You have been part of the new Dancing With the Movies production. Tell us about that.
Oksana: I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the all new show Dancing With the Movies starring favorites from SYTYCD, DWTS, and American Idol. It’s a high energy and interactive concept show, which includes dancing of all styles to the most iconic movie soundtracks. I had a great time being involved with a lot of the creative process. My favorite part about Dancing With the Movies is I get to dance with some of the best professionals in the industry who just happen to be my best friends. My favorite partner is my husband Jonathan Platero (SYTYCD Season 5). Together we choreographed four numbers for the show (Dirty Dancing, The Matrix, Lion King and Ghost). We had a very successful first run, and we're getting ready to go on tour this summer!
We have seen you dance many times in shows like Ballroom With a Twist and the Holland America: DWTS At Sea Cruises. What are some of your favorite performances from those shows over the years? Were you a little sad to see DWTS At Sea come to an end?
Oksana: No matter what show I'm dancing in or what number I’m performing, my favorite time to be on stage is with my husband Jonathan. We've been very fortunate with opportunities to get to work together almost every time. DWTS at Sea is a dream job for us as partners. It always feels more like vacation than work. We get to travel to beautiful destinations, perform two shows a week, and also enjoy the perks of working on a cruise. Our latest contract with Holland American was bittersweet knowing it was coming to an end. We hope in the future Dancing With the Stars at Sea will be reborn with us being a part of it as well!
What about other projects? Have you been teaching, performing, training, working on new things, etc.?
Okasana: My friends and I are very proud and excited to announce the new project that we've been working on - "The Connection."
Seven dancers that are best friends, who have struggled to become the best in their respective industry, come together to bring joy, fulfillment and opportunity for the world to be a better place. They exude gratefulness, talent, persistence, love and devotion for movement, and have created a one of a kind, unique LIVE experience.
This dynamic team, is a thrilling combination of different styles, including Ballroom, Hip Hop, Salsa and partnering power tricks that will blow your mind. As a bonus, TV hit shows such as Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance have had the opportunity for some of the members of The Connection to grace their stage as finalists and as choreographers.
Taking movement to the next level, each performance will leave you sitting at the edge of your seat and on your feet. Making an impact all over the world, The Connection is the hottest group to be taking audiences by storm, connecting visual, audio and stimulating the heart.
Tell us about how you ended up being a professional dancer. Perhaps share some of your background, training, how you became part of the troupe on DWTS beginning in Season 12, etc.
Oksana: My mom first took me to ballroom dance classes when I was six years old and from there I didn’t stop. I first fell in love with all the sparkles, costumes, makeup, and before I knew it, I couldn't imagine my life without dance. I’ve also had a very successful competitive career. Dancing is what first brought me to America. I was participating in different competitions around the world almost every weekend. Teaching and taking lessons, practicing every day with no vacation, and dedicating all my time was what I lived for.
The dance world is very small. My partner and I (were living in Boston at the time) got noticed quickly and were asked to come to LA and audition for DWTS. That audition led to one of the hardest decisions on my life. I was offered a spot on the show and my partner was not. I decided to take the job knowing that meant starting a new chapter in my life and leaving behind everything I ever knew. I believed that this would lead to opportunity and growth that was necessary to further my career. I found myself in a new city with a contract that only lasted 10 weeks. From there, I was left to figure out what was next. I have been very lucky to meet new people along the way whom now I can call my closest friends and business partners. The biggest blessing was meeting Jonathan. Together we found a new passion for choreographing and that is something that we really enjoy doing together. Our most recent choreography can be seen on shows such as SYTYCD, Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing With the Movies and also for the LA Clippers, just to name a few. We hope to continue doing what we love and inspire those around us. You never work a day in your life if you LOVE what you do!
As an artist, your passion is obviously dance. Are there any particular dancers who have inspired you over the years?
Oksana: Many people have inspired me on my journey. I feel like I can always learn something from everyone. Specifically I'm grateful to be able to learn from my two favorite coaches - Allan Tornsberg and Shirley Ballas.
What is the most challenging part of being a professional dancer?
Oksana: The challenge of being a professional dancer is that you don't always have a consistent job. Sometimes you're booked every single day and then you don't work for a while. Also you always have to take care of your body and be in top shape to be able to perform, because if you have injury you can't work and make money.
We have to ask this (since we’re a Tristan-based website, after all), but you’ve known Tristan a long time. Do you have any special memories of working with him?
Oksana: I have known Tristan for many years now. I first met him on DWTS, and we've worked together on BWAT as well. The thing I love about him the most is his humor. I've never seen the guy in the bad mood or being unhappy about something. He is one of the most positive people I know. And congratulations to him and his beautiful wife on their newborn baby.
What is on your schedule for the next few weeks or months?
Oksana: I'm very excited about the next couple of months because I love being busy. Jon and I are choreographing a few numbers for Cheryl Burkes' brand new show Love On the Floor. The show is going to Japan first, and I'm sure it's gonna be a great success, and hopefully she'll bring the show to the United States afterwards. Then our group, The Connection, is going to Canada to perform for Sidance Festival, and in the end of June Jon is starting to work on SYTYCD new generation as an All Star. I'm hoping to be able to choreograph on the show this season.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Oksana: To all the fans out there - thank you so much for being a part of my career. Everything I do is for you. Please vote for Jon this season on SYTYCD. It's gonna be a great season.
Social Media for Oksana
Social Media/Website for The Connection
The Connection Instagram https://www.instagram.com/theconnectionla
From March 25-April 22, 2016, this website forum ran a contest and our winner, Eva, got to interview Tristan. Eva is a relatively new member of our website but she has been a Tristan MacManus supporter for quite some time. Below you will find the contest prompts and her winning answers along with a lovely message that Tristan sent along for her. After that, enjoy her interview with our favorite dancer.
Contest prompts with Eva's winning responses.
1. Tell us why you want to be the person doing this interview.
"Consider it my vacation since I'm usually taking are of my twin babies 24/7."
2. Share 1 Tristan memory.
"This comment from one of his recent interviews. 'You don't have to do anything to earn respect. It should be a given - - YOU RESPECT PEOPLE! That's the end of it!! You need a reason to lose respect or someone but not to have it. I have had a few issues with people's opinions on respect and what respect is. You treat people with respect by being a decent human being - not by telling everybody how much you respect people or showing symbols or giving money or whatever it is once a year. Look people in the eye, shake their hands, and ask them about themselves and their families.' "
3. Give a 5 word description of Tristan or something Tristan-related.
"He isn't just a dancer."
Message from Tristan
Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions and congratulations on the kids. I’m sure they don't know how lucky they are to have you there 24/7. I wish you health and happiness and hope that the answers entertained you as much as the questions did me.
All the best - Slainte
You said in an earlier interview that some of your favorite dances are the slower ones like Waltz and Rumba. But which of the faster dances do you enjoy performing the most?
I do prefer the slower, laid back dances but I can enjoy some of the faster ones as well. It mainly depends on the songs though and the concept. I don't prefer too many any more or less than another. I like rhythm changes and I like fast pace just like I do when I’m running or training. I like Paso and I like Swing.
A couple of years ago you told us 5 places that someone visiting Ireland might want to see. Now that you are spending so much time in Australia, what are some places that you think are especially interesting there?
I don't know this place as much as Ireland but there are a lot of amazing places here. For years, I used to relate a lot to Melbourne. It was in my head a lot more like Dublin but, to be honest, I love Sydney and I never really took to it before. I haven't spent any time up in Queensland but I have it on the radar and the Northern Territory. I couldn't give you any tourist tips on this place but you can't beat the weather!
You have mentioned several times that you might enjoy taking on hosting responsibilities on television or elsewhere. One of the best in the business is your friend Tom Bergeron. What did you learn from being around him?
Tom is the ultimate, yeah. He is just so good at what he does. He has this amazing balance that obviously makes him unique, and I would imagine any show on any channel in any country would love to have a Tom Bergeron. I don't know if you can teach that but you watch someone just be so smooth and natural and in a second make some words into their own. It’s just amazing and fascinating at the same time.
The Summer Olympics are coming up this year. Which of the sports from the summer games most interest you? Do you have favorite athletes that you hope will be competing?
I love watching the Olympics but I wouldn't watch every event and I don't mean to belittle any of them by saying that. Obviously the football is a favourite and Katie Taylor winning the boxing again is how highly we rate her - we almost expect her to win and we certainly all push for her to. Swimming is always good - tennis, triathlon, egg and spoon race, sprinting - I love it all.
Speaking of the Olympics, you mentioned in one interview that it might be fun to recreate Cool Runnings with an Irish bobsled team. Since it is a Summer Olympics year, which sport do you think might best suit you in your quest for Olympic glory?
I don't know if any of them would suit me but I’d love to give the boxing a go. I’d end up on the stretcher before the podium though, I reckon. Some of those Olympians are just beasts - and my frustrating triathlon career - haha. In all honesty though, to represent your country in anything is the pinnacle of your career whether it’s the biggest country in the world or the smallest. It’s always yours and you get to clench your fists and blow out your chest and wail out those lyrics to your country’s anthem with tears in your eyes and make yourself seven feet. It’s absolutely unreal.
Last year you competed in a triathlon and were in training for the Ironman 70.3 Dublin in August, but your work commitments kept you from competing. Are you doing any training now, and do you have plans to compete in another triathlon in the future?
I am training, yeah, but not specifically for a triathlon. My time is pretty thin at the minute with everything that is going on but I try to keep as active as I can day to day. I’d love to do another triathlon. I absolutely loved the discipline in the training I was doing when I had almost all day long free. I want to get back into swimming which I haven't done in a while but I have been running a lot. I recently sold my bike so that’s off for the time being.
Are you getting the chance to play any football these days?
No, I haven't got back to football yet but I’m loving AFL over here so I may get involved there when everything here settles down in a bit. I had reached out to a local team here to play but everything got hectic then for a while and I’d hate to show up every other time and not be able to fully commit to it.
In past interviews you mentioned you had several ideas for DWTS/SCD performances but were holding onto those in case you actually got to use them. Now that you’re not currently on either show could you share a few of those ideas? (or perhaps you’ll be using them for future projects?)
Yeah, there are a few I’d have loved to do. I wanted to use “Is This Love” by Corinne Bailey Rae. It’s a cover of Bob Marley but it got vetoed and also "Sesame Street". I’ve wanted that one for a long time and it never gets passed for some reason. I like nostalgic ones that I guess the shows feel won't fit well. On the bigger scale I always wanted to do a Labyrinth themed number or one from Willow. I just think it would have been class - in my head anyway. My biggest disappointment though is still from last season as soon as I got Jamelia I knew what I wanted for Halloween but it got rejected and I was so disappointed about it – haha. I wanted to use “Scream” by Michael and Janet Jackson and I had all these hologram and trapdoors and dance breaks for it but they already had an MJ song they wanted to use. I also wanted “Hallelujah I Love Her So” by Ray Charles but, hey, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. But I’d have loved to use those songs and still wanted to do my Beetlejuice but it’s been used now and nobody wants to use songs that have already been done.
You’ve stressed the importance of not only teaching but always being willing to learn as well. What did you learn when touring with “Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown”? Did you get any acting tips? Do you have any other acting gigs planned? We would all love to see more!
Mrs Brown’s Boys was amazing. I absolutely loved every minute of touring with those guys but I was spoiled with how well the family treat you there, and the cast were unreal with me. I’d love to be a Brown Boy and as much fun as it was, I don't know if acting in general would be as fun as that experience was. I’d give it a go for sure if there was an opportunity but generally when you are asked to do stuff now a lot of people feel it needs to be dance related somehow so it can be quite limiting in what you get offered. I’d like to do a little more so maybe in the future I can do something.
Obviously you have a lot going on in your life right now, but the past few years have been times of almost non-stop performing, teaching, and DWTS/SCD and other commitments. Do you miss the hectic schedule and nearly constant travel?
No, to be honest. This is all pretty new to me at the minute - this little change and shift in life - but I’m loving it. I like not worrying about having to leave my wife and life behind me for a few days here and there or months on the road and not being able to put some roots down. There are more worries I guess now in what I can work at and what I am going to do career-wise in a new country where I don't know anybody but I’m loving everything at the minute and enjoying time in my own house with my family and knowing I don't have to up and leave any time soon.
We did a recent survey on the website about favorite decades of music, and the overwhelming winner was the 1980s. You love all kinds of music, but which decade of music is your favorite overall?
Yeah, the 80s are pretty amazing- haha - but it's a fine balance between amazing and terrible. 80s rock and I guess 60/70s Motown are my favorites. Michael Jackson, I think, wins all decades though.
Things stay very busy on the website, and another survey gave the list of current Broadway musicals and we were asked to pick the 4 that we thought you would be most suited for. The results are 1) Something Rotten 2) Kinky Boots 3) On Your Feet 4) Disaster! Which do you think you would be most suited for?
I’m not really up on musicals to be honest at the minute so I couldn't say about those but I do know Kinky Boots - great show - but I’m interested to know what role you guys see me suiting – hahaha. I own boots but there is nothing kinky or red about them.
Speaking of Broadway, you once mentioned that you would love to perform there. Obviously you have other considerations now and your family takes priority, but if you had the opportunity to do something in the theatre and that wouldn’t take a lot of time away from your family would you like to give it a try?
I’d still love to do something on stage for sure but it doesn't have to be Broadway. I think that ship has sailed and I’m very content with that. I think maybe something quite dark would be fun to play on stage.
We know you had a small part in Ella Enchanted and you mentioned that the whole auditioning process might deter you from acting, but if you could walk into a movie role, which role or type of role would it be?
I’d like to do something historical. I love movies like that or documentaries where you can actually learn about something that happened and portray someone who actually made a difference. Besides that, I’d love to be Rocky – hahaha. You look at all the training that the guys go through for films like that for months on end. You literally get paid to be trained to look like a beast and then you get fit and you walk away counting your money and in great shape - double bonus. I wanna play Thor and I want Sasha [Farber] to play Ironman to make him happy.
You have said many times that you are not just a dancer and while it is part of your life, it’s certainly not everything or even the most important thing. You seem to stay grounded throughout all the ups and downs of life as a dancer. We always like to look at the positives. What have been some of the highs to your performing career thus far?
Everything I have done has been a highlight to be honest. I had some amazing ups and some pretty devastating lows, but I’m very happy with what I have done and I’m very happy to walk away from it all as well. I have met some amazing people along the way and I have met some terrible people who everyone spends their everyday trying to impress and get justification from. I could have done a lot better and achieved a lot more in some people’s eyes if I had been a lot more committed but at the same time I could have been a lot more miserable. I worked hard to get to a point and found that it’s not all its made out to be. I look at people on the shows I have been part of and get inspired by their commitment and dedication to dancing and think I want to find the thing that gives me that satisfaction and I hope that others with that same drive get a chance to do the show and see if it gives them what they are looking for. I think some people have confused me leaving the shows with me not liking the shows, and that’s wrong. It’s just not for me.
With your gift of gab, we think you would make a spectacular bartender. How about giving us your signature drink and naming it?
I’m a ROB ROY guy! I went through a phase of only drinking Rob Roys and I loved it usually by the end of the night I couldn't remember what it was called so it usually had multiple names..........but I’m mature now..........I don't drink cocktails. A great quote from The Quiet Man is "when I drink whiskey I drink whiskey and when I drink water I drink water". Michaleen was a wise man – haha.
If you were to create a motto or slogan that describes your approach to life, what would it say?
Don’t worry about what might happen and don't worry about what is happening - just what you are going to do about it!
You appeared on stage in many different shows, and you have worked with many of your Burn the Floor castmates on SCD and DWTS. Do you keep up with any of the other dancers and performers from your earlier shows such as Burn the Floor, Dirty Dancing, Simply Ballroom, etc.?
I keep in touch with the ones I liked – hahaha. I always look out for everyone and hope that they are doing well and happy with where they are. Just like any job or any environment some people put their goals before their relationships and will pull some David Copperfield tricks to steal your underpants which is cool but it’s not for me. I like the same people when I’m doing well and when I’m not doing so good and I don't forget who helped me along the way. I have friends from before I had any of these shows and I have friends who worked behind the scenes on these shows and I have some best friends from the shows. I wouldn't change any of my friends in the world, but I can take or leave some of the people I have met though – haha.
Finally, your life has changed so much over the last few years and 2016 has been a big year already. How do you like being a Dad?
It’s the most important and best thing that has ever happened to me. Whatever I have been through and did in my life - right or wrong - I ended up with the most amazing wife and daughter in the world.
Thanks for another fantastic interview, Tristan! We are already thinking ahead to next time.