This was a very difficult week for Tristan and Dorothy, yet in spite of all that, he took time today to answer our questions. We can't thank him enough.
We especially enjoy hearing about your work to support charitable organizations, and we read about your participation in LAFest2013 to benefit the Mia Hamm Foundation and Grassroot Soccer. Could you tell us about that experience?
LAFest was a great experience, but unfortunately I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked. I have been working for Grassroots Soccer for over a year now, and their annual event date had been pushed many times due to scheduling and eventually they teamed up with Nomar and Mia’s foundation to have a joint event which fell on a Sunday- camera blocking day! Especially with the week we had with Dorothy, it became a scramble but it was definitely something I didn't want to miss out on so I managed to slip away for an hour or so while Dorothy was getting her therapy. I managed to get in a little under half the game and then had to run back in time for camera blocking and rehearsed for the remainder of the night. It’s something I love doing - playing football - and to meet the others and kick about with them was a blast. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to stick around and talk to them too much. It was down in The Home Depot Centre too where I go to watch LA Galaxy play so that was a bonus for me personally. I got to meet the pros from the Women’s National Team and some former Men’s National Team members and the hosts of FSC.
It was obviously a tough week for you and Dorothy, and she had to make a very difficult decision, but like you said, it was the right one. How did things finally fall into place?
Well, I got a text from Dorothy early Tuesday morning saying she needed to talk with me so I called her, and I kind of had the feeling it was game over. I could see the pain Dorothy had been in for a few weeks, and I didn't think it was going to get better with the hours we had to put in. As the week was going on and it had got to Saturday and we hadn't started dancing yet so I knew it was a struggle to get things together for Monday but we worked overtime again on something than required rest. Dorothy had gotten treatments all week but until she had her MRI and got back the results and could actually see them it was something she felt she would work through - as all athletes do. To me that was the most impressive feat of the week- not to get through but to actually compete in the first place. After the show was informed they decided which way they wanted to play the announcement out, and then we followed.
We truly loved watching your interaction with Dorothy – in interviews and on the dance floor. What was it like working with her?
Dorothy was amazing to work with. She is so hard working and committed. It was difficult for her, I would imagine; the show wants to know how you feel every second of every rehearsal and wants everything verbalized which can be difficult when you are just used to putting your head down and learning quietly. She is exactly how she comes across – polite, gentle, and fun to be around. The live show is exactly the same for everyone; it’s hard to tell them what to expect. You just have to live it as it happens. You can prepare people for it but the moment takes over most the time so you have to soak it in instead of letting it intimidate you.
As fans, it will be difficult for us to find the same enjoyment this season without you and Dorothy bringing your own magic to the show, but we will be watching and supporting you in your appearances (hopefully many!) and the rest of the cast as well. Could you give us a brief comment on each of the remaining teams and/or what you perceive as their strengths? Want to take a chance and predict a winner?
I can’t really pick a winner because you just never know what to base it on to be honest. Sometimes people just can’t get over what they don’t like about some people and sometimes they can’t see past what they do like, you know. It’s best to just watch it and enjoy it for what it is. Everyone is genuine I feel this season. D.L took a truck load on the first show so I want to see him do well. Andy has things he wants to overcome so I want to see him do well too. Zendaya, yes, she is young but people forget she still has to work super hard to be as good as she is. If she slacks you can call her out but you can’t fault her for being young!! I really like Aly; she is funny so I hope she does well. Victor is a really cool genuine guy, and Jacoby is hilarious. Kellie is amazing and those two [Kellie and Derek] together are great. Lisa is a beast at the minute - she is great on the show and has so much going on outside as well that she deserves a medal already. I always push for Val and Peta because we came in together and l always love to see the new guys do well. So far Gleb and Sharna are killing it and Lindsay is working like a boss. I like Ingo too - no drama, he just gets on with things and is happy doing it. Wynonna too.
You mentioned something in one of your interviews on the press line this week about injuries and dancing while having injuries. In your career, you’ve most likely danced with an injury, so would you share with us how that affected the performance (if at all) and what changes you’ve had to make as a result?
Injuries always affect you in different ways. I don't take any sort of medications - never have - so I can’t just take pain killers when I'm hurt. I've had slipped discs in my back that I haven't had treated properly for different reasons, and when I was younger I used to break things all the time but kept playing football through it. When I knocked my knee cap out of place and tore my meniscus in the same knee I lost all pace I had and since then I tend to have a lot of hamstring strains and pulls which I tend to try dance through now. I hate missing out on things so you put yourself through these things that don't help you in the long run. I once cracked my ankle bone during a football game that I didn't want to quit, so I foolishly kept going but that's what we did and that's what we do. You hurt yourself and keep quiet because you don't want to miss out and then complain about it afterwards when you can’t do the things you used to be able to do! I have to be a lot more careful these days but I know exactly what it’s like to be going through something and be somewhat afraid to let anybody down or pull out so that's why you have to listen to your body and make the best decision for your health. If you can have a team who can support that, well then we are all doing what’s best for each other not for ourselves so nobody is ever being let down.
Do you have some more dances coming up on Dancing With the Stars? We already miss seeing you dance!
The appearances on the show come up week by week so I don't really know when I'm going to be on again - sometimes the show has to keep people involved or to promote new dancers so I really don't know just yet - we will have to wait and see. I was trying to put a dance together for one of the weeks but it didn't play out how I wanted it to so I decided to knock that on the head. Sometimes you get to choose; sometimes you don’t, but if I can’t do particular things the way I want them done, I don't want to do them. Maybe next time. I do have a pro number this week though with all the guys. I missed the last all guys number when my back went out the during the dress rehearsal so I’m looking forward to this one.
We have heard of a few cases where the DWTS pro has asked to have the music changed several days into the rehearsal because the music just didn’t seem to work. Have you ever had to do that? Also, did you choose “Tiny Dancer” and “Chantilly Lace” for this season’s music? We loved both.
I like both songs, yes, but I didn’t choose either. That was the producers. I had different songs in mind when I heard we were doing contemporary, but I like the songs we ended up with. I do think the song has a big part to play in how the dance does and sometimes songs suit people more than the dance does so you just have to roll with it. Also I’m conscious that this is the only time my partner is going to realistically be on the show (bar all stars) so it has be more about their experience than mine. When people come to your house you make them feel as welcome as possible, and you get the enjoyment out of knowing that they want to come back! Sometimes my taste in music doesn't really work on the show on the particular week I want to dance to it, and in the end the whole show needs to run smoothly together. It's no good having 11 songs that fit together and then something Tristan wants to dance to - unfortunately. Haha!
One of the favorite dances for the people on MacManiacs.org is the Jive, and we’ve had the opportunity to see you do it several times. As a teacher, what is the most difficult or challenging part of teaching this particular dance to a student?
Jive is difficult enough to teach because people can be a bit cautious about it because it’s so fast. If you can’t move as fast as you like, sometimes you have to simplify the move to make it work. You gotta get high knees and keep your weight forward and kick and pick up your feet quickly. People don’t always like that – ha! It’s difficult, but everything is difficult when you don’t know how to do it. I don’t want to over dance anyone so I can take criticism on the chin because I know what I’m doing is the right thing to do. I’ll never hold anyone back but I certainly won’t ever make anyone trail behind either. You dance as a team and the captain will take the heat if it comes our way. You can’t compare apples to oranges; you can just make sure you shine brightest.
Well said, Tristan, and until next time...
A big thank you to Tristan, who found time today to answer more of our questions.
Obviously, Dorothy is a great partner with many strengths. As her teacher, what do you see as those strengths and how can you use that to your advantage this season?
Dorothy is great. I love working with her. Her willingness to learn and perfect is admirable, and it's purely to better herself which is amazing. Her biggest asset besides her elegance, grace and humility is that she can perform under intense pressure, and when it matters most she shows that she can pull it out of the bag.
We were surprised when Contemporary was announced as your Week 1 dance, but the end product was brilliant. How did you come up with the concept, and how did you go about teaching a basically unfamiliar dance style?
The concept came from just a story really in that we all find inspiration in our own ways from different things, and the thought that anyone can help anyone - a statue can inspire a down-and-out, a 'nobody' can help a 'hero” (statue worthy) - basically just the thought that we can all help and inspire each other whether we are trying to or not. I let the story be told, and I didn't think about it as a style.
This season is obviously very different than your seasons with Nancy, Gladys, and Pamela, but what do you see as the particular challenges facing you and Dorothy?
The main challenge I guess is the same for everyone to do your best and not be discouraged by comparisons, be it how your competitors did on the night or how your fellow athletes, tv stars, musicians, or comics did previously. Everyone has their own challenges without living up to someone else's as well.
You have the Jive coming up for Week 2. How is that coming along?
Jive is taking its time alright but looking forward to it. It's a lively, fun dance so happy faces make a difference when it comes to nerves I think against a more straight-faced restricted ballroom hold dance. It's gonna be a lot faster than last week for sure so I can't wait to see what Dorothy can do.
There seem to be a lot of very strong contenders in Season 16. How would you size up the cast?
The cast is strong personality wise, and it’s easy to write people off straight away but I'm sure another week of experience will be crucial, and the thick skin will bite back for a lot of people.
Ever since you and Dorothy were announced as Season 16 partners, the outpouring of love and support for Team Hamill on the website, Twitter, Facebook, and the new @TeamHamill Twitter page has been extraordinary. From those in the skating world to those who saw your dance Monday and jumped on board, it has already been a great journey. Any words you would like for us to share with your fans?
The support as usual has been immense, and we are very grateful. Hopefully we can continue to justify a portion of it each week until we can give it all back. Thank you. Keep being amazing and striving to be the best you can.