In our latest Q and A, Tristan talks about Burn the Floor, Ballroom With A Twist, the challenges of his travel schedule, and lots more. Enjoy!
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You have traveled from Australia to the states a few times recently. How do you pass the time on those long flights?
Yeah, those long flights can be a bit of a mare sometimes but they are necessary when you decide to live on the other side of the world!!! I always think I’m going to sleep for the flight because the kids aren’t there, but I’ve always had trouble with my neck on flights so best I can hope for is an hour or two sleep if I’m lucky. I sometimes read, watch some movies, try and make some plans, and assess everything. Sometimes it’s hard to do that when you can’t find downtime. Most recently I started writing out almost like a TED talk of sort just following what I’ve been through and how I got there and how I found myself here now. I’ve always felt like I’m a people person so I talk to people on flights too—not everyone, just the people who seem pleasant and engaging!
You were teaching again recently in Florida and that is something you have always told us that you enjoy doing. Is there a particular dance or dance style that you especially enjoy teaching?
Yeah, teaching is cool and the style never really bothers me. I try to approach teaching on a personal level too. I think students and teachers day-to-day can work tirelessly on their technique, so I try to start by asking what they are having trouble with or what they want to understand differently. Sometimes you just need a different voice and new words to hear what you don’t realize you have been listening to already!! It’s easy to forget why you started dancing when all you are concerned about is validation from others. I try to bring some fun and perspective back into it whilst hopefully teaching some performance and understanding.
Has there been any word on whether or not Dancing With the Stars Australia will be returning in 2020? If so, will you be judging again?
No official announcements just yet, no, but to be honest I wouldn’t be able to say even if I did know. I do know that I loved it last year and am hoping there is another season. I think we would all be a lot more comfortable now with a run behind us! It’s a fun show again. Having taken a break from it and working in production more, I have a different understanding about it all and how it runs so now I can enjoy it for what it is. Reflection and taking responsibility for everything that has happened good or bad has really been key for me.
Many of us have seen Burn the Floor at some point or another, and you were not only a dancer in the show for several years, but you had the opportunity to host the Burn the Floor Gala in Sydney earlier this year. The show has obviously evolved over the years, but were any of the numbers similar to those that were in the show when you were a BTF performer? Did you already know many of the dancers?
This Burn The Floor was amazing but also it was more a gala so it featured dances from all the shows over the years. As host, I guess my role was talking about my experiences in the show and how it affected me and molded me to a degree. The first number was "Proud Mary" which generally was our last number when I was a cast member. I love it as much now as I did then! I wish my body could do the things my head wanted it to. It’s such an inspiring show and sad at the same time to know physically I can’t do what I used to. I knew most of the cast from DWTS in Oz and then a few I have known since we were kids. Victoria Martin is the one I’ve know the longest. Vic used to be the girl I always wanted to dance with and she is still as amazing as ever and smashing the show every night!!
What did you enjoy most about being back with Burn the Floor – even if it was just for one night?
It surprised me how much I missed it, and just the nostalgia I had talking about my experiences was quite emotional for me. Maybe I’ve just got softer since the kids came— haha—but honestly I saw the love and dedication that the cast has and the ethic they have that I could mirror when I joined the show first. It’s literally the best environment to be in as a performer and always a student. It’s like getting into the college you always wanted and learning from your idols and then actually being around nice people who care about more than themselves! Everyone in that show only strives to improve themselves and those around them and the collective is what I missed most. I left Burn The Floor for DWTS but I never forget how important that time was for me and hopefully I get to work with the show in some capacity again.
You have performed off and on with Ballroom With A Twist for years. How has that show changed? We see lots of familiar faces time and time again and yet the show always seems fresh and new. What do you think makes it so successful?
Ballroom With A Twist again is another great show that I love being part of. Generally I get to dance with Anna most the time and I always have a blast with her and have over time gotten to know her so much more than I ever did while we did DWTS together. The cast is always great. There is always a tweak in the cast for whatever reason in different venues but there is always a new energy to feed off. The cast love each other and that shows. Nobody gets bored doing the same numbers because they realize who they are doing those numbers with. I have been very, very lucky in the shows that I have been part of over my career.
If you had the chance to host any show on television (Australia, Ireland, America, or anywhere else), which show would that be?
I’d love to host a show that made people feel good and happy about themselves, I can appreciate competitive shows but I’d love a show where at the end you could tell someone how amazing they are and those reasons being genuine and important. I love those shows where they build a house and give it to a family or finding jobs for people down on their luck. Mostly if it was in the realm of a DWTS show then I’d love to do a show where the pros dance with people of their community—people who may want to be nurses or teachers, doctors, care workers, whatever it may be but can’t afford tuitions and the prize may be their education paid for whatever it may be. Maybe homeless people down on their luck get some weeks of a wage and shelter while getting themselves feeling good about themselves and realizing their worth again. I don’t know just something feel good!!
Finally, if you were inclined to write a book or screenplay, what would it be about?
Yeah, a memoir would be fun but I don’t know if anyone would be keen on reading that—hahaha. I like self-help books and people’s stories but sometimes you need a book to inspire you, not necessarily tell you what to do. I’m also good at telling lies and making up stories so maybe that could work too—hahahaha.
It's hard to imagine that this is our 71st Q and A with Tristan since the first way back in July, 2012. In this one, Tristan talks about judging on Dancing With the Stars Australia, working with Craig and Sharna, and so much more. Enjoy!
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Now that you have been a DWTS Australia judge for a couple of weeks, what would you say has been the most challenging part of the job so far?
I guess the most challenging part so far is just to be conscious of being helpful and empathetic towards each individual. Sometimes it’s more important (in my opinion) to be more conscious of someone’s emotions on screen than their ability. For the show and for some audience members and viewers, they want me to prove I know what I’m talking about in critique but if I feel like it might be too much to take for the celebs in relation to what they have heard from the other two, I’ll go with making them feel good and maybe have a word off camera a little later. I know a live performance can go either way, so it’s difficult in a way to give criticism that can be taken forward to the next week as opposed to just pointing out mistakes they made on something specific they will never do again. When they know they made them, why should three of us point it out if it makes them feel uncomfortable and self-conscious? The point is to make them fearless. I see that as my role.
Have there been any surprises with regard to your judging responsibilities?
I don’t know if there have been any surprises. I just say what I see. It’s always been my way. I’m not really a typical dancer’s dancer kind of thing—haha. Sometimes I know what they should be doing and I know why they do it that certain way, but I just never liked it so I don’t comment on it if that makes sense. For example, like the whole top off thing. Why dance with no top on? Why run your hands through your hair? Why make the noises and faces when you dance? I get it but it’s just not my style, so I have to remember that just because I don’t like it it’s not wrong!! There seems to be a thing now in everything you see that instead of just being happy with what you think or what side you take, it’s not good enough unless you bag out the other side. If one thing is good, everything else has to be horrendous to prove the point. I’m glad that this makes me look at things from a different perspective. I’m a little surprised at how guilty I feel after an elimination even though it’s not down to us!!!
We all know Craig as a judge and entertainer and Sharna as a professional dancer, but what would you say are the strengths of Craig and Sharna as far as what they bring to the judging panel? What would you say is your strength as a judge? The 3 of you work well together and provide a nice balance.
Sharna and Craig have been fantastic and the fact that we genuinely get on is a major bonus. We all know what the show is about and we all know what each other’s personalities and, to a degree, points of view are so I think the strength is in the full picture and, like you mentioned, the balance. We listen to each other and either back each other up or plug the gaps that are left open. Myself and Sharna have known each other for so long and have traveled and worked together for many years before DWTS even so we have banter and she has a great presence and knowledge. Craig is just funny and so helpful with his experience. From the off he has been a great springboard. He is hilarious. No malice and great tv.
You’ve been a professional dancer on both Dancing With the Stars (USA) and Strictly Come Dancing, but how is it different being on the other side of the table than you expected? How does DWTS Australia differ from the other two shows?
I can’t compare the shows as my role is completely different and I’m in a completely different phase of my life now. A lot of the problems I had on the other shows at times were down to how I was feeling myself and obviously sometimes down to certain people doing my head in—hahaha. My priorities were what they were and they had their own priorities. On reflection, I had a great time and I can appreciate that now. At this moment, I love the role I’m in here. I hope I get to do it a lot longer and I hope I’m up to the task.
Now that you know the DWTS Australia couples a little bit and see how they can express themselves through their performing, what are some songs that come to mind that you would love to see used on the show? (just general titles, not necessarily connected to a particular DWTS team, pro, or celebrity)
I have no idea to be honest. People will be more comfortable one week and the opposite the next. The thing with the songs is that if it’s one you like you can relax a little more and enjoy it. If it’s one that you don’t like or care for, it can be a nightmare but again that could just be me?! I want them all to do well. There will no doubt be a week or memorable year and we can get to know them a little more and that’s the fun part. Seeing people grow and enjoy themselves is always great. There is a bubble they can get lost in while the show is on but that’s okay. At the end of the day, it is a reality show but the hard work is real and the effort and emotions are real so you can forgive the ‘be all end all’ feeling and drama that you see which I guess I never did when I was on the other side!
What has been the most unusual thing that has happened so far on the show?
Nothing as yet everything is pretty smooth sailing—maybe my hairstyles—haha. I forgot that when you are on tv you have to brush your hair and my head doesn’t suit a brush, so one week I look like my grandad and the next I look like Johnny Cash. The other two look how they look all the time. I do not—haha. I don’t wear suits unless I’m there or in court and I don’t brush my hair. Actually, I don’t even look at my hair unless I have to—haha, There is nothing like being on television and being in the public eye to give you a complex.
What have been some of the most memorable moments in your career as a professional dancer?
I’ve had some fantastic memories. I’ve done things I never would have dreamed of. I just wish that I looked after myself better. I got unlucky with my knees and ankles early on, but I could have helped myself more with proper treatment and recovery but I was living the life of Riley. You live and learn. I look after myself so much better these days and I have regrets but I have been so lucky with my career and the paths it has taken me and the lessons I’ve learned. For every mistake I made it got me to where I am now with my family. I wouldn’t dare change a thing because I’m being the best me I can.
What’s next after DWTS finishes in a few weeks? (Other than your growing family, of course!)
I’m learning to live in the moment now. I don’t know what comes next . I know now I’m focused on this and in less than two weeks I will have another baby so that’s my own priority at the minute. The rest will look after itself.
How does Echo feel about being a big sister soon?
Echo can’t wait for her brother to come. She is gonna be the best sister and she keeps picking things she is gonna let him play with and things they can do together. No doubt she will want all the cuddles when he does come, but she is full of love this one is, so she will be great.
Lightning round (the first thing that comes to mind)
The last sporting event you attended
The last sporting event was a triathlon here in Sydney—just as a spectator this time although I want to get back into them.
The last sporting event you watched on television
Football is on here at 2 a.m. so I was watching Leeds but the UFC was on yesterday so I watched the Darren Till and Tyron Woodley fight.
Favorite show on Australian television (not including DWTS)
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Favorite U.S. city
Boston although I’ve never been somewhere in the U.S. where I didn’t have a good time honestly.
The last book you read
I’m reading Positively Unstoppable at the minute by Diamond Dallas Page but I just finished Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and Face the Music by Paul Stanley.
The best movie you’ve seen during the last few years
Green Book was pretty good and Bohemian Rhapsody
A book you want to read but haven’t yet
I like documentaries when I can or biographical books and movies although we don’t have much time or energy recently to watch any.
Favorite thing about Australia during this time of year
Just being here!!
We always love hearing from Tristan, and here is the latest in our series of interviews. This is number 70! Where has the time gone? Enjoy, and feel free to leave any questions below if there is something special that you would like for us to ask him next time.
There is also a very special slide show at the conclusion of the interview.
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Lots of people still ask us about your time on Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing. What would you say was the most rewarding part of being on those shows?
On reflection, it was a wild ride being on the shows and overall, I had a good time. Obviously, there were many ups and downs along the way but I met some great people, made some good friends, learned a lot about myself and ultimately it put me in the place I needed to be to meet my wife and make my family. I came across some old emails the other day of before it started and how excited I was to come to America and then each time I learned of my new partners. I forgot how lucky I was to be able to go on a USO tour and what an amazing experience it was.
There was the time I wanted to try going to Strictly and see if I could enjoy myself again. I remember the times I nearly came back but I think overall my decisions were the right ones for me in the end. I look at the people I started out with and they are still smashing it and loving in but for me it just wasn’t me at the time or me now but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. You could be doing the best job in the world but if you aren’t happy in yourself or your surroundings you have to be brave enough to move on and then live with the decisions you made. I look back now and am genuinely happy with the good parts and made my peace with the bad.
Speaking of Strictly, what are some of the special moments on the show (including the Christmas special, Children in Need, the tour, etc.)?
Yeah, Strictly was fun too. I loved It Takes Two that was always fun to do. We enjoyed living in London even though both my partners lived outside London so we traveled for rehearsals but we lived out Notting Hill way so we enjoyed the markets and the parks there. I enjoyed touring around and enjoyed seeing the country. Just again at the time it sometimes wasn’t enough to just like it. You had to love it and that was something I just couldn’t deal with. The show is very demanding physically for sure but time consuming too and for me I like spending the majority of my time with my family. That being said I loved spending time with Jenny and her family and the most important thing about that was that they, more than anyone, included my family in the whole experience so it was enjoyable for everyone similar to the way Nancy and Gladys would have. Strictly, I think, is better than ever now and they have cast well and the environment is probably a lot better for everyone so I have nothing but good wishes for them.
You had a lot of interesting times during your six seasons on DWTS, but is there one performance, moment, or anything else that stands out as a favorite?
I got to sing with Gladys and The Temptations in rehearsals on Motown week and go on tour with Gladys. That was amazing. I absolutely loved it. That season I got to meet Huey Lewis and Kiss as well so it was pretty cool. I loved the trio dances I got to be involved in with Mark, Derek and Maks. All are really good guys.
You did quite a bit of teaching when you were in the states and elsewhere. What did you enjoy most about that experience?
Teaching was always fun. I taught in a great studio in Boston for the guts of a year before I came to DWTS. It was called SuperShag and I had a blast. Granted I had a wild time there too but I just loved being in the studios and meeting everyone. Positivity is great to be around and I find that is the environment on most dance studios. People are there because they want to be not because they have to be. I had a blast in Akron too and got to throw the first pitch at a baseball game. That was pretty fun.
We have been hearing about the new production Motown With A Twist from Scott Stander and his team. Who are some of your favorite Motown artists and what are some of your favorite Motown songs? (Is there any chance you will be involved with this new show?)
I love Motown and I would love to do some of the shows with Scott. You know I love that company but at the moment there just isn’t anything on the calendar that I can make work as much as I’d love too. I love all the Motown groups. It was so cool and unreal voices and talent. At the time, I must have asked Gladys a million questions a day about it all. I think that’s why she got us thrown off the show - just to have a break from me and my questions. I loved the Chi-Lites, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and,Tammi Terrell I loved it all and obviously the Jacksons much later—such good music—The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Commodores…
And now for a few random topics…
Your current favorite athlete
Katie Taylor is the best athlete I know of at this time and I have been reading a lot on Tyson Fury and Eamonn Coghlan.
Your all-time favorite athlete
All time, I don’t know. I’m getting into so many more sports these days.
Favorite sports memory
Ireland beating Romania in penalty shootout at Italia'90, Packie Bonner save, and Dave O'Leary scored the winner. This was one of my first and best memories.
Latest Echo milestone
Echo in full voice at the Women’s march in Sydney screaming for equality and an end to domestic abuse.
Based on Echo’s current personality, what do you think she will be when she grows up?
She will be whatever she wants to be and she will be the best at it based on her attitude!!! She listens to Nas' song :”I can” and smashes the chorus.
How are Echo’s dance skills? What about directing and producing? Bossing you and her mother around don’t count!
She loves dancing and singing. Yeah, good is a stretch at the minute but she loves it an she acts out all the Disney songs. She’s the best. We love watching her.
You’ve mentioned how much you enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors. Are you still enjoying the great outdoors?
Yeah, I love it. I run a lot these days so I’m outdoors a lot and it’s the middle of summer so we are swimming every day. I still can’t convince Tahyna to come camping although she is a lot more open to the idea last few times it’s been brought up. I did a marathon a few months back through the forest in The Shire where we live and it was unreal along the lakes and the barbecue and swim after were perfect.
And finally. Have you been back to Ireland lately? What do you miss most about living there?
We haven’t been back in a while, no, just close by when filming in Glasgow but we will for sure go back at some stage thus year with the family. My folks have been over for Christmas so I’ve seen my family. I just miss the friends and the proper Guinness. It’s not the same here!!
Tristan recently returned to Australia after several weeks performing in Ballroom With A Twist 10th Anniversary Tour and Dance To the Movies while also juggling his production responsibilities with Mrs. Brown's Boys. He took some time out of his very hectic schedule to answer your questions.
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You mentioned last week that you were back at work on Mrs. Brown's Boys. Are you still involved in the production end of things and will you be doing any more acting?
We have literally just finished filming the Christmas specials in Glasgow and are switching gear now in preparing the 2019 touring show so we really are flat out. I’m still working and learning the production side of things here, yes, but I’m open and happy to be considered for some acting roles too. It’s just not something I’m actively putting myself out for. I don’t have an agent or manager like most do so I just really focus on what I’m doing at the time and then see what happens from there. I have always been that way inclined unless I’m unhappy in what I’m doing and then I go and find something else!!
Every production of Mrs. Brown’s Boys that you are involved with must mean different responsibilities. What are some of the specific things you are doing now, and what is your favorite part of the job?
Right now a lot of my work is in the scheduling and making sure the right information gets to the right people. I’m learning from some great people so I’m eager to sponge it all in. I’m trying to learn a bit of everything by helping in any department I can without getting in the way or slacking in my specific responsibility. I’m very aware that eagerness, as refreshing as it is, can sometimes also get in the way and too much help can become a hindrance. I’m a quiet worker, so basically I do exactly what I’m told to do as efficiently as I can. It’s not always interesting to hear about but I like it and generally the fun and exciting stuff is all secrets until it’s ready to reveal.
You have been working with Mrs. Brown’s Boys for a while now and have been part of several shows. Do you have a favorite production thus far?
Good Mourning Mrs. Brown was great craic and I’ll always love that but then again, I was acting in it so I’m a bit biased—ha. For every show I have done something different so I love them all for different reasons but I’m excited to see what the new tour is about and where I can weasel my way into it.
It was nice seeing you back in the states for Dance to the Movies and Ballroom With A Twist 10th Anniversary Tour. Do you have any particular standout numbers that you consider as favorites from either show? Do you have a favorite number that you performed with Anna during this last round of shows?
It’s always great going back to that show, and it’s a broken record but the cast make the show and experience what it is for me as well as the audience. These last set of shows were great because Kiki was back and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. We used to live with each other when he came out to Hollywood first. Myself, Keeks, and Farber lived in a studio apartment together—haha. We had some times then—mental stuff!!!! I had to do a couple of numbers I hadn’t done before and had limited time to learn them so they were fun/stressful after the travelling but it went grand I suppose in the end and I didn’t get booed or anything so I suppose that’s a positive—haha.
You will be heading back to Australia soon, but do you have any future shows in the works?
Yeah, I’m sitting in the airport in Glasgow now waiting to get back home to the girls. I can’t wait. I have a whole bunch of stuff in the works but not too sure on time frames and when they will be ready to go or not. My attention is all over the place with all the travel. Tahyna is flat out with some exciting projects as well so we are trying to balance it all as a team and see how we go! Always working on things but priorities always determine how far they go with all the work and travel. As I mentioned, it’s more important for us to spend as much family time as we can together and make sure Echo is getting the parenting she needs and that our marriage gets the time it deserves.
Finally, here is the lightning round. Just give us the first thing that comes to mind.
Virgin always get me where I’m going and pleasantly.
Least favorite airline
I’m in a phase now where I’m working on the words I use to keep me sane, so only positive words or I keep quiet—haha. It’s been a trip but it’s making me happier!
Anna is great. Good things happen to good people—maybe not always when you want it to but it rings through for her .
If it helps you get what you want and you like it, then social media is for you.
I'm not big on it these days, but caramel honeycomb is always good though.
Sesame Street character
Elmo—I love Kevin Clash but anything Jim Henson
Moana.............Echo loves it!!
Ice cream toppings
Least favorite household chore
It doesn't help. I’ll still have to do it—haha.
Favorite dance that isn’t a rumba or waltz
Tristan will be back in the states soon and will be performing in both the Ballroom With A Twist 10th Anniversary Tour and Dance To the Movies. The links for tickets to those shows are listed on this website's Updates page.
Over the last year, you have been busy with lots of different projects including the rehearsals and tour with Kristina Rihanoff, trips back to the states for Dance To the Movies, and your production responsibilities with Mrs. Brown’s Boys. When you step away from dancing for a while to work on other projects, do you find it difficult to get back into the rigors of dance and performing?
To be honest—not really, but in saying that some would say that’s why I’m not very good at it— haha. I enjoy dancing but to enjoy it for me I need to get away from it when I can. Dancing is fun and stays that way because it’s a part of my life and not all of it. My competitive nature comes from doing things where there is no denying it’s not down to opinion. I either run faster and further or slower and not as far. Stage is great because I can be myself, I can talk to people how I talk to people, and—if allowed—I answer whatever they want to know. I deal with people every day, so it’s no different in my mind then when I'm on stage. I stay fit now because I enjoy running and training more. The breaks I take let me recover, so it makes such a difference to my life waking without the agony I used to be in. I have a new way of dealing with everything these days, and it works for me so long may that continue.
Have you been working with the cast and crew of Mrs. Brown’s Boys recently, and do you have more in the works? Are there tours coming up?
Yeah, we have been busy with the new shows. We have a UK tour coming up next year but before then we have the Christmas specials to record and also the new seasons of All Round to Mrs. Brown’s and For Facts Sake. I’m also putting some things together with a friend—like a passion project—so things are great work-wise, and, most importantly, great family-wise.
This question comes from Jessica who traveled to Boston to see you in Dance To the Movies. How does preparation for a show that uses a recorded track differ from one that uses a live orchestra like the Boston Pops? Are their differences with regard to rehearsal and performing?
Yeah, they can be quite different but only in terms of how it sounds and that we don't rehearse with the orchestra. Well, I didn't anyway as I only flew in the night before. The orchestra is unreal and I love it. Dancing to live music is always the best and, not that they do, but the live musicians can make mistakes as much as the dancers can. I guess when it comes to track you just have to hope it doesn’t skip—haha. I literally just watched something the other day of myself and Emma when our music stacked it and pretty much it was a sham from then on—unreal bad but we had a giggle on it!! The stage is a lot different with the orchestra as well seeing as they are so big. The dance space is a lot smaller so you modify. The show in Boston had Act 1 just orchestra and Act 2 was orchestra with us guys, so workload differs also for the dancers on a show like that. I love the live music and it adds another great element along with the dancing and obviously the singing that is there whether it is orchestra or track. Everything about that show was great for me the cast obviously are great as are the Boston Pops, I love dancing with Anna, and it was in Boston which is always my favourite place to go back to!
You have performed in venues all over the world, but is there anything in particular that stands out when you perform here in the states? In other words, is there something you especially enjoy about performing in America?
It’s a bit of everything really, but mostly now because I don't live there anymore and when I come back its always for fun now! I see my friends, I do fun shows, and I get to hang out with great people in great places. The Scott Stander group is so good to work for and they always have my back so it’s a pleasure to come back. I must say I’m very lucky with BOC Productions also in that they allow me to come back and dance as they are my bosses now..............bar my wife.........and child!! I also enjoy seeing the interest people have for DWTS and hearing how much they enjoy it. It kind of feels good to know that you played a part in it however small it may have been. At one point in time, it was the greatest job I had ever had and I was lucky that America embraced me.
You have danced with lots of pros in lots of shows, but who (other than probably Sasha) has the most wicked sense of humor? What about your celebrity partners on DWTS and SCD? Was there anyone in particular who was especially amusing or that you stay in frequent contact with?
Everyone has always been great to be fair pro-wise. I never met a pro I didn't get on with or, at least, I never met one I had a problem with—haha. It’s fascinating that you can spend so much time with the same people and not really get to know them that well. Maybe that was me at the time, maybe it was them, but there aren’t too many that I am still in contact with. Sasha will always be in my life. He’s a genuine guy with a great heart, I could hammer that guy every single day with some of the stuff he does, but it makes me laugh. I love him—haha. Emma, the exact same. She is a cracking girl and I’m delighted for them both. They deserve everything they get. Maks, Peta, and Kym are all great people who I love to see doing so well. Mark Ballas is pretty funny. I like him and he makes me laugh. Chelsea and Lacey are great. I just recently met Fabian. He is a really cool guy, and I have a lot of time for him. Celeb-wise, everyone was cool at the time. We just never really stuck it out. I still hear from Nancy and Gladys, and I see Jenny from Strictly most the time so I got lucky pro, celeb, fan of the show, on camera, off camera. It doesn’t matter what you do once you are a good person. We all have bad days and bad periods of our life so I wouldn't hold anything against anyone that happened back then, and I’d hope they would stay the same either way. I’m in a good place now and I like who I like.
We have missed your stories about Pike. Is he still living with your folks in Ireland?
Yeah, Pike hasn't a care in the world. He is golden. No doubt he has his feet up now somewhere clicking his paws and filling his boots.
Have you been teaching and/or do you have any plans in the immediate future to teach those of us with two left feet how to dance?
I haven't been doing much teaching, no, just helping a few friends out here and there with them getting married but that’s about it. I have no plans but I’ll be back in America in a couple of weeks so if anything comes up, we will see. We are all looking to actually just having a holiday together where we can shut the phone off and just spend time together.
Lightning Round (quick answers)
What is the first thing you think of when you hear these words or expressions?
Ballroom With A Twist— How much more do I need to learn?
Brendan O’Carroll— Legend. Absolutely love the man
Dancing With the Stars-- Hope Farbs wins this time!
Echo’s latest milestone— How did she get up there and what’s that smile for? (frantically look around for danger), swimming class
Airports— Rubber gloves!
The last movie you saw-- Mission Impossible
The last show or play you saw— Book of Mormon
The last book you read— Charlie Engle Running Man / Cody Garbrandt The Pact
The last time you danced— Echo’s dance class Thursday mornings
Strictly Come Dancing— Hope Kev wins this time
Rumba— Feeling faces-Haha
Journey— Haha - Singing "Faithfully" top of my lungs into Tahyna’s embarrassed face
Dance-related injuries-- Drink
Burn the Floor— Great times
Being a dad— All I’ve ever wanted
Tristan has a lot of projects in the works, and we caught up with him today to talk a little about the past, present, and future. Enjoy this interview (our 67th!) with him.
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We hear that you will be back at Trundle’s ABBA Festival in May along with Alana Patience. Will you be dancing again this year?
Yes, I’ll be back in Trundle this year with Alana Patience for the ABBA festival. It was good craic in the end last year and looking forward to another positive experience this year. We also have an Elvis cruise coming up in Australia so that as well should be fun. These themed weekends and shows are always great because it’s everyone coming together to celebrate people who they love and appreciate and you can just swoop in and do a little gig, and no matter how good it was or bad it was it was just another element to the festivities. The whole thing is great. We stayed in an old bank that was converted into a house, so the bedroom is actually in the old vault which is really cool.
It’s been a long time since you were on Strictly Come Dancing and even longer since Dancing With the Stars, but what are some of the special memories from those experiences?
Yeah, it’s been a while now since being on them but I still have some great memories. I don’t miss being on the show and I still have grievances about the way some things went, but at the same time when I reflect back I can see some things I would have done differently. Maybe that’s just since I’ve changed since becoming a dad. Also, maybe since now I’m producing I can see some things in a different light. One thing I know I did right on the show is how I treated people and that would not have changed for a second, and I never went against anyone for my own benefit. I never would have changed that. I more than likely would have focused more and treated my body better and not gotten as riled up with what was going on around me, but on the whole I’m glad I left when I did for the reasons that I did. I still keep in touch with the majority of my partners. I’ll always remember my first show as a troupe member. I remember the arguments with Nancy but also the great chats we had. I still remember how happy and excited Gladys was after the first dance we did. I’ll never forget that smile. I remember how emotional Valerie Harper made me feel and how proud I was of that experience. I remember first being told I wouldn’t be used and then me saying I won’t be back. I had good times/bad times with Jamelia. I looked after her but maybe not in the interests of the show, and then making a lifelong friend in Jenny who I now work with full time. I have great memories of both experiences and am glad I was lucky enough to live them and wish nothing but the best for those still involved.
Conversely, did you ever have one of those days on either show when everything seemed to go wrong?
Hahaha—oh yeah 100%. There were more than a few of those ones, but again different times and different attitudes change a lot of things. When I went to LA first it was all mental to me and I was very loose and wild at the time so that in itself helped and hindered. I was always conscious of the bubble of the tv world and sometimes I made more of that then I should have. I would exclude myself from things I probably should have gone to and then went to things that I shouldn’t have—things like that!! I would never go to events which would have helped me with the show and when it came to getting songs/themes etc. I wasn’t into, I’d just reject it instead of trying to resolve it. There was a time when I wanted full control over everything, and when I felt like I couldn’t then I’d shut down and just 'do my job’. That’s why everything turned sour for me. I felt like it was portraying that you had to be good or nobody was interested. Whether I was right or wrong at the time, I felt like only 'the good' dancers were getting the breaks and the good ideas—haha. I can’t help but get annoyed by how somebody like DL Hughley, Michael Bolton or Martina Navratilova felt. It wasn’t nice viewing. I just thought there was a nicer way to thank these guys for being part of the show as opposed to exploiting the gulf in abilities. Some days though, yeah, you just wanna throw some fingers up, crack some cans, and keep on truckin'—hahaaha.
You traveled a lot with Burn the Floor and performed in many other shows including Dirty Dancing The Musical, Ballroom With A Twist, Dance To the Movies, etc. What are some standout moments?
The stand out moments are always the same. It’s the crowds! You could be anywhere in the world but seeing smiles before during and after shows though trumps everything, although Boston is always special to me. I absolutely love it!! Yeah, the crowds and—luckily enough for me—the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with on a lot of these shows—Jaymz Tuaileva, Brent, Sasha, Iveta, Magda Jon, CJ, Tony—all these guys make the shows what they are, and those experiences stay with you for always. Magda, by the way, has it all. How she hasn’t been on these shows yet is beyond me. She should be on DWTS no doubt for her humor alone and ability. I loved Dirty Dancing also. I’d love to go back and do that again, especially with Swayze being a real idol of mine, but I really loved that show and it’s a shame it wasn’t longer.
You’ll be back in the states for Dance To the Movies in May. Will you have a chance to visit old friends or see familiar places during your visit? Do you have plans to teach or perform elsewhere when you’re here?
I’m not too sure about plans for America just yet. I’ll try to do as much as I can while there, but having travelled so much this year I would like to be able to get home and put my feet up for a little. I’m very fortunate with what I get to do but what’s the point if you don’t get to put your kids to bed every night and live wherever you have been lucky enough to work? I’ll catch up with friends for sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to Sasha and Emma’s wedding which killed me, but I will definitely see those guys. America may be a quick trip this time as we can’t keep taking Echo from kindy, and I won’t keep travelling away without them.
The last time we spoke you mentioned that you were still involved with Mrs. Brown’s Boys working on the production end. What type of work did you do and will you be working/performing in future productions?
Yes, I am working full time now for Mrs. Brown’s Boys as a producer so that is fun and it’s a great way for me to learn the industry from the other side. We work on the tv side and theatre/touring side so I would be responsible for setting up and running of the shows. We have a great team here who have all the experience and I am sponging all the info I can. While we are on the road, the production show we are working on determines whether I have an onstage role. If I’m not onstage or on screen, I will be on the set floor or in the production office. It’s all very interesting stuff and again it lets me learn, and I can see if there is a way to see if the things that irked me before can be done in a nicer way.....haha. I enjoy it and with Tahyna being a writer and director it helps. She teaches me things too and eventually we plan to work together where she can be the boss..........just like at home and at least I can get paid for being told what to do instead of doing it for free every day of my life. Hahahaha.
Finally, a fun “what’s the first thing you think of” exercise. In other words, just give your first response to the following:
Food you can’t stand
Food you love
Television show that makes you crazy
Worst movie ever
Stop remaking films!
The thing you dislike most about flying
Leaving the girls
An incredible professional dancer
An incredible actor
Current favorite musician
Funniest thing Echo has done/Most adorable thing Echo has done
Everything. She is hilarious but changes the subject if you ask her about her dirty nappy.
She kicks you in the face in her sleep, sleeps laying across my face and as soon as she wakes up she pulls my eyelids open and says, “Wakey wakey, I LOVE YOU DADA.”
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Links to all of our interviews with Tristan from July, 2012 to the present are posted here:
Tristan is currently on tour in Dublin with Good Mourning Mrs. Brown but took time to answer some of the questions you have left for him here on the website forum and on the Facebook page. Enjoy!
First of all, congratulations on having a very successful tour with Kristina and Mark. It’s wonderful that so many of your supporters were able to see you perform on stage again and that you had the opportunity to put on the dancing shoes for a few weeks.
Now on to Mrs. Brown’s Boys. After a break of a few months, you’re back and performing close to home. How has this latest leg of the tour been going?
It has been great. We are in the midst of the final weekend which is immense in the 3Arena Dublin, and I’m loving it again. Finishing a tour in Dublin is amazing and especially in a venue so large and well-known at home is great. Last weekend was Belfast which may as well been the Siberia. It was that cold, but what a beautiful place. We were lucky enough that a few of us got to go into see the set of Game of Thrones and sit in the thrones and hold the swords. It was great craic!! The tour has been great but at the same time come Monday I’m flying home and can’t wait to get back to the girls. They came over for a month to break up this trip, but three months away from home has been a lot.
I would imagine that in a show like this hilarity reigns supreme and no two shows are the same, but are there any especially funny moments that stand out or something that makes you always expect the unexpected?
The show is great. I never get bored of it. We have had a cast re-giggle for a few shows now for different reasons so new faces always freshen the show up as well as all the gag changes! Agnes is going all out being in our home city, so you don’t know what to expect show to show. I’m still a Mormon and still trying my best to not crack when the script gets thrown out the window—haha. I love the Mormon scene. It’s still my favourite, but I love Conor Maloney who plays Father Quinn on this leg. He is hilarious so I watch his scenes every night.
You mentioned that you are now involved in the production side of the shows, so what do you do in that regard both prior to the shows and during them? Do you still have an acting role?
We have a lot going on at the moment in production, so it has been quite full on recently. Before the show, we set up the guest lists and seating plans along with helping the load ins which is essentially setting up the stage and helping with wardrobe departments, catering rooms, merchandise stands, production offices and anything else too. During the show, we set up for the following day and at the same time we are preparing visas, flights, hotels, and travel packs for the upcoming Australian/ New Zealand tour coming up in January. We also have an upcoming series of the tv show being made soon enough, so we are literally out the door and working long, long hours but I am learning a new skill and absolutely loving it. I’m still acting (if that’s what you can call it)—hahaha.
What are some of the challenges of doing a show like Mrs. Brown’s Boys? (either from a personal standpoint or just from observing the complexity of putting on a show like this)
The show is a complete beast and for sure it has a lot of challenges, but there is a great team in place. I would always imagine that going into anything that is so well-oiled and very much untouched for years and years that it would be hard to integrate into that. But they all made me feel so welcome so the difficulty is really just in learning how to do a particular job but more importantly how they do a particular job. It’s a process but one I’m loving! I just like learning, to be honest, so it’s all great for me. I’m learning a lot of roles at the same time so I couldn’t tell you the responsibilities of one particular role! The same as anything when you are trying to do something you never had before the hardest part is not losing confidence when you make mistakes. I used to find that difficult and would beat myself up for not knowing what I was doing and feeling insecure about it but I’m a lot more comfortable now with the fact that I shouldn’t know this because I’ve never had to know it and I’m learning as I go.
Mrs. Brown’s Boys starts up with a new show in Australia and New Zealand early in 2018. Will you be involved then as well? Have you done any rehearsals or preparations for that show.
Yeah, we have a new show in Australia/New Zealand about to start mid-January— 'For the Love Of Mrs. Brown'—that we are in the process of setting up but we won’t have rehearsals for that until the cast land in Oz. I haven’t actually seen that show yet or read the script but I’m making up the packs for the cast now with audio so I will know it pretty well pretty soon! I will be working in production on the show, but I won’t be acting in it this time—then again I may streak the stage for the craic!! The tour is a little shorter this time round—six weeks in Oz and two in New Zealand.
Is there a typical show day for Mrs. Brown’s Boys?
Not really. Like most shows, the general idea is once there are no hiccups your days are pretty set once the show is up and running, but again it all works show to show! The tv show is a different animal all together, but we will worry about that once this tour is shut.
And now for a few nosy questions...
If you could choose any place in the world other than Ireland or Australia to live, where would it be?
I’ve been lucky to live in a lot of great places. I miss Boston a lot. To be fair, it’s Baltic, but I could live there. There are still a lot of places I’d love to go but you have to make the best of wherever you are and right now I wouldn’t change a thing about where we live.
Last movie you saw
Last show or play you saw
I just went to see Columbia Mills in Dublin last month. That was a great night, but before that I think it may have been U2 in London. I have a big Wiggles show coming up with the girls when I get back to Sydney next week which should be loads of fun. You find yourself walking around singing the tunes to yourself.
Latest Echo milestone
Every day is a milestone to be fair she is great craic. She has the tune of ABC now. She is always singing but she doesn’t know all the letters just yet but she dances all the time and she sings a lot. She will be 2 before we know it. She is the best though—always laughing, always smiling and wants to do everything herself with no help and always has so much to get done that she doesn’t have time for us!!!
Are Tahyna and Echo able to travel with you these days? I know it’s a little more challenging when the baby becomes a toddler and is into everything.
They don’t get to travel all the time with me, so we break the trips up. I wouldn’t have been away for such a long stint, but we had the Christmas specials, then two legs of MBB tour and in between that was my dance tour with Kris, so it turned into a really long trip. They came out to Ireland for a month in between and we traveled the country. I can’t wait to get home to them now and have the month off, so it will be pure family time.
A couple of years ago, we asked you about Saturday Night Live as well as skits with Jimmy Fallon, Jonah Hill etc. We’ve been laughing lots lately on the website forum about James Corden and his Carpool Karaoke, Crosswalk the Musical, and just about anything else he does. Have you seen any of his nonsense? Otherwise, who is your favorite comic actor/host these days?
Yeah, I’ve seen some of it. I think it’s fun but not really my cup of tea. I still love Fallon. I think he is the best at what he does for those skits. Tom [Bergeron] is still the best 'host'. He is an all rounder now where he is so natural and like a classic host should be. You get the feeling with a lot of presenters now that anyone can do it, but there is a big, big difference in my eyes between a host and a presenter and Tom in my eyes is the best. I may be biased because I have seen Tom up close and firsthand but he is #1.
Do you have any plans to get back to the states? (That’s a question we get asked often)
I’ll be taking a trip back in March, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been in America so they may not let me back in!! There were a few times I was close to going back to the show, but for different reasons things didn’t work out but I’m happy with the direction my family is going in now so if we end up going back at some stage it would be great to catch up with our friends there.
An Evening with Kristina and Tristan, hosted by Mark Read
The Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin - 14th November 2017
We had great seats in the centre of the 3rd row. The theatre is very small and intimate, seating about 200. The setting felt even more intimate when the curtain went up to reveal Mark no stage just a floor, so close to everyone, the front row could have touched them as they danced past. All very up close and personal.
Throughout the show Mark would start a song and Kristina and Tristan would come on stage about half way through the song. This enabled them to do their costume changes, as apart from about 3 numbers where Mark sang with no dancing, we were able to enjoy lots of dancing by Kristina and Tristan.
I can't remember the exact order of how things went or which songs—I should have made notes ha-ha!! The first dance was a Quickstep to "I've got Rhythm", what an opening number! Then Tristan changed out of his tails and came on stage and sat and had a chat with Mark (to get his breath back he said!) They chatted about Tristan returning to Ireland and how he was loving dancing in his home country and finally in his home town—Bray is just down the road. He admitted he was a bad Irishman in that he hadn't really ever left Bray and hadn't seen much of Ireland before, and was enjoying driving around with his family seeing the sights and pretending he knew everything when in fact he was just reading the signs. They also covered what Tristan had been doing since leaving Strictly and that he was continuing with Mrs. Brown's Boys after the tour ended. Oh, and Tristan's Auntie was sitting in the front row, and she had a little dance with Mark during one of his songs.
So, as Tristan was now in a vest we had a fast number, Salsa or Samba—can't remember if this was before or after the chat, but after he joked about dripping sweat on the front row as they were so close. They also danced a beautiful Rumba to "Imagine" and a brilliant Charleston.
Mark introduced Kristina, again talking about what she has been up to since Strictly, her little girl, Mila, and her new tour starting in the new year. She also said that she is so happy that she managed to persuade Tristan to take to the dance floor again with her after 2 years, and it took ALOT of persuading. Thank you Kristina!!
There is an audience participation part—4 volunteers from the audience go on stage and the rest of the audience also get to learn all the arm and hand moves to the dance. This was funny when Tristan got embarrassed about having to put the microphone in his pocket to free up his arms to demonstrate some moves —'I'm not putting that in my pocket in front of Auntie', so he moved to other side of the stage to demonstrate along with the 'hip rotation' which caused lots of oohs and ahhs. They divided the audience in half, Kristina V Tristan, and Tristan's side won.
There was a delightful dance by 6 local children from Xquisite Dance School. The youngest pair were 8, another couple 10/11 and the 3rd couple I guess around 16. This girl's Mum used to go to dance lessons with Tristan's Mum which is how they knew him—definitely stars of the future.
As I mentioned earlier, I can't remember the order or what songs were used for all the dances, but they did everything! Apart from the dances I have already mentioned, we had Waltz, Foxtrot and Cha Cha—but the Contemporary dance they did to "Wicked Game" was incredible as was the Argentine Tango/Paso fusion. The finale was the Jive to "Don't Stop Me Now", and the sparkly shirt made an appearance to loud cheers, another incredible dance.
There was a Q and A, and here are some of the things that were said. If I misquote anything, my apologies, this is all from memory!
Tristan has hardly danced for 2 years and now only wants to do it on his terms.
There was a comment about his shoes, from which he said they were I think 15 years old, and proceeded to show the holes in them, but that doesn't matter he said, 'It lets the smell out!' Re Strictly, he didn't like being told to get a fake tan and shave his chest, which he refused to do, or wearing sparkly shirts. "That's why I left." He joked about Anton being the hairiest person ever, and they would both hide to avoid the shaving! H
He doesn't watch Strictly at all, but did talk about DWTS Ireland, what a great show it is and everyone should watch it and get behind it as they have fabulous pro dancers. Kristina also mentioned the new signing Robert Rowinski, who she has danced with in her previous show, an amazing dancer.
During the Q and A, Tristan excused himself and disappeared off stage, returning shortly after to explain that his knee cap had popped out and he had gone to sort it out!! Amazingly he then managed to dance that incredible Jive!!
There were obviously questions about the current series of Strictly— one being Len V's Shirley. Kristina talked about how she loved Len and always respected his comments when she was on the show. She liked the way he always added a touch of humour to his critique without being nasty and there was always something positive. She could see why the public were saying what they were about Shirley, but she knows her stuff and will probably grow into the role like Darcy who also had a difficult 1st series. As for Bruno, she doesn't know what he's on!! She said she wished the judges would be less negative and give the celebs something positive to work on instead of demoralising them. As a pro she would go into the training room on a Monday morning and often her celeb would just want to walk out as they felt so bad after Saturday's comments. Tristan said on Len V's Shirley, he would always take a positive comment from Shirley over one from Len.......
It was an brilliant and enjoyable show. The way Mark linked it all together with his chat and singing— excellent vocals btw—and his version of "Take on Me" was fab. As I have said, so much dancing from Kristina and Tristan, quick costume changes, such a great partnership and of course the humour...
I am so grateful to Kristina for convincing Tristan to get back on the dance floor and tour! Even though I had to travel to Dublin to see them as there was nothing local to where I live, it was worth it. I really hope that Kristina and Tristan can do another show/tour, maybe covering the areas of the UK they missed this time. The ticket sales speak for themselves, I believe nearly all venues were sold out.
Thanks to Nadia for this recap of An Evening With Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus in Ilkley.
I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity of watching Tristan and Kristina dance. This was an unusual venue for a dance show. It’s quite an old fashioned hall and the seats weren’t the most comfortable but for a sleepy Yorkshire small town on a Monday evening the show was well attended. The singer/ compere Mark Read introduced Tristan and asked him a few questions about life after ‘Strictly’. Tristan is clearly very happy doing less dancing and being involved with a comedy show featuring one of his ex—Strictly partners, Jennifer Gilbey—‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’. He said he enjoyed being behind the camera, in production. He said dance will always play a large part in his life as that is how he met his wife Tahyna with whom he now has a beautiful daughter, Echo.
He’s clearly a little in awe of Kristina, telling the audience what a wonderful dancer she was and he was quite humble about his own dancing skills, e.g. in the Argentine Tango. But they danced beautifully together and I loved that Argentine Tango and their Charleston and Tristan really came alive with the jive at the end. All Kristina’s costumes were absolutely gorgeous, she suits every colour! Tristan’s clothing was quite casual at times but it didn’t detract from the show.
In the question and answer session he was asked about his time on DWTS and Strictly and said very clearly he wouldn’t do that type of show again. He was very careful not to offend anyone in the audience who still takes the shows at face value and understood why people watched the show and said it was great Saturday night entertainment, but it just wasn’t for him.
I really enjoyed the show and would happily see it again. Both of them came across as happy, contented people who just wanted to entertain their audience. Just lovely.