It’s that time of the season, and we are offering our opinions on all things Season 15 related – at least as we see them through Week 5. We usually preface these awards with some big bunch of nonsense, but not this time. The awards will speak for themselves. [Note: Hurricane Sandy messed us up – this post was supposed to be up before Monday’s Week 6 show, but alas, we couldn’t get it posted in time]
Worst Performance By A Group in Any Role – Team Gangnam Style. “Hot mess” was kind. Our response was, “Uhhhhh,” and “Put your clothes back on, Gilles.”
Most Likely to Get Pneumonia, Frostbite, or Some Other Illness Due To Excessive and Repeated Exposure – Peta. Put some clothes on occasionally and mix it up, Peta. It’ll be better for your health.
Most Overexposed Male Chests in the History of Dancing Dramatic Roles (or attempted dancing dramatic roles) – Maks fell out of contention this season. The award goes to Gilles Marini and Valentin Chmerkovskiy who win by showing the goods week after week to the extent that it no longer causes even the tiniest of hormonal surges.
The Been There Done That Award – Gilles and Valentin (we’re supposed to call him that now). See above. Those waxed, nekked chests have been seen so many times that we now adjourn to the kitchen for ice cream when they are on display. Boring.
Worst Use Of Fabric In the History Of Television – Multiple winners. Gilles and Peta’s shiny silver fringy icky Jive costumes, Kym’s Week 1 Cha Cha icky tassles, fringed, paper thin thingy that didn’t leave nearly enough to the imagination, Sabrina’s blue feathers/gold mini mini mini that was way too mini for even disco days, Karina’s hip hop leather underwear, fishnets, dominatrix boots and whatever else it was supposed to be mess, and Cheryl’s fringed explosion disaster from Week 5 which defies logic, description, and anything remotely resembling appealing. Oh, and Shawn’s bedsheet/tablecloth/toga or whatever it was. I could have used that on my kitchen windows when I was redecorating.
The Cheerleaders Are Supposed to Dress Alike Award – Ummm, Sabrina’s costume in “Call Me Maybe” was different than the rest. Did that make her the Head Cheerleader? Couldn’t they all have worn that style or perhaps some felt the need to show more skin than others? It just looked weird, but not as weird as Team Gangnam Style, so I guess we can cut ‘em some slack.
The Copycat Award – Kelly for the underwear/man’s shirt for the contemporary dance. Kym and Dmitry did it first, and you shouldn’t mess with perfection. Runner-up – Valentin for trying to copy his brother every week.
Worst Use of Diapers – Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd – Oh wait. Those were towels? Never mind. They were still pointless and icky.
Best Use of Exposed Skin in A Drama – Tristan MacManus. Does this really need an explanation?
Best Pro Dance in the History of Pro Dances (or at least this season) – The Kym and Tristan performance to "This Is the Moment.” Forget the singing that night – it was all about the dancing.
Best Introduction to a Results show – Winner and Still Champions – Tristan and Kym – “I Want To Dance With Somebody”
Most Ridiculous Early Exit to an All-Star Season - Three Way tie: Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya, Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson, Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower. Our response to their eliminations? Give me a freaking break.
Mr. Debonair and “She Knows How to Dress Her Partner” Award – Helio Catroneves and Chelsie Hightower – Week after week she made him into the consummate leading man. Well done!
The You Gave It Your Best Shot But Nobody Rocks Suspenders Like MacManus Award - Apolo (Week 1), Derek (Week1, Week 3, Week 5), Gilles (Week 3, Week 5). They all tried, but…epic fail.
The Girls Are Gonna Escape Award – Kelly Monaco (Week 1), Sabrina (Week 1, Week 3, Week 4), Peta (every week), and Shawn Johnson (Week 3). There was repeated danger of some major wardrobe malfunctions.
The Everything Including the Girls Is Gonna Escape Award – Cheryl Burke Week 1 (Sheer fish net over a bikini – uh no), Kym Johnson Week 1 (fringe on top of, uh, fringe and nekked skin we think), Peta (every week)
The I love Yellow and Wanna Be Big Bird Award – Derek Hough because he put Shawn in yellow Week 1 and yellow rears its ugly canaried head every season. Derek is now an honorary Big Bird.
The I Don’t Know How to Put Color Into a Costume to Make it Purty Award – Tony Dovolani. Um, have you ever seen hot pink, red, passion purple, or even yellow? (okay maybe not yellow)
The This Ain’t the Olympics Award – Shawn and Derek. Enough of the gymnastics. Let’s focus on the dance now.
The Creepiest Costume Award - Gilles and Peta/ Jive. Gilles and Peta/Team Gangnam Style. Ewww to both.
The Big Bird Meets Cookie Monster on DWTS – Sabrina Week 4 in that hideous feathered blue coat that looked like nothing we ever saw in any disco, and we could do The Bump with the best of ‘em back in the day. (The Big Bird reference is, of course, to Derek’s incessant overuse of yellow feathers, fluff, sequins, and more feathers).
The I Can Look Really Trashy Award – Peta, Karina, Kelly, and Val. Oh and Gilles.
The I Try to Look Pained But Look Constipated Instead – Val (Week 4 contemporary dance)
The Maria Menounous Honorary Injury Award – Kelly and Gilles. We hear about every single twinge.
The Give It To Me Baby Award – Apolo ‘cause who else would choose that as his “guilty pleasure” song. He was awesome, and we don’t use that word lightly.
The We Love You But…Award - Let’s face it – Kirstie brings out the best in Maks, and she is good for comic relief but there is no way the magic from their previous season could ever be recaptured, and the novelty is gone. The dancing isn’t good, the costumes are just plain boring, and there is nothing there that keeps us from hitting the chips and salsa when they dance. Enough already.
The This Is An Outrage Award – Pamela and Tristan’s Week 1 elimination. Bah, humbug! That sucks. It ain’t right. Bleeeech.
The We Wuz Wrong Award – Bristol and Mark. We actually liked them this year, and we liked them better than a good 30% of the other couples. She has turned into a beautiful woman, and her relationship with Mark was a good one.
The Asthma Attack Award- Tristan and Pamela and Tristan and Kym for making us all forget how to breathe. All that sensuality and sexiness just kind of makes us go ‘thud.’
The Overly Perplexed/I Think I'm Gonna Do A Face Plant Award- Susan Boyle who looked like she was literally going to fall over during her This is the Moment duet with Donny Osmond. Good thing Donny was there to hold her hand through the entire performance before she fainted and did a face plant into the orchestra pit.
The OMG I Can't Think Real Thoughts Anymore Because I Have Hormonal Hurricanes Award - Carrie Anne...did you really have to fall out of your chair to express how much you just luuuuuved Gilles' dance(s) and how sexy he was? Um no...it just came across to us as ridiculous. Now if you had fallen out of your chair after watching Tristan and Pamela...we might have understood.
The I’ve Still Got It Award- Emmitt Smith for showing those little whippersnappers that you can dance with the best of them, and still have it. You also have the best charisma of all of the celebrities left so keep shakin' it. And man, oh man. Mr. Smith can shake it.
The You're Making My Corneas Bleed Award – This is for anyone that has made us roll our eyes so much that our eyes are bleeding- so this goes to Peta for forgetting her clothes, Gilles for forgetting his clothes, Val for forgetting his clothes, and Derek for remembering his clothes but forgetting to put part of a Quickstep into the Quickstep and for putting that pesky little lift into the Rooomba.
The Zip It....Zip It Good Award- Gilles just doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut this season. He has taken over Twitter with his over competitive trash talking, his arguing with the pros choreographing the team dances, his over explaining of why he chose each person for the team dances, and his insisting that his Rumba, Cha Cha, Foxtrot - whatever it is - is like nothing ever done before. Gilles, you are not the humble, sweet, sexy man that you used to be and everyone else just wants to dance so please....zip it. Zip it good.
The They Sucked The Fun Out Of DWTS Award - The Brain Surgeon PTB that decided to eliminate Pamela, Joey, Drew, and Helio before anyone else. I mean, did y'all really intend to turn off people to the show this season right away or were you just too busy playing pimping assorted other couples.
The They Never Had A Chance Award - We'll admit it, we actually liked Bristol and Mark a lot better this time around but let's face it, they never had a chance. We knew it, the network knew it, and sadly I think that Mark knew it too. Too bad Bristol couldn't be more daring and let Mark choreograph a killer dance so they could go out with a bang. Runner-up: Tristan and Pamela. They didn’t have a chance, and we know it. From limited rehearsal time to being the lowest ranking celebrity of the group to idiotic judging which pushed the limited of orneriness, we say, “Boo Hiss.”
So there you go. We will have plenty more to say in another month when this fiasco of a season is finally all fiasco-ed out. We’ve had more than enough.
Don't let the title mislead you. When we decided to go in this direction for this week's blog, we figured that some of you might think we're gossiping, speculating, or stretching the truth to suit our own purposes. Not so fast, Ladies and Gentleman. This has nothing to do with the real world at all, nor does it have anything to do with gossip, speculating, or stretching anything. To be perfectly honest, we had no idea what we could write about until we saw Tristan and Kym dance together again last week, and then it hit us. Their performances parallel the progression of an evolving love story, so we figured we would interpret the performances the way that the story might be told. They have given us many magical performances on Dancing With the Stars so it was almost impossible to know where to begin. But never fear, we rarely run out of things to say, and this time was no different. We thought about it and thought about it and decided that the Tristan/Kym dance floor magic is so believable that they could create their own little version of a fairy tale. Sure it’s fiction and has nothing to do with real life so don’t even think about suggesting that we are spreading rumors because nothing is further from the truth. Of course it’s acting and theatre, but the chemistry makes this story and the plot development possible. When these two pros step onto the dance floor, they create passionate characters, the characters come to life, the story unfolds, and we feel as though we have known them forever. So in our own strange little way, we are going to tell you exactly what we think of the Tristan MacManus/Kym Johnson pro dances, what themes we think those dances convey, and how the defining moments make themselves felt in the most unexpected ways.
Like we said, it’s not real life. It’s fantasy, but isn’t that what dance is all about? It is an escape from reality and a form of creative and artistic expression. Ah, if only everyone could be as good as Tristan and Kym at telling a story.
When you see Tristan and Kym dance, you believe them. You're not just sitting there enjoying a performance, and you certainly never head off to the kitchen for snacks because you’re bored; you feel like you have a front row seat as they so beautifully get into character. Their chemistry is so solid that for a moment you forget that you are watching a carefully scripted play disguised as a choreographed performance via dance. It has all the elements of an unfolding drama – the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the conclusion. These kind of candid interludes could make the observer uncomfortable, but Tristan and Kym seem to beckon us with their natural warmth and invite us to witness their remarkable story from our front row seat.
Just one thing: It took us a while to think of all of the amazing dances that Tristan and Kym have performed in the past, so we enlisted a little help from the administrator of Kym’s twitter fan page (@KymJohnsonSite) and the Facebook community fan page. Be sure and follow her! She was a great help and our “unexpected research assistant.” Find her on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Unofficial-Kym-Johnson-Community/168249579904459?fref=ts
I don’t think any of us will ever forget the introduction to our own version of Prince Charming from Season 12's inaugural DWTS troupe. From the edgy prince in Dance to the Music to the charm the ladies prince in O Mio Babbino Caro we knew he was a regal gent. But it was in the summer of 2011 when many of us began to really stand up and take notice of the magical chemistry between Tristan and Kym when he traveled with her to perform at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh (July, 2011). With 2 very different dances – an edgy Cha Cha to Club Can’t Handle Me by Flo Rida and an extremely sensuous Rumba to Fallen by Lauren Hill - we saw Tristan demonstrate the recurring qualities of charm, chivalry, and the ability to win over an audience – okay, to win over hoards of women. It was Kym’s performance, and Tristan made sure she received the accolades, but we think all of us knew exactly who her partner was, and all of us knew the story they told. Tristan didn’t fade into the background; he, in fact, took over the dance without taking the attention away from Kym. A very telling beginning, we would say. In essence, this was the introduction to our story's plot – the beginning stages of the relationship, the building of trust, the stages of budding passion that set the tone for all future performances.
And on to Season 13 and beyond.
When Tristan became a pro, we knew it would be special, and what an introduction we had! In his first pro dance of Season 13, we found ourselves on the Edge of Glory. For real. It was jaw-droppingly hot. [yes, we made up the word ‘jaw-droppingly’ but nothing else seemed to fit]. From the silhouette at the top of the stairs until they stepped onto the ballroom floor, Tristan and Kym caught our eye (and not just because he’s our favorite pro and she’s stunning). It’s because they connect when they dance – as two great dancers and performers will do. In many cases, we see pros paired up to dance and yeah, they dance, and they dance brilliantly from a technical standpoint, but they very frequently don’t dance together in any believable sense. More often than not, there isn’t a spark of chemistry. Not in this case, however. This dance was a teaser of what was to come. It was one of the elements of the story’s rising action – the building up of events that lead to the turning point in the story (more about that later).
Later in Season 13, we saw what we had been missing when Kelly Clarkson belted out Mr. Know It All. Kelly wasn't kidding with her comments - talk about some real “Hell-llo…” This was our first big primetime glimpse into the chemical dancing powerhouse that is Tristan and Kym. It was also the first time that we got to see them get some serious solo time in the performance show arena. Of course let us not forget that Tristan really does seem to know it all. He knows how to seduce, how to captivate, and he knows how to sweep a woman off of her feet. We loved the passion, we loved the closeness, and we really loved those clinches. Yes, in this dance we feel that the Irish Mr. Know It All won the struggle, but it was an absolutely captivating struggle. Kelly said it best when she called the performance “distracting.” Wetpaint picked up on it immediately and titled their post “Kelly Clarkson Outshined By Tristan MacManus & Kym Johnson's Hot DWTS Dance”. We don’t know if Kelly was outshined because she has some powerful pipes and is a superb performer, but let’s just say that the chemistry between Tristan and Kym came close to causing a little spontaneous combustion. As Gina Carbone said, “Kelly Clarkson showed why the first American Idol is still number one, belting out two songs on the Dancing With the Stars Season 13, Week 5 Results Show. But even she was distracted by the hotness of pros Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus dancing to her new single “Mr. Know It All." To channel DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba, they were on "fiyahhhhh!" ‘
This was just another stage in the relationship – the storyline continued to build and grow, and the fictional romance continued to blossom.
And then there was the dark, edgy You Make Me Feel performance (along with Sonny and Sharna). That was mysterious, cutting-edge, a little intense (okay, a whole lot intense), and still sexy as sin. But it wasn’t sexy for the sake of being sexy; it was believable, and it was all about the action and reaction involved in real life drama. When Tristan and Kym dance, it is real, much as when you see two proficient actors on a stage. If those actors are good, you believe the story. Oh we believed, all right, and even the costumes played a big part in convincing us.
It’s funny how Kym is always costumed up in fringe, while in this dance Tristan gets to be the consummate bad boy, but the bad boy with a heart. Much as the costumes were a blend of contrasts, this dance was a mesh of all kinds of different dance styles. We'll just call it the HipHopFunkHipFunkHopContempGirateSambaJive (that’s because we don’t know any better). Maybe that's why the dance was so spectacular. Or perhaps it is because we got to see two dance purists (Tristan and Kym) really break out of their mold and do something completely unexpected. Sure this wasn’t their original choreography (we have Sharna to thank for that), but the right pros were chosen to dance to this super catchy song, and they did not disappoint. Tristan and Kym took a fast, modern, sexy dance, and still managed to inject their intimate chemistry into the mix. The result was a dance that the MacManiacs are still talking about and probably will be for a long time.
How does this dance play a role in our storybook romance? Easy. It showed the conflict, the drama, the action and reaction (this can't be stressed too many times!), the push and the pull – all of the things that make a story real. After all, what is a good story without conflict? It’s bland, boring, tedious, and sleep-inducing. Not with these two. The drama took over in this performance, and the darkness and the edginess of the performance stirred things up and left us wanting more from the work of two brilliant screenwriters (or two brilliant performers).
To our disappointment, we didn’t see Tristan and Kym dance together much in Season 14, but there was part of that season ending pro dance where he began with Anna and danced not nearly enough with Kym in It’s all About Tonight. Too bad because what we saw was electric! Maybe there was a hiatus in this storybook romance. Yep, it imitates real life.
May, 2012 gave us a special treat when we saw Tristan and Kym dancing and choreographing for the new DWTS online game, “Keep Dancing.” Those two can even make the different and the unusual feel exciting, and while they laughed in the shooting breaks, once they danced, we were enveloped by their connection and became part of that dance too. It’s the beginning of Part 2 of the story.
On to the summer of 2012 – from the New York Red Cross Ball where Tristan and Kym danced the Viennese Waltz to the stirring lyrics of A Thousand Years by Christina Perri – “Hearts beat fast, colors and promises…..” Then the Rumba which took us back to Pittsburgh (Fallen by Lauren Wood) and finally the Paso Doble to Beyonce’s End of Time (a completely different result than when Tristan danced a Samba to the same music with Chelsie Hightower in Design A Dance in Season 14). They repeated those same dances a few days later in Florida, but one thing is clear – each time they dance together we are fully aware of their connection, their intensity, and their sensuality. Each dance became a progression in the developing story, and each was more passionate than the previous one.
And then we got to Season 15, and all we could think of to say was, “They’re baaaaack!” In that sexy, smoldering, sensual opening sequence to I Want To Dance With Somebody, Tristan and Kym not only set the mood for the dance, they became the focus of the dance. Magic? You bet. They were charming, believable, and, uh, erotic. Yes, we said it. The underlying emotion was pretty clear. They did exactly what they were supposed to do; they drew in the audience and captivated each and every one of us. From beginning to end, we fell a little more in love with this special dance team. And they are still building the story and enhancing the storyline.
We saved the best for last. They just keep getting better and better, and that was obvious in the dance on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 during the Week 4 (Season 15) Results Show of Dancing With the Stars. As they danced to This Is the Moment we knew that they would always be force to be reckoned with. The LA Times said it best: “Tristan MacManus and Kym Johnson played the part of star-crossed lovers on the dance floor.”
Playing the role is what Kym and Tristan do best, and they play it convincingly. From start to finish, no matter what the music or the song, they weave their own magical spell over us and take dance performance to a new level. Well done, Tristan and Kym. We can’t wait for the next installment, because they haven’t even reached the pinnacle of this developing plot. By keeping us wanting more and never quite finishing the story, we may never have the falling action or a conclusion. It just keeps building and building and building and getting better and better….just like any great story.
In case you missed any of these great performances? Here you go.
Consol energy center Flo Rida featuring David Guetta “Club Can’t Handle Me”
Lauren Wood "Fallen" Rumba
“Edge of Glory”
‘You Make Me Feel”
DWTS online game “Keep Dancing” footage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-cDZmwEfD4&feature=plcp&list=PLED2D85023E59D307 New York Red Cross Ball
“You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”
"This Is the Moment"
Thanks to Tristan for once again being so generous with his time and for answering our questions. Please feel free to leave comments below or on the forum thread.
Obviously your season with Pamela ended much sooner than you would have liked, but sometimes things happen for a reason. What is something that you have learned from this experience?
There is a lot to be learned from every situation. What I take from this season is that sometimes your first story is your last, and you have to fully commit to what you are doing, and I think that is what we did. We had a particular angle that we wanted to go with our dance and although it may not have fit into this particular situation (the show), it was still something we wanted to do and something we wanted to tell. People have suggested that it was uncomfortable to watch at times, but again that is a situation that occurred for this particular person - it wasn’t nice,but it happened. A fake slap, a throw around, a rough interaction, a love-hate, sensitive yet volatile relationship. People say I didn’t look happy and was angry but that was the character that I played in that scenario. Opinions aren’t facts and that is why I respect people’s views on what we did; the performance didn’t suit the occasion but it was a story we wanted to tell regardless. If the competition and trophy were the goal, then we would have gone a different route but this was a story that Pam didn’t get to tell her first go around so that was what was most important. It still takes a lot of guts to perform something when you haven’t put the time in and technique was limited as was our time. We didn’t wanna leave but the experience will stay with me, and although the result was disappointing I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. My role, whether a week or ten weeks, was to help someone learn and enjoy themselves, and I can be proud that I tried.
Continuing along those same lines, we all loved your “You Know I’m No Good” Cha Cha and the very emotional story that you told so well. Is it difficult to find the balance between creating the story with appropriate choreography and just doing what you think everyone wants to see?
Definitely there is a balance in finding what people want to see and staying true to what you are doing. We had a story that didn’t play out how we wanted it to, but all you can do is try. We weren’t as good as everyone else but I enjoyed taking a different route, and I’m glad that we went a different route. Another week it may have been received differently, but it wasn’t to be this time around. As a whole it didn’t come across great, but Carrie Anne felt as a performance it told a lot and that’s what we wanted to do - not in relation to what anybody else did but to what we wanted. I’m sorry the experience didn’t last longer as we had a lot of ideas and stories that we will try tell in our own time.
In a week where teams on DWTS are choosing a previous performance to re-create, is there one dance that stands out in your mind that you would like to bring back and add your own spin to?
There were a few songs that have been used before that I’d have liked to use but I think it’s difficult to compare to what it was before if that makes sense. These are new ideas that people are gonna try to do; if it’s a variation of what’s been done, what’s the point? I think all the performances are gonna be different than before so they need to be viewed as new dances and not compared to the previous ones because they are all new perspectives. If people were gonna do the same routines as before it’s easier to judge, but they aren’t, so to me it’s just like any other week that I’m looking forward to.
You have danced so many wonderful pro dances in your seasons on Dancing With the Stars. Do you have a personal favorite?
I don’t have any favourites to be honest. I enjoyed them all! I love dancing with Kym and Peta so those performances stand out a bit, and Karina when we did our waltz…. I’d have liked that to have been longer but I think those are my favourite dances - Waltzes and Rumbas. I like dancing to other people’s choreography because the dancers on the show are so talented and have different styles to what I’m used to so learning from them is great.
Similarly, in your seasons as a pro, you have choreographed some amazing dances with Nancy, Gladys, and Pamela that tell some incredible stories. Of all the dances you have choreographed for your celebrity partners, do you have a few that stand out as favorites?
I enjoyed my Tango with Nancy because she enjoyed it so much, and Gladys looked so happy doing her Cha Cha that it’s hard to not enjoy yourself. I loved the Rumba because it was so good to have the Temptations sing and the occasion itself for me was unreal. I got to sing in rehearsals with Gladys and Bubba that week so I’ll remember that one, and I really enjoyed how different our Cha Cha with Pamela was. The time spent with my partners has been the most enjoyable times for me!
What do you see as some of the challenges of being a pro on Dancing With the Stars?
The most challenging part as a pro is the whole process of everything. There is so much that goes into the show and what you get judged on is the final product. It’s the way of the world; all your work is judged on the dance and the video packages which don’t always tell the full story. So once you can walk away and say that you met somebody and made them smile each day even once - that is the most rewarding part. The criticisms and strong opinions of others are just what you deal with. HaHa! Ideas sometimes need to be diluted to fit into what’s needed and that can be frustrating, but it’s a small price to pay for the enjoyment I get out of doing it.
I'm sure you have aspirations and goals beyond Dancing With the Stars, and you've mentioned Broadway a couple of times. Do you have favorite Broadway shows that you especially enjoy, and are there any potential roles that intrigue you?
I love Broadway, yeah, and I would love to do something in the future. Jersey Boys is my favourite show and I love Once. I don’t necessarily see a role in them for me although I’d love to give it a go. I need to understand though that there are people who have dedicated all their lives to being in those and other Broadway shows, so it would be a disservice to those people to just waltz in and take a role because I may have had more coverage than them. I think theatre and film and tv are very tough to do, and I think we need to appreciate all the work that people go through to get that opportunity. There are so many talented people in every walk of life that don’t get to showcase their talents. My interests come from things that intrigue people and things that people get enjoyment out of doing regardless of the reviews and accolades - those are the people who inspire me.
Music is a huge part of your life, and we hear that you love all kinds of music. What groups and/or performers are your favorites and what is on your current playlist?
I love traditional music- particularly Irish but I don’t know it all and get stumped when people sometimes ask me about artists who I probably should know but don’t - ha! I have a very eclectic taste in music. I like it all because I appreciate the art. I am super unco when it comes to instruments but I’d love to be able to play. I just love to hear people play and can’t praise singer-songwriters enough. I love lyrics and songs more than musicians. No matter who your favourite singer or band is they will always have some song that you just don’t like for whatever reason, but it doesn’t make them any worse. It’s the same as us dancers - not everyone will enjoy what you do all the time.
What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to be a professional dancer?
I’m not really one for giving advice to people, but no matter what it is you do, love it and give it your all. Don’t be afraid to try something new because it’s the people who aren’t afraid to try that get the rewards or sometimes it just inspires others to. Your mind is your best weapon so use it.
Do you have any interest in ever opening your own studio? If so, where do you see it happening?
I’d like to own a studio, I guess at some stage. I enjoy teaching, but I want to experience and explore a lot of other things while I can. I’m not done moving around yet, but I’m lucky enough to get a chance to teach in other studios at the minute, so it works for me.
You are involved with a wonderful charity, Grassroot Soccer, and your supporters have happily endorsed your work with DublinDown330 to help such a great cause. How did you become involved with this charity, and what are your plans going forward?
I was approached to be a part of this great charity and enjoy giving as much as I can to it. I like to help where I can, and if I can raise money for people by doing something I enjoy then it’s a no brainer. I can’t help with every charity but this was one that gave me an opportunity so I’m going with it. Giving a lesson here and there and setting up events to meet people and answer a few questions is very little to do for the donations that this cause collects and how much it helps
We are all very excited about your fund-raiser in New Jersey in January. Is there anything you would like to say to all of us who plan to attend (or thinking about attending)?
Well, just to the people who plan on attending, thank you. You are donating to a great cause and the people benefitting from it are very appreciative as am I. All proceeds go to the charity so every little helps and remember that you are playing a big part in helping a lot of people.
Lots of people on the site ask about your knee. How is the recovery going?
My knee is ok. I still have a lot of pain in it but I’m still working on getting better. It’s just part and parcel of being a dancer, I guess. There are people in a worse off situation then me so I’ll keep going. If I can walk, I can dance - ice goes along long way. HaHa!
What are your plans for the DWTS off-season? Last spring and summer you were busy with DWTS Las Vegas along with many special appearances. Should we expect more of the same this winter?
My plans change daily to be honest. I have a few projects I’m working on, and hopefully that will open doors for other things. I have a few lessons to teach and a contest winner to go visit and teach, and then I look forward to going home for a wee bit and seeing my family and friends - hopefully fit in a holiday. I’m open to whatever may happen I live day to day and see what comes up.
Any words of wisdom for us?
Everyday is the start of something special. Every action causes a reaction so you have two choices.
No, we are not talking about the stuff that David Copperfield and David Blaine pull off, although the illusionist comparison might be appropriate. We’re talking about the Tristan MacManus kind of magic – the forces that have yielded more than 220,000 forum views on this website alone, the forces that somehow convince adults to go to amazing lengths to vote excessively when this man is on DWTS, the forces that have us talking dance (particularly Tristan dance) for hours on end, and the forces that inspire us (SWAT and Shakes) to take fictional road trips in the pursuit of mysterious dance lessons and tiramisu. Whatever it is, it’s powerful stuff. Case in point…
*Immediately after Tristan showed up as a troupe member in Season 12, our eyebrows raised simultaneously, our heart rates accelerated just a little (okay, a lot), and we started to get a little giddy when the word was out that “Tristan” was dancing. Then when the Season 13 cast list was revealed? Did you catch the ABC message boards then? It was 100% non-stop craziness that escalated to the point that he had to have a fan site where his super-de-dooper supporters could come to talk all things Tristan. Thus, you have the beginning of MacManiacs.org, MacManiacism, MacManiacs Anonymous, and MacManiac Dungeon and Gutter Dwellers.
*Let’s back up to Week 1 Season 13. Remember the boyfriend suspenders? We were convinced they were magical, with all kinds of powers infused in their stretchiness. Remember the Rumba with Kym? We all fell a little bit in love with Mr. MacManus. Remember the Bickersons and the way that week after week Tristan and Nancy made it fun to watch a show that, let’s face it, was becoming dull and insipid? It’s magic, we tell you. Pure magic. It was as if the huge, dark cloud that had been hovering over Dancing With the Stars for the past few seasons lifted, and we were gifted with a magnificent rainbow. Probably with a pot of gold at the end of it, too.
*But it got better. In Season 14, Tristan became the star. He rumba-ed with Peta and waltzed with Karina, tugging a little at our heart strings along the way. Week after week he gave a performance clinic when he danced with Gladys – whether it was the Cha Cha or Samba. And the Samba with Chelsie? Extraordinary. As always, Tristan showcased his partner, but believe us, there was plenty of Tristan brilliance in that dance. It was deliciously deceptive and crammed full of complex skills but so smooth that it was breathtaking. Some called it magic. There’s that word again.
*Season 15. Short and bittersweet. In a season of “All-Stars” it was going to be difficult to stand out, yet somehow Tristan managed to weave his magical spell over us and give us something innovative and exciting to remember for a long time.
The critics were harsh, and some criticism was warranted, but much was not. Team Pamela may not have had the most technically outstanding performance, yet it was not bad, and it was better than others. When the scoring was low (particularly in comparison to others), we knew that we could have had 10,000,000 people voting for 14 hours straight, and it wouldn’t have mattered. We’ve seen it before, but that blog will have to wait for another time. Back to the critics. We heard “the audience didn’t like it.” Looked like they did to me. We heard “the fans didn’t like it.” Says who? The ones who wanted fun and flirty and instead got a performance dictated by the music? We heard that people wanted something light and sassy and full of happy faces. Now think about that. When you hear the music of Amy Winehouse do you think “fun and flirty?” Ever? Had Tristan choreographed such a routine with smiling faces, laughing eyes, and happy feet, we would have seen judging annihilation. This was a no-win situation, yet somehow Tristan and Pamela managed to do the impossible. Tristan took the music and created a story based on the lyrics of the song. The song is dark, unsettling, and edgy. So was the choreography, but it was perfectly appropriate to the music. We have to think that had any number of pros had the guts and insight to choreograph based on these lyrics and do it so perfectly well, he or she would have been praised as been innovative and cutting-edge. But for some reason that didn’t happen. Sure, Tristan and Pamela were praised for their characterization, but what we didn’t hear praise for was the pure artistry, the intensity, the emotion, and innovation, and yes, the magic. There isn’t another team in Season 15 that has the kind of chemistry and passion that Tristan and Pamela have, and unfortunately that will not bode well for the season. In a season of lukewarm performances during Week 1 (with perhaps a couple of possible exceptions), the writing just might be on the wall. Without the magic of Tristan and Pamela and particularly Mr. MacManus, well, how much will we be able to watch? Personally, we found Week 1 to be boring with 2 exceptions – and one of those was Team Pamela. We even went on record immediately after the show as saying it was the worst season premiere ever. It was just flat out boring and painful to watch. Week 2 was barely lukewarm unfortunately because the magic was missing.
The season is a mixed up mess and not even a hot mess. With original pairs, unoriginal pairs, illogically-matched pairs, and pairs paired for the pimping process, it’s not nearly living up to the hype. And let’s face it, the magic from Season 15 is now gone. Yawn. Is “The Voice” still on on Monday night? Okay, so maybe we will still watch DWTS and complain.
Magic, dark magic, black magic, magician style magic, or Tristan MacManus style magic. It’s all that, and it’s also defined the Shakes and Swat way: something inexplicable, something mystifying, enchanting, enthralling, and at times, bewildering, confusing and confounding. It’s all part of that magical aura that surrounds our favorite ballroom dancer, and why we keep coming back for more. And always will. It might be the magical suspenders, the magic Cuban heels, or maybe the black hoodie magic that made all of us melt into puddles of goo. Our guess is that it’s the magical Samba rolls; let’s hope we get to see plenty more of those because you want to get that heart rate pumping? It’s better than 30 minutes of aerobics. Watching Tristan Samba is all that. In fact, watching Tristan dance is all that. And more.