing on DWTS. We would love to get to know you better.
I’m always changing my mind! I have a few consistent hobbies though. Cooking is a major one. It really makes me happy whipping something up in the kitchen, I especially like to cook with a lot of color so lots of veg and greens. I also love coffee and tea and would quite happily walk from café to café if I could! I love to walk and am generally quite healthy. I write a fair bit too though not as much as I used to. I used to write everyday, just journal bits and bobs. I do think the only downfall to being a performer is you don’t always have to exercise the old brain cells! Sound so harsh, but kind of true. I sometimes miss having a non-physical work project to manage. Maybe I’ll do something with that in the future. I also love to obsess about the home I haven’t yet got! I can be quite domestic.
Is there anything you would like to say to your supporters?
There are a million things I want to say to my supporters! Each and everyone nice comment I receive is truly felt by me and I would love to thank everyone who has ever shown me support in anyway, it really goes a long way in this business. Without touching on the ‘Hippy’ side of things, I believe in the kindness of people and it really makes a difference. So thank you again to anyone who has taken the time to support me. I’m very very happy to entertain people. :)
Thanks to Emma for her kindness and for taking time out of her schedule to answer our questions. I think all of us here at MacManiacs.org have a new appreciation for not only Emma but our entire DWTS Troupe. Please remember to follow Emma on Twitter. @EmmaSlaterDance
Tristan’s time as a pro has spanned only 3 seasons (yes, troupe members are pros, too) but he has made a huge impact. He was Wetpaint’s “Fake Boyfriend” for Season 13 and has won poll after poll since then. He was Hottest Male Pro (September 2011), Best Newcomer (November/December 2011), and Favorite Male Pro (August 2012). He and Chelsie Hightower were Season 14 Design A Dance winners, and along with Kym Johnson, he was the featured dancer on the ABC Season 13 and Season 14 promotional posters. He was one of TV Guide's “Breakout Stars for 2011”, the fans’ pick for the Pro of 2011 (via Wetpaint) against some very stiff completion, and he was the highest ranking DWTS pro on Buddy TV’s “TVs 100 Sexiest Men of 2011." But those accolades just scratch the surface of the many reasons why we've chosen Tristan as our favorite. Of course, we don’t do anything the usual way. In our Henry Byalikov blog (see below), we list 16 reasons why we think that Henry should be a DWTS pro with a celebrity partner, but here we are going to give you 18.5 reasons why Tristan is our #1 favorite DWTS Pro. Yes. 18.5. It seems like a good number.
18.5. The Jive. Holy cow, the man knows how to Jive. After seeing his Mephistopheles characterization in The Devil Went Down to Georgia, the Upside Down Instant Dance with Nancy, the Don’t Stop Me Now Dance-Off, and his performance in Dance With Me Tonight, we began to consider the jive one of our all-time favorite dances. He doesn’t just dance the jive, he feels it. The man knows how to make a jive fun, sexy, flirty, and oh so exciting. Continued…
18. He knows how to sell a dance like no other...and he loves what he does. Case in point: Season 14 Broadway Group Dance – he took over the character of the young man seducing the older woman, and the complete joy on his face at the end of that performance shows his love of his craft.
17. Shallow Reason #1. The man is gorgeous. Now we know that has nothing to do with talent or ability to entertain, but you cannot ignore the obvious, so just consider it an added bonus. He’s simply sexy, handsome, and adorable.
16. He has a variety of experiences that have prepared him for this journey, including the fact that he was as passionate about football (soccer in our language) as dance. We’ve even heard through the grapevine (or he just said it) that he is a music enthusiast who loves to sing. That makes him multi-dimensional, multi-talented, and multi-faceted. He is passionate about what he does, quick to react, and a team player. He’s the consummate pro (and why we have this website.)
15. In addition to his ballroom and Latin dance training, he has performed all over the world in different productions: Burn the Floor, Floor Play, Simply Ballroom, and Dirty Dancing. The world is his stage. We call him a dance prodigy; he has the unique skill of being able to embrace any dance, take it over, and turn on the dancing charm which using impeccable technique.
14. He loves to teach (rewind to his experience as a teacher in Boston) a few years ago. Not only does he love to teach, but he’s a great teacher. That’s obvious in every dance with Nancy Grace and Gladys Knight, and each performance made us respect him a little more. One of Tristan’s greatest assets as a mentor and teacher is that he knows how to hone in on his partners strengths. He doesn’t just throw in crazy, flashy choreography to hide weaknesses, and he doesn't make costume decisions that involve the excessive use of fabric, feathers, and frills to hide less than perfect technique. He concentrates on where they excel, and he builds the choreography around that.
13. Shallow Reason #2. Any way you look at it, it is fun to listen to him talk. We realize that that isn’t a great reason to make him our favorite pro, but it’s one of the things that we find as an added bonus to an already delectable package. Just think of Tristan’s Irish Brogue as something that makes him more adorable.
12. He has a brilliant mind, and that translates into brilliant technique on the dance floor. We see his answers to questions as thoughtful and insightful. For instance, he knows how to balance performing with choreographing, and he’s most likely the dream partner for any celebrity. Why? Because he says things like this: “Everybody is different so as far as teaching goes there isn’t a formula that I stick to, but with everybody I try to just be normal - ask them how they are, what they like, what they don’t like, and try to relate everything to what I need them to do. It’s no different to me then meeting somebody new through a friend or on the street or anywhere in everyday life. You don’t try to make people your friend; you talk and then you relate and then you gain respect and start to work! You are both there to help each other so you can’t forget that you have to teach but you also have to learn.” The best and most telling part of this whole statement is “you are both there to help each other." It is not a one-sided event; it’s a partnership, and isn’t that how it should be?
11. Shallow reason #3. He has great hair. Sexy bed-head anyone? (Most of the time anyway).
10. Shallow Reason #4 (our last episode of shallowness). He looks gorgeous in costume. Do we have to spell this out for you folks? We’ll give you a few examples to jolt your memory in case you’ve found yourself temporarily brain dead. The True 'Rebel Without a Cause' Rumba costume. The Sir Duke blue-lined tails Quickstep costume. The boyfriend suspenders, The Flash Gordon matador jacket (no shirt in case you forgot), The Disturbia straight jacket (yes, for Tristan, even a straight jacket is sexy), the teal Fiebre Samba ensemble...the list is endless. Basically we could name every single costume he’s ever worn and say great things about it but we are sticking with these for now. We all know that he’s a DWTS fashion plate.
9. He has enormous respect for his fellow pros, and he has enormous respect for family. Remember when he was asked during Week One of Seson 14 how he felt about having Gladys as his partner? The first thing that he said was how thrilled his mother would be. It’s never been about his own personal success, but what his success can do to help others. He’s always willing to help out a fellow pro. Remember when he stepped in to help an injured Ralph Macchio and danced with Karina during camera blocking? He has respect for his colleagues as well as his students and that spells class. It's always positive, all of the time.
8. Every single dance tells a story. He draws out emotion from not only his partner, but from the audience as well. Why else do you think he’s become a fan favorite so early in his DWTS career? It’s because he’s been able to seduce the audience into loving the stories that he tells through dance. He goes where some of the other pros don’t.
7. The man can Rumba. Not only can he Rumba, but he makes that love/lust struggle a delicious adventure. He tells a beautiful story in his Rumbas which have been both smoldering (Kym and Peta) to mildly sensuous (Nancy and Gladys). Do we really have to elaborate here? We thought not.
6. He never, ever showboats, he never overdances, and he never makes the dance about him instead of his partner. We like that he doesn’t have an enormous ego, nor does he try to take the attention away from his pro or celebrity partner. As he said in a recent interview, "I know that the show is about my partner and not me so I don’t get carried away with myself." We will just leave it at that.
5. The Design A Dance Samba with Chelsie Hightower still takes our breath away. It was sharp, edgy, and sexy without being so crammed with crazy moves that you didn’t know where to look first. In fact, that dance was so smooth, sexy, and scintillating (yes, we love alliteration), that we couldn’t tear our eyes away. That, DWTS, is just good television.
4. His Cha Chas are the things history books are written about. Starting with the Cry Baby Cha Cha of Season 13 where suspenders became iconic and continuing on to the Best Of My Love Cha Cha where he threw in that brilliant Temptations move, we knew he was going to be a superstar. His Cha Chas are always memorable – those with the troupe, the pro dances, and the Trio Dance with Mark Ballas and Katherine Jenkins. We filed those dances into the category of “watch on youtube about a thousand times.” Each week.
3. He has no fear of dancing with any of the MacManiacs, something we find incredibly endearing. In part 2 of his Q and A where he answered questions from members of this website, he was asked about that very thing. When it got right down to it, he proved to be very brave, and said, “It doesn’t frighten me at all.” Whew. We were worried about that for a while, and we also momentarily questioned the state of Mr. MacManus’ sanity. At least he didn’t turn and run.
2. He treats his fans right. He may not use Twitter [or at least he didn't until September 10,2012], but we don’t mind. We like the personal approach. He has sent us a number of thank you emails, he has mentioned this site personally in a number of interviews, and he is appreciative of his support as shown on Facebook. Tristan MacManus respects his fans, his family, and his profession. What more could we possibly ask of a DWTS pro?
1. He has a wicked sense of humor. Remember Dance Center and “I’m sick of dis place”? Then there was the opening to Season 14 with Gladys – “I’m the hot one on Dancing With the Stars.” Don’t forget Paso rehearsal with Nancy when he said, “...It’s about as kicking as much ass as possible, so I mean you should be all right with that one…” When Nancy asked, “Why do I have to be the bull to get stabbed in the end?” His snappy response? “Because you have more bull than me.”
Any questions? We didn’t think so.
Tristan MacManus is here to stay. And so is this website.
Back in early May, 2012, Henry Byalikov, dancer extraordinaire and super impact player from the DWTS Troupe, was kind enough to give us a lovely interview. Since then we have kept in touch with Henry, and over the course of the months since he debuted on DWTS, we have made the rather obvious decision (to us anyway) that Henry is one of those amazing dancers, choreographers, and performers that should ultimately be a pro on DWTS (a pro with a celebrity partner). Therefore, we give you The Top 16 Reasons Why Henry Byalikov should be a DWTS pro. Why 16? For those of you who regularly read our blog, you understand that we never do anything the usual way. 10 reasons just don’t seem like enough. And some of you might ask why we’re writing about Henry when this is a Tristan MacManus website? Because he deserves it, that’s why, and we are always open-minded enough to recognize pure artistic genius when we see it. Just as we have enormous respect for the talent and artist that is Tristan MacManus, we also have enormous respect for the talent and artist that is Henry. So here we go!
16. He should be a pro on DWTS because we say so. ABC, are you listening? We run a website, we’re reasonably intelligent, and we have watched DWTS faithfully since Season 1. That should give us some clout.
15. There is nothing that a woman loves more than a true gentleman. It never gets old, and there aren’t enough gentlemen in the world. Henry treats people with respect and kindness, and to top it off, he is debonair, a marvelous dancer, and an all around good guy. We’ve seen enough pros who tend to be a bit gruff with their celebrity partners, and we decided the show needs more pros like Tristan and Tony. Add Henry to that list. He has good manners. That’s just how he rolls.
14. Henry is already a pro; all of the troupe members are pros who have amazing talent and are true artists. Henry really wants to be a DWTS pro with a celebrity partner, and that desire to be a pro and perform in front of millions each week is a huge selling point. In 2009, he performed a demonstration along with other cast members from Burn the Floor in the DWTS studio. Henry said about that experience,” I remember walking into the CBS studios which is where the live/pre-recorded filming takes place and thinking how much of an honour it was to be performing for the show and how much I wanted to be on the show.” We’re convinced, and that’s our reason #14.
13. Let’s face it. Mr. Byalikov is “holy crap” strong. Remember his performance in “All About Tonight” (from the Season 14 finale) and that jaw-dropping behind his back crazy lift with Sharna? We’re still reeling. Can you imagine the lifts he could create for an Argentine Tango? Or a Freestyle? Toss the rules out the window and show ‘em how it’s done, Henry.
12. He looks good in the costumes. Yes, this is Shallow Reason #1, but let’s face it, some of our esteemed pros make less than wise costuming decisions. We were going to list them but we ended up with about 412 examples and then realized that we would be wasting your time – time that would be better spent going back and looking at the way Henry seems to wear any costume with style. Even the Rock Week costume for the Kiss performance and the Bollywood Samba costume somehow worked. Those great lines have to be a dream for the DWTS Costume Department.
11. He has a delicious sense of humor. If you don’t see it, check out our interview with him from May or follow him on Twitter. No offense to any other pro, but some of them should take a page out of the Henry Byalikov book and lighten up. It makes for a more interesting show.
10. He is an innovative choreographer. Remember the numbers he choreographed for Rock Week and Motown Week? Brilliant. Sexy. Fun. He’s also extremely precise, and we are big fans of precision, great lines, and great extension, and along with Sasha and Tristan, we see that in every single choreographed element. Innovative and extraordinarily talented are huge pluses.
9. His leaps defy gravity. Granted neither of us would ever attempt such a thing because we would be dead in 3 seconds or pull something that should never be pulled, but the photos don’t lie. Take a look at Henry’s website, http://www.henrybyalikov.com/. Can any of you do those leaps without breaking something important? Didn’t think so.
8. He does amazing flips, turns and spins, We mean really amazing flips, turns, and spins. Think back to Season 14 and the final pro dance – after we saw how much ground he covered in about 2.5 seconds, and how he performed his role in that dance with such flair, we knew that he was going to be on the short track to DWTS pro status.
7. Henry is wise, insightful, and introspective and says some amazing things, such as this quote from our interview where he discusses the thematic elements of Latin Dance. “Cha Cha is the first time you meet someone, you’re all bubbly, happy, nervous and flirtatious. Samba is sort of like the dating period, when you’ve already chosen your partner in whatever capacity makes sense to you, and is the pursuit of lust. Rumba is the dance of lust, the pursuit is over… Paso Doble is the first argument that may or may not end in death or a passionate display of domination. Jive is the make up after the argument, because we all like a happy ending.” Suddenly, it all made perfect sense. All of that understanding of the emotion involved in dance is something many professionals don’t seem to successfully convey, but Henry understands it and can articulate it, and he projects it into every performance.
6. Henry has a wealth of experience – from DWTS Australia to SYTYCD Australia to Burn the Floor to choreographing for The Great Gatsby to ballet. He’s probably a gourmet cook and CEO of some really big company too because he can seemingly do anything.
5. He has a truly good heart. There is a member of this website (one of the originals from November, 2011) who is a huge Tristan fan but who also adores Henry. When Henry found out how ill she was, he immediately sent his good wishes and has continued to inquire as to her health. For that, he has earned rock star status, and we believe that DWTS needs a resident rock star, so we think Henry should just go ahead and make his permanent reservation for DWTS.
4. He’s really smart. Ladies and Gentlemen, Henry is no ordinary dancer. He stopped competitive dancing at the age of 19 so he could focus on receiving his Bachelor of Economics and Finance university degree. That translates into “muy inteligente”, and the reason we are throwing in a little Spanish is because Henry likes to tweet in Spanish sometimes. We think that’s amazingly cool, and pro dancers need to be smart. He’s articulate, he’s wise, and we like to speak Spanish ourselves too (which has nothing to do with anything). All of this means he’s extremely well-rounded, and that’s what every pro should be.
3. Because he has really great abs. Yeah, we know that’s Shallow Moment #2, but we decided unanimously (all 2 of us) that Henry’s 6 pack (or however many pack) puts everybody else to shame, and there’s always room for some shallowness on the part of the fans. Let’s just say that if we were at a bluegrass music festival, we could use his abs to help with that ol’ washboard sound. Yeah, we noticed, and we think everybody else should too. In fact, they probably already have.
2. Because he can sell a routine, and isn’t that an integral part of being a pro? In his first performance as a pro on DWTS in the Week 2 results show, we started talking about him on our forum because his energy was electric, his passion apparent, and his talent enormous. All of those qualities translate into a performance maven. “Dance With Me Tonight” was his introduction, and he was brilliant. We became a little fangirly (and still are), but he puts up with us for some strange reason.
1. Because he just might be the most fan-friendly pro on the show. He treats people well, he knows how to say “thank you” and says it on a regular basis, and he is just the breath of fresh air that DWTS needs.
The Great Sabrina Bryan Debate
Here at the literary offices of Shakes and SWAT we always like to look at the pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages, and the good and the bad of almost everything. It’s just how we roll. When ABC announced the whole fan vote thing with Sabrina, Carson, and Kyle being the chosen three, our response was a simultaneous, “Uh oh.” Translation: There was no way that anyone but Sabrina was going to win it, and that was pretty much confirmed after the announcement when Carson and Kyle faded away with barely a mention.
We wouldn’t go so far as to call the announcement of Sabrina as the 13th celebrity controversial, but we will say that it was predictable. The media has played up her Season 5 early exit ever since she was booted off, and we are still hearing about it. Frankly, we didn’t even see that exit as a surprise for many reasons, but people just haven’t been willing to let it go, and the frenzy was fed by the small core group of fans (small, because had it been bigger she wouldn’t have been kicked off in the first place) and various blogs and articles insisting that she was robbed. Robbed of what exactly? Do we mind that she’s back? Not at all, but what we do mind is that the network has made such a big to-do of it that it seems like they want us to believe that the All-Star season wouldn’t be complete without her. We like her talent (for a few Latin dances), and we think she’s funny and smart. What we aren’t convinced of is that she is the one celebrity everyone wants back, and this whole revenge/retribution scenario being played up is getting tedious. Enough already.
So we are giving you both sides of the story – why Sabrina should be part of the cast and why she should not be part of the cast. Keep in mind that lots of this isn’t even a reflection of our respective opinions because we both have strong feelings on the subject (and you might be surprised as to what those opinions are). Never fear – we are also throwing in the old “when in doubt, make stuff up” scenario to confuse you even further.
Why Sabrina Bryan should be an All-Star
1.She’s cute, perky, and fun – when she isn’t stunned that she could actually be voted off DWTS. Rewind to Season 5, Week 6 and take a look at Sabrina's expression when the fateful result was announced and then fast forward to Season 13, Week 3 and Kristin Cavallari’s equally “shocking elimination face." Identical expressions of shock. Same partner. A trend here? If Sabrina succeeds this time we won’t have to see the shocking elimination face anymore.
2. She’s a good dancer. She should be a good dancer. She was a dancer before DWTS and any way you play this, that is an advantage – whether it’s Ballroom, Latin, or the Macarena. Before she was on television, she trained at Hart Academy of Dance in California. Regardless, this show is about good dancing (at least sometimes), so what the heck?
3. She has a music background, and it’s always fun to see musical talent on DWTS. Pardon our ignorance, but did the Cheetah Girls sing too? We honestly don’t know. One of us is too old to know and the other one was hooked on Hanson at about the same time. Or maybe she was having kids. We forget.
4. Sabrina is no stranger to performing and even in a competitive setting she should bring a lot to the show. She’s a performer, no question. Just check the Dancing With the Stars Live In Las Vegas cast from 2012. We also think she's done some movies. We’re still not clear on the Cheetah Girls, and we’re not being mean. We honestly don’t know, we’re too busy to research it, and we’re too cheap to hire a research assistant.
5. Hopefully Season 15 will put a stop to the never-ending “She was robbed” nonsense that we’ve been hearing for years. Enough said. Except for “Make It Stop.”
6. She will give Louis Van Amstel a chance to bust out the choreography again. Louis hasn’t been wild and crazy in a while, so why not? He’s not our choice for a pro for her, but he’ll do (assuming he comes with a roll of duct tape for his mouth – details to follow). Had Henry Byalikov been named as her pro, we wouldn't even have to write this blog because we would think that having Sabrina back was a brilliant idea, and we would be doing happy dances all over MacManiaLand.
7. She was the first to suffer from the “I’m so good that nobody votes for me syndrome,” and we can finally see if she’s that good, that popular…or not. Disclaimer: She never said that, but some people hinted - actually declared affirmatively - that she was so good that most people assumed she would go through another week and thus, didn’t vote for her. Doubtful, but that’s what they say.
8. She wants to show Mark Ballas that she doesn’t need him in order to win. Oooh, snarky, but true. Not to gossip or anything but we’re going to anyway - weren’t she and Mark an item when she was on DWTS? We have no idea if this is actually true or not, but it sounds good.
9. Sabrina is ready to go without too much rehearsal time because she has had lots of extra practice since she was in DWTS Live in Las Vegas for 4 months appearing in multiple numbers on a nightly basis. She probably won't even need to warm up. No further explanation needed.
10. If she’s on stage, we don’t have to see her backstage interviews any longer. Not that there’s anything wrong with her backstage interviews, but all that perkiness is exhausting. (We’re actually jealous because we don’t have 1/10 of that energy).
11. She’s blonde, and DWTS needs another blonde. Carson is blonde and more fun than any other blonde, but we’re all about keeping the whipping blonde hair thing going.
There are lots and lots of people who are still holding onto the “she was robbed” business because Sabrina was kicked off in Week 6 of Season 5. We never got that – how could she be robbed? She might have had good scores with Mark, but the fact is that she didn’t get enough votes to keep her on the show. We thought she was good, but never saw anything there that was so far superior to anyone else that the “she was robbed” label was deserved, and frankly, we have gotten really tired of it.
Season 15 was to potentially be a season of ringers, but yet the true ringers aren’t here. Sure we have some winners, runners-up, 3rd place finishers, and Pamela (and now Sabrina) who weren’t even in the finals. Joey was in DWTSLV but he did a couple of dances a night so we don’t think we can give him ringer status - especially since he isn't a dancer by profession (although some of his 'N Sync moves were pretty cool). Sabrina was a dancer before DWTS, and she was one of the stars of DWTSLV for months. Then they threw her, Kyle, and Carson into this fan vote fiasco which meant all of the outraged fans went back in to vote her into this. Frankly, I didn’t care enough to vote because I pretty much knew this was just what ABC wanted. Bring her back to get what is rightfully hers. Yawn.
So here we go – Why Sabrina should not be on DWTS for season 15.
1. She’s cute, perky, and fun – when she isn’t stunned that she could actually be voted off DWTS. Rewind to Season 5, Week 6 – and then fast forward to Season 13 and Kristin Cavallari and her equally “shocking elimination”. Identical expressions of shock. Same partner. A trend here? Enough already. We don’t like that look. It screams, “Everybody said I was really good so I must be really good and why didn’t everybody vote for me?” Answer? Because we were too busy voting for Maks and Mel B.
2. She’s a good dancer. She should be a good dancer. She was a dancer before DWTS and any way you play this, that is an advantage – whether it’s Ballroom, Latin, or the Macarena. Before she was on television, she trained at Hart Academy of Dance in California. Even in a season of All-Stars, the fact remains that she is a trained dancer. That translates into ringer and since she’s been dancing for a living recently (and a good portion of her career), is that fair to the non-dancers? Gilles? Pamela? Drew? Helio? Britsol? Apolo? Nope. It isn’t. Nicole was a ringer, and we didn’t like that either. Sabrina is a ringer anyway you look at it. Her career has revolved around dance.
3. She has a music background, and it’s always fun to see talent like that on DWTS. This usually helps with musicality, rhythm, etc, and it may have helped before but there wasn’t a whole lot of sexy way back in Season 5 when Sabrina and Mark were a team on DWTS. The dances were fast and accurate and technically okay but a little dull so why should it be any different this time? Besides, we’re afraid she’s going to have another cheetah print costume with red trim and that’s just wrong.
4. She’s no stranger to performing and even in a competitive setting she should bring a lot to the show. And there’s the problem. Forget the singing/acting/interviewing skills – she’s a dancer. She was a ringer in Season 5 and she’s even more of a ringer now. But we don’t care too much; there’s a ton of talent on the show this season and even the non-dancers will equalize the ringer factor. But still….
5. If she’s on in Season 15, it will put a stop to the never-ending “She was robbed” nonsense we’ve been hearing for years. Actually we don’t think that will ever stop. If she’s eliminated (regardless of what week), it will be because Louis was her partner instead of Mark, or because Louis was her partner instead of Derek, or because Louis was her partner instead of Maks. Trust me. If she doesn’t win the mirror ball trophy, we will never hear the end of it. Nothing against Sabrina – she’s a sweetheart. It’s all a ploy by the media, and we know it.
6. She will give Louis Van Amstel a chance to bust out the choreography again. About that. Louis needs to keep his mouth shut on occasion. "This is the first season I can knock myself out as a dancer, as a choreographer because she’s so good," Louis said on GMA. "From day one, we are going to knock even our own socks off." Arrogant much, Louis? And you might want to consider how that sounds to your previous partners on DWTS – a bit insulting, don’t you think? That comment from Louis was wrong on a lot of levels. Sabrina has been gracious throughout, but that comment just left us with a sour taste and frankly, after hearing it, we wouldn’t vote for them anyway. This is a team competition, not an individual competition and when one-half of the team can’t shut up, well, it’s just not going to work.
7. She was the first to suffer from the “I’m so good that nobody votes for me syndrome,” and we can finally see if she’s that good, that popular…or not. Whether those are her thoughts and words or those of the media or those of her fans, it’s still the same old song. Same old verse.
8. She wants to show Mark Ballas that she doesn’t need him in order to win. True, but that’s not a reason to leave out other more popular and more entertaining celebrities. Besides with 13 teams that means at least one double elimination week, and those suck. By the way, 13 is also an unlucky number. You don’t want to mess with fate.
9. She is ready to go without too much rehearsal time because she has had lots of extra practice over the last few months since she was in DWTS Live in Las Vegas for 4 months appearing in multiple numbers on a nightly basis. Ding ding ding ding ding! Ringer? Professional dancer? All that drama created by the network is tedious. Sabrina deserves a second chance but only with a cast of ringers, and from what we’ve seen Pamela, Kelly, Bristol, Shawn, Kirstie, Melissa. Drew, Emmitt, Joey, Gilles, Helio, and Apolo are not trained dancers. They might have their own advantages (athletes, music, acting, etc), but this isn’t called “Gymnastics with the Stars,” “Race Helio in the Indy 500 With the Stars”, or “N Sync with the Stars.”
10. If she’s on stage, we don’t have to see her backstage interviews any longer. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but … well in this case, maybe we’ll get Carson. He’s a blast so for this moment, we’ll say okay with this one as the only reason Sabrina should be on DWTS. We’re logical that way.
11. She’s blonde, and that show needs another blonde – like it needs Kate Gosselin returning. Carson is blonde and more fun than any other blonde, but we’re not all about bringing the whipping blonde hair up to the extent that it has to have its own tv show. Pamela Anderson is the only blonde who should be whipping her hair around – yet we have Sabrina (another whipper), Peta (who has gone from whipping hair to flipping hair), Oksana (the queen of the hair whippers who will blind you if you get too close), Kym (a sometimes hair whipper), Derek (the hair whipping guru), Chelsie (not really a hair whipper, more of a sexy tosser), Shawn (just blonde – no whipping except on special occasions), and a few thousand more. All that blonde hurts our eyes. (It's probably jealousy because neither of us are blonde hair-whippers, but it's our blog and we can say what we want).
There you have it. Our logic-defying reasons why Sabrina should be on Season 15 and why she should not be. You will probably say that it’s a bunch of hooey. Of course it is. It’s all in fun anyway. We gave up being serious about 3 days after this site was published.
So Welcome Back, Kotter! We mean, Welcome Back, Sabrina.