This is a match made in Ireland – or in Strictly Come Dancing heaven, if you will. When the pros and celebrities were paired up on Sunday night's launch show, Tristan’s reaction and Jennifer’s reaction were even better than we could have hoped, and we are probably more excited than they are about what lies ahead, and there are plenty of reasons for that excitement. Read on....
1. Certainly it’s not the only reason to pair them up, and it’s not the biggest reason, but Tristan and Jennifer have a lot in common, a lot to talk about, and a potential long-term friendship in the works. He’s from Ireland, she’s from Ireland, and their respective senses of humor are going to make SCD wish they had thought of this years ago. It’s pure genius, we say.
2. Tristan has always told us that his ideal partner would be someone who wants to learn. He has that. Jennifer said herself that she is embracing every single part of the Strictly Come Dancing experience – the training, the clothes, the makeup, the laughter, the tears….and Tristan’s experience with a very diverse group of celebrity entertainers during his seasons on Dancing With the Stars makes it brilliant because he always makes sure the celebrity enjoys the experience every step of the way. Like we usually do, we drew upon our many interviews with Tristan to explain. He might have been talking DWTS when he said this but it applies nonetheless in this case. “Any given season is that person’s only experience of the show outside of being a viewer and fan, so I want to make it as enjoyable as possible.”
3. Jennifer said that her goal in the SCD experience was to have fun. Oh man, she has the right partner for that. First of all, the DWTS pros said that Tristan MacManus was the funniest pro on the show. Add that to the fact that his past partners loved him because he made things about them and not about himself or overdancing or anything else. We asked him if he had to choose between a celebrity partner who already has quite a bit of dance training and/or experience or a celebrity partner who has little or no dance training and/or experience, his response was what you would expect from him. “If I could choose a partner, anything dance would be the last thing that came into it. If they had a lifetime of ballroom dance experience, and I didn’t like them, I couldn’t think of anyone worse to spend all that time with. I would choose someone with little to none but with a brain of their own and a personality of their own every day of the week – breakfast, lunch and dinner!!”
4. The obvious. Jennifer already has a little endorsement, or at least a recognition of something unique. On the launch show, Darcey was asked about posture and which celebrity she thought might potentially have what it takes to dance beautifully. It was Jennifer. Darcey said that Jennifer has "great poise, a lovely long back so she can really show it off." That’s a great start, and Tristan is the perfect pro to take that advantage and make sure it stands out in their routines.
5. Tristan can laugh at himself and has said to us many times that he loves to laugh. Considering Jenny’s chosen profession, we suspect the same holds true for her. A great sense of humor and the ability to laugh at oneself are, in our opinion, the best catalysts for a successful partnership, and we imagine we will hear great stories. One of our favorite Tristan anecdotes involved his embarrassing moments as a professional dancer. He had previously told us about split pants while dancing and the “Farmer MacManus” story which involved Sasha Farber and Damian Whitewood tucking his socks into his trousers during a Burn the Floor performances, and we were hungry for more. Here is what he said:
“I did a show before - Emma [Slater] was in it as well at the time, and all the lads had a dance with a bunch of half mannequins. The top half was a mannequin and bottom half was like a stand on wheels so we would dance around with these dolls all side by side, but we were all dossing around a bit before we had to go on, so the first lad missed the music cue so we all had to rush on and my mannequin popped off the stand just as I got on stage, so I had to do the whole dance carrying half a mannequin and instead of rolling it between partners, we had to throw the feckin’ thing from partner to partner. It was like a Monty Python sketch.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg – he always has great stories and we always get lots of laughs from them, and when you put him in the rehearsal studio with Jennifer, we might have enough material to write a book.
6. Speaking of laughing, we asked Tristan about what type of film or television show he would most be interested in appearing on if given the opportunity, and his immediate answer was “comedy – always.” Another thing in common...
7. Tristan will appreciate that Jennifer took the leap of faith and decided to embrace the SCD experience. She has already said everything Tristan says below, just using different words.
“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.”
8. He will do everything he can to not only teach but he will make Jennifer’s experience as enjoyable as possible. He has a plan that works.
“Getting to know them [the celebrity partners] is the only way. Production and competition cause things to wander in a certain way, and you potentially end up doing things to win or to get an upper hand. I like to know my partners and try to relate everything to them as opposed to relating it to dancing and techniques and what not. I want them to get better, but I want them to get better by understanding what they are doing - why I like to dance and not about what 'makes me a dancer'. I never concentrated on technique when I went back to dancing. I know it’s very important, but at the same time if I know what I am doing storywise is right or wrong, I will always lean that way before technical.”
9. Tristan always creates a story for every performance, and his system will create some storyline magic on this SCD journey. Jennifer has acting skills to make the story work, and Tristan will make sure it works to their advantage. “I never come up with a concept before I meet my partner. I always have ideas and songs that I want to use, but if they don’t suit our partnership then it’s hard to make them happen! I get to know my partner, and once I hear the song, I either relate it to them or I will come up with an idea that I think they can relate to or can imagine. I try to use word association at certain times to remind steps and feelings. I think when you know your story or know your character then if you forget stepwise what you are doing you won’t lose the character. Some find that comforting; some just forget that too. Haha!”
10. Shallow reason – they are both gorgeous. Enough said.
These are just a few reasons why Tristan MacManus and Jennifer Gibney will work. They are already a team and no matter what name they come up with – Team Ireland, Team Irish, Team Jennistan, Team MacGibney, Team Craic, Team Irish Charm, Team Jennifer, Team Jennifer and Tristan, or a new favorite, Team Don'tMessWithTheIrish. Regardless of the name you give to this duo, they already have massive support pouring in, and we're a little giddy thinking about it all.