When this site was established in late November, 2011, we knew, without a doubt, that Tristan’s supporters were a very special group. During the last eight months, we have refined this site, expanded our membership substantially, and constantly diversified to make it more user-friendly. Tristan was kind enough to take the time to talk with us today (July 17, 2012) about Dancing With the Stars, dance in general, teaching, his experiences in dance, and his very unique perspective. A very special thank you to Tristan for taking time to answer our questions.
Enjoy this delightful exchange and his very interesting outlook.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since being on DWTS? (For example, is it the teaching, the schedule, the travel with Gladys, etc.)
I think the biggest challenge so far has probably been just the whole package if that makes sense. I enjoy it but trying to keep everybody happy is impossible. Ha! I always say that I want my partner, whether they are one of the other professionals or ladies competing on the show to feel as comfortable as possible, trying to take all the stress out of the situation and have as much fun as possible at the same time. That can sometimes conflict with what people want to see and 'expect' from us! Some want to see the chemistry and relationship and some just want to see great dancing so trying to find the balance has been difficult enough but I think you have to stick to your convictions and do whatever you feel is right for each situation. Any given season is that person’s only experience of the show outside of being a viewer and fan, so I want to make it as enjoyable as possible.
We know that you’ve performed all over the world in many different productions. Of all of those, do you have a favorite or is there one that is particularly memorable for you?
I’ve been lucky enough to do a few shows and they have all contributed to where I am now and what I am striving to achieve so in that sense I can’t really pick a favourite, but I have enjoyed each production I have been lucky enough to be part of. Burn The Floor was the show that really opened my eyes to Latin and Ballroom dancing as we know it now and showed me another side of ballroom that I never knew of before then. Before that I did Simply Ballroom which was the first dance show I did when I decided to come back to dancing and if it wasn’t for that show I wouldn’t have been in Vegas at the same time as BTF which got me back in that show and touring the world. Dirty Dancing gave me a new role and also a chance to work on the West End and be in the environment which I love - theatre. Another stint on BTF in London led to Dancing With The Stars. I try to take something positive from every situation I’m in, but just like everyone else sometimes I don’t see that until later on!
We all love your "it is what it is" approach. How did you manage to develop such a positive attitude in a career that could never have been easy?
It’s easy to stay positive about what I do because it’s what I love to do. I have been in so many positions before where I couldn’t rub two pennies together. I was lucky to have a family supportive enough to 'bail me out' and also give me the ear full I needed to get straight. I know that I can get by without being in the public eye because I have done it all along and it’s what the majority of people do every day so when you don’t crave that role, it’s easy. What’s the worst that could happen? If something is wrong you have to ask yourself if you can do anything about it- if you can’t there is no point stressing about it. If you can, well, then you change it. It’s all about priorities for me.
When you are teaching someone who has little or no dance experience, how do you begin the teaching process? We know everyone is different, but how do you teach a beginner? Is there a particular dance you might choose to teach someone who has never danced before?
Everybody is different so as far as teaching goes there isn’t a formula that I stick to, but with everybody I try to just be normal - ask them how they are, what they like, what they don’t like, and try to relate everything to what I need them to do. It’s no different to me then meeting somebody new through a friend or on the street or anywhere in everyday life. You don’t try to make people your friend; you talk and then you relate and then you gain respect and start to work! You are both there to help each other so you can’t forget that you have to teach but you also have to learn. The term 'DANCE' sometimes intimidates people so without starting any particular dance you just get movement going and try to get your partner to follow directions - walk forward, turn around, go over there, straighten your legs, don’t look down - those kind of things.
You have developed a large fan base very quickly and earned an enormous amount of respect as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. How does that make you feel, and how do you stay so kind and grounded when there is so much attention focused on you? (For instance, is it difficult dealing with all the demands on your time from so many different people?)
I have been surprised by the amount of attention I have been getting, but that’s a testament to how big the show is, and thanks goes to production and all the professionals before me for keeping the interest there. It’s very humbling and it is nice to give something back to my family for the support they have given me over the years and sacrifices they have made for me. It can be difficult with the demands and unfortunately I can’t accommodate them all but I will try. I make it easier for myself though because I know why I am part of the show and what I want from it... I don’t have to go to every premiere. I don’t have to support anything I don’t have an interest in. I don’t endorse things I don’t use so all I have to worry about is putting together dances and teaching them to my partner. If somebody contacts me with something of interest and I have the time, I will try get involved but for the sake that I have a genuine interest in it and not to get more face time. I stay grounded because that’s who I am and that is who my family and friends like and love so to be anything else would be somebody else.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and supporters?
Just a big thank you for all the support. I love to dance but I love even more to entertain and all the well wishes and notes of support are what inspire me to do it. The negativity doesn’t faze me so I suggest it doesn’t you either – Ha! I don’t need to be compared to anybody else because that’s not what I am in it for. I love what I do and if I entertain 1 or one million I’m happy because it only takes one person to make a difference, and if I can convince one person to follow what they love then they in turn can convince the next person and so on. Thank you for all your efforts and I will continue to try my best to give you all what you deserve which is a great show and if not........what’s the worst that could happen????
And this, is why we adore Tristan MacManus. Thank you, Tristan!