In theory, the title is self-explanatory but nothing is ever quite that simple here at MacMusings. This time it’s all about what’s hot and what isn’t on DWTS, and as always, we are brutally honest. That doesn’t mean, however, that we said everything we thought; believe it or not, we did edit out a lot of good material. Yeah, censorship is such a pain – and we are the ones censoring ourselves. We don't want anyone whining and saying, “Oh that was so mean…” Go figure. Let’s move on to our very polite and politically correct version of What's Hot and What's Not.
Tristan MacManus – Who else? It would be wrong of us to not put Mr. MacManus right at the top of our “What’s Hot” or rather our “Who’s Hot” list. Why? Well, besides the good looks, charm, and delicious sense of humor, the man has danced his way right into our hearts. He has made suspenders iconic, he has somehow made Samba Rolls the most anticipated dance step for Season 16, and when we get word that Tristan will be dancing we begin hyperventilating. We don’t hyperventilate over anyone else. So yeah, he’s hot.
The idea of a non-All-Star DWTS Season – Here’s the thing. Season 15 and the season of the All Stars was just exhausting. From the crazy thematic dances that made no sense (and never seemed to work) to the constant changing of the rules, wacky scoring system, and diva-ish behavior of pros and celebrities, we couldn’t wait for the dancing to stop. Now we can’t wait for it to start and that’s because the All Stars season is behind us forever and ever. We hope.
Sasha Farber – Besides the fact that he has backflipped and seduced us all for three seasons as a troupe member, we keep going back the same things: the charisma, the charm, and the raw strength. He’s a keeper. There are two firecrackers on DWTS – one is named Anna Trebunskaya; the other is Sasha Farber. Nobody, and we mean nobody, matches his energy and his precision. We keep going back to what he did with Karina and Apolo in the Jive Trio. Now THAT was impressive. He’s the consummate pro, whether he is a shining star of the Troupe or a pro competing with a celebrity. The bottom line? Mr. Farber is a keeper. Besides, he puts up with us and answers an endless supply of questions that we keep throwing at him. Nice work, Sasha. Your fan base just keeps growing and growing.
Fusion Dances – Assuming DWTS ever comes up with a plan for a fusion dance so that there is consistency, this could be a fun dance style. Last season? Not so much. Some pros felt a fusion dance meant half the dance would be one style, half the other style while other pros blended the two styles and changed it up repeatedly during the dance. Just don’t make it a hustle/waltz or country two step/Charleston or we will rethink this.
Season 16 – Oh yeah. We are stoked, inspired, rejuvenated, and dare we say – exhilarated by the thought of something not an all-star season which was such a big stinky mess of desperation that we only liked the weeks when Tristan danced in a pro dance. It was a yawner. Literally. That not voting stuff got to us. It was our civic duty…er, we mean our welovetristansoweneedtovotelotsandlots duty. We felt like we were neglecting him.
Sleep deprivation – Yep. It’s time. Once Monday, March 18, rolls around the voting also begins and we start at 8 p.m. EST and don’t finish until all of those voting accounts are voted. We’re not telling how many of those voting accounts there are exactly.
Physical conditioning/exercise/heart rate acceleration – Now don’t go crazy and think we’ve become athletes all of a sudden. We are all for some cardio and a few Salsa dance lessons to get the physical fitness routine jump started, but we’re talking about something else here. Physical conditioning – as in getting the typing hand limber and ready so that carpal tunnel won’t be an issue beginning March 18. By exercise? Practice your Samba, Foxtrot, and Jive but also park a fair distance from Starbucks (so you can walk a little back and forth) before meeting friends and recruiting new friends to vote for Tristan and the Season 16 ringer, who will be his partner. Heart rate acceleration? That’s easy. Just go into our gallery every couple of days. That should do it. Physical conditioning.
The Samba – besides the fact that all those Samba rolls are, well, hot, Tristan MacManus dancing a Samba is especially fever-inducing. We haven’t seen his sexy Samba-ing self since Design A Dance with Chelsie in Season 14, and we need to see it again soon. A few Rumbas would be good too. Throw in a Lambada and a Bolero, and we’re good for a couple of days.
Bending the rules for artistic license – There is a huge difference between bending the rules and breaking the rules. Even we know that certain ballroom and Latin dances have certain elements and there are specific no-nos, however, we also recognize that sometimes circumstances dictate that the boundaries be pushed. This doesn’t mean that you break hold when the rules strictly forbid it, or you throw in a lift just for the hell of it when the rules say ‘no.’ Pushing the boundaries is hot, but in your face defiance of the rules is not.
DWTS All Stars – That was our least favorite season so far and there have been a few stinkers. Several of our favorite celebrities from previous seasons became nightmares and divas in Season 15, and it turned us off of the show. The fact that Tristan and Pamela didn’t have a chance didn’t sit well either.
Driving everybody crazy on Twitter - Using social media is smart, but when it results in endless (and we mean endless) self-promotion, 8000 retweets when somebody dares to mention even the initials or a possibility of a possibility of a name, and 512 random people retweeting it just because a certain pro or celebrity's name is mentioned….it is a turn-off and makes us frown which gives us wrinkles. It also makes us “unfollow.” Sometimes less is more. No, forget that. Less is always more. A few well-timed tweets are so much more effective than a barrage of retweets of every tweet in which a pro or celebrity is just mentioned and the content of said tweets is something really important like, "He/She is eating bagels." I know that my day begins and ends with bagel watch so I can speculate about the season, but really? Enough already.
Skin – Okay, we all have it, but some pros and celebrities like to show way too much of it, and when we can count the pores and freckles, then we know too much is being revealed. Yes, for a few pros, we would like to see more; for most, cover it up please.
Waxed chests – Sigh. This is a conundrum. It’s fine to wax ‘em if that’s your personal preference, but we don’t need to see the same nekked chests every single week, whether they are waxed or not. Come on various and assorted male pros who shall remain nameless, we love you, but could you sell the dance on your extraordinary skills instead of trying to sell it on the shininess of your skin?
Speedos – Not that we’ve ever mentioned it before, but Speedos are not hot. On anybody. Unless your name is Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps or Nathan Adrian and unless you are getting ready for an Olympic swim, dancing in Speedos is illegal. We’re positive.
Breaking the rules of ballroom – See “bending the rules” in What’s Hot. You’ll see where we’re going with it.
Lifts, lifts, and more lifts – We saw so many of them in Season 15 that we got dizzy. Lifts are great when appropriate (case in point: Evan and Anna’s spectacular helicopter lift in their Argentine Tango – Season 10). When a dance is choreographed with more lifts than dance, it’s time to call the dance police. Or make sure the lift police is there. A couple of appropriate lifts that add to the artistry of a dance are one thing but when basic elements of dance are missing so the circus can go on, well, that’s wrong. If we wanted to watch the circus, we would do so.
The biggest ‘What’s Not’ of all? Recycled choreography. Recycled music. Recycled feathers, er, we mean costumes - Pro #1 duplicates Pro #2's choreography and is praised as brilliant when Pro #2 was criticized for it the first time around. There are millions of songs out there and particularly in Season 13 and 14, we saw some iconic performances to very identifiable songs attempt to be recreated by other pros to the same music. It didn’t work. The original is always better. No recycling on the dance floor, por favor. Our recycling is picked up every other Monday morning, and we don't wish to see it on national television on Monday evenings.
Consistency – Lordy, Season 15 tried our patience. The inconsistency in judging made us consider indulging in tequila shots, and the inconsistency in some of the pros themselves made us consider going into the backyard and screaming from the top of our respective lungs. Consistency went out the window in Season 15, and it is time for it to be back. By the way? This wasn't the fault of the pros - the blame goes straight to the gimmick inventor, whoever he is.
Making us wait – The biggest “What’s Not” is that we have to wait another week for the cast announcement, and that’s really not good enough. We won’t tell anybody, ABC. Please? Just tell us Tristan will be back with the best possible celebrity who has an enormous fan base, a few million twitter followers, and who uses social media like it’s going out of style. Oh yeah. We also hope that she has a gazillion years dance/acting/singing/entertaining experience but is also in the Tristan age range. Thank you.
DWTS – What should change, what needs to change, and what will never change...Read on:
Yeah, SWAT and I are on our bandwagons again, and we’re getting all opinionated and preachy, but that’s what happens in the two weeks before the Dancing With the Stars cast is announced – and it happens every single season. We get desperate for blog topics, so we pull them out of thin air. This topic, however, has a surprising amount of substance to it, and we’re going to take a shot at making sense for a change. So here you go – our thoughts on Dancing With the Stars and how it can get better. In other words, what should change, what needs to change, and what will most likely never change.
Lots of things should change, and those changes should start with the casting (give us some names we recognize), the uneven distribution of talented celebrities (they seem to go to the same pros each season), and the wildly inconsistent scoring (no explanation needed). In addition, things need to change – the favoritism, the favoritism, and the favoritism, and of course, most things will probably never change because it is precisely the things that should and need to change that create controversy and talk. Therefore, that translates supposedly into ratings, which must explain last season's abysmal drop in viewing interest. Controversy isn't always good, but we will never be able to convince the powers that be of that. Thus, they (being ABC) most likely won’t change, but we can dream big, can’t we? To make DWTS a perfect show? Do the following.
Spread around the ringers – In our own little version of a perfect world, those ringers (the ones who have the dance experience) would be evenly distributed. Sometimes that experience is disguised and denied, as in “Oh, I have no dance experience. I only danced in 74 films in my historic career," or “Oh, I only had 13 years of ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and Broadway dance…” Not that we’re complaining. We used to hate the idea of ringers but it seems like a DWTS prerequisite so why not? Let’s just make sure the ringers in Season 16 go to Tristan, Chelsie, and Anna. Then the show will get interesting.
We love football, we really do… - We love the sport (we’re talking the American version here, not the one they play in Ireland). We love the football players who have been on DWTS (most of them, anyway), but honestly as much as we love ‘em, the ridiculous built-in fan base makes it almost impossible for the show to be fair. We don’t think Emmitt Smith or Donald Driver or Hines Ward were the best dancers in their respective seasons (although they should have won for pure personality and charm), yet there was no way to overcome that kind of voting power. That means that 20% of the DWTS winners have been football players. In second place? Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, and Warren Sapp. We loved all these of these guys too, but it wasn't their dancing that won us over. It was that they were all just so darned adorable, but , adorable isn't why we watch. Thus. we think it's time for change. Give us a retired baseball player, a soccer player not named Hope, or a retired male tennis pro. There are so many options out there, DWTS. Take advantage of these options and pull back on the football. Another figure skater would be great, an ice dancer would be better, as long as the ice dancers go to Tristan, Chelsie, and Anna (although Cheryl could probably make things interesting too).
Pros get tired too – Sometimes change is good and in the case of many of the pros, they need a short break. Some of them need a long break. Even one season would do a world of good. Shake things up, bring some new energy and passion, and kick some professional ass, in a manner of speaking. The choreography sometimes seems as though it is new and fresh but upon a second look, it’s the same old stuff to different music. We want to see Tristan get a chance to shine, we want to see Sasha have a partner who matches his energy and passion. We want to see Oksana have a chance to let America really see her skill. Emma has a wealth of knowledge just dying to be shared. Henry has all that choreography just waiting to be unlocked, and Sharna and eventually Sonny could bring the competition to a new level. Bring Damian back – he has never had a chance to showcase his amazing talent, and he is our number one favorite pro next to Tristan. Dmitry deserves to come back. While huge fan favorites, what’s wrong with letting Derek, Mark, Tony, and Maks take a breather. Who knows? The ratings will go through the roof when Sasha Farber backflips his way into the hearts of America or when Emma Slater shows us the true meaning of “fierce.” Let them shine, DWTS, and let Tristan shine by giving him a chance this time around.
Don’t ever, ever, ever come up with these idiotic theme dances again – No offense, ABC, but the only themed dance that even came close to making any sense at all was the Big Top Jazz and that stretched the limits. These dances were supposed to be a challenge? Mission accomplished. These dances challenged us to keep from drinking too much in order to dull the pain, and one of us doesn’t drink a drop. We have nightmares about the following being on the Season 16 agenda: the Mad Men Viennese Waltz, the Medieval Times Salsa/Lambada/Square Dance Fusion, a Waltz/Country Two Step to the music of Vanilla Ice, and the always enticing Viking Disco to a Donna Summer and Dolly Parton Medley. The bottom line is that we do not want to go there again.
A dress code might be a good idea – Ever since the Peta/Gilles diaper-wearing mess in the Gangnam Style dance, we still shiver with the side effects – and we’re not shivering in a good way. That was just wrong. A whole lot of wrong. Diapers/towels combined with black dance shoes are just hideous on a lot of levels. We always had Edyta at the top of our “least clothing worn on DWTS” list but Peta has leap-frogged over her. A deep breath probably would have caused a big old “oops” moment that we don’t wish to think about. Peta isn’t the only one; there were several times that we thought Sabrina might have a wardrobe issue, and more than once, Cheryl’s girls have threatened to make an appearance.
Ban yellow and feathers from costumes – And yes, we chose yellow to highlight our points for a reason; hopefully you will see how annoying it can be. We also request that yellow and feathers be banned from DWTS costumes. We have our reasons. If you’ve read any of our previous blogs, you’ll get this immediately, but honestly, the blinding yellow Salsa/Samba costumes not only make our eyes bleed but the feathers drift east from L.A. to the extent that we have permanent damage to our respiratory systems. Now don’t be mean and suggest that it’s the dust bunnies in our houses that accumulate because we spend too much time on here and not enough time dusting. That might have a bit of truth to it, but it’s the suspicious yellow feathers and remnants of yellow fabric that blew east that have messed us up – not the dust elephants. Er, bunnies.
No more reality show people, please – They aren’t celebrities. Bottom line. Ever since Jake scooted across the floor in his tighty whities, we (after temporary blindness) begged ABC to never allow that again. You want reality show celebrities? We’ll create our own online show, call it television, and be on DWTS next season as “those charming MacManiacs from 'It ain’t real tv but we’re married (not to each other) so we can’t be on The Bachelor, we hate bugs and snakes so we can’t be on Survivor, and we are both dynamic dancers in our fantasy life, so we qualify as ringers.' " Enough said.
No more “who the heck is he/she?” people, please – By definition, a celebrity is “a famous person.” If we have to google them and still can’t find much other than an undocumented Wikipedia report, then they shouldn’t be on the show. If you google either of us you will find nothing…so apparently we should qualify based on DWTS standards, and nobody wants to see either of us shaking anything on national television. Trust us on that.
Give Tristan a ringer – Did we mention that already? Well, let’s just say he has paid his dues. The average age of his celebrity partners has been 50 something, and while we loved Nancy, Gladys, and Pamela, it’s time for Tristan to finally get a chance to show his amazing talent with a young, athletic, talented, gorgeous ringer who can create chemistry and magic with Tristan. That’s not asking for much, is it?
Any Latin heartthrob or any other heartthrob should not go to Cheryl - Ms. Anna T is the one who should be burning up the dance floor with the celebrity version of Sex on a Stick, and we’re not even going to argue the point. Anna gets the sexy dude. It’s what’s right.
Allow us (SWAT and Shakes) to cast the show and then allow us to be part of the judging panel – Well, why not? We’re as logical and consistent as the current judges and probably more so. We know what we like, we know what we don’t like, and we know what the MacManiacs like and that makes up a nice part of the voting population. We should get what we want. Yeah, we sound like we’re two years old, but we want Tristan to win so we’re getting a little whiny.
If you break the rules, you pay the price – In other words, you choreograph a non-quickstep Quickstep, leave out basic Foxtrot elements, or make your Paso Doble look like a Cha Cha just because you want to, you should get nuttin’ but big fat zeros. There’s creative license and there is just “in your face I don’t wanna because I’m an arteeeest." We ain’t buyin’ it.
Mix up the running order – We get ratings; we also get that going first might potentially be of interest just as going last. Going at the top of the hour can mean more viewing just as going at the end. Here’s the problem with all that logic. The majority of the viewing audience doesn’t know who is going first, second, third, or last before the show and so what if I tune it at 8 or at 9:50? I don’t want to see the same people in the same spots every week. Mix it up. Make it fair. We don’t need to see Maks and then Val or Val followed by Maks every week. The same celebrities benefit while others suffer. Case in point – In Season 12, Kirstie Alley went last in 3 of 8 weeks prior to the semi-finals; she went next to last once, and her team in the team dance went last another week. In the first nine weeks of Season 15, Emmitt and Cheryl went last three times, Peta and Gilles twice, and Val and Kelly twice. Those odds seem off to us How many times have Tristan and his celebrity partner gotten the benefit of going last? Not once. Apolo and Karina last season? Zero. That’s just not right. They call it the pimp spot for a reason, and everybody should have a shot at it.
So what is going to change? Probably nothing but we can hope it does. Count on us to continue to complain about a whole lot. It's just how we roll.
Emma is preparing for the DWTS Caribbean Cruise and Sasha is in Australia with family, but that didn't stop them from answering your questions. Hear what they have to say about those crazy fusion dances, embarrassing moments on stage, and the dancers and choreographers that they admire.
Last season we saw the addition of fusion style dances to DWTS. If you were asked to choreograph such a dance (and you had full control of the dance), which two styles would you use and how would you envision the dance coming together?
Emma: I would love to dance a Tango/Rumba. I’m sure there are a few Latin & Ballroom dancers who would say that - it’s a winning combo. Both dances are very passionate, tend to be serious and can draw the same kind of emotions from the audience. I like the more passionate/fierce dances the best! I think I would want to theme it around jealousy or perhaps the girl would be a temptress and seduce a somewhat shy man. Of course you have to play to the strengths of your partner/celebrity too but if you can be so involved and committed in the dance, you’re halfway there! During the creation of the dance you have to think of set, lights and costume to fit the vision you are going for. As one of the pros on DWTS, you have to know exactly what you want and be able to get your point across.
Sasha: That’s a great question. I would love to see a mixture of things. The fusion dance is an awesome way to express and mix styles together. Cha Cha and Tango and Paso with slow motion progressive Samba would be my show dance. :) I know you asked for two dances, but let’s live life on the edge!
I love to take people on a journey when they see me dance or see my work, and using those dances all in one would be some much fun to create on a couple or on a group of people.
Many of our site members comment on the use of props in various performances. Sometimes it works very well and sometimes it seems to take away from the dance. What is your opinion on props, and to what extent do you believe they should be used?
Emma: I think it varies in different circumstances. For instance, in Trio week, the Bollywood themed number in season 14 that Derek performed with Maria Menounos had these stunning tapestry drapes hanging from the ceiling, they were eye-catching enough and set the scene perfectly for their dance. Along with the warm lighting, you were hit with the Bollywood feel without actually overusing the props/set. I think there are also cases where props can be overused or surplus to requirement, in any dance performance. If you have a table as part of your set, but the idea is you are dancing a duo with your partner, you have to find a balance of maximizing the use of the table in the dance and overusing it. It is very similar to repeating the same move/trick over and over again. You don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the dance and effectiveness of your trick by putting it in the dance at every opportunity.
Sasha: Props are always great when used correctly, but it should never take away from the dance number. I love props and background material, I have been used a lot in props last season, which was always fun.
We know about your experiences with Burn the Floor and with other productions, but could you tell us how exactly each of you ended up on Dancing With the Stars? The people on our site are very curious.
Emma: Well I ended up there because I was visiting Sash! We were on tour in South Africa, hadn’t long been together when they contacted him about joining on season 13. Through doing competitions internationally and shows like Burn the Floor, as a dancer you can get your name known within the industry as it’s is fairly intimate in the Ballroom and Latin performance world. I was thrilled for him. We spent the next three months apart while he was in LA with DWTS and I was finishing the tour with Burn the Floor. I had had a nice two year run with Burn the Floor so I decided after that contract I would go to visit Sash and open up some more doors in terms of work. I like to keep trying new things. I was in LA for two weeks and was a bit overwhelmed because Sash had told everyone about me! I had a camera interview with one of the producers and had a lovely time overall. Then both Sash and I went back to Australia to visit his family over the holidays. Early one morning I had a phone call from one of the producers, Ashley, at 5 a.m. Aussie time and I pretended to be totally awake and switched on. She told me they wanted me to come do the show for the next season along with Sash and I was over the moon with excitement and also pretty gob smacked. It was very unexpected and I only had a few days left to sort the visa out (I was an Englishwoman, in Australia, getting a US visa & my passport had half a page left in it!) But I rushed like a woman possessed and the Visa office lady was such a star to me, I ended up arriving to LA 20 minutes before Sasha did on another flight!
Sasha: Well I was a pro on the Australian DWTS, and then I was going to continue with it as I had so much fun, but it was decision time, because Burn the Floor needed me to join the show because they were putting on a new show to take to Broadway and needed me . But I loved the experience on DWTS in Australia and India and know I WANT to be a pro on the USA DWTS.
I think I have proved that I can be a pro after being on 3 season as a troupe member, so my fingers and toes are crossed, but I must say being in the troupe is so much fun and I’m very grateful for my job and how all this has turned out.
What do you like or enjoy the most about being on Dancing With the Stars?
Emma: There are so many things. I get to perform on the number one rated show in America every week and do one thing in the world I love to do - dance. Dance has given me such much experience and I’m so grateful for the opportunities it brings. And DWTS in particular has taken me to LA (which I love!) and allows me to be involved in a fast paced, high energy TV show that’s hugely popular. Entertaining is a massive part of it, and every week, all the dancers (and celebs) get to stand in front of the US audience and entertain their butts off! Dancing is art, so it’s like seeing your painting up at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. DWTS brings a lot of good people together and we have great time filming it with great friends too.
Sasha: Dancing and expressing yourself. It’s always good to pick characters when you dance, that you have always dreamed of being, and telling a story on live television. :)
And of course I love the fans. You guys are so good to me and I’m very grateful for everything you guys are doing for myself and Emma.
Everyone is so nice and it’s such a great atmosphere to be in.
There are so many different types of celebrities who appear on DWTS – athletes, musicians, television personalities, actors, etc. Obviously everyone is different and has different strengths and weaknesses, but is there any one type of celebrity that you would like to dance with on DWTS at some point? Why?
Emma: Yes, I would like to see more comedians! They are the most entertaining to watch and I wouldn’t mind being partnered to one because who wouldn’t love that! It would be so enjoyable coming up with suitable dances and funny ideas. I grew up watching the old English classic comedies. Comedians give a different energy to the competition, they are often big personalities. Very refreshingly honest too. Kirstie Alley had me in stitches a number of times and was great in the show. The only possible down side to casting a lot of comedians is they are extremely likeable and popularity can sometimes take them further in the competition rather than the dancing. But really, that’s the same with any celebrity in the show!
Sasha: I would love to dance with anyone who wants to learn, but if I could pick someone it would be one of the Olsen twins. That way we could even change it up and swap one each week. The reason why I said them is I think they would be a lot of fun.
We asked Tristan this question once, and the response was hilarious. Have either of you ever had any embarrassing moments while performing – such as a wardrobe malfunction, forgotten choreography, etc?
Emma: Well it’s funny because this has been asked to me a few times now in the onstage questions during our recent shows with Tristan & Chelsie. In London, Tristan and I did a show called Dirty Dancing (the stage version of the famous film). During Act 2, my first appearance is as an 8 year old girl in a multi-colored dress. Myself and two other female dancers (also dressed as young girls) play a game of ‘Tug of War’ with a HUGE long rope and playing against us is the actor who is playing Neil in the show. Neil wins the game and all three of us girls fall to the ground. Only this time I fell to the floor as usual, but my dress got caught in the revolve (This is a mechanism that makes up the whole floor of the stage, allowing it to move in multiple different ways, in circles/up & down etc). For some reason when I fell and got caught, the stage started revolving in a circle when it wasn’t supposed to, taking me with it stuck on the floor. So the next scene begins with Baby & Neil and I’m going round face down on the floor behind them! That was pretty embarrassing!
Sasha: Every dancer forgets choreography at one point in their career, but my embarrassing moment was in Burn the Floor. As I was finishing one of my solos I danced of into the wing, but the only problem was it wasn’t a wing it had a fake curtain, so I panicked and I had to dance back onto the stage to get off. I heard the audience giggle a little.
As a professional dancer, your career has probably been influenced by many teachers, choreographers, and performers. Is there any one person that comes to mind that had a strong influence on your life as a dancer?
Emma: One of the reasons why I started is that my parents took me to a Latin demonstration when I was 10 at a local dance school’s annual party. I watched this stunning couple dance a Paso Doble (I remember one of the highlights she dropped into splits) as I adored it. I wanted to do that type of dancing from then on. It turns out that years later I would be competing and performing in shows like Strictly Ballroom and Burn the Floor and that same male dancer who I watched when I was 10 became one of my closest friends and he still is! His name is Gary Wright. In terms of influence, I think watching him dance was a big reason I started dancing Latin and Ballroom dancing when I did.
Sasha: I would have to say Michael Jackson, and Ballroom dancers Michael and Joanna.
It’s hard to keep track of your very busy schedules! Emma, we know you have the cruise coming up, and there have been tweets about more Ballroom With A Twist dates. We would love to keep our site members updated on where you will be, so it would be great if you could give us a rough idea of what you have planned for the next few weeks. We’re happy to post it for you.
Emma: I’m very lucky to be heading off to the Caribbean for the Official DWTS cruise on board Holland-America Lines. Rehearsals begin on Monday and the cruise finishes on Feb 23rd.
After that Sasha and I will have more dates with @GrndProductions in late February. We will keep you posted with the dates and places. These are mainly demonstrations, master classes and performances. There is also the possibility of some more dates in early March with Ballroom with a Twist so we will let you know!
Hopefully with a few weeks we will hear from DWTS about season 16 and we will let you know as soon as we do! :)
In June and July we have scheduled three more DWTS cruises around Alaska and the Caribbean. July and August we have some show dates arranged but will confirm and post them at a later date.
Thank you SO MUCH for your support! Sending you guys much love!! :D xx
Sasha: I am visiting family at the moment in Australia and will be back on the 19th , so for me I will be waiting for the call from DWTS.
But as soon as we book stuff I will let you know. We really appreciate all your work into this. Thank you so much.
Season 16 will probably be more of the same, and it will probably be controversial. We are not thinking controversy just yet, but what we are thinking about are our Season 16 wish lists, and we keep changing our very confused minds and mixing things up all too often. One thing has become obvious throughout this long process (which really wasn’t that long anyway); we obviously have no idea what we’re talking about. Yet clearly, we have very different ideas about what we want to see this season, but the casts we each envision make us both go a little weak in the knees – for very different reasons. Then there is the “Will Derek return or will he not?” discussion. We think he will, but we’re going under the assumption that he will do what he said he was going to do several months ago, and bow out. Enjoy our Season 16 Wish Lists.
Sometimes I think SWAT and I share a brainstem; sometimes I think a different planet, solar system, or universe is involved. Our choices for Season 16 aren’t even close. This is what happens with us. We thought that this was going to be an easy one because after all, we agree on almost everything. Not this time, however. We didn’t have a single match on our wish lists. My bet is that neither one of us is right about any of it. Why should it work out differently this time? Our prediction success rate is somewhere in the negative numbers. In my wish list, I didn’t include Kym because of her current reality show filming in Australia, but if she’s back (and I hope she is), that would mean Emma or Oksana would lose out. I also think Cheryl will be back. Maks and Derek too. That could mean not a single new pro in the group, which is unfortunate because we need some new energy. And choreography.
In an almost perfect world, this is my list.
Tristan – Emmanuelle Chriqui – Forget that her name hasn’t even been mentioned as a rumored celebrity; I think Tristan and Emmanuelle would not only sizzle, smolder and spontaneously combust, but they would knock our socks off with their electric energy, passion, and artistry, and they would Cha Cha, Tango, and Waltz straight to the finale. She is #1 on my wish list to be Tristan’s celebrity partner. I want to see Tristan have the chance to turn up the heat to epic levels, and she would give him that chance. Fire extinguisher anyone?
Tony – Lee Meriwether – She’s been rumored over and over again, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see her on the show. Age is an issue, but that didn’t stop ABC from bringing in Cloris Leachman and Florence Henderson to dance with Corky. Lee is feisty and even at age 77, she is beautiful. She could keep the young egomaniac whippersnappers in check. The show needs her. She kept Barnaby Jones in his place; she can certainly handle a cast of renegade dancers and wannabe dancers.
Sasha – Oksana Baiul – Now the obvious choice would be one of the Fierce Five, but they just don’t work for me other than as amazing Olympians. Besides the whole appearance in the Shawn/Derek freestyle which was incredibly distracting and annoying, they are too young. In Season 8 and even to some extent in Season 15, Shawn couldn’t capture the emotion of the dance and was missing the chemistry with Mark and/or Derek that was needed to make the dancing believable. Technical performance was never an issue, but the emotional connection that comes with age and experience was missing. So instead of a young gymnast, why not bring one of the feisty figure skaters with attitude? Oksana and Sasha would have a blast, and they would bring a fun dynamic to the show – something that has been missing for a while.
Maks – Bar Refaeli – I probably would have put her with Tristan had Emmanuelle Chriqui not shown up on my wish list. She and Maks could be very interesting and his most fun pairing since Mel B. She’s smart, dedicated, and has a sense of humor. (Super Bowl ad, anyone?). She might be the one to make Maks fun again. Sure Kirstie was entertaining for a season and their relationship was amusing, but two seasons was overkill. Come on Maks, let’s see you break out the choreography for this one, but please, no more weird costumes. Go with the classic elegance, and you just might have a winner.
Val – Annie Barrett (Entertainment Weekly) – Just for fun. Yeah, she might have a thing for our Tristan but she and Val would be, um, energizing, I think. And Val needs to lighten up a little. Okay, a lot. Annie B is our choice as long as she would refuse to dance with a Speedo clad pro dancer.
Mark – Emily Maynard (or Katherine Webb) – I’m tired of reality show people being on DWTS, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see her as part of the cast, so I gave a big sigh and gave in on this one, figuring it's a given anyway. She was the very first one mentioned as a definite (which based on history means that she may or may not be part of the cast). Mark has had some ringers and he’s had some stinkers. Let’s see what he can do with Emily. If not Emily, they will probably cast Katherine Webb – she’s another hot rumor, and no way would they give Mark anyone who isn’t young and reasonably fit.
Wild Card: Henry – Kathy Griffin – Let’s see what’s you’ve got, Henry. Kathy would probably drive you crazy, but it would be entertaining. The censors would have a field day and ABC (and Henry) might very well pull their hair out, but the show often goes for shock value. Nothing more shocking than KG, and Henry just might be the one to make her into a dancer.
Anna – Ben Agosto – We’ve heard rumors of him for a while - but not lately. No matter, we know the miracles Anna can work on the dance floor when paired with a skater like Evan Lysacek, and as good as Evan was, Ben just might be better. Ben is one of the most graceful, artistic, and passionate ice dancers yet. Anna is due for this, and Ben Agosto just might get her that Mirror Ball Trophy that she deserves. Besides, the words to describe them would be sexy, sensual, and smoldering. How could that be a bad thing?
Peta – Ryan O’Neal – He’s been rumored, he’s been cast in the past, he supposedly dropped out for knee surgery, so bring him back but not with Anna, who deserves a legitimate shot. Besides, we want to see Peta’s choreography skills, and we don’t think she’s really tapped into that yet.
Cheryl – Troy Aikman – The former Dallas Cowboy and current football analyst has also been rumored a few times, and he would be just the right challenge for Cheryl. I think she could turn him into a respectable dancer. I thought about putting Troy with Karina, but I just can’t see a Cheryl/Anderson Cooper pair. Besides, Cheryl really does well with the athletes.
Karina – Anderson Cooper – Love this man, and I think Karina would be the perfect complement. Besides, the whole Kathy Griffin/Anderson Cooper nonsense from New Year’s Eve would be just the type of backstage footage that ABC thrives on.
Chelsie – Nicholas Gonzalez – Ever since I saw him on the short-lived ABC drama “Off the Map” I thought DWTS, and I want to see Chelsie turn up the sexy. My first choice would be for him to be with Anna, but Ben Agosto got in the way in such a fine, fine way. It’s time for Chelsie to get the hot sizzling leading man, and this man can make the temperatures rise in a hurry.
Emma – Ryan Lochte - My first thought was Chelsie here, but I think Emma could work wonders with the super gorgeous and talented Mr. Lochte – as long as he promises never to dance in a Speedo – and maybe not talk too much. I never want to see a Speedo again on DWTS or anywhere else, and if Emma does the talking in rehearsals and backstage, we should be good to go. I wouldn’t be too upset, however, if Chelsie ended up with Lochte and Emma with Nicholas Gonzalez. Either way would work.
Wild Card: Oksana – Morgan Hamm - Oksana has paid her dues, and it’s time for her to have a shot in the pro ranks. Pairing her up could be tricky, but I’m going with former gymnast Morgan (or Paul) Hamm. I think she’s a magnificent dancer, and I’m sure any celebrity would love to have her as his partner.
What Shakes said is correct. There are moments when we literally blurt out the same thoughts simultaneously. Then there are moments where we look at each other and think. ”How do I know you again?” To be fair, I did come up with my list before Shakes did and there was at least one person on her list that I gave a thought or two about (more on that below). I also think that her list is well thought out, and that these are people that I never thought of but can totally see being on Season 16. The people on my list were chosen based on the pattern of celebs that DWTS likes to choose every season. I've been trying to think strategically and therefore, these are my choices for the celebs of Season 16 and their respective pros.
Tristan and Danica McKellar - Okay, this is a partnership I've been dreaming about from the beginning. Just like Jennie Garth, Melissa Joan Hart, and Shannon Doherty, she hails from an early 90's TV show that is still wildly popular which heralds a pretty generous fan base. Danica played the adorable girl next door, Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years”. Tristan is our adorable and sexy boy next door of DWTS....any questions? She’s not an obvious ringer but she’s pretty and fit and is the kind of celebrity who would get better every week. And isn’t that what DWTS is all about? Not only have I thought a lot about this partnership but I even know what song these two could have for a Cha Cha on the Season 16 premiere....”Domino” by Jessie J. Fun and flirty, these two would be in perfect harmony.
Tony and Beverly DiAngelo - Has anyone actually seen Beverly DiAngelo these days? The woman has basically remained untouched by Father Time since the early 80's. DWTS always likes to have an over 50's stunner every season and Beverly is just the ticket. At first I thought that she'd be good for Maks but then I thought that Tony would be a better fit for this sensuous and classy woman. They would be steamy.
Sasha and Sasha Cohen - Oh come on, dont' tell me that the idea of hearing Tom Bergeron say “The next couple safe is....Sasha and Sasha” doesn't make you giggle just a little. It’s a brilliant match. Sasha Cohen is a real firecracker, and Sasha Farber is pretty much the same. Talk about the amazing energy brought to the show through this partnership.
Mark and Jo Jo - Jo Jo is a young female pop star who has been very popular for the younger teenage girl set and therefore I feel would fill that Disney Kid void that DWTS likes to fill every other year. She's cute, perky, a little bit edgy and would totally complement Mark and his zany spat dance tendencies.
Val and Lisa Loeb - Following in the footsteps of Belinda Carlisle and Chynna Phillips, Lisa Loeb would be a great candidate for DWTS. She has an iconic 90's song “ Stay “ which I still know verbatim from my high school days as a “Reality Bites” grunge connoisseur. Val could bring out her sexy side and I just think that it would be interesting to see where she'd place in the competition.
Maks and Lucy Lawless - Maks is the only man who could handle the Xena Warrior Princess...or maybe not. Lucy Lawless has to be one tough cookie to be able to physically pull off that role. Not only is she strong and gorgeous but the rehearsal footage and team dynamic alone would be enough to stay tuned. Talk, about fire, fun, and finesse. Lucy and Maks could very well be the talk of Season 16.
Chelsie and Tyler Florence – This may seem like an odd choice but I just remember how much I loved seeing Rocco DiSpirito when he was on the show many moons ago and how charming it was to have a celebrity chef on the show. Tyler Florence is a good looking man and he and Chelsie would look good together. Not to mention his giant Food Network following would be a huge advantage.
Emma and Taylor Hanson - I know Shakes is shaking her head as we speak at this choice, but the truth remains that there is always room on the DWTS celeb panel for another boy band pick. Yes, I'll admit it, I used to be a huge Hanson fan so you'd think I was biased, but in reality Taylor Hanson is just the next in line of boy band stars to be on the show. He's tall, soft spoken, and charming, and Emma is gorgeous and elegant and would be a great choice of pro for him.
Kym and Jeff Probst - I’m actually surprised that they haven’t asked Jeff to be on the show yet, or maybe they have and he refused or is too busy with all he does. He’s your sort of typical B list celebrity that you’d see on DWTS. He’s also not bad to look at and Kym seems to fit his personality. On a more cynical note, I think it would also be interesting to have him on the chopping block for once, since he usually is the person who gets to send people home on Survivor. (Note: I do think that Anderson Cooper would be good with Kym as well. That's one of my favorite choices from Shakes' list)
Cheryl and Joel McHale - I know ya’ll are thinking “Huh?” when I mention this partnership, but every show needs a token comic relief and Joel could do it for us. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he is the host of E’s The Soup, which is a show that makes fun of reality shows, including DWTS. Joel even made harmless digs at Nancy when she was on the show, and he also seemed to sympathize with Tristan. The irony alone of having him on the show would be enough to get people watching. And although Cheryl is normally partnered with Latin lovers this would also help us see how creative she could really me.
Anna and Nathan Adrian - Ryan Lochte was actually my original pick for Anna but there's a reason that I chose Nathan for DWTS. I knew I wanted Anna paired with an Olympic swimmer but I felt like Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps would be so popular that they'd overshadow the rest of the competition. I'm all for keeping things on an even playing field. Enter Nathan Adrian, 3 time Olympic Gold Medalist with killer abs. If you don't believe me just Google him and see that million dollar smile. And the killer abs.
Karina and Kevin Sorbo - So DWTS needs their distinguished older male celeb on the list, and Kevin is just the man for the job. Think distinguished gentleman, but way more hunky. Jack Wagner was a good idea and left us wanting more, so if Kevin was on the show we just might all need a fan or two to cool off. Paired with Karina, these two would smolder. Okay, I'll admit it. The thought of seeing Xena and Hercules battle it out on the dance floor would be enough for anyone to want to tune in.
And there you have it. The Shakes and SWAT not-too-reliable or accurate Season 16 predictions. Are they perfect or what? And what do you think the chances are that any of these will turn out to be right. We think probably zero because facts are facts. We suck at this predicting stuff.
Tristan is in Utah with Ballroom With A Twist, but he took time today to answer more of our questions. Enjoy!
We know you have a lot going on between now and the rest of the DWTS off-season and that you have some upcoming performance dates for Ballroom With a Twist In Oregon and Dances With Stars in Toronto later this month. Anything else going on that we can let your supporters know about?
Yeah I have a busy couple of months leading up to next season, which I’m happy about but at the same time I’m looking forward to a rest this week after Utah and so is my body!! In a couple of weeks I’m going to Portland with Ballroom With A Twist to dance with Anna again which I’m excited about, and I’ll also stay a few extra days to teach a bit there. Then the following week it’s Toronto again with Anna for 2SomeDance 5th year anniversary. At the moment they are the only shows I have planned. I’m sure I will do some more teaching but none confirmed as of now and also I’m aware of the need for a rest as the next season is fast approaching but I tend to get itchy feet when I sit down for too long. Tonight is the last night in Utah, and it was great to see Dmitry and Chelsie again and obviously all the cast of BWAT are super fun and talented.
We did a recent Q and A with Sasha and he confirmed that he was the culprit in the Atlantic City Burn the Floor ‘incident’ with the trousers getting tucked into the socks which you felt made you look like a farmer. But he also teased us with a video that you and he made that is still floating around out there somewhere – ‘MTV Cribs’ but Sasha and Tristan style. Do you have any other stories for us? You and Sasha sound like trouble, but all in a good way.
Ah yeah, I still haven’t seen that video to be honest. I think Damian has it - the three of us were rooming at the time on tour. There are loads of stories alright but it’s probably best that I keep them to myself. I only remember the wild ones and they won’t leave my lips. HaHa! There were some super crazy times but always fun. A lot of my stories are stuff that is best keep between the people involved –haha. Sasha, I’m sure can remember the tame ones as well as the wild ones!
Dancing With the Stars has changed a lot since you began as a member of the Troupe in Season 12 and through your three seasons as a pro. What positive changes do you feel have been made?
Yeah, the show has changed a bit since I joined alright but nothing too drastic I think. One of the major things I guess is that I’m a little more known now but still untested I guess to a certain degree in people’s eyes- I’m still having fun though! I think the comparing has increased since I joined - - is he better than this person, is he nicer than him, funnier than him? I guess that’s the nature of the beast, haha. It’s funny, but I just like getting on with what I do. It doesn’t matter if we place first or last so the comparisons don’t faze me. As far as everything else, I think the show knows now how to really get more out of the troupe and use them a lot more than our first troupe, so that’s great to see. There have been tweaks with certain pros swapping in and out so again most things have stayed the same. I think production wise there have been a lot more changes than cast.
Many of us witnessed first-hand your ability to teach when we saw you in Princeton on January 26. Clearly you love to teach, and you do it incredibly well. What is about teaching that draws you in? What is it that you love about teaching?
I like teaching because it makes me feel like I have some worth I guess, not in a negative way but I’m a giver and I like to help. I think everyone deserves a chance to better themselves at whatever they want to, and I like the thought of playing some part in that. I like to surround myself with positivity and there is nothing better than seeing a smile on somebody’s face when they achieve something they didn’t think they could or trying to convince somebody that they can do it however long it takes. I think it’s a great way to get to know people as well because you have to know somebody to a certain degree to know how to get the most of them so it gives me a chance to meet new people and try to help them achieve their goals. I’m like a lot of people in that when I was in school I didn’t really want to be there so I didn’t learn what I could have. Now I’m like a sponge and want to know everything I can about the things I like. When people come to dance it’s because they want to so it’s fun and not a chore, and if they get dragged along I like the challenge of trying to convince then that it s fun by relating it to something they do like doing!!
Speaking of that performance in Princeton, would you share with us how you came up with the concept for the Cha Cha to “Rolling in the Deep” and how you accomplished so much in such a short period of time?
To be honest there wasn’t too much of a concept bar - I wanted the girls to have fun and not feel like they had to stand around and wait their turn. It’s difficult to get up and put on a show in front of people when you have been doing something for a long time, let alone twenty odd minutes, so once you have put on your swimmers you don’t wanna sit around and wait - you wanna dive straight into the pool and make it an enjoyable time. The girls did great and they had the support of me to partner them, the support of each other to do it together, and the support of everyone else there to keep them going. “Rolling In The Deep” was just a song that was there but its helps with my swimming analogy – haha - it came across well because the girls were so good at processing the information.
During your Question and Answer segment in Princeton you mentioned that you much prefer teaching to choreographing. Is there a choreographer in the dance world today that you particularly respect and/or admire for their body of work?
I’m not too sure to be honest. When you look at stuff like So You Think You Can Dance, people come out of the blue and just blow your mind with stuff so for me I love the work a lot of people on that show do. Mia Michaels and Travis Wall spring to mind but so many, many more are super talented. I love Savion Glover’s stuff as well. These guys and people like them have the ability (much like Derek as well) to make all of their ideas come to life, which makes them powerhouses, where sometimes my ability falls short of my idea. Choreography for me can be as simple as telling the story; the difficulty and trickery is irrelevant to me – it’s all about the delivery.
How do you choose costumes for your celebrity partner? Does your partner have much input into the process or do you have a plan in mind going in?
The costumes are generally chosen by the pros. I guess sometimes I just say, "Right, this is what I have in mind" but generally I leave it up to my partner. Chances are I will get to wear what I want at some stage but this is their first and only experience of it so they tell me what they want to wear and the wardrobe department will come up with the compromise of what they and the producers want. There are certain things that I never want to wear so once they steer clear of that I’m usually good to go. The Devil Went Down To Georgia was mine though. I wanted that voodoo look especially on Halloween - the costume not the make-up - that was all them!
You have danced to the music of many performers on Dancing With the Stars. Which one stands out as a favorite, and is there any particular artist that you would love to see on DWTS so that you could have the opportunity to dance to their music?
I’ve been lucky enough to dance to a few acts on the show alright. I guess I liked All the Right Moves because it was our first one. I liked the Kelly Clarkson one with Kym, Jackie Evancho with Karina, Katherine Jenkins with Peta - not so much for the songs or what not but just I liked dancing with the girls. I like Kiss but if I had to dance to them I couldn’t have watched them, same as The Script because obviously they are Irish but also because I really like the guys. I’d love to see someone like Mumford and Sons on DWTS, I think, or Jack White, I like Emeli Sandé too. I loved Lady Antebellum on the show now I think of it.
It’s interesting that through your Princeton fundraiser, you have developed a new group of fan support from the volunteers and local community that wasn’t even within the DWTS demographic before. Any thoughts on this?
The fundraiser was great success. Yeah we managed to raise 2000 on the night I think which was superb and it’s always nice to know that people appreciate what you do but for me the main thing was to get the awareness across for the charity. I’m fully looking forward to working with a lot more charities this year. I don’t think it’s all about just giving money to charity but just having awareness of the work that they do is the main thing and you can help in whatever way you choose. I think it’s important though if I’m in a position to promote or to help an association that actually does give all their proceeds to the people we are raising the money for, I can’t neglect that responsibility. I appreciate all the support I get and I would never take advantage of people who work so hard at this all year round for the sake of getting people to vote for me. This work is much much bigger than the show I do. It’s just raising awareness of a very real situation.
Your website, MacManiacs.org is very quickly moving ahead towards 300,000 forum views in just over a year. While we realize that you probably haven’t had time to look at it in a very long time, we are curious as to whether there is anything in particular you would like for us to do or include. Currently we have a forum with more than 90 different topics, image gallery, video page, blog page, and interview page. Is there anything else you would like to see?
I think you are all doing a great job with the website. I have seen it a few times, yes, but I won’t lie - I don’t sit and google myself everyday and see what I am doing haha. I appreciate that you all put so much time into supporting me and I’m sure whatever you feel you like to add is alright by my judging by the views you are getting its working whatever it is you are doing, ha! I think it’s great that you guys interview other people on it too. Like I said it’s not a competition of who is the best person and I enjoy all the people you talk to so it’s great. Sometimes I have to check the website to find out what I’m supposed to be doing that week - you guys usually know before I do!! Again just a huge thank you to everyone and anyone who shows interest in whatever it is I do and hopefully whatever it is you enjoy about whatever I say it sticks for long after I’m gone!! STAY POSITIVE STAY HAPPY