From October, 2014
***Tristan took some time out of his crazy schedule today to take more of your questions. He talks about his experiences so far with Strictly Come Dancing, working with his partner, Jennifer Gibney, training, and lots more.***
How has the Strictly Come Dancing experience been so far?
It’s been great, yeah. I love it here. All the celebs and pros seem to be on the same page and I’m loving the atmosphere around the place at the weekends and of course at rehearsals during the week.
We understand that you have been training with Jennifer back in Ireland. Assuming you remain in the competition, will you be going back and forth each week?
Yeah, we have been traveling a bit. Jen goes back to Ireland on the Sunday, and I leave Monday after our pro rehearsal in the morning then back Wednesday night. Assuming we stay in the next two weeks, we will be going to Glasgow, Scotland for the recording of Mrs. Brown's Boys so I get to go to Scotland for the first time so I’m buzzing about that. The first two weeks were full on because I had to fly to Ireland for two days and then back to London for two days then back to Ireland but now the show has started it’s just the two flights a week.
Jennifer seems like a very willing dance student. At this point, what do you see as her strengths?
Yeah, she is. She has a lot of strengths. She listens and can visualize things and works on it by herself which I think shows a great attitude. There are always struggles when you try to incorporate 'technique' into natural movements but we are working on not trying to change everything all at the same time so it’s great to see when she lets herself relax. You can see the confidence growing when those moments happen. It’s just getting the consistency now.
You’ve danced the Jive with Jennifer and next up is the Waltz, but is there one dance in particular that you hope to get to perform with her?
No, not at this stage. The next dance is always the most important one. For sure I have some concepts for dances which I’d like us to do but for now it’s just one week at a time and we aren't looking beyond that. There are no dances I’m worried about doing though. I know Jive is always a tough dance but we loved doing that one and we are aware that every dance is difficult and easy in its own way.
Speaking of the Waltz, for those of us who are novices, how do you begin the teaching process and what particular things do you look for to make sure it’s done properly?
The process is different for everyone but for me musicality is one of the major issues - to get the flow and graceful movements that complement the music. I guess a lot of people have the same issues in not having a rigid frame. To get any dance you need to relax first off and let your body move. Working on the controlled transfer of your weight from foot to foot I find is a big, big help (balance). People tend to rush Waltz because when you have slower dances you have more time to think 'I'm here too long I must be wrong’!
Obviously a lot of things are done differently on SCD than on DWTS, but is there anything that has been a difficult adjustment and conversely, is there something about it that you especially enjoy?
There aren't too many differences really but the differences aren't issues. I am travelling all the time so I won't be around to see what’s different. We don't all rehearse in the same studios. Everyone is separate here. In America it's generally just the people touring that don't get to rehearse with the group. Over here we learn all the season’s group numbers before we start with celebs and then recap them first day of the week. All the pros share a dressing room here which is cool. We have the weekly It Takes Two which plays the recaps of the show and talks with the couples about the experience. We don't produce as many conversations here which is great for me because I hate that. The celebs do their own interviews where they are asked about their time. I don't have to start every week with a video of explaining what song we have and what went wrong last week – haha. I can just have those conversations between the two of us. Generally the show is run the same way though all the crew are great and everybody knows everybody. We all have a green room where we hang out on show days before the show starts so you are always around as a group which I like a lot. There is a feeling that everyone is in it together.
Finally, we’re hoping for a London Pike story. How is he adapting, is he making some furry friends, and does he like the change?
Pikey loves it here. He is getting his personality change now. He wants to be friends with everyone which is great. He goes through bones and toys like no one’s business - always hungry, always in our face. He hates getting washed so he tries to hide when he knows the bath is coming. We put him in the groomers and they said he was a 'naughty customer'. I was very proud – haha! He knows exactly what he is doing but he has started doing a weird thing when he gets to the park. He just keeps sprinting in small circles around us and he loves playing catch with himself until he gets bored and then we have to fetch!!
From September, 2014...
We loved your interview on “Freshly Squeezed” on East Coast FM from Bray on Tuesday and thanks for the updates. You mentioned that Jennifer is away and that you will begin rehearsing together on Monday. Do you know your first dance yet and are you getting any time this week to enjoy a bit more of London?
Yeah, I know the first dance and have been trying to finalize how it’s going to go, but again a lot will depend on when we start and also there is a much tighter 'what you can and can't do' in terms of concepts and things here. That’s been a little tricky so far so a lot of compromising will be done I reckon before we get where we want to be.
I’m seeing a lot here for sure, yes but that’s mainly to give my head a break from all the planning and of course to have family time. Rehearsals will start after the weekend and that’s always an unknown as to how it’s gonna go and how much time you spend there but it’s exciting and I’m really enjoying my time here. It’s nice going to work with a smile.
Your partner, Jennifer Gibney, seems like the perfect celebrity for you for many reasons – the sense of humor and the fact that she really wants to learn among those reasons. You have had a bit of time to get to know each other already through group rehearsals, so what are your impressions of her so far?
Yeah, we got to talk to each other a fair bit since the unveiling and then the launch show but honestly I didn't talk once about dancing or the show or what the plans are. We just talked about our families and getting to know each other. Jennifer is a gem. I already have a lot of time for her and her values and I’ve no doubt I will enjoy our time together and our families. Jennifer knows exactly who she is which I think is very important and which sometimes is lost when people are chasing something. This is a major, major thing for me and one which excites me because when you know who you are there is no pretense. You know that you can laugh at yourself because you aren't afraid of what anyone else thinks. I love how her family works together and the balance of fun and work and perspective is what I like surrounding myself with.
What are your impressions of the cast? Did you get to know a lot of the celebrities during the early rehearsals?
The cast are super, yeah. Obviously some I talked to more than others which is always the case. Everyone was meeting each other for the first time, and it started with a group number so there was immediately a sense of togetherness that a team was working together. There are some great big personalities but also quieter people who can hold their own and are very interesting. The cast seem to cover all the bases of personalities and nobody seems to be defined by what they do. There is a lot of good dancing and a lot of very endearing characters so I hope the audience will really enjoy this season.
We once asked you about whom you thought was the funniest pro on DWTS and you didn’t hesitate in telling us it was Sasha Farber. This group on Strictly Come Dancing seems to love to have a great time, so which SCD pros get you laughing on a regular basis?
There are a few for different reasons I guess - I get good banter from Anton daily and Ali is a funny bloke a bit like Sash. Same humor so he is good craic to be around but the rest are all good company. Iveta is great fun. I’ve been around her for a while now with the Vegas show and the cruises so I have a lot of time for her and Aliona is married into Irish so she is a funny one.
Finally, you must be very proud of Tahyna’s film, OREN. We got a sneak preview of it in the trailer (nice to see you in that as well). As you watched that come together from Tahyna’s vision to a Kickstarter campaign into a finished film, what particularly impressed you about the project?
Yeah of course. t’s great to see the reaction being positive. I’m proud of the fact that she had an idea and worked her ass off to make it happen and that through difficult ups and downs and differences of opinions she stuck to it and stuck to her visions and convictions and made a film she wanted to make and how she brought a group of friends together and made it happen. The end product was most impressive, I think. I’m not too familiar with the usual process but for how it looked and how much impact it had to the audience, for the amount of time it took, for the amount of work that went in, for the amount of pride the actors felt, to the amount of satisfaction we got, for now the amount of festivals that are approaching her, that gives me great pride and I can't wait for the next project(s) to come out, which of course being Tahyna are already underway!!
Admin. Note: For more on Tahyna Tozzi-MacManus's film, OREN, go to our Special Feature page which includes our interviews with Tahyna, her blog posts, and photos. http://www.macmaniacs.org/special-feature.html
To view the OREN trailer:
From August 30, 2014...
Tristan's schedule the last few weeks has been almost non-stop. After 4 weeks of DWTS: At Sea cruises on Holland America, he then did the performances with Gladys Knight at the Hollywood Bowl before going to Canada for 12 shows in 8 days in Dance Temptation. From there, he flew to London where he is now catching up with pro rehearsals for Strictly Come Dancing. Tristan took time on Saturday, August 30 to answer a few questions for us, and we can't thank him enough.
You’ve been rehearsing with the rest of the Strictly Come Dancing pros for about a week. How is that going?
It’s been super - really, really fun - full on for sure. Myself and Trent had a lot to catch up on but everyone has been spot on with us. I couldn't have been helped any more to get settled. The pros are solid. I have been really made feel at home straight away, and the pros I never met before have treated me like I’ve known them for years so I’m really happy to be here and already feel very much at home with the cast. It’s just a very positive environment to be in, and everyone is very genuine and excited about the new season.
You’ve danced before with many of the SCD pros. How has it been catching up with them and since we love a good story, have there been any funny moments so far that you can share? If not a funny story, any story will do – we aren’t particular.
Yeah, I have worked with the majority of the dancers before so we have been catching up on old times and what not. There hasn't been too much messing around just yet to be honest. We had a lot to learn this week so everyone has been making sure we get our melons around that first but it’s a good bunch with a great sense of humor so I can see us having the craic once we get going. Myself and Trent people keep mixing up so I reckon if I get in any trouble I’ll be using that name a lot more than my own!
Obviously it’s a new experience, but after six seasons on Dancing With the Stars and now on to Strictly Come Dancing is there anything that stands out for you as being particularly different, challenging or unusual or is it just business as usual?
Well, so far it’s all been new, yeah. I’ve made a conscious decision to make sure I'm not comparing anything because it’s all very different and the circumstances don't match up so it’s no use. It’s very much about the celebs here so far which is the way it should be. We all learn a routine together before the pairs are even announced so it’s great to get to meet everyone at the get go, and there is no motive of grabbing the one you want - haha. There are some great personalities here this year. I can't compare with any previous seasons but everything is very positive and there is no competitiveness just yet which is refreshing. I'm sure it may change next week - haha - but at the minute it’s actually just nice to sit in a room and not 'talk shop'.
You probably haven’t had much free time, but have you had a chance to reacquaint yourself with London at all? You always have good Pike stories – how is he liking London?
No, not just yet. It’s pretty much been studio and bed. It’s difficult with the amount of hours I’m working at the minute so making sure I get family time each night and go do something together and get to play with Pikey as well has been all we have had time for. My sister came over for a few days now as well so not too much getting around at the minute. I was full of booze all the time I lived here last so it’s gonna be nice to take it all in this time round.
We record the launch show this week and then we should know the plan of what’s gonna happen and then we will make sure we make the most of our time here. Pikey loves it here though he won't leave us be. When I finally get home he sits on us all the time and just wants to be included in everything but he is walking up to make friends with any animal he sees which is a change because before now he has been scared of everything. We forget he is still a pup.
The launch show tapes this week and airs on Sunday, September 7, and that is when you will find out who your celebrity partner will be. Are you looking forward to this new format? (not just for the launch show necessarily but for the show overall).
Looking forward to the launch show, yeah. It’s different but I think it’s a great idea. We get to rehearse and hang around with everyone at the beginning which is nice because it may be the only time we can. In Hollywood we have the studios where four to five couples rehearse together daily or at least in the same building where as here it is pretty separate which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it’s just the first major difference so it’s nice I think for people at the start. As well with it being a launch 'show' and not just an unveiling it gives the celebs a look into how it will be once they actually start the show because they have worked with the pros together to learn a routine and see how the live show works and going from studio to live studio and having an audience before the 'competition' starts. We have met a few people from each department already as well so wardrobe and hair/make-up seem like a great bunch, and I love the banter and humor here. It’s a lot more relaxed and offensive here – hahaha! I love it!
From August, 2014...
Tristan took more of your questions after beginning rehearsals at Niagara Falls, Canada for Dance Temptation. Enjoy!
We loved all the photos coming our way of you doing a little dancing with Gladys at the Hollywood Bowl. Would you tell us about the performance and how the group of you, Sasha, Henry, and Artem came together for these shows? Did you fly back a couple of days early from the DWTS: At Sea cruise?
Yeah, it was wild - really fun. Gladys had contacted me a few weeks back to choreograph a few numbers which I was obviously delighted to do but I had very little time with my schedule to put much together for us so we just did a wee bit from our Cha-Cha and then Farbs put some moves together for the guys, and we got Artem and Henry involved. It was amazing. I had never been to the Bowl before so it was a perfect way to say goodbye to LA. We did the show Friday and Saturday and then I went again last night [Sunday, August 10] to watch Glen Hansard play so I spent my last three nights dancing and watching shows in the Hollywood Bowl.
17,500 people at the Hollywood Bowl and Kool And The Gang played as well so they were great nights, and a super band called The Head And The Heart played Sunday.
You’ve been on the DWTS At Sea cruises the last couple of weeks. Were there any changes in the show this time around? What numbers were you a part of?
The show was a wee bit longer this time because we had Emma and Kym on board so for me it was just different partners for certain numbers. I danced to “Johnny B Goode” with Ems and Sabrina and then “Sing Sing Sing” and went back in the show with Sabrina (Paso, Cha Cha again), Foxtrot with Ems, “Vogue” with Carson - mostly the usual but I guess I did every second dance on this run so it kept me busy!!
Also, there are still 2 more cruises later this year and you are still listed as a performer. Since you will be on Strictly Come Dancing this fall, will you still be part of the cruises or is that tentative at this point?
I won't be a part of the cruises, no. We will still be recording Strictly, which is a shame but I think for longevity of the show it’s best that I don't do them all anyway. It’s great for me to be on it all the time, and the cast is the best. I love working with them all but I think when you want to keep a show running it needs either a shake up in the show run or a shake up in the cast so maybe in the future who knows, but not before the end of the year I wouldn't imagine but stranger things have happened - ha!
Emma posted a short Instagram video of you back at the Lumberjack Show in Alaska. You mentioned in our last interview how much you enjoyed it. What is it that you like so much? (It seems like great fun)
I just do. It’s funny. The crowds love it and get really into it (well, at least me and Brent [Borbon] do!!). It’s just great. Like medieval times you go hard or go home – haha. The challenges they do in it are very entertaining and I’d love to give it a go but it’s just entertaining - easy to watch, always have a laugh, and you can scream your lungs off for an hour and a half.
Well, the fan page hit 15,000 likes this week, and a lot of people are looking forward to your debut on Strictly Come Dancing. You’ll be jumping right in after Dance Temptation but it is an exciting time. How hard is it to “catch up” with something like learning the group performances for Dance Temptation and in catching up on the SCD pro performances which begin rehearsals next week?
Things are hectic at the minute for sure. A lot is changing and there are a lot of things to organize with very little time so it’s been difficult playing catch up for the last few months but sure there were so many times when I had nothing to catch up on so I’ll kick on while it lasts. It’s difficult having five or six different shows running in your head and trying to remember the right one when you come in to a new cast already behind so it’s not ideal. But I’m very grateful to be getting offers right now that I have been working hard for. It will all come together and then when I finally get some down time I will take it. I’m in Niagara Falls now. I was in Alaska last week and then the Hollywood Bowl and next I’m going to London. Sure what do I have to be complaining about! There is no formula really to catch up. I’m trying to get some sleep for now – that’s the biggest thing. If I’m mentally tired I’m just not there. I can work through being physically tired to a point but when my mind shuts off I’m finished.
The cast of Dance Temptation is unreal so it’s great to try fit into something like that when everyone else is so on it.
A few favorites/quick answers
Funniest thing that happened this summer on DWTS: At Sea
What happens at sea stays at sea – haha! We always have great fun on the cruise. Like I said, the cast is amazing, everyone is genuinely sound, and I get on with every one of them which is rare in a company so I couldn't speak any more highly of the cruise. We laughed every day so I couldn't pick.
Favorite city you’ve visited this year
For sure, Sydney. I just got married there 7 months ago now so nothing is beating that although I can't wait to finally get back to Dublin. I can't wait for Christmas at home!
Favorite place in London
I don't really have a favorite place to be honest but I love going to Shakespeare’s Globe I just love that place and London Tower I guess is pretty cool - Covent Garden and Notting Hill. I'm planning on seeing a lot more of it this time round. Last time I was there was pretty much bars, pubs and bed - haha. Tahyna has only been there for a couple of days when I danced with Katherine Jenkins so now we can go see the place together- but for sure I'll be making a few trips up to Elland Road to watch Leeds.
A five word description of Gladys Knight
'Mary' is amazing. I have a lot of time for her. She is funny - very funny and caring and genuinely interested and supportive of what I do and how my family are. She really has a 'family' who she tours with and every single one of her band and management and security and actual family members really accept myself, my wife, and my friends into theirs which says an awful lot about Gladys. I couldn't do her justice in five words! She always introduces me as her partner - haha - and I love it. She calls and leaves voice mails that crack me up and is always concerned about me. I am very lucky to call her my friend.
How excited are you about started on Strictly Come Dancing? (Your fans and supporters are at about 563 on a scale of 1-10.)
I can't wait to get started. I don't really know what to expect but I’m excited and I like that feeling of a fresh start. I needed a change and I think a lot of change is going to be happening over the next few months and getting to experience what I know the Strictly dancers love and appreciate is something to be excited about. Just got to take it all in and get to explore a new country again.
From July, 2014...
You were part of Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman’s Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala last weekend. Would you tell us about how you got involved, your performance, and the event itself?
Yeah, we did the Dizzy Feet Gala downtown - it was great craic. I had heard of it before and had wanted to be a part of it last year but I was traveling so missed out. I had been teaching recently and somebody asked me about it and then Louis Van Amstel who is on the board asked me if I’d be free for it and if I knew anyone else who would be free for the 'Ballroom Extravaganza'!! I called a few and he called a few and then we all performed a rehash of a Samba routine Louis had choreographed for SYTYCD this season. I danced with Emma, Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello danced, Chelsie danced with Trent Whiddon, and Anya Garnis danced with Jonathon Platero. It was great to be part of it for a great cause and I enjoyed meeting Nigel and Adam who I hadn't before and I got to catch up with Travis [Wall], Teddy [Forance] and Twitch and Allison and watch some amazing performances. I had a great night. That young kid from Australia came over to do his crazy routine that’s been floating round online. It was amazing.
We recently did a MacManiac trivia post and several told us things they have never tried, never eaten, or never visited. We’re curious. What are your “nevers”?
I've never been to South America (well, I was in Brazil for a few hours but that was it. Amazing, but because I didn't get to see anything there it felt like I wasn't there!) I’d love to go on a tour there and Africa is still on the bucket list. I’ve never skydived or scuba dived which I’d love to do. I never want to eat shellfish! I never had a pet but we got Pikey so I’m happy now. There is loads of stuff I haven't done but I’ve been lucky to do a lot of stuff that others haven't been able to as well so I'll keep trying to tick things off as much as I can. Where there is a will there is a way......
One of our website members asked if you could explain the differences (from a teaching standpoint) between dances such as the Jive, Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. How closely related are they to each other and to other dances like the Quickstep and Charleston? Among these dances do you have a favorite to teach and to perform?
I guess they all derive from each other so there is a lot in common for them all, style for a lot and timings for a lot just like triple time swing and single time swing. Lindy was the original Jive, I think, which all came from Charleston so they for sure all intertwine historically but are very different when it comes to how we use them on the show. This isn't the right way but I think of Lindy in terms of kicks are highest, jive in the middle and Charleston lowest or wildness same order. In terms of teaching it seems strange but you can teach anyone a step and say it’s a particular dance and you wouldn't know the difference but the style in which you do the steps or characters or rhythms will always let you know what you are doing so in that sense it never really matters what you are teaching more than how you are teaching it....for me!!! And there are arguments with these statements I have just made as well. Quickstep came about because the dances had stayed slow while the music got faster.
Is there any particular dance style that you have not yet learned to do?
Individually there are a lot I haven't learned to do. I’ve dabbled as they say with a lot but again in terms of the show you can learn what you need to know which is a big jump from knowing what you are doing. I never teach anything I don't understand myself. I would love to go to Argentina and learn Argentine Tango and I’d love to go to Brazil and learn Samba and I’d love to go to Cuba and learn Rumba and Cha Cha but instead I stay where I am and learn syllabus to compete, you know what I mean??!!! It’s madness - haha - but that's what we do. We all travel around and learn how to do and what to do instead of why to do, so that’s something I’d like to do more of in the future.
You have had good luck in the costume choices for the most part, but what costumes or accessories do you hope you never have to wear? (or never have to wear again)
Well, I’m still waiting to see what’s in store during Strictly. I don't like wearing sparkles and stuff but I feel I might have to compromise somewhere down the line although I'll fight it all the way – haha. The wardrobe department have been great with me over the last few years and they help me out whenever they can. They know what I don't like and they know how to butter me up. At the end of the day if you are in charge you make the decisions, and if you aren't you follow them so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and keep on trying to convince people I shouldn't be wearing them – haha.
Are you going to have any free time at all in between the cruises, Dance Temptation, and Strictly Come Dancing?
No, ha! I leave in a few days to do the cruises and then I get home for a day or two to rehearse and re-pack for Dance Temptation and from Toronto I fly to London. I land, I move in, and then I go and play catch up for whatever I have missed in the first few days while I was in Toronto. It’s tiresome but I have had a lot of time where I couldn't pay someone to give me work so I’m not complaining! I’ll get a rest when I get booted off the show – haha - hopefully it won't be a while yet though. You can't really afford to rest these days especially with the talent that is around and coming through. It’s the same as everything in life in that there is always somebody who is just waiting for their chance to work as hard as you are complaining about.
Finally, as you know we reached 500,000 forum views recently and we had a contest for the last few weeks where the site members guessed the date and time we hit 500,000. Our winner, Anne, made her guess in June and guessed it within 37 minutes. We are doing something special for her and thought you might want to make her day (and ours).
Anne, I don't know how you did it. To be honest I didn't ever think there would come a time when people would check to see what I was doing 500,000 times....well maybe my Ma.....but bar that I don't know so fair play to ya for even coming remotely close to picking the time and if you were even checking in just once of those 500,000 times I appreciate it as much as all 499,999 more. Hopefully I can keep you entertained and hopefully I can make you all as happy as you make me. Go raibh maith agat!!!!
From July, 2014...
In just a few days, Tristan will be back on Holland America’s Dancing With the Stars: At Sea. Immediately after that, he will head to the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Canada where he will headline Dance Temptation along with Peta Murgatroyd. After that? Tristan will be in London for Strictly Come Dancing where he will be a competing pro for the 2014 season. We were lucky to catch up with Tristan one more time before his travels begin again.
In this interview, Tristan refers to current and past DWTS pros Sharna Burgess, Sasha Farber, Peta Murgatroyd, Emma Slater, and Damian Whitewood and Strictly Come Dancing pros Natalie Lowe, Robin Windsor, Kevin Clifton, Joanne Clifton, Karen Hauer, Janette Manrara, Pasha Kovalev, Aljaž Skorjanec, Artem Chigvinstev, Anya Garnis, Erin Boag and Anton du Beke – many of the dancers that he has crossed paths with during his career.
After two years of interviews with us, you’ve answered lots of questions and have had lots of changes in your life. You’ve always seemed like an “in the moment” kind of guy who doesn’t live in the past. That being said, has there ever been a decision or move that you looked back on and wondered if you could have done things differently?
No. To be honest there is nothing I can do about the things that I’ve done so there is no point in worrying about it. Sometimes your perspective on some things is way off anyway at different times so what seems like a mistake at one time is the best thing you could have done and sure, no matter what you do it leads to where you are now. That’s the only decision you have to make. Let it ride or change. I think I’m doing alright at the minute – ha!
Way back in our first interview in July 2012, you talked briefly about your Burn the Floor days and the time with Simply Ballroom. Would you share more about those experiences? How long were you with each, what was special/unique about each, and who are a few of the people you performed with?
I contacted Burn The Floor when I first tried to get back into dancing in my late teens but they had just cast their 'last tour' so there was no place. The guy I contacted about BTF called me a few weeks later with an offer to do Simply Ballroom. Sharna and her partner Patrick had just left Simply to go do BTF so I kind of replaced them and Emma was already on that show so I done that for a few months in England. On some shows we had Anton and Erin headline a few. Then BTF started a new tour with two companies and the one I joined had Dame, Sasha, Peta, Tobias (DWTS- Sweden/Denmark/Norway), Ash-Leigh and Gosper (DWTS Australia). Nat and Robin were in the other company in Sydney that lasted for three months then back to Simply in Vegas where I rehearsed with BTF in the day and done my Strictly show at night. Then we did a few world tours with BTF again and I blew my knee out so I had a knee op in Melbourne. Then I went to Boston to teach for a year before going back to BTF again in Reno and then another world tour. Kevin was in the cast so I stayed with him and Jo in Grimsby. After that I got dropped from the show in San Francisco so I stayed and learned how to operate the spotlights and sold the merchandise front of house. After a few months Robin broke his toe or hurt his foot so I covered the show for a few numbers. After a few months I left to do Dirty Dancing in London for a year and when BTF came to London I joined that cast again for six months because Robin and Artem were leaving to join Strictly. I danced then with Karen and Janette. Aljaz, Pasha, and Anya were there then as well. Then I was asked to do DWTS. You notice that BTF had their last cast maybe six years ago and it is still going strong now - haha. I have been sacked and dropped from so many shows it’s unreal. Haha!
In an early interview you addressed the issue of making your dance partner’s journey as enjoyable as possible. You said this: “I want my partner, whether they are one of the other professionals or ladies competing on the show to feel as comfortable as possible, trying to take all the stress out of the situation and have as much fun as possible at the same time. That can sometimes conflict with what people want to see and 'expect' from us.” How do you make that happen? How do you go about putting her at ease and creating a balance?
Well, you just can't take it all too seriously. It’s an entertainment show and that’s what it comes down to. You have to keep reminding people of why they wanted to learn it, and I try to teach in a way that relates to things that people feel comfortable doing so when you remove the fear of doing something you don't know how to and replace it with things you do then everything is easier and more fun to do. We are hardly saving lives, you know. We work hard to entertain people who follow the show so good or bad, right or wrong, people like it or don't like it. When you are trying to do something you want to learn how to do and entertain 'strangers' or friends at the same time, then where is the stress? Even if you are shocking, who cares? Work hard and learn how to have a sense of humor about yourself!
Artists tend to have big imaginations and think outside the box. How about you? What gets your creative juices flowing? What about when you were a child? Did you have a big imagination?
I don't really have anything - haha! Sometimes things come to me but sometimes they don't and that is hard to understand sometimes for me and for others but there is a difference in trying to portray stories and then trying to show choreography and all that’s in-between. Sometimes my ideas come from experiences but sometimes they come from interpreting things differently - like when you hear a story and read something and completely hear and think something completely different to the next guy!! I don't 'think like a dancer' because I’m not a 'dancer'. I’m just someone who likes to dance and knows how to teach it the way I understand it. We all come from different places and have all learned different ways so you just follow your own path and give information. If people don't agree then that’s cool. They go do it the way they want. I don't remember what I was like as a kid - I just laughed and talked a lot.....probably too much bordering dumb – hahaha.
If you had complete creative control and could choose any five dances to perform (either on SCD or in a show), what would those dances be – 1-5?
As you move on to Strictly Come Dancing after 3 years and 6 seasons on Dancing With the Stars, would you share one special memory from each of those six seasons? (a performance, interview, rehearsal, someone you met or danced for, etc.)
First season was great fun with a great bunch - Kiki, Nicole, Teddy, Oksana and Peta. We had great craic then and randomly - Hanson – haha!
Nancy was great fun as well so just fighting every week was actually very entertaining for me. It was all real but we got on great and that almost led it all to being a bit of a parody after that. I have no problem with drama when it's natural, as annoying as it is, and that was the last drama I enjoyed!!!
Meeting all the Motown legends and getting to spend time with Gladys was the best memory. I got to sing with Gladys, Bubba and The Temptations. I got to meet Kiss that season as well which was bittersweet. Let’s say the majority of the band are really really cool!
Joey Fatone is one of the coolest guys I know. We had some good nights out. I did no dancing that season! Haha!
Dorothy got injured so I felt terrible for her but bar that Victor was cool. We hang out and D.L is a great guy. I have a lot of time for him - he got a raw deal a bit on the show.
I had a great time with Valerie so I didn't really care too much about the competition. It was just keeping happy and enjoying the experience. Everyone that season was really cool. I remember most thinking that was a season where everyone was really comfortable with who they were. There was no pretense from anyone, and that is a great place to be. It was really fun and it was the most enjoyable all round.
We know you love to laugh. What makes you laugh these days?
Funny things........... I still love when people are in uncomfortable situations or if they 'get struck'.
Since we’ve gotten to know you a little bit, we’ve noticed how strongly you support various causes and how you’ve been able to help get the word out. Is there a particular charity or cause that you are involved with currently that we could mention or help spread the word about? Or do you have a message about the importance of being involved on some level?
Merryn [Lacy] is still the biggest foundation I’m involved with. Unfortunately that is one that we keep having to dig deep for but she is such a great kid and deserves it all. I love how my town has come together so much over it and of course so proud of Merryn for her fight. I am not involved in too many foundations really although I try to help where I can and get the word out as much as possible. It does do my nuts in though when people don't follow through on what they promote.
[For more on how to help, links are provided at the end of this interview.]
Obviously the choice of music is a big part of any performance that you do with your pro or celebrity partner, but what do you do when you feel like the music just doesn’t work? How do you work around it?
It’s difficult for sure and there is no right or wrong but I think if the music doesn’t work and there is nothing you can do about it, you dance to the music and you take the dance’s characteristic and then that’s that. Dancing is expressing yourself to music so that's what you do. If you just need to express a dance, then you use the dance’s characteristics and then you find the balance.
As a teacher, you see different strengths and weaknesses from each student, but in terms of new dancers, is there one thing that most struggle with? Along these same lines, is there a particular move, dance, or step that surprises you when an inexperienced student does it well?
Usually the major obstacle is somebody’s confidence or opinions standing in their way. There are certain people (not everyone) who act like somebody else and find it hard to let go and just be themselves. When you are so afraid of what others think you forget what you think and it becomes more difficult. Confidence or carefree go a long way when dancing. Just remember what it’s like dancing in the mirror –haha - you are the best and you don't care if you can translate that to time in front of people who are on a winner. STEPS ARE STEPS!!!
If you could trade places with one person (past or present) for a day, who would it be and why?
We know you play football, but if you had the time and inclination to learn a new sport and become proficient at it, what would it be? Growing up in Ireland, did you play other sports besides football?
I’d like to be a decent boxer. I’ve done some before but I’d love to be good at it or martial arts would be pretty cool. I played Gaelic Football and Hurling in school - they are the best sports. I’m getting more into Rugby but only when Ireland play really.
You’ve been in Los Angeles for a while now. What (if anything) will you miss about it when you are in London?
I will miss wishing I was closer to home!! I’ll miss the sun a little bit but I like the trade.
Will little Pike be packing up and moving to London too or will he be enjoying the California lifestyle just a bit longer?
Yeah - Pikey is coming for sure. He has all his shots and is getting the passport now. (How stupid is that!!) He is a happy dog so he is gonna love it.
Lots of Strictly Come Dancing fans in the UK are asking us about you but since you’re the expert, how about a couple of sentences describing yourself?
What are you supposed to say about yourself??!! I’m grand I don't take myself too serious. I get annoyed by simple things like everyone else. I don't pretend to be anyone else. I like dancing but I like other things more. I love teaching and I am normal—I’m dying to see midweek championship games. Haha!
More nosy stuff:
Around the house, how good of a handyman are you? (Or should we just call a plumber, electrician, or carpenter?)
I can fix most things around the house but I’m pretty good at breaking them as well. I have electrocuted myself more times than I would have liked to and I’m pretty handy in the garden. I love painting the house and cleaning the garage.
Favorite flavor of ice cream
Ever surfed? How did that go?
Yeah, last Christmas in Sydney. I wasn't the best but I loved it so I’m gonna take it up when we get back. It’s great craic.
Ever played tennis, golf, or gone bowling? Results?
I like tennis but I have a terrible serve. I like to hit hard and go home – haha. Bowling is the best but I get hard shots and miss easy shots so that means I’m no good! I can be real good or real bad. Golf is the most boring game I have ever played.....tried to play! I don't get why people like it so much but it’s not for me....no I’m actually bored talking about golf.
For more information on the Merryn Lacy Fund:
In the middle of a very busy travel schedule, Tristan took the time to answer your questions. Enjoy the latest in this Q & A series with our favorite dance professional.
You just returned from 2 weeks on the Holland America DWTS: At Sea cruises. As far as the cast and crew as well as the show itself, how was this different than the January cruises or those from last summer? From looking at the photos, it looks like some of the numbers might be the same, but which ones did you do this time, and were there any new dances?
There were little changes here and there, yes. We have a great cast so usually that stays the same but Kiki [Nyemchek] came on this last cruise to cover for Jaymz [Tuaileva] who went back on tour with Cher so we all learned little changes to cover each other in certain numbers. I danced the Paso and Cha Cha with Sabrina again and myself and Kym did a Foxtrot that we hadn't before. Bar that, it was much of the same. There was no Jive this time but it may come back in for the cruises at the end of July because we will be missing Iveta [Lukosiute] so Emma Slater and Anya Garnis will be joining to mix things up. I'm not too sure which numbers will be in and out as yet.
Did you do any teaching or demonstrations?
I don't teach or demonstrate on the ship, no. I had wanted to but it’s very hard to find space on the ship with all the events they run although Kym added a Latin fitness class a week to the cruise. I wanted to do some privates as there are usually a few people who like them on the ship but space ruled that out unfortunately.
During the cruises, Iveta Lukosiute and Anya Fuchs posted daily photos from DWTS “Boot Camp.” We were exhausted just looking at the pictures, but we are curious. What was Boot Camp, who participated, and how did it all work out?
The boot camp was great, yeah, and was something that became a regular daily event for us. Brent [Borbon] had a friend on board, Matt, who is the strength and conditioning coach for La Reve. For the first week and we started doing some programs each morning and pretty much everyone in the cast joined in. Some mornings were too early, so now and again there was only a handful of us but it was great fun. W hen Matt left after the first week Brent and Jason [Venner] kind of took over so we had busy mornings with the stretch and abs classes onboard then myself Jase and Brent done the spinning classes. Then Boot Camp - myself, Jason, Brent, Kiki, Magda [Fialek], Anya [Fuchs] and Iveta. I think Kym may have come up for one of the classes over the two weeks as well.
You’ve been on the Alaska cruise before but was there something that you did this time or something that you saw that was new or especially fun? Favorite spot you’ve visited in Alaska or even seen from the ship?
This last cruise left from Vancouver instead of Seattle so we got a night in Vancouver before we started which was cool. It’s such a beautiful city and because we left from Vancouver, two of the stops were different. On the cruise we went to Skagway where we went hiking - myself, Brent, Kiki, Jason and Sabrina. The rest went on a train ride which they said was cool. I guess I trained a lot more on this cruise than any other. I took a month off the swig so I’ve been keeping myself busy training which was different - early nights, early mornings kind of thing. We had the mother-in-law on board which was great so it was a very relaxing time with great friends. The cast really are the best. Looking forward to the next one in a few weeks.
Did you have much free time to sightsee?
We saw a lot more this time around for sure. The schedule let us rehearse a lot the days while we were at sea so when we came into port we had free time and then because we rehearsed Kiki into the show week 1 we had more free time on week 2. Good old Kiki is a quick learner – haha. I went back to the lumberjack show again which I seem to do every time we get on the cruise. I don't know why I love it so much but its great craic! Everyone went this time as well so we had a blast.
You’ve told us previously that you really enjoy Jersey Boys and that you were looking forward to seeing the movie. Have you had a chance to see it yet, and if so, give us your thoughts.
Yeah, I went to see Jersey Boys once we got off the ship. I thought it was good. I’m a huge fan of the stage show so when a film tries to follow it’s always difficult to match up but I thought they did a good job. The cast were super of course. I had seen them all in the stage show. Some find the story easier to follow in the film but I preferred the show. You can't beat being in the theatre and hearing the music live. As soon as 'WHO LOVES YOU' starts in the show something hits me when I’m watching it but I didn't get that from the film but I still liked it. The story is a great one and the music is the best.
We’re been talking to a lot of people about Strictly Come Dancing, and we’ve been told that the pro partners tend to remain the same throughout the SCD season. Obviously you’ve danced with some pros more than others, and in your experience, do certain things become instinctive as you dance with the same person frequently, or is it still like starting all over again each time you rehearse a new dance?
I guess it’s different all the time but sometimes you know what to expect from certain people you know - haha. I don't know who I will be dancing with on Strictly yet as there will be a few chafes but I’m excited to start. I have been in shows with a few of the cast, danced with some and just been on stage with some and some I have never met so I’m looking forward to it. It can be different because some always play to the camera and some mix it up but for sure like anything the more you practice with and work with someone the more in sync you get with that person. Sometimes you change your lead for people and sometimes they change their follow. It’s a partnership, so always give and take. Some don't follow but some don't lead either!!!
In our last interview you mentioned that you had been rehearsing with Peta for Dance Temptation. Do you have any more rehearsals planned, and how much time will you have available to rehearse with the rest of the cast in Toronto?
Yeah, for sure we will rehearse more. I will miss the group rehearsals as I will be on the ship so I will have a day to play catch up afterwards before the stage tech but I will rehearse when we have time before this cruise and then try keep it fresh in my body for the show as it’s a quick turnover between DWTS: At Sea and Dance Temptation. We were in the other day running things again with Edyta so we are keeping on top of it between my shows and Peta’s.
Favorite food or meal from the DWTS: At Sea cruise
Steak from the Pinnacle Grill all day every day if I could!
Any seasickness or balance issues on the cruises so far?
Yeah, for sure. The day of the show on the cruise is always the rockiest because we are out at sea, so usually the ship is calm until right before the show and then the swells come but we are getting more used to it now. A few props topple now and again but sure what can you do? The Holland America dancers do it all year round!!
Breakfast of choice
Porridge/ Oatmeal - I love it! Eggs Benedict as well but you can't eat that all week.
Favorite snack food
I’d eat a banana or cashew nuts/ almonds.
Favorite junk food (if any)
Do you get bored easily?
I‘m the worst! I get bored so easily- too bored to do anything even. How sad is that!!
If you had 24 hours with no obligations or commitments and could just relax, what would be your idea of relaxation?
I’d grab a bottle of whiskey, sit in a hammock and watch football or GAA and listen to Luke Kelly.
How is Pike doing these days?
Pike is sound, yeah. We took him to the beach the other day for the first time. He lost his mind chasing seagulls. He had the best day of his life. He sprinted into the sea before he knew it was water so was like a drenched rat and then he would run away from it for the rest of the day. As soon as we got back in the car he conked it. He's a great little fella, running around with his tongue out all day.
You told us in the last interview that you have been rehearsing with Peta Murgatroyd for Dance Temptation, and she mentioned it a couple of days ago as well. Are you and Peta choreographing the numbers you will be performing or is a choreographer working with you?
We are choreographing the solos and short solos in each section but the group numbers are things that have been choreographed I'm sure by Alec and Edyta. I won't be at the cast rehearsals as I’ll be on the cruises so I’ll play catch up a bit afterwards so trying to get as much as possible done now where we find some 'free' time.
In a recent interview you mentioned that you make a killer Banoffee Pie, and in a new interview we did with Emma Slater she told us your Banoffee Pie is by far her favorite dessert. One of our site members wants to know if there’s any chance you’ll share the recipe, Chef Tristan…
Hahaha – No.
So you can dance, sing, cook, play football, and train a puppy (sort of). What other talents do you have?
I have no other talents and I struggle at the best of times with the talents you assume I have!!
We keep coming back to your comment in a recent interview that you love Jimmy Fallon’s show and the lip sync battles. If given the opportunity to go one on one with Mr. Fallon, would you do it? If so, what songs would you choose? (or if you’re the shy type as far as lip sync goes, which songs would you like to see Jimmy take on?)
I wouldn't imagine I would be ever on it, no. I’d do one for fun but probably not on the show, maybe in a bar somewhere. I have to be in a certain mood to do stuff that requires people’s attention to be on me and with stuff like that you have to go hard or go home. ALWAYS Journey and maybe something from Busta Rhymes – hahaha!
We actually think Jimmy Fallon is one of the funniest people on the planet and all of his skits are epic. Have you seen the “tight pants” skit – in particular the one he did with Jennifer Lopez recently or the one with Will Farrell?
Yeah I loved that skit but with Will Ferrell for sure - didn't need a re-do just yet!! It’s like trying to do COWBELL or Chippendales although it’s not as epic as those two!
You’ll be going back to Alaska on the cruises soon, and last year Emma posted a photo of you with a very impressive camera. How advanced of a photographer are you, and do you have a particular style of camera you like to use? What do you like taking photos of? (landscapes, people, places, etc.)
I don't remember that. It must have been someone else's camera I was taking a photo with! I’m not a great photographer – no – ha! But I like taking shots of scenery. I love trees (I don't know why!?!) and for some reason I always take 'action' shots which is just a normal photograph but you turn the camera at an angle and for some reason it makes me feel like a hero......
Because you didn’t grow up in the U.S., you were obviously unfamiliar with American TV shows (such as The Nancy Grace Show, Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc.) when asked about them in interviews. So now we’re curious. What TV shows did you watch growing up in Ireland, and are there any you might be catching up on or looking forward to watching when you are in the UK?
Yeah, there were loads but I think they are all off air now more than likely. Saturday nights used to be great for watching TV when I was younger - but for sure Match Of The Day is gonna be great to see again and Gordon Ramsey/Master Chef. I don't really plan on watching too much TV there though – ha! I used to love Fraggle Rock and Fun House and Michael Barrymore shows - he did like what Bill Cosby did with Kids Say The Darndest Things. We had a few [drama series/soaps] in Ireland as well like Glenroe and Fair City - haha!
With both you and Tahyna being so active in the entertainment industry, we were wondering if you go to the theater a lot (or if you have gone to the theatre a lot in the past) – plays, musicals, Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theatre, etc.) Do you have a favorite?
Yeah, we love going to see shows but we don't go as much as we would like to. Hopefully now being close to the West End and having a lot of friends in shows there we will get to see more. We love going to the theatre and cinema to see movies. I’ve never seen an opera which I’m sure is great but not really something I’d be dying to go to. Jersey Boys is my favorite so I’m excited for the movie to come out. I have a mate who plays Frankie in London. Tahyna has directed theatre and loves to see shows so we try to go when we get a chance. It can be very, very expensive though.
What so you enjoy most about performing in shows and/or venues such as BWAT, the cruises, and the upcoming Dance Temptation where you have the opportunity to reach a live audience?
Live shows are great craic so that's the fun part about it - anything can go wrong and everything can go right. You just don't know. You get to travel to places you wouldn't have got a chance to before. You get to see how much it inspires people and keeps it entertaining. I like meeting the people who essentially make it possible for me to do my job and to try to give something back, I guess. It’s nice to be able to answer people’s questions instead of just trying to tell people what to think if that makes sense. It’s just as much fun for me when people tell you what they don't like to your face then writing it online – haha!
This last question comes from a supporter in the UK. You’ve worked in London before. What is it about London that you especially like and other than going to the SCD studios, what is something that you plan to do when you get back?
London is a great place. This time will be a wee bit different to when I lived there last. I saw a lot of London last time if you know what I mean! I’m looking forward to catching up with friends there and introducing the wife around. All the coffee shops, the food, the street performers in Covent Garden, Notting Hill markets - I just like people’s attitudes there. Everyone just does their own thing and gets on with it - "Tristan, saw you on tele.....you were s#$%" – haha! People are interested in what they are doing and what their friends are doing and I miss that a bit so I’m looking forward to less Hollywood. Leeds play midweek as well in the championship so I may be able to catch a few games there which I’m almost more excited about that than anything - ssshhh!
First of all, congratulations on heading over to the UK for Strictly Come Dancing in the fall. We know that the show doesn’t start until September, but do you know yet when you will be going? Is this something that has been in the works for a while? How did it all come about?
Thanks! I’m looking forward to it. Yeah, we have been looking for a solution for the last few months to see what we could do as I have wanted a fresh start for a while now. Luckily with Rob [Wade] coming in to replace Conrad [Green] he was gracious enough to sort out a move for me but it was only finalized a few days ago right before it was announced so it was touch and go whether it was going to happen or not for a bit. I managed to let my ma know before the papers came out in the mornin'. I got to the point where my head was already made up that I needed a change with regards to what I wanted to do, and I’m happy that Strictly and DWTS could come to an arrangement.
You have some friends already who are pros on SCD, so you must be looking forward to seeing them again. You’ve worked with Robin Windsor in Burn the Floor but have you met and/or worked with the other pros previously?
Yeah, I know the majority of the cast from different shows we have done together but there are a few that I haven't met before but I’m looking forward to it. There is a pretty big BTF contingent on the show just like DWTS, and I used to dance with Karen Hauer before and myself and Aljaz roomed together for a wee bit.
Do you have a favorite Robin Windsor story?
I have known Bobby a fierce long time but I won't be going into stories before I even start the gig - haha! He is a great guy though, and I am looking forward to working with him again.
We have been fortunate here in the U.S. to see video of almost all performances on SCD and, of course, we can’t wait to see you on the dance floor again. In what ways do you see SCD as being very different from (or similar to) DWTS?
To be honest I’m not too sure of many differences at all, and I probably won't until I’m in the middle of it. People love making comparisons about the shows here and there but honestly I don't know anything about it yet – not enough to compare, I guess. Lenny and Bruno are there and Brucie is gone this season so I’m sure everyone is excited about the new start. Cast changes are always tough for people to take so some will be excited and unfortunately some will be disappointed but I’m looking forward to the new challenge. As far as I know or from what I have heard is that it’s a little more traditional Ballroom and not so much themes but sure ya never know what is gonna change. I’m just happy to be starting.
You’re a pretty easy going guy, and your “it is what it is” approach seems to have served you well. Do you anticipate any big adjustments as you transition from DWTS to SCD?
No, I won't be changing. I still think no matter where you are the same is the same - people just want to dance and want to have fun which I’m looking forward to so in those terms nothing will change. My teaching and objectives will depend on who I get partnered with as always, but I’ll still be myself. Again, people always have their favorites so some might just not take to me and hopefully some will but I’m glad that my family and friends have an opportunity to swing across the pond for a few days now.
What are you most looking forward to on SCD? (This comes from a fan from the UK who watches SCD religiously)
I’m looking forward to just enjoying the ride really. I know how much the audience love the show there and that’s something that excites me. I can tell already how excited family and friends are getting and that gives me a great buzz, and the support for the show is immense there. There are a lot of English dancers there who will get the home support going, and I'm looking forward to hopefully getting the Irish behind me – haha! I’m looking forward to the banter there more than anything else. Swell though London is a cool place, and I have a lot of friends there who I haven't seen in a fair while.
You will be so much closer to your family and friends. Do you have any big plans in the works?
No big plans, no. I have a job to focus on, and that will be my priority for the next few months. I’m sure I will have a few knocks on the door every weekend with different folks coming over to stay.
Will your addition to the SCD cast have any effect on your scheduled appearances for the summer? (the cruises, Dance Temptation in August, etc.)
No. I have a crazy busy couple of months to go now but literally everything runs into everything. I do the DWTS cruises and then go straight to Canada to do Dance Temptation and then fly straight in to rehearsals in London for Strictly until mid-December. I’m really excited so I won't be complaining. I’m lucky I get to work so much at the minute so I’ll keep going until the body gives up.
If Dance Temptation is still on your schedule, could you tell us what you can about the show and what kind of rehearsal will be involved? What is the idea behind the show?
Dance Temptation is Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska’s show and it’s happening in Fallsview Casino in Toronto. I’m going to dance with Peta in the show which is always great craic. We do a few solos and a few group numbers with the rest of the cast. I’ve never done it before but it sounds like its gonna be good fun. It’s a usual theatre schedule so we will do an 8 show week. Myself and Pete are working together at the minute when we can because we are both flat out so it’s a case of getting in the studio when we can and get as much done as early as possible as we are both away more than we are here between now and the show.
You’ve already done several of the Holland America DWTS: At Sea cruises. With the first coming up in a couple of weeks, will there be any changes to the actual production such as new numbers, performers, etc.? Will you be rehearsing in advance or will that all take place once you get on the ship?
We are gonna be rehearsing on the cruise the few days before the actual show – yeah, that’s the usual gig in it. I think some of us are doing different numbers. I’m not sure the run of the show yet because I don't know who is doing it, but the cruises will be different. I just don't know how different and what if any changes there will be. We have a blast on the cruise so if it changes it changes, and if it doesn’t we will be having some great craic anyway!!
Now on to different topics....
You’ve been doing lots of different things since you’ve been away from DWTS, but is there one particular memory or event (other than your wonderful wedding, of course!) that stands out for you?
I have been working on a lot of different things the last few months but with stuff like this no matter how close you are nothing is set until you start which can be very frustrating! I have been following up my hosting doing courses and coatings which I love and working on the movie with the wife which we are very proud of. And as well we have had a lot of causes we have been helping out so busy busy, but hopefully everything comes together in its own time, and all the hard work will pay off for us.
Let’s suppose we (the MacManiacs) asked you for a quick travel guide to Ireland. What five places are all “must-sees”? Don’t worry – we’re not going to show up. This is purely hypothetical.
Glendalough is my favorite place in all Ireland so definitely there (in Co. Wicklow).
Cliffs Of Moher in Co. Clare are unreal.
Giants Causeway is up north in Antrim.
Galway and Cork are great places to go.
The Gaeltacht on the west coast is great in Connemara.
On Andy Steinhauser’s radio show in March you renamed us “MacLunatics.” We like it, by the way. Was there any particular inspiration behind that name or did it just seem like a natural fit?
No, there was nothing in it. It’s like everything else - I get great support from people which is great. Some people take it too far and become lunatics - haha - but it was just a joke. I think it’s funnier choosing whether you prefer being a maniac or a lunatic – haha!
We’ll be following you on this next career journey – like you could ever get rid of us. Anything you want to say to your supporters?
I think you all know how grateful I am for all the support and I appreciate all the kind words and luck messages. I hope I can keep you entertained from across the sea but with or without me here once you all continue to do whatever it is you want to do is all that matters. I never came here to win anything but if anything just to show that you can enjoy yourself just as much coming last as you can first. The joy comes from taking part and trying something you want to just because YOU WANT TO!! Everyone is different so we have to stop trying to do everything the same.
In one of your recent interviews with us, you mentioned that you prefer to do full dances instead of the bits and pieces we often saw on DWTS. Which of your most recent dances (from BWAT or another performance) is a personal favorite?
I haven’t danced too much recently to be honest, bar BWAT. There is a number that I do with Kym – “I’ve got Rhythm/Singin’ In The Rain.” It’s a pretty fun dance to do – it’s a real 'Kym' dance – haha! For those who have seen it you will know why! Also I have done a Tango with Anna which I really like doing. I don't remember too many dances off the top of my head to be honest. I do them and then forget them usually.
What is the most difficult dance (or most difficult dance to learn) that you have performed professionally?
Over the last few years maybe some of the opening numbers for shows have been quite difficult only because they have been different styles that I’m not too familiar with - not that they are too hard to learn or anything but sometimes I don't feel comfortable doing moves that I can't relate to things I would generally do. That’s what I usually do when I’m dancing - I put the steps and stories into a context that makes sense to me and an analogy where I know exactly what I’m doing if that makes sense.
In Ballroom With A Twist in Kitchener, Ontario you performed with the symphony. Had you done a show like that previously, and what was the experience like this time? Did you guys have to make adjustments of any type during rehearsal or during the show itself?
One of my first BWAT shows was in Utah to a symphony orchestra and it’s amazing. I love it. Things sound a wee bit different for sure, just like DWTS I guess sometimes. But it’s great for a change and you can get into the music a bit more when you see it happening around you. It seems more natural to dance to musicians than to tracks for me. I really enjoy it, and I wish we could do it all the time. With the symphony as well what differs is that they are onstage. All of them! The band on DWTS are all the way back behind the walkway so the connection is different - still amazing but nothing like being in the middle of it!
Tahyna recently posted some behind the scenes photos from OREN, and there were a couple of you. Not that we're nosy or anything, but what has been your role thus far in the film? What were you doing in the photos? (if you’ve even seen them) Was that part of a scene?
I haven't seen all the pictures from OREN so I’m not too sure which ones there are but I was on set for the day before I went to Canada so it could be either or either. I throw my mug into the film here and there but I’m not reading lines or anything. I’m a reference more than a character if you like. I guess in television and film you shoot a lot a lot of footage that sometimes make its way in and some doesn’t - be it time constrictions or sometimes things just don't sync up the way you want them to and the way the story wants them to. It was a great day and I loved watching how it all came together. The missy done a great job and I’m very proud of her and can't wait to see the final edit.
In addition to dance, your passion is football. When did you first start playing and would you share some of your favorite football memories with us?
I love football I don't know what age I started but I have always played and I am back playing in a league here in LA which is great. I would play professionally if I only had the talent – haha! I absolutely can't get enough of it. We had a super team when I was in my teens. We had a team where we were all mates and we done tours of England and I seem to remember we used to beat everyone. Then we had a School Of Excellence in Bray for a team in England called Newcastle United that we got accepted in. That was a long time ago and it came to a stage where I really had to stop playing with my knees and what not but I went back playing a few months back so that’s what fills my Monday nights and Saturdays now when I’m not traveling.
You have mentioned that you are a James Dean fan. What is it about his work that you find so interesting and/or appealing?
Yeah, I’m a big fan but I tend to be for a lot of people who are that bit different. I’m sure there were better actors at the time and I guess because I wasn't around I don't know how much of his ways were just to get attention or not but I like the way he took a different route to everything and he stuck to how he wanted to do things. He was obviously very talented and sometimes you get away with things when people are desperate for you, but to me it seemed as though he stuck to doing things the way he wanted but always got on with the job. He did what he wanted in his free time and never let it affect his work. It was such a revelation maybe because he didn't follow the 'path' that people do. There are so many people who are afraid to do things their own way. You hear it all the time - people walking on eggshells, complaining, and sly talking about people and then hide it all when certain people are around. It’s disgusting but it seems like everything he did was with his characters in mind and for the good of his work. I like when people do things their own way instead of the way other people want them to do it.
What movies scare you, make you cry, and/or give you belly laughs?
Same as everyone else, I guess. I get amped up with strong characters, and I get emotional when nice and sad things happen – hahahahahha. I’m not the best for scary movies, to be honest. I don’t like them, but I can watch with them with easily scared people. I don't like being the only scared one in the room – ha. I love movies that are historical, although it’s very hard to find an accurate one but they always seem to make me read up on them, and I like that.
In an earlier interview, you mention you had done some climbing and camping. Do you have any camping spots you have especially enjoyed and do you have any “interesting” camping stories to share?
Yeah, I have some favorite places in Ireland for sure but I have some of my own places that I like to go off the trails that I’ll keep for myself. I’ll probably try go camping this week or next so I’m on the lookout if anyone knows any secret spots.
Are you a daredevil at all? Have you been tempted to try (or have you tried) skydiving or bungee jumping?
I’m not a daredevil, no, but I love climbing things and I don't mind jumping off either. I have always wanted to skydive and had one booked before but I had to miss it for work. I’m not into bungee too much. I don't mind jumping - I just don't like bouncing back up again. I love the feeling of standing on the edge of cliffs. There are loads of places like that in the Wicklow Mountains where I’m from. It’s an amazing feeling. I’ll do most things when the adrenaline is going.
Is there someone in the entertainment business that you have not yet met but would like to?
Jimmy Fallon. I just think he is hilarious, and he seems cool.
If you could try out any job for a day, what would it be? Why?
I have always wanted to work for the fire brigade and tried to sign up a few times when I was younger so I would love to be a fire fighter. I’d like to think that I could join the team one day. I’d be happy to do anything to help.
Are there any phobias we should know about? (heights, spiders, snakes, MacManiacs….)
I have no phobias that I know of, no.
Let’s supposed you were without your cell phone for a month. Would that be a good thing or could it get ugly?
I have gone months without my phone, and it’s the happiest time of my life. I hate it [the phone]. I get in trouble a lot for not answering it or forgetting it. I kind of have to have one for work and stuff, but I’d be happy if they put a ban on them maybe then people will stop taking those stupid selfies! When I go to Australia or Ireland I have no international service on my phone so it’s a great excuse to not use it. I know where my friends live so if I want them I’ll go see them, and I know them enough to know the places they may be if I really need to see them.
Now for the easy stuff – or as you called it last time “quick fire round questions”:
One of my favorite books is The Contractors by John B. Keane who also wrote The Field. I also like The Tain, another Irish book.
Favorite restaurant (anywhere in the world)
I don't really have a favorite restaurant but there is a Thai place in LA where I met Tahyna that I will never forget and they have good food as well. There are a few bars in Ireland where me and my mates go when I get home that do great food. I don't go to too many restaurants.
Favorite thing to do when not playing football or dancing
Going walk about and exploring
I make a mean Banoffee Pie.
Favorite cartoon/animated character
Favorite household chore
I like cleaning up and throwing away empty packets – it’s weird!
Least favorite household chore
I could do without washing the floors or the dog!
Favorite meal that you have cooked
I like cooking lamb stew or Shepherd’s Pie. I like comfort food.
Favorite meal that someone has cooked for you
Tahyna makes the best Carbonara. She is a genius in the kitchen. I’d eat whatever she makes but she always tries to sneak in healthy things she knows I don't like - hiding healthy food under nice food!!
Favorite “Pike MacManus” story
Pike is a lunatic! He is scared of every other dog and he doesn’t know how to run and look behind at the same time so when dogs chase him he tumbles a lot. He is very brave if he is standing behind us or between our legs. I think he may have p"&#ed on Sasha’s face when he was playing with him but I told him to do that!
Since July, 2012, we have interviewed Tristan 67 times and in honor of our website forum reaching 1 million views in February, 2016, we decided to bring them all back beginning with the first one. We hope you enjoy this very special feature. All interviews are posted elsewhere on this website, including our forum.