Tristan is back in the UK for the next leg of the Good Mourning Mrs. Brown tour. We caught up with him on Wednesday, and he answered lots of your questions. Enjoy!
You have recently taken a break from dancing but will be performing again this fall. During your time off the dance floor, did you try anything new? (a sport, activity, travel somewhere new, etc.)
Yeah, I've been doing loads of new things since taking the break and, to be honest, it's been really good for me. I'm working as a project manager in Sydney building commercial properties so a fair bit different—ha—but again my head needed the break from what I was doing and not enjoying. I've also joined the RFS and I'm back playing football and, obviously, the best job of all is being a father. I always need to get away from things from time to time to reassess what I'm doing and find out whether I am happy enough doing it or not, so for that reason the break is great. I can try new things and appreciate the old things.
If you had the opportunity to sing with any band or solo artist (other than Gladys Knight), who would it be? Do you ever sing to Echo? What’s on the playlist?
I have no interests in singing with famous people, no—ha. I'm happy with the singsong at the house or at the pub. We sing all the time at home for Echo. She loves it.....well, she puts up with it more like, but Tahyna has a lovely voice and she has the talent with the instruments. I just close the eyes, throw the hand in the air, and smash out (perfectly) those Mariah Carey notes / every music is blasting there. Echo loves all sorts—generally an epic remix mashup of Peppa Pig and Giggle and Hoot.
Speaking of Echo, have you introduced her to football yet? How about dancing?
Echo watches the football with dad, yeah, and she will sit and watch the UFC but her mammy won't let her— hahaha. She is always dancing around though. Yeah, it's funny. She is gonna be a handful but is a hilarious little girl. She knows how to get what she wants.
What do you like most about being part of the Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown tour? Are you back touring with them in June/July?
We are back on tour with Mrs. Brown’s Boys now. The first show is tomorrow [Thursday, June 8], and I love it as always. I feel very comfortable when I'm with these guys. Everyone just supports each other here and appreciates each other's work and time. Everything is very transparent, and you always know where you stand. If something needs to be said about anything, you will be sure you will hear it firsthand and not through whispers. That's very important to me. It's a positive environment where backstage is equal to onstage, and I love the affection the venues and their staff have for the cast and crew and how much is it returned with no expectations. It's second nature to be kind and thoughtful, so you can't ask for more from your surroundings and the people closest to your family.
You were scheduled to dance at the ABBA Festival in May. How did that go? What dances did you do?
ABBA festival was a bit of craic—bizarre and mental but a bit of craic. I'd go back again. We did three dances—Samba, Cha Cha, and Rumba to some of ABBA's songs. I can't remember which ones. Basically, Trundle (the town) shuts down, and the whole place is taken over by ABBA enthusiasts. The people line the streets, and we danced in the middle of the town. The next town over has the biggest Elvis festival, and this was set up to rival it. There is a tribute band, fancy dress, and table quizzes—all that shebang. If you love ABBA, you will have a good time. It was a long, but enjoyable, road trip for the family up there.
We were delighted to hear that you will be touring with Kristina Rihanoff this fall. Do you have any details about the tour, when you will begin rehearsals, or any other information? Will you and Kristina be doing the choreography? Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to with regard to this show? (a venue, the tour itself, the performing, etc.)
Yeah, I’m looking forward to this tour coming up. We will choreograph it and probably start putting ideas together over next few weeks while I'm in the U.K. Initially it will probably be for about three weeks—two in the U.K. and one in Ireland. Mark Read who was in A1 will be hosting and singing, so it should be good. I’m looking forward to doing the Irish shows. I’ve never really done any at home before so that will be special.
I don’t know everything about it yet, but I'm guessing it will be all ten dances with probably a few more thrown in, but we will be catching up soon and going through what the plan is.
You have a busy schedule coming up. Are you looking forward to getting back on the dance floor? (And do you have any plans to return to the U.S. anytime soon?)
Lucky enough. it’s going to be very busy for the rest of the year and hopefully some things coming up in the new year. I'd love to come back to the states and do some shows, but it's not that easy just saying “Yeah. I'll do it.” I kind of closed that door. It was making me too frustrated and most shows rightly so need to stay relevant and, in my opinion, need to use people more recent on the tv so who knows? I'll come back and teach for sure, and if timings work, I'd be happy to do some shows.
You’ve choreographed many dances and performed many more, but have you ever been tempted to try songwriting? If so, how did that go for you?
No, I don't do the songwriting. I used to be real smooth and have all the right things to say but had to stop that when I grew up—haha. I absolutely love lyrics and anyone who knows me knows I love doing an impromptu speech now and again, be it gibberish or banter, but the sensitive words are saved now for my girls at home.
You said these wise words in one of our interviews back in September, 2012: “Don’t fit in, stand out, be different. There is a place for everyone in everything.” How does that apply, in particular, to those in the entertainment industry?
The entertainment industry is its own beast. Most people think they are more important than they are, but it's also full of genuinely good people following their dreams so it's a fine split. I sometimes notice that people at times find what they like about other people and become that until the new flavor comes. You have to choose what it is you want. For instance, you have to decide what is success to you and appreciate what you do. Some people, as strange as it sounds, rely completely on acceptance of other people and never appreciate their own value. The biggest and most important thing I think you can have is knowing worth—value of worth in yourself, your talents, and the people around you and the people you let in your life. I can't comprehend spending your life trying to impress a bunch of assholes who don't care about what happens to you before or after they have got what they want from you! Do your best and know the value of hard work and achievement. The important thing is your opinion of worth, not someone else's.
Finally, a few random words or phrases. Just respond with the first thing that comes to mind.
Farbs and Emma
*a food you tried once but will never eat again
Oysters and shellfish
*a beverage you tried once but will never have again
That stuff that tastes like licorice
*Mrs. Brown’s Boys
Not for me but enjoyable when it's done right
Proper story telling
Love it. I just saw a few old dances with Kym recently, and I'd like to some dancing with Kym again. That was always fun.
Learning. I've met a lot of great people from teaching, and they inspire you and remind you to appreciate what you are lucky enough to do.
I love a cuppa tea.
*An Evening with Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus
Hopefully fresh, fun, honesty—haha
Thank you, Tristan! For information on both Good Mourning Mrs. Brown and An Evening With Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus, refer to the links below.
Good Mourning Mrs. Brown
Tickets for the UK dates:
Tickets for the Ireland dates:
An Evening With Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus
Tristan is part of the cast of Good Mourning Mrs. Brown and is currently on tour in the UK. He took time to catch up with us and has answered lots of the questions you have sent in for him. This is our 63rd interview with Tristan since July, 2012, and each one is more fun than the last!
Congratulations on being part of the cast of the Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown tour. Will you be doing the full tour and how do you like being on the road again?
Thank you, and it's great to hear from you. Things are great. Mrs. Brown’s Boys is amazing as always. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of friends and again, it's another amazing gift from the DWTS and Strictly experience. The tour is broken up into four/ five week stints so the touring isn't too bad, and I have the girls with me which makes it so much easier. Tahyna is writing on the road and producing from the road so we got lucky with timing, and obviously being close to Ireland we got to get home for Echo’s first birthday and christening.
You mentioned in the past how funny the entire cast can be and that there is always a lot of laughter when putting on the shows. Have there been any practical jokes backstage? (please share) What parts of the show itself are your favorites?
The best thing about Mrs. Brown’s Boys is that most of the practical jokes are all onstage so it's hard work in itself to keep the straight face especially when the changes in the script come about! Everyone in the cast at some stage tries to catch each other out. Offstage funny is just funny between the jokes and the tricks. Most definitely, it's the best kind of work you could be lucky enough to do!
It’s been a while since our last Q and A – in November, actually. How was your holiday season and how was your first Christmas as a dad? Now that Echo is a year old, have you been able to keep up with her and is she dancing a Foxtrot yet?
Being a dad is the best experience of my life and the proudest I have ever been. My girl is just the greatest little gem, and I couldn't be happier and prouder of her and obviously Tahyna for bringing her into our lives. Christmas was amazing and every day since has been the same. We couldn't believe it was her birthday already and we hadn't seen the guys here since the Oz tour last year when Tahyna was just about to pop so they have all been great with us. They were super excited to finally meet her, and we are definitely that annoying couple who always talks about their kid-—hahaha. She loves music so no doubt she will be dancing before long as she has just started walking.
It doesn’t take long for news to reach us...we read that you will be dancing with Alana Patience at the ABBA Festival in Australia in May. How did that happen? Any idea what tunes you’ll be dancing to?
I don't know too much about ABBA just yet. Alana is the best. I hadn't seen her in a long, long time. We caught up recently at a mutual friend’s wedding and said we should put some shows together and dust off the cobwebs so this was literally a few days later she asked if I was up for it. I haven't done any since Strictly and am now looking forward to it and who knows after that?!
Do you have any plans to come back over to the states? We are missing you over here.
Ah, who knows? Things change all the time. It wasn't too long that I said I wouldn't ever go back and then a few times over the last couple of years we came close to it, but we have been away for a bit now and concentrating on ourselves and Echo but we would like to come back and spend some time. It all depends on circumstances.
We saw that you were able to attend the semi-finals of DWTS Ireland. What are your thoughts on the show? Did you know most of the pro dancers?
I think it was great what they did with DWTS Ireland. There were a lot of talks and whispers about me doing it and then rumors about why I didn't do it and I heard that I didn't want anything to do with it. As a new show, I think they did great. I think it gives homegrown talent a chance to show what they can do as well as giving future professionals a goal. It doesn't have to be on par with America or the UK or whatever anyone else was expecting. I thought it was produced very well. I thought the pros smashed it, and I'm glad that now we have our own. I wish them all the success for the future.
Speaking of Ireland, did you get to spend some time with your family? How’s Pike doing?
We had a few days at home before the tour started yeah, so that was great. Pike is great—very happy and being well-spoiled and looked after. He didn't like the attention he was losing to Echo but sure, what can you do? Haha.
Now that you’re traveling again, things will probably be different but what are your favorite things to do for fun these days? Have you been doing a bit of dancing?
Yeah, everything has changed these days alright, but for the better. I think I still do most the same things just not as often and for not as long—ha. I haven't been doing any dancing, no, but like I said I needed the break from it and now I may come back into it a bit more with a new perspective again which always does me good every so often—freshens up your head and your attitude.
Now some just plain nosy questions from your fans:
You once said that you get bored just thinking about golf. What about pool? Have you ever tried billiards and are you any good?
Yeah, I used to love playing pool, but I wasn't consistently good, just consistently bad with a dash of amazing trick shots and lucky breaks—haha. Everyone I know seems to love golf, and now the Masters has started. It's all I'm hearing about, but I’m still no closer to getting on the green.
What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
I have seen many, many movies I hope to never see again or wish nothing more than going back in time to erase it from my brain. I just don't want to mention any—hahaha.
Just for laughs, we started a topic on the forum where we ask people to tell us a song that they hope you never have to dance to…..do you have one to add to our growing list? (So far, "Gangnam Style," "Who Let the Dogs Out," "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," and "Macarena" top the list)
“Whip/Nae Nae”—holy lord have mercy—never, ever, ever.
Is there any chance of you doing another triathlon?
I would like to do another, but to be honest, I still don't understand why once I did that last one, I lost complete motivation after it. I loved it, so I have no clue why. I think I was just drained from everything and that came at the end, but I'm back running now and in the water so who knows.
What is an activity or sport that you have never tried and don't really care to try?
Sumo. I don't like the thought of wearing diapers.
Along those same lines, what is something you have tried and don't want to try again? (could be a sport, food, etc.
Ahahaha! I had a night out with some friends from home a few days ago and when I came back to life the next day i swore I'd never do that again...................I'm an awful liar though.
Other than getting a spray tan, was there ever a time on DWTS or SCD when you thought to yourself “I’m never doing that again!”
At one stage, it was a weekly occurrence to be fair—ha. I said many times before that it really is wherever your head is or, for that matter, wherever my head was when things were suggested or decided that makes me go along with it or switch. Sometimes I have very clear intentions of how I want to do things or how I want to react to things and when I can't make those decisions for myself and I'm told how it's going to go, frustration is my biggest enemy. Sometimes again you need to take a step back and realize you are a piece of a puzzle and either accept it or not. At the time, the unfortunate thing is that it seems like the biggest issue in the world and it really isn't—perspective.
Finally, you’re going to be very busy off and on for the next several months with the tour, but will you getting back to Australia for extended periods of time?
Yes, we will be going back to Sydney and wherever else we need to go between the blocks of weeks where we will tour. I may have a few more shows happening in the UK. and maybe the states over the next while so we will just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
You and Tahyna were the hosts of Elena Samodanova’s Ballroom Superstars Dance Ball on October 22. Would you tell us a little bit about that and how it came together? Do you have plans to do future work with Elena?
Yeah, we did Elena’s show, and we had a blast. It just happened over dinner, to be honest. We were out with the kids, and Elena was talking about the show. We said we would help out however they needed us, and then she asked if we would host it which we were more than happy to do. We are glad we did. We met some great dancers there, and Elena and Alex had put together a great show so you never know - we may do more in the future. At the time, it was just a new show, so it’s always difficult to get going and there are a lot of costs involved. We were happy to help our friends out.
[Note: The following 2 questions regarding Shall We Dance on Ice and any additional time in the U.S. were asked and answered prior to Tristan having to withdraw from the show due to injury.]
You are listed as being one of the professional dancers in Shall We Dance on Ice in Las Vegas in December. That is another incredibly talented cast of performers in music, skating, and dance. Do you have any more details about this yet or do you know what type of rehearsal will be involved prior to the show?
I’m not too sure as yet – still waiting to hear what the plan is, but I’ll be dancing with Chelsie so I’d imagine I will come into town a few days in advance and put some things together and then when we get to Vegas, we will rehearse with the cast and learn the group numbers together. I know one or two of the skaters who I met while dancing with Dorothy but most of them I will be meeting for the first time as they did the show after I had left.
Do you have plans for other performances or teaching while in the states? Will you be staying for a while this time?
No plans, no. I don't think I will be doing any this time round.
First, it was wonderful getting to see you perform again in Dance To the Movies back in August. We loved the cast, concept, and show itself. What did you like about this show? What were the standout numbers for you?
Yes, Dance To the Movies was great. Just like BWAT, the cast are great and so down to earth. I always enjoy spending time with them and I hadn't seen Karina, Chelsie, or Jon for a long time so that was good to catch up. I loved the James Bond numbers because I love the music, but I know Kiki and Magda usually do the section I did and I miss seeing those guys and would have loved to see them do it. The cast had a few new guys I hadn't met before either, and that energy is always great when a new cast comes together.
Do you have any plans to return to the U.S. for the spring tour of Dance To the Movies or are your plans still up in the air at this point? Do you have other things in the works right now?
You never know what’s going to happen, but I have chronic knee pain and slipped discs in my back and neck that flare up so much that the thought of it isn't that appealing to me. I have a job in Sydney I really enjoy so that’s what I am concentrating on at the minute.
A lot of people have asked us about Dancing with the Stars Ireland. Have you been approached about being involved or do you know anything about the structure and similarities/differences to DWTS US and SCD? Would you like to be involved in some way?
Yeah, it’s good that they are finally doing one in Ireland. I was surprised when it was announced as I hadn't heard anything about it until I got messages from Ireland asking about it, and I had been contacted about it later on to be involved but again I have a job that I enjoy here that I had committed to. It would mean leaving that and moving my family again for three months or whatever it is. It’s been a long time since we could actually get settled somewhere, and I absolutely love Sydney. I always wanted to be a part of a show in Ireland but everything has to be right for all parties to make that work. I think the show will do very well, and I'm glad it’s happening and I'm glad it’s giving Irish professionals a platform to show our talent. It really is about time, so I’ll be happy to help out which they know but not in a full time capacity at this stage for that amount of time.
Have you followed what’s going on with the pros and celebrities on DWTS and SCD this year or is it a case of out of sight, out of mind?
I haven't seen too much to be honest, but I’m still in touch with most of the crew on Strictly, and Oti and I talk a lot. I had to reach out to Laura being a Bray head, then obviously with DWTS I talk to Farbs and Emma so I’m delighted he is doing so well but no, I don't watch the show. Tahyna loves it though. I’m sure I never watched it when I was in it myself. HAHAHA
You occasionally performed non-Latin and non-Ballroom dance styles on DWTS/SCD. Have you ever trained in any of these other areas or did you just learn it as you went along?
No, I never trained in any other style. I’m actually surprised you had to ask that – haha! I learned them when I had to, but all these styles I prefer to watch. I don't feel comfortable doing them or really enjoy it too much, but I appreciate people who do and I love to watch anyone do a style they love. The only other style I ever had an interest in really was tap. I never did it, but I love it. The rest I can enjoy as a spectator. I have never had a critical eye, so I can enjoy shows and numbers for what they are. There is nothing worse than people picking out things wrong with something you are enjoying watching. Competition I get is different, but I’m talking generally.
Now for some other general stuff -
If someone knew very little about Irish music/musicians, which artists would you put at the top of your recommended list?
Fiachra Treacy (Columbia Mills)
Not in that order but you should listen to all these guys.
What do you like most about living in Australia?
Everything - the weather, the mentality, my surroundings, my family - I just love it here.
When you haven’t performed or danced for a while, do you miss it and have any desire to get back on stage?
No, I don't - I have had a great time doing what I did, but I don't like to dwell on things. I had a good time at the time, but my knees hate me now, and I’m happy with what is going on. I’ll look back on a lot of it and smile, but I’ll remember it how I do.
You once said that after you do some dances you forget about them and move on. If you had to name 10 performances from DWTS, could you do it?
I’m sure I could remember some numbers but not the actual dances start to finish. Again, it’s one of those things that you remember weird things about them. I would remember moments when Nancy would be looking for a fight - haha - or rightly so proud of herself or when Gladys laughed and cheered me up. I’d remember just sitting and watching Valerie go through everything or Pam deciding what she wanted to do or talking about life, just weird things, certain things we may have talked about - conversations or comments and reactions immediately after each dance or the next day but not so much of the dance itself.
And from a standpoint of pure fun and having a great time, which show (DWTS, SCD, Ballroom With A Twist, Burn the Floor, etc.) best fits that description for you?
Probably little bits of each. They were all at different times in my life. I loved and hated them all at different times for different reasons but I'm glad I experienced them all - certain characters can depend on the day - haha.
You told us a couple of months ago that Echo loves Elmo and Winnie the Pooh. When you were a little guy growing up, did you have any favorite toys?
As a kid, I just loved football. Thats all I remember - playing football and having muck ball fights. I’m sure I had toys that I loved, but I just remember sports.
Now to the most important question of all. You’ve been all over the world and have probably visited lots of Irish pubs. Where were the best ones? (including Ireland)
The best Irish pubs are the ones I was in on that particular night.
Is Pike still living the good life in Ireland?
Pike is the most spoiled animal on the face of the planet - of course he is loving every second of it!
Finally, how’s the family and how much are you enjoying seeing your daughter change every single day?
Being a dad is, to any man, the luckiest and most amazing thing that could ever happen to anyone and to be the father of this particular child and husband to this woman makes me the luckiest of them all.
Tristan will be back in the USA in August for Dance To the Movies at the Patchogue Theatre For the Performing Arts where he will perform with DWTS alums Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, Jonathan Roberts, and Karina Smirnoff. Also appearing will be Academy Award Nominee and everyone's favorite Cinderella Lesley Ann Warren. Tristan took time today for your questions and we know you will enjoy our latest interview (#61 and counting).
First of all, we all hope you enjoyed being back in the states last month and performing in Life’s A Dance. Tell us your survival tips for traveling with an infant. How is your beautiful family?
We got lucky. Echo was just perfect on the flight. We flew at night so she was calm and she was happy so she slept a few hours and then we played with her and changed her a few times but all in all the flight was good. I'd imagine when she gets a little older it will change but for now we don't travel too often so all is good. She is a calm, happy little girl.
You once mentioned that during your time in Burn the Floor you had all kinds of different jobs including operating the spotlights and selling merchandise in the front of the house in San Francisco. If you were put in charge of casting a high-energy show like BTF, what qualities would you look for in the performers?
Yeah, BTF was great times while I was there. I think variety - the standard is so high in the show and the whole process behind it - so standard is never an issue. I just like variety for all shows of any kind. I like people who are different and who don't fit a particular mould. A lot of people style themselves on dancers they like or admire which is fine but I think it's the individuality that works. Generally, all shows try to fill a particular role or tick a certain box. This is the dancer who does the tricks. This person is so fast. This person is the sexy one, the funny one, whatever, instead of just letting everyone be a bit of everything if that makes any sense. Maybe I can't explain it properly or the way I want to. I did all those jobs at the time because I wanted so much to be involved and was happy to just be there.
We all know you’re a big football fan but if you were back in the states, which of these major sporting events would you most like to see in person? The World Series, the Super Bowl, or the NBA Championship?
Most probably the NBA. I like all the sports there but I just find baseball for the most part is too long with little happening, haha. I don't want to offend anyone but maybe it's just the games I have been to. Super Bowl would be cool but, to be honest, it seems to be more about the halftime shows and adverts these days. I do like the game itself though and basketball is cool. I just think that all these sports are getting too far away from reality just like soccer with all the money involved that it's hard to relate to it anymore. I like to watch it all and I enjoy going to games but I'm happy watching it at home with some friends. The year I moved to Boston they dominated most sports that year so it was great to be around it and I'd go watch the Celtics and the Revolution play a fair bit.
Speaking of football, you tweeted a lot about Ireland competing in Euro 2016. Share some of your favorite moments from that – and did you get to watch a lot of it live?
I watched most of the games. I was afraid I'd miss the Ireland and Belgium game because I was flying but the game was playing on Fox on the plane so I got to see it. I wish I missed it now - we got hammered!! I watched most of the games though. They were on 11pm, 2am, and 5am here but the baby was waking up a lot so it worked. Ha!
Be a little kid again. Who is your favorite cartoon character?
I watch Winnie the Pooh now and Elmo. They make Echo smile so they are my favorites.
Two basic questions from forum member, Katie: What do you like most about dancing? What do you like least about dancing?
I like the way dancing makes people happy and I like that it makes people want to move themselves. I don't like how competitive it is or when people don't want to do it because they are afraid of being made to feel like they are bad at it.
In the past you’ve told us what you think is important when teaching and learning certain dances, but the one we never asked you about is Salsa. What’s the most important thing to know about this dance?
Remember that the best salsa dancers don't rely on their technique. They listen to the music and let their bodies do the rest. It's about the rhythm and the music.
Obviously the DWTS/SCD days are done, but this question came up anyway. If you had complete control over any and all of your costumes for any performance, what are some things you would insist on never wearing?
Skinny pants, see through shirts, diamond encrusted anythings. Compulsory shirt wearing is a must and no bandanas or glitter.
Finally, are you still planning to do Dance To the Movies in Patchogue in August? Lots of your supporters are planning to make the trip so I’m warning you ahead of time. Assuming you are still performing in this, are there any planned rehearsals or will it all come together once you arrive in Patchogue? Do you have any other shows or performances between now and then? Do you have plans to get back to Ireland soon?
I’Il be in Patchogue, yes. I haven't done or seen his show yet so I am looking forward to it. I may be in LA for a few days beforehand to learn what I can. I'm not sure which other shows, if any, I will be doing. I'm figuring out what I want to do, to be honest, so for now it suits me to do a show now and again and take some breaks from full time dancing.
From March 25-April 22, 2016, this website forum ran a contest and our winner, Eva, got to interview Tristan. Eva is a relatively new member of our website but she has been a Tristan MacManus supporter for quite some time. Below you will find the contest prompts and her winning answers along with a lovely message that Tristan sent along for her. After that, enjoy her interview with our favorite dancer.
Contest prompts with Eva's winning responses.
1. Tell us why you want to be the person doing this interview.
"Consider it my vacation since I'm usually taking are of my twin babies 24/7."
2. Share 1 Tristan memory.
"This comment from one of his recent interviews. 'You don't have to do anything to earn respect. It should be a given - - YOU RESPECT PEOPLE! That's the end of it!! You need a reason to lose respect or someone but not to have it. I have had a few issues with people's opinions on respect and what respect is. You treat people with respect by being a decent human being - not by telling everybody how much you respect people or showing symbols or giving money or whatever it is once a year. Look people in the eye, shake their hands, and ask them about themselves and their families.' "
3. Give a 5 word description of Tristan or something Tristan-related.
"He isn't just a dancer."
Message from Tristan
Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions and congratulations on the kids. I’m sure they don't know how lucky they are to have you there 24/7. I wish you health and happiness and hope that the answers entertained you as much as the questions did me.
All the best - Slainte
You said in an earlier interview that some of your favorite dances are the slower ones like Waltz and Rumba. But which of the faster dances do you enjoy performing the most?
I do prefer the slower, laid back dances but I can enjoy some of the faster ones as well. It mainly depends on the songs though and the concept. I don't prefer too many any more or less than another. I like rhythm changes and I like fast pace just like I do when I’m running or training. I like Paso and I like Swing.
A couple of years ago you told us 5 places that someone visiting Ireland might want to see. Now that you are spending so much time in Australia, what are some places that you think are especially interesting there?
I don't know this place as much as Ireland but there are a lot of amazing places here. For years, I used to relate a lot to Melbourne. It was in my head a lot more like Dublin but, to be honest, I love Sydney and I never really took to it before. I haven't spent any time up in Queensland but I have it on the radar and the Northern Territory. I couldn't give you any tourist tips on this place but you can't beat the weather!
You have mentioned several times that you might enjoy taking on hosting responsibilities on television or elsewhere. One of the best in the business is your friend Tom Bergeron. What did you learn from being around him?
Tom is the ultimate, yeah. He is just so good at what he does. He has this amazing balance that obviously makes him unique, and I would imagine any show on any channel in any country would love to have a Tom Bergeron. I don't know if you can teach that but you watch someone just be so smooth and natural and in a second make some words into their own. It’s just amazing and fascinating at the same time.
The Summer Olympics are coming up this year. Which of the sports from the summer games most interest you? Do you have favorite athletes that you hope will be competing?
I love watching the Olympics but I wouldn't watch every event and I don't mean to belittle any of them by saying that. Obviously the football is a favourite and Katie Taylor winning the boxing again is how highly we rate her - we almost expect her to win and we certainly all push for her to. Swimming is always good - tennis, triathlon, egg and spoon race, sprinting - I love it all.
Speaking of the Olympics, you mentioned in one interview that it might be fun to recreate Cool Runnings with an Irish bobsled team. Since it is a Summer Olympics year, which sport do you think might best suit you in your quest for Olympic glory?
I don't know if any of them would suit me but I’d love to give the boxing a go. I’d end up on the stretcher before the podium though, I reckon. Some of those Olympians are just beasts - and my frustrating triathlon career - haha. In all honesty though, to represent your country in anything is the pinnacle of your career whether it’s the biggest country in the world or the smallest. It’s always yours and you get to clench your fists and blow out your chest and wail out those lyrics to your country’s anthem with tears in your eyes and make yourself seven feet. It’s absolutely unreal.
Last year you competed in a triathlon and were in training for the Ironman 70.3 Dublin in August, but your work commitments kept you from competing. Are you doing any training now, and do you have plans to compete in another triathlon in the future?
I am training, yeah, but not specifically for a triathlon. My time is pretty thin at the minute with everything that is going on but I try to keep as active as I can day to day. I’d love to do another triathlon. I absolutely loved the discipline in the training I was doing when I had almost all day long free. I want to get back into swimming which I haven't done in a while but I have been running a lot. I recently sold my bike so that’s off for the time being.
Are you getting the chance to play any football these days?
No, I haven't got back to football yet but I’m loving AFL over here so I may get involved there when everything here settles down in a bit. I had reached out to a local team here to play but everything got hectic then for a while and I’d hate to show up every other time and not be able to fully commit to it.
In past interviews you mentioned you had several ideas for DWTS/SCD performances but were holding onto those in case you actually got to use them. Now that you’re not currently on either show could you share a few of those ideas? (or perhaps you’ll be using them for future projects?)
Yeah, there are a few I’d have loved to do. I wanted to use “Is This Love” by Corinne Bailey Rae. It’s a cover of Bob Marley but it got vetoed and also "Sesame Street". I’ve wanted that one for a long time and it never gets passed for some reason. I like nostalgic ones that I guess the shows feel won't fit well. On the bigger scale I always wanted to do a Labyrinth themed number or one from Willow. I just think it would have been class - in my head anyway. My biggest disappointment though is still from last season as soon as I got Jamelia I knew what I wanted for Halloween but it got rejected and I was so disappointed about it – haha. I wanted to use “Scream” by Michael and Janet Jackson and I had all these hologram and trapdoors and dance breaks for it but they already had an MJ song they wanted to use. I also wanted “Hallelujah I Love Her So” by Ray Charles but, hey, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. But I’d have loved to use those songs and still wanted to do my Beetlejuice but it’s been used now and nobody wants to use songs that have already been done.
You’ve stressed the importance of not only teaching but always being willing to learn as well. What did you learn when touring with “Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown”? Did you get any acting tips? Do you have any other acting gigs planned? We would all love to see more!
Mrs Brown’s Boys was amazing. I absolutely loved every minute of touring with those guys but I was spoiled with how well the family treat you there, and the cast were unreal with me. I’d love to be a Brown Boy and as much fun as it was, I don't know if acting in general would be as fun as that experience was. I’d give it a go for sure if there was an opportunity but generally when you are asked to do stuff now a lot of people feel it needs to be dance related somehow so it can be quite limiting in what you get offered. I’d like to do a little more so maybe in the future I can do something.
Obviously you have a lot going on in your life right now, but the past few years have been times of almost non-stop performing, teaching, and DWTS/SCD and other commitments. Do you miss the hectic schedule and nearly constant travel?
No, to be honest. This is all pretty new to me at the minute - this little change and shift in life - but I’m loving it. I like not worrying about having to leave my wife and life behind me for a few days here and there or months on the road and not being able to put some roots down. There are more worries I guess now in what I can work at and what I am going to do career-wise in a new country where I don't know anybody but I’m loving everything at the minute and enjoying time in my own house with my family and knowing I don't have to up and leave any time soon.
We did a recent survey on the website about favorite decades of music, and the overwhelming winner was the 1980s. You love all kinds of music, but which decade of music is your favorite overall?
Yeah, the 80s are pretty amazing- haha - but it's a fine balance between amazing and terrible. 80s rock and I guess 60/70s Motown are my favorites. Michael Jackson, I think, wins all decades though.
Things stay very busy on the website, and another survey gave the list of current Broadway musicals and we were asked to pick the 4 that we thought you would be most suited for. The results are 1) Something Rotten 2) Kinky Boots 3) On Your Feet 4) Disaster! Which do you think you would be most suited for?
I’m not really up on musicals to be honest at the minute so I couldn't say about those but I do know Kinky Boots - great show - but I’m interested to know what role you guys see me suiting – hahaha. I own boots but there is nothing kinky or red about them.
Speaking of Broadway, you once mentioned that you would love to perform there. Obviously you have other considerations now and your family takes priority, but if you had the opportunity to do something in the theatre and that wouldn’t take a lot of time away from your family would you like to give it a try?
I’d still love to do something on stage for sure but it doesn't have to be Broadway. I think that ship has sailed and I’m very content with that. I think maybe something quite dark would be fun to play on stage.
We know you had a small part in Ella Enchanted and you mentioned that the whole auditioning process might deter you from acting, but if you could walk into a movie role, which role or type of role would it be?
I’d like to do something historical. I love movies like that or documentaries where you can actually learn about something that happened and portray someone who actually made a difference. Besides that, I’d love to be Rocky – hahaha. You look at all the training that the guys go through for films like that for months on end. You literally get paid to be trained to look like a beast and then you get fit and you walk away counting your money and in great shape - double bonus. I wanna play Thor and I want Sasha [Farber] to play Ironman to make him happy.
You have said many times that you are not just a dancer and while it is part of your life, it’s certainly not everything or even the most important thing. You seem to stay grounded throughout all the ups and downs of life as a dancer. We always like to look at the positives. What have been some of the highs to your performing career thus far?
Everything I have done has been a highlight to be honest. I had some amazing ups and some pretty devastating lows, but I’m very happy with what I have done and I’m very happy to walk away from it all as well. I have met some amazing people along the way and I have met some terrible people who everyone spends their everyday trying to impress and get justification from. I could have done a lot better and achieved a lot more in some people’s eyes if I had been a lot more committed but at the same time I could have been a lot more miserable. I worked hard to get to a point and found that it’s not all its made out to be. I look at people on the shows I have been part of and get inspired by their commitment and dedication to dancing and think I want to find the thing that gives me that satisfaction and I hope that others with that same drive get a chance to do the show and see if it gives them what they are looking for. I think some people have confused me leaving the shows with me not liking the shows, and that’s wrong. It’s just not for me.
With your gift of gab, we think you would make a spectacular bartender. How about giving us your signature drink and naming it?
I’m a ROB ROY guy! I went through a phase of only drinking Rob Roys and I loved it usually by the end of the night I couldn't remember what it was called so it usually had multiple names..........but I’m mature now..........I don't drink cocktails. A great quote from The Quiet Man is "when I drink whiskey I drink whiskey and when I drink water I drink water". Michaleen was a wise man – haha.
If you were to create a motto or slogan that describes your approach to life, what would it say?
Don’t worry about what might happen and don't worry about what is happening - just what you are going to do about it!
You appeared on stage in many different shows, and you have worked with many of your Burn the Floor castmates on SCD and DWTS. Do you keep up with any of the other dancers and performers from your earlier shows such as Burn the Floor, Dirty Dancing, Simply Ballroom, etc.?
I keep in touch with the ones I liked – hahaha. I always look out for everyone and hope that they are doing well and happy with where they are. Just like any job or any environment some people put their goals before their relationships and will pull some David Copperfield tricks to steal your underpants which is cool but it’s not for me. I like the same people when I’m doing well and when I’m not doing so good and I don't forget who helped me along the way. I have friends from before I had any of these shows and I have friends who worked behind the scenes on these shows and I have some best friends from the shows. I wouldn't change any of my friends in the world, but I can take or leave some of the people I have met though – haha.
Finally, your life has changed so much over the last few years and 2016 has been a big year already. How do you like being a Dad?
It’s the most important and best thing that has ever happened to me. Whatever I have been through and did in my life - right or wrong - I ended up with the most amazing wife and daughter in the world.
Tristan is in the final three weeks of the Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown Australia/New Zealand Tour and took time today for our questions. Continue reading to find out the latest news and updates. As always, Tristan's humor, candor, and humility are truly refreshing.
We have seen the occasional photo of you with the cast and crew of Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown. Are you still doing the tour as it winds down and have there been any especially memorable moments?
Yeah, I’m still doing the tour. Only three weeks to go now - one in Perth and two in New Zealand. It’s been real fun and I will miss it when it finishes, but it’s been great. Everything is memorable about it. The cast are great. People have really taken me on board and looked after me there. Every show is great and every night Agnes makes me laugh on stage so the struggle is getting through the lines without laughing....it’s that way for everyone in every scene though.
We did a survey on the website and had close to a thousand responses about which of your dances with your celebrity partners were our favorites. Here are the results. Any surprises on this list? Your supporters seem to remember every dance and could talk about them all day.
1. Cha Cha with Gladys - "Best Of My Love"
2. Contemporary with Dorothy - "Tiny Dancer"
3. Foxtrot with Nancy - "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life"
4. Waltz with Valerie in Finale - "What A Wonderful World"
5. Charleston with Jamelia - "Straight Up"
6. Samba with Gladys - "Fiebre"
7. Quickstep with Jamelia - "I'm A Believer"
8. Foxtrot with Valerie - "Some Kind of Wonderful"
9. Foxtrot with Gladys - "Cupid"
10. Tango with Nancy - "The Naughty of Shady Lane"
11. Waltz with Jenny - "Natural Woman"
That’s nice. You forget what numbers you have done before and that was a nice surprise. I liked the dance with Gladys the best probably as well. That was one of my favourite seasons. I think with Valerie's “Carry On” sticks out, and I knew in my head after that dance that I wasn't going to come back.
You have answered a lot of our questions about learning and education in the past and here is an interesting one we recently received. If you could be a teacher of anything besides dance, what would it be?
There isn't anything else I’d be able to teach - haha - but I love History. Maybe PE. I think that’s really important for kids to do in school for social skills and mainly for health reasons.
We haven’t heard much about little Pike lately? Is he still around stirring up trouble?
Pikey is great. He is back in Ireland with my folks having the time of his life. He loves it there, and we are travelling so much that it’s not right to be dragging him around everywhere. He is very happy and probably too comfortable with his life in Ireland – haha.
Being a professional dancer definitely has its ups and downs. Generally speaking, what do you see as the highs and lows of your job? Does the uncertainty of the profession ever bother you or do you just accept it for what it is?
Yeah, there is an uncertainty with the profession but only if you limit yourself to the things you want to do. There is uncertainty whether you are gonna be on a tv show or not, but you can still be a dancer and you can still do shows and you can still take class and earn a living from it. The tv shows aren't the be all and end all of everything. You probably just earn more that way. I accept the way it is because the majority of people who do it get it. Take Maks and Val. They capitalize on the fact that they are on the show to make their own show or shows and make opportunities for their crowd to be able to work all year round. You just have to decide what you want to do. For me in a way it’s the same as everything else. Do you want to be a dancer or you want to be a famous dancer??! Do you want to be an actor or you want to be a famous actor?! Do you actually want to do something or do you want people to know what you do? It’s all perspective. I enjoy being a dancer, but it’s only a part of my life. It’s not everything.
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the website forum to get us to 1 million views? (Or do you assume it is insanity – or lunacy – at work)
People are always posting everything from the website to me, so I see a lot of things and the pictures are always a nice surprise but I’ve no doubt missed the bulk of all the work you guys put in and the banter between you all that no doubt is what has people coming back more than what I’m doing.
Also, there have been a lot of questions about Ballroom With A Twist and Dancing With the Movies here in the states. Do you currently have any plans to be in any of those shows later this spring and summer?
I have heard great things about the new show and maybe later in the year I may do some but right now I have a lot of stuff going on that needs my undivided attention, and I’m putting all thoughts of what’s next out of my head for a bit. I’m very happy where I am working at the minute and very content.
The question everyone is asking - Do you know if you will be coming back to Strictly?
No, I won't be going back. I think over the time I have been there I have realized more and more that it is not for me. I think the show needs someone a lot different to me on the show to get what they want, and I need something a lot different to make me happy and get what I want out of it. I think there will be a lot of changes on the show, and I have enjoyed it for the most part but right now I just need a break from it all. This kind of goes hand in hand with the other question in that you can do whatever it is you want to do but when you have to start doing things you don't, then you have to decide if it’s for you or not. You can be a dancer or you can be a dancer on a tv show and with that comes a whole other bag. It can be fun, but I’d sooner leave it as it is then spend all my time complaining about it.
First of all, what’s going on with Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown?! Tahyna posted a picture, and there you were in Wollongong on stage! What is your character? We were talking about that on the site – some said you looked the part of a minister, another said a Geek Squad computer repairman, another an accountant. Have you been doing the full Australian tour or only select performances?
Yeah, I have been doing the show here. We came out in January and decided we wanted to stay here for a bit and it happened that MBB was coming out too, so Brendan and Jenny asked me would I be interested in playing one of the roles while I was here - it was a no-brainer! The cast is great. I had got to know them a little over the last few years and now to be part of the show itself is an unreal experience. I love it. I play one of the Mormons from the Church of the Latter Day Saints who call to Mrs. Brown’s house. It's a comedy show obviously, and it’s been great fun working with these guys and seeing how they work together. It makes you wonder why everything else can't be so much fun and run so smoothly – haha.
Every season on DWTS and SCD has challenges, but what was the biggest challenge for you on SCD in 2015?
I think for me the biggest challenge each season and every episode is fitting into what the producers want to happen and trying to compromise your ideas and work. I understand it has to happen but it's hard when that becomes the priority. Sometimes you have to play 'the role' you don't want and it can be frustrating when everyone isn't privy to it. That's the nature of the show though and some work with it and some fight it, but I just think if you are going to be judged (more so by the audience) it should be your work and your work and ideas alone that are being judged.
Speaking of SCD 2015, Carol Kirkwood paid you some very nice compliments on Twitter a few weeks ago. Have you had the chance to dance with her or perform with her away from SCD? Did you get to know her well during the series?
No, I haven't danced with Carol since but she is such a beautiful person. I have a lot of time for her. We danced together in the group number at the very beginning of last season and we talked a lot during the season and are still in touch now like I am with a few others from last season and the previous one. Sometimes you meet people on the season and that's the last you hear of them unless you put yourself in those circles, but other times you get some messages asking how ' real life ' is – haha.
You have been asked many times what you would do if you weren’t a dancer, but this question from one of your fans in Europe touches on something different. If you were to have an alternate career in the entertainment industry, what do you think it would most likely be? Or conversely, what would you like it to be?
I don't really know. I like to talk and I'd love to do some presenting so maybe that. I have been very lucky with the opportunity I have been given now with MBB but I know not every gig is as smooth and as fun as this one. I don't know how much I would enjoy acting or certainly auditioning for acting roles – haha - maybe viewer is best option for me.
As a teacher of dance, what is the most important lesson you want your students (of all ages and occupations) to learn?
That enjoyment come first and improvement comes second. They are not equally as important but if you want to focus on one more than the other then that's up to you, and you have to decide and make sure that you realize that your opinion is most important not someone else's. If it's for fun, don't treat it like a competition, and if it's a competition don't treat it like fun. But you decide.
We all get bored at times. You travel a lot and have spent a lot of time on airplanes. Do you ever get bored on long flights? How do you pass the time?
100% - everyone gets bored on long haul flights. I just do the same as everyone else really - watch some films and think about what you are gonna do when you get to wherever you are going! I never used to move on planes. I'd plant myself down and just stay until we got ther,e but more recently I’ll go take a walk. I can't seem to sleep on planes and when I do I wake up with the bed neck and a chin full of slob - hahaha! I have been lucky enough with some companies where they flew us business class and then a few times I have corpsed it almost straight away after take off. I used to be bad with turbulence as well but I'm over that now.
In one of our recent interviews, you mentioned egos and then spoke about the cast of BWAT and how there are no real ego issues with the close cast. We’re sure you’ve come across this now and then in your career, but how do you deal with people who have inflated opinions of themselves - on SCD, DWTS, or just in everyday life?
The thing about that is that it's just my opinion. It's not to say I'm right and it frustrates me to bits, but I just leave that as it is. People are people and everyone has their reasons for whatever they do but I've stopped letting things like that get to me and just worry about my own stuff. Sure some people think I have an ego! That's the way it works. We see things the way we want to. Everyone can do whatever they want to and let's leave it at that – haha. Ego is frustrating but not as frustrating as entitlement.
Thinking back to your time in Burn the Floor, does any particular dance stand out as a favorite or is there perhaps one that you especially enjoyed performing night after night?
No, I don't think of shows that way - just the experience in general or whether it was good or bad! There are always songs we dance to and I remember them from BTF but the show changed so much so many times and at different stages. I'm sure I liked some dances more than others. I don't remember dancing through the dances just through the people and the times I had doing them. I'm not the type to think that dancing is everything and it fixes everything and it doesn't control my life like I believe it does a lot of people. I just enjoy doing it and the times I've had doing it and the people I've met and the places I've gone through and because of dancing are what make me happy.
The website forum contains a thread called “Tristan Trivia” and as you can imagine, it covers a lot of territory. One of the most recent questions involved the USO tour from several years ago when you, Chelsie Hightower, and Peta Murgatroyd visited and performed for troops in Germany. What do you remember about that experience?
Yeah, I remember the USO tour. It was a great experience and it's a shame I didn't get to do more of them. I really, really would have loved to. I remember meeting all the families that had been there and meeting the guys who has just flown in to Germany and were trying to settle. It just set me back seeing how young so many of these guys were and what they were committing themselves too. I mean you look back to the war times we learned about in school and you see kids fighting 14/15/16. It's all different times now but still surprising and sad at how young so many soldiers are! We visited a lot of the injured soldiers while there as well so it was very humbling. In saying that, we were looked after really well and had fun there doing the shows and hanging out with the soldiers. Afterwards, Chelsie came to Ireland and stayed in Bray and I showed her around Dublin. We had a great time.
We have to ask – do you have any scheduled performances coming up?
I don't have anything scheduled, no.
After a very busy 2015 with almost non-stop appearances and performing, Tristan is taking a break for some rest and relaxation. He still made time for some of your questions today, and in this short interview Tristan discusses his work with the Bord Gáis Energy Student Theatre Awards, how things he says are often taken out of context and then printed as fact, the importance of giving back, and more. It's always a pleasure to hear from Tristan, and we appreciate how much time he gives to his supporters. Enjoy!
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You’ve been busy. A lot of your supporters from all over the world have expressed an interest in what you’ve been doing lately and wanted to know how we could help so I thought the best way was to spread the word as much as we can so that no matter where you are, there is always a group waiting to support any causes or work you are doing if we can.
Things are good. I’m kicking back a little bit and taking a break after a long year and busy holiday period. Now I’m just clearing my head and getting my ducks in a row. Work has been good. Things have been working out alright lately and I’m lucky to have a lot of options on the table after putting a lot of time and effort into things at the minute so no complaints.
First of all, tell us about your involvement in the Bord Gáis Energy Student Theatre Awards which will be held in May.
I was contacted and asked to be involved - simple enough to be honest. It’s something I’m really happy to be involved in. It’s not something I had been following for a while or anything but when I looked into it a bit more I realized how important it is. It’s not necessarily important to see who is amazing and who isn't but it gives students at home an opportunity to have their talents recognized a bit more. There are a lot of amazing theatres in Ireland and I’d love to, in a little way, try to help promote something that helps us fill them with our own talents from home. It starts with things like this where we have students from primary and secondary schools being encouraged to put their stamp on the industry.
Obviously the arts are important to you, but from your perspective, how important is it for children to be exposed to the arts at a young age – whether they ultimately choose it as a career path or not?
Just to encourage the youth to express themselves and encourage them to work hard is paramount.
Along these same lines, several articles have been published recently about your desire to possibly, at some point, work back in Ireland in some form in stage and theatre training. In the event this comes to fruition, what would you like to see as the focus of such a school or venture?
That was all taken out of context to a degree. I think there was an angle that I wasn't really privy to when all those questions came in. They should have been about the student awards but it ended up being about Strictly and me and reality shows and silly things. In response to a question, I said that of course at some stage to come home to Ireland would be great and that I could see myself living there but not right now. If a dance show came about I would consider it but there is so much more to it than just that. I suggested a great show would be something put together by different counties throughout the country and there would be a cast selected from the same production across the board and that way it would actually mean something. Students could be taught how to put a show on, how to manage a show, how to perform or produce essentially like a theatre school. It would be a show that didn't rely on celebrity to sell it. There are too many people getting excluded from too many things for absolutely no reason so I said it would have to be a show or something that actually meant something to people and not just a reality fad for a few weeks or months. I think the best thing about Strictly is that they have a People’s Strictly which consists of people who contribute to their communities somehow and are fans of the show so they come on and dance with the professionals for a live show. I think that brings the whole place together more.
In addition, we saw a photo of you with the Purple House Cancer dancers and since cancer prevention and cure is a cause near and dear to many of us, someone asked if you are working with any particular charities these days. A lot of the people on the website are heavily involved in different charities – many cancer related – and the question came up a few days ago and this seemed like a good time to ask. We always encourage the people on the site to support any cause important to them either by giving their time or money when possible but we are always happy to give them a nudge in a certain direction if they want to help in some way.
I don't have any particular charities I work with, no, and there are so many it’s hard to exclude. If I can help something I will. If not, I try to not feel guilty about it. Unfortunately, there are so many people who need help and there never seems to be enough around! Purple House is a great charity. We all hate cancer and we all have been affected by it somehow. This time I’ll try to raise money for that. Last time it was homelessness. There are a number of people who work their arses off every day for these great causes so to help in any way - however small it seems - I think is necessary. There is so much money in the world and although it’s not the answer to everything, it goes a long way to helping. There are a lot of amazing people in the world who give everything they have so it’s not much to try and ask people to give a little if they can. We never know how we can help and we never realize that what we do helps more than we know so if there is anything you have an interest in, sometimes the biggest step is making the contact. Just maybe the people who feel most hopelessness and helplessness in their own lives can be the most important in somebody else’s.
We all hope you’ve enjoyed being home. Have you had lots of time to rest and relax and just take it easy?
Not just yet but I’m working on it!!
Finally, back to that dancing thing for a moment…do you have anything coming up? We’ve been keeping an eye on the 2016 Ballroom With A Twist dates in the U.S. and weren’t sure if you would be available for any of those or any other planned shows or events here in the states, in Ireland, or elsewhere. There is a lot of interest, as always.
Nothing is booked in just yet. I’m working on a whole bunch of things but I’m not looking past this week at the moment! I’m shattered and my body and more importantly my head needs a break.
Tristan is currently appearing in Ballroom With A Twist-Mas in Florida and has been very busy since Strictly Come Dancing finished up last weekend. He took time today to answer a few of your questions.
Several of us were fortunate enough to see the new Ballroom With A Twist-Mas show this week in Maryland. It was a great show, by the way. How did you manage the travel from the UK, rehearsal, and getting a little sleep before show time?
Thanks for coming. I didn't get too much sleep before the Baltimore show to be honest. We finished the Strictly final late on Saturday night and then went straight home to pack and flew first thing to Dublin for a layover where we caught up with my family in Dublin airport for a few hours. We flew all day Sunday and then learned the show Monday morning and did the show Monday night......and then I had a few hours sleep and we left Baltimore at 5 a.m. to fly to West Palm and drive to Boca Raton.
Take us through your numbers with Chelsie and how the show will change in Florida when you will be dancing with Sabrina Bryan, and Gleb Savchenko and Elena Samodanova will be joining you on stage.
We did four numbers - two group numbers and two solos with Chelsie and then I taught the dances to Sabrina, and we give that a bash for the week here. We have a group samba with the cast and then I dance a Foxtrot to “Baby It's Cold Outside” with Sab and a quick Q and A in Act One. Gleb and Elena dance a Cha Cha. In the second act we dance a Jive to “All I want For Christmas” and then we all finish with a group Jive after a quick dance lesson and Gleb and Elena do a Rumba. We come out at different parts of the show and talk to the audience then as well and that is followed by a meet and greet at the end.
Since this is an all new show that you saw for the first time Monday night, do you have any favorite numbers ? (by any of the cast)
No. I didn't get to see too much of the show the first night as I was still learning the running order and cues so I was pretty occupied for that first show but it’s great. It’s a strange one with Christmas music. I don't know if it’s just me but eventually Christmas music gets on my nerves when you hear the same songs over and over and over in and out of work but for some reason it doesn’t bother me with this show. There are your Christmas songs we all love and then there is a Motown medley of songs and the singers we have and live band are unreal so it’s a lot more enjoyable than I would have expected.
It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the show – Kiki, Brent, Oksana, CJ, Tony, Magda, Jon, Legacy, etc. It seems like a family. So many of you have performed together again and again over the years – the troupe, the Holland America cruises, BWAT, and other shows. What are your thoughts on the cast? You mentioned in our last interview that Jaymz is a good friend of yours and also the show’s choreographer, but we didn’t see him around this week. Is he there with you all in Florida?
The cast are great, yeah - no egos - just a great bunch of people who love spending time with each other. There is no competition here so everyone is just normal and gets on with their job. Nobody is trying to get one up on each other or going in the background to get ahead. It’s just a show we love performing and performing as a team. Jaymz isn't here yet but he may get here in a few days. He is always busy choreographing shows or performing and he has more DWTS cruises coming up so he is flat out.
The lead vocalists for this show – Von Smith and Vonzell Solomon – were nothing short of amazing (as were the band’s vocalists). Do you have a favorite (so far anyway) of any of their numbers?
No favourites, no. I love them all. Vonzell I hadn't seen in years as she used to sing onBurn The Floor with us way back and Von as always is just unreal. He has such a unique voice. The two work well together and obviously it’s the first time Gina [Gina Glocksen-Ruzicka] isn't singing on the show. Occasionally she would miss a show or two and a different singer would come in but it’s strange not seeing her face here but Vonzell is killing it here. She is great.
Speaking of music and musicians, you’ve occasionally done BWAT with an orchestra, but in this new show a band is on stage for every performance. How does that add to the show?
Everything live is always better, in my opinion, and this band adds so much to the show. Everyone is multi-talented and you can see as well as the musicians playing they are so involved in the dance numbers themselves, which is great to see. You can catch eyes with a guy in the band and you know you are performing together which is what you miss when it’s track. Jacob and Chantelle come out and start singing as well or sing while playing their instruments which I wasn't expecting. It’s just an all round better show in my opinion and being the holidays it just adds a different dimension to it.
On a SCD note – we loved seeing Aliona and Jay win this year and we were sad to hear that Aliona won’t be returning next year to Strictly. What are your thoughts on the series overall?
Yeah, Aliona just mic dropped it and dropped the bomb that she is leaving – haha. It’s gonna be a great loss to the show but she is a top girl. I have a lot of time for her and no doubt whatever she wants to do next will be a huge success. The season was grand, yeah, a little long to be honest but it was great. Starting in August and finishing late December is draining but the cast and crew this season were fun. The new cast members slotted in great and I’m glad they all did so well. I’m sure they will be around for a while and I’m sure a bunch of us will be having our eyes on new adventures and what not - you never really know when each season finishes. Sometimes you can't wait for the next to start and sometimes you couldn't think of anything worse but for now it’s just taking a break and resting up and enjoying the new year and seeing what you wanna do. The show is a machine and will keep going strong as long as the fans of the show want it to as it’s in your hands. The support is always immense.
Finally, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family from all of us. Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.
Well, here is to the holidays. Have a great Christmas and New Year. Don't get caught up too much with presents and gifts this month. Most people just miss a phone call or a visit to say hello and a cuddle. Spend time and not money and enjoy time with your families. Take care.
In this Q and A Tristan talks about Strictly Come Dancing, the new Ballroom With A Twist Christmas show (Ballroom With A Twist-Mas), motivation, entertaiment vs. technique, patience and so much more. Enjoy!
In your two series of Strictly Come Dancing, have there been a lot of changes in the way things are done or in the way you do things or is the format mostly the same?
There aren't too many changes, no, from season to season to be honest - not that I have noticed too much anyway. Then again I'm still pretty new to Strictly. The format of the show is always the same. You kind of just get used to the way it runs and accept it for what it is. Some seasons you stay in. Some seasons you go home. I guess a lot of viewers get more used to you the longer you stick around which makes sense but then again a lot of people think it's my first season so what are you gonna do!? I have enjoyed myself on the show. That's the main thing for me each season and when that stops, I’ll stop unless they stop me.......and then I’ll have to stop – Ha!
We’ve been hearing a lot about Ballroom With a Twist-Mas coming up later this month. Do you know much about the cast and show yet or will that all happen once you get back to the states?
I know bits and bobs. I haven't seen the show yet. I think it's running at the minute but myself and Gleb and his wife Elena join for Christmas Week once Strictly finishes and then we will take a break for New Years. I know I'm gonna dance with Sabrina Bryan for the show but we will put it together once we see each other next week, and the main show itself is choreographed by Jaymz Tuaileva who is super and a good friend of mine so I'm really looking forward to it. The cast are a great, great bunch. I really like them all and can't wait to be in that group again!
Lots of professional dancers mention particular people who they find inspiring or someone or something that motivates them. Whether it’s someone in dance or someone or something completely unrelated, what or who do you find inspiring or perhaps motivates you to keep going? Or does that motivation come from within?
Motivation comes from everywhere I think. For me it's nobody in particular and people throughout my life at different times and places have inspired me and helped me out a lot but having respect in yourself and in what you do should push you on every day. No matter what you do and what you love, some days it just drives you up the wall and you need a break from it so I make sure to give my head a bit of peace when I start to have my head turned. I'm not competitive but I try to do my best and I set my own goals from day to day or week to week but you need to TRY and for me that's always the main motivation whether I get that from within or from investing in others.
You’ve often mentioned telling a story through dance and even said that entertainment value can sometimes take precedence over the technical aspect, but how do you know when to let the entertainment value or the story take over and when do you know that technique shouldn’t be sacrificed? Are there examples?
It always depends on the situation. Technique can obviously make things easier but time plays a big factor and then nerves do even more so. You can work on technique all week but it means nothing when you step on the floor and your focus is something completely different. My focus - all the time, every single time - is how my partner feels and what she needs to feel good about herself and confident of having a good time. Judging depends on a personal perspective so unless you are going to pick up on every single thing wrong and not mention anything right or vice versa, how is that going to help anything?! It's easy to look at a performance and say what is wrong but you don't know what has improved and/or how it started so I have to prioritize for our comfort. Some people improve a lot more but can't improve as quickly and getting slammed for and it doesn't help. We as teachers are the most critical so we judge on the work, and the judges and audience judge on performance.
You have the ability to deal with all kinds of personalities in your work. People often say you are extremely patient. Do you think the word ‘patient’ describes you?
I don't think it describes me, no, but it's an attribute I have and something I find hard to believe is such a big deal – ha. Why shouldn't we all be patient? We know something that others don't and should take the time to try and explain things. I'm not the quickest at picking things up so I'd lose my mind and my temper I think if somebody was annoying me and complaining about it. We should be trying to find ways to improve ourselves as teachers not just improving 'celebrities' as dancers for our own benefit. It annoys me when everyone makes it just about winning. It turns me off. I want us to do as good as we can and be the best we can. If that helps us win then it's a bonus but my job on the show is to teach and make the experience enjoyable for the partner. It's not my job just to win.
Do you remember the first dance lesson you ever taught? Do you remember the first dance lesson you ever took and who taught it?
No, I don't actually remember the first class I took or taught to be honest but for no particular reason. It's just that it was so long ago. I remember the first time I represented Ireland in the world championships and I remember when I decided to finish competing and dancing but that's about it. I'm sure I can remember more if I tried but those are the main ones that I don't forget. I enjoy teaching now and remember a lot of lessons and classes and different studios and the teachers who work there full time and the students who show up every day for their lessons. I think that is the heartbeat of the dancing world and for me the thing that keeps my interest in it at all.
In terms of pure fun, which dance has been the most enjoyable for you to dance since you’ve been on SCD?
I won't forget the Riverdance number. I loved it. We didn't do much in it but the experience was unreal for me a bit like the Lion King number we did last week was for Oti. It was just special and even though it was not about us we both felt quite proud to be involved in the numbers. And my Jive with Jenny was fun because that was a nightmare day, and we couldn't have been further from smiling all day before that - hahaha.
We enjoyed the pro group dance with the cast of Lion King. Did you have rehearsals together and have you seen the show?
Yeah, the Lion King was great. They all came in and rehearsed the number a few days before and then the night before. They were great. It was a pretty big deal apparently. It was the first collaboration they had done in twenty years but the cast were unreal. I have a lot of friends who have been in the show over the years and it was one of the first shows I ever saw on Broadway. I could watch that show over and over and especially now that we hit it off with this cast so much.
Any SCD updates you can share such as pro dances, etc.?
No updates, no. We have two weeks left so the celebs all come back in next week for the big finale number. I'd imagine we have another pro number and then we have two more pro numbers tomorrow night so it will be a busy week next week but fitting for the last show.
You mentioned on a clip that aired on It Takes Two that the pro group dance would be to “On the Floor”. Being that we seem to remember way too much, we’re curious if you remember dancing to that song in the first pro and troupe dance on DWTS in Season 12.
I knew I had danced to it before but I couldn't remember when. That must have been the first number with Peta, Teddy, Nicole, Oksana and Kiki. That was a great bunch there. I loved that Troupe. It's such a well known song and used a lot. Sometimes you associate it with a particular time and number but it will be a completely different experience this time around. Neil and Katya have choreographed this one again and it's all the eliminated pros so we will just see how it goes. ITT usually happens on the first day of rehearsals so they are talking to you as you are finding out things and then if you don't say the right things they cut you out - hahaha.
We were sorry to hear that you won’t be doing the tour this year but beyond your Ballroom With A Twist-mas shows, do you have teaching or performing plans for the new year or will you be getting some time off from what has been another very busy year?
I'm taking time off after Florida shows, yeah for sure. I haven't had a break in a fair bit of time so I'm gonna sit down and have a think about what I want to do with my life and just see where that takes me.
Since July, 2012, we have interviewed Tristan 64 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.