It's been a while since we've spoken with Tristan, and he was kind enough to take more of your questions recently. Enjoy!
Congratulations on the new baby. How has life changed for the MacManus family during the last few weeks?
Things have been great the last few weeks with the family, thanks. For sure, it has been and continues to be an adjustment but we love it. Tadhg is great. He is behaving and sleeping and eating as we would expect a newborn to do. Echo has been a star as expected, and even Oisín. He wants his momma’s attention as normal. His sleeping hasn’t been the best of late, but they both love having a baby brother, and we couldn’t be happier or stronger as a family.
Your children have beautiful, unusual names. How did you and Tahyna choose them?
The names, yeah, we love them. As you know, I love my Irish mythology and the characters and stories and traditions, so luckily Tahyna was on board with those unorthodox to some names. We have Oisín and Tadhg who are both characters and were warriors as well as poets and storytellers. I’ve always loved their names, and both middle names are Irish kings—Oisín Lír and Tadhg Nuada. Echo Isolde is from Greek mythology, and we also have our own private story for choosing her name. Isolde was a princess in Tristan and Isolde but also there was an Irish Queen named Isolde, so same as the boys.
What are some things you like to do with your children?
We do everything as a family. We go on bush walks in the national park. We read, we draw, we tell stories, and Tahyna is awesome at doing arts and crafts with them. We do everything you would or at least we expect a family to do. They love interactive play and are very kind and friendly kids who are eager to explore and learn. There isn’t a profession or activity that Echo hasn’t expressed an interest in pursuing as a career—haha. She now wants to be a scientist, doctor, vet, and hairdresser as well as go to parties. Oisín wants to be Spider-Man. We are doing our best to make all these avenues a possibility!!
Now that you’ve been a co-host of Studio 10 for several months, what are your thoughts about it? What have you enjoyed most?
I love this job. I have been very lucky with the cast and crew that I have joined and get to work with and learn from each day. I get excited going to work each day. I like feeling the pressure of having to be ‘on’ every day, and I enjoy learning about things I may have never had an interest in and getting to learn first hand why the people who are into it in their words. My appreciation for everything has luckily heightened, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that unless somebody put their trust and faith into me to do so. That’s why I appreciate the opportunity so much and strive to know and learn more about most things each day.
Has there been an especially memorable guest on Studio 10? What about an especially funny moment or blooper?
I get enjoyment out of most interviews to be honest. I loved talking with Matthew McConaughey, not because of how famous he is or his star power but just because i had read his book. We spoke off camera before the interview, and we spoke about soccer, him filming in my home town for Reign Of Fire, and aspects of his life. He was very down to earth and interested as much as he was interesting. I have spoken to endurance athletes who inspire me and, as I mentioned before, people who make me appreciate things I never had before. The local heroes are amazing to hear from—the front line workers, the nurses and doctors, the firefighters, the people who put others before themselves every day. It’s a beautiful position to be in to be able to highlight their work and their stories.
I once read the news on my first week by accident. I did a Forrest Gump on the auto cue and just kept reading!! I have mispronounced well-known names of people. I have given opinions on unrelated topics because I got the premise of the story wrong—hahaha. You know, just the usual stuff. Also just general ‘routine’ stuff that all tv hosts and anchors should know. I’ve stuffed them all so what are ya gonna do??!!! Haha!
We liked getting to see you and Sarah do a bit of dancing on Footloose Fridays. How did that come about? Will those continue and has there been a favorite performance?
I’m not too sure with the Footloose Fridays. I think they are here to stay alright but maybe not as frequently as they were before. In one sense, it was probably a way for me to bed in to the show and get some confidence as well as help build our relationship as partners on the show. More than that though, it’s just a way to relate to the performers over here who need or maybe want a platform to show what they do and how we can connect them together. Some will look at it as us being show ponies and showing off, but I think the majority realize that in a four hour show for every day of the week sometimes it’s okay for us to let our hair down and have a bit of active fun with people who wanna dance. I love the diversity of the people in Australia so it’s great to do any cultural dancing and find out the histories and pride that people have in their culture. I always think it’s something we can relate to and bring us closer.
How do you prepare on a daily basis to host the show?
I like to read the stories of the guests coming on and see how I can relate to them if I’m lucky enough to have time to read their book/ hear their podcast. I always want to know more but generally I just enjoy talking to people and learning about them. I can’t be on top of everything and find out every last detail about them, but I know what they are on to talk about so it’s basically a lot of reading and trying to relate.
The cooking segments look like fun. Any favorite dishes?
I love all the cooking segments. It’s like being able to have the best of the best cooking something I’ve never eaten before or changing my mind about something I thought I didn’t like. I haven’t had a dish I didn’t like yet!
Are there any foods common to Australia that you especially like or dislike?
I do not and will never like Vegemite!
If you were to make a documentary film on any subject, what would it be about?
I love anything endurance related. I love talking with people who strive to push themselves beyond what seems possible! Swimmers, runners, cyclists—I’m still a keen triathlete so anything in that area gets me going, but generally anyone lucky enough to be doing something they love and challenges them gets my attention. I don’t have to have an interest in the topic. I just need to know I’m working with someone who does. I’m still a history buff, so I love true stories of unlikely or accidental heroes.
The last movie you saw
Just watched Tropic Thunder last night before falling asleep
The television show watched most frequently in your house
Curb Your Enthusiasm/The Office (American and UK), Bluey and Spider-Man
The movie watched most frequently in your house
At the moment it’s Luca, a new Disney+ movie
The last food you cooked
We are cooking homemade pizzas a lot lately with the kids, and I made a mac broccoli and cheese dish recently that surprised me and the family!
The menu at home when the kids get to choose
Anything with pasta and tomato sauce
Favorite family activity
We love the nature walks and drawing/reading.
The last non-Studio 10 related show you got to see
I watched a doco called Breaking 2 while I was on the treadmill.
Any recent sporting event you have attended or watched on television
I’m currently trying to watch the Euros and the Copa America when I can. I’m trying to get back into the basketball as well. It’s just tough at the minute to!
Finally, the question asked most frequently. When will we get to see you dance again?
Who knows??!! I do miss Ballroom With A Twist.
We reached out to Tristan a few days before he takes over as co-host of Studio 10 alongside Sarah Harris, and he graciously agreed to answer more of your questions. Enjoy!
First of all, congratulations! We’re all very excited to follow this next move in your career.
Can you tell us how you ended up hosting Studio 10? We’ve often talked about you being a natural host, but this is almost too good to be true.
Hey, great to hear from you. And thanks for the good wishes. I’m delighted to be hosting the show. I certainly wasn’t expecting it or aware that it was a possibility before receiving the call, but I’m glad someone thought it may be a good idea to approach me and I couldn’t have been happier to accept it. It was such a quick process between the initial call, the screen test, and then the offer. It’s something I have long admitted was a goal of mine, so I couldn’t be smiling any more now that it’s a reality. I didn’t expect it to be on a show so well established here and the time slot is perfect for the family and kids’ school, which is priority as always.
Take us through what you will be doing now on a daily basis at Studio 10.
Well, the show starts Monday, so it’s not long enough to worry or panic or stress about. Sarah, my co-host, is great I’m really enjoying the opportunity to learn from her and also build a relationship and team alongside her. We have kids the same age, and we share similar interests and come from similar backgrounds. We will basically be bringing stories and events that are worth discussing, hopefully fighting some causes and championing our unsung heroes, and highlighting and entertaining our everyday good people from around the country. That’s blabber for I’m not 100% sure just yet, but I’m going with it!
What do you see as the challenges of hosting a show like this? What are you most looking forward to?
There are many challenges, but it’s something I have been working towards for a long time and certainly following the recent events globally I’m hoping this is the start of the curve for us. We live in uncertain times right now, and sometimes change can be challenging for everyone involved and an audience in general. We face it each season with DWTS, for example, but I’m following on from much loved and familiar hosts and friends so that can be scary for anyone but again I’m not here to replace anyone. I can only do my best at being myself and try my best to entertain as I see fit. Some will like it; some will not. That is the challenge, but it’s the same challenge anyone in a new position faces. I’m just lucky to be given to opportunity to tackle that in a positive way.
On to dancing for a moment…DWTS Australia ended in an unusual way due to Covid-19. What are your thoughts on the show in 2020 and are there plans for it to return in 2021? (Will you be part of it if it returns? Assuming you know or can share that kind of information)
I really don’t know the plans for DWTS. We aren’t in that loop of decision making, but I hope it comes back. I know it’s a sensitive time for everyone. I really enjoy the show and I know there are homes and families across the country that rely on the escapism it offers and the pleasure it offers. I think it’s important that we try uphold that. The show isn’t for everyone, but we try and put a smile on as many faces as possible. I’d still push for a frontline-themed series, but I think we need to try and do our best to support each other however we can do it. Fingers crossed we can come back and I hope I come back but again it’s out of our hands, and Sharna lives in the states and Craig lives in the UK.
We know that Burn the Floor and other shows were cancelled because of Covid-19. That must have been disappointing as you had mentioned how much you were looking forward to being back with Burn the Floor. What are your thoughts on how this pandemic has affected the dance world?
The pandemic has affected the whole world full stop. The confusion and fear have really pulled people apart but, like everything, certain people have also pulled together. It’s affected the whole industry, but there are families and people who have been affected much worse. Let’s just hope a vaccine is closer than we know and people everywhere keep supporting each other and helping each other. We need more unity than ever right now.
Covid-19 has messed with all of us a little. How did you and your family handle being isolated/restricted for some time?
It’s been tough, no doubt, but we do what we can to make the most and best of the situation we are in. We got to spend so much more time with the kids. There was financial strain of the time, but mortgages put on hold helped immensely. Everyone knows this can’t go on forever, and now the next stage is happening. Victoria here are in a completely different situation to NSW here just like other states in America. We still have to be vigilant and rely on those in the know to give us the information we need and can’t find ourselves so that we can keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe—not just the ones who benefit us. While we are still in the midst of it, it’s hard to fully reflect on it but we do our best to keep our kids fear free and happy just like every other family tries to do the best they can.
You were a big part of the DWTS (America) family for six seasons, and things have changed a lot since you left after Season 17. Have you kept up with it at all, and do you have any thoughts on the big changes that have occurred in 2020? (most of all, no Tom Bergeron!)
That is something I can reflect on, and it’s great to see so many friends still doing so well. Everyone involved looks like they want to be there and are happy being there, and that is the most important thing. If they don’t want to do certain things, they leave. It’s simple. I’m not too sure how many from behind the scenes are there from my time, but I wish all success. I see bits and pieces and obviously Farbs and Emma still keep us up to date. Shaz has gone back in this season. There are big changes, yes, but every institution needs to keep evolving or it goes. It will be very strange to see the show without someone like Tom involved as he is the staple more so than dancers who have come and gone, but that is the nature of the business as blunt as that sounds. I wish it nothing but success, and I’m sure Tyra will bring her own magic to it and no doubt give it a new lease of life and a new audience maybe to boot.
Finally, the lightning round…
The last movie you watched
VanDiemen’s Land / Anchorman
The last television show you watched
The first pro dance that you can think of you were part of on DWTS or SCD
Opening troupe number with Peta, Kiki, Oksana, Nicole, and Teddy
Your best personality trait
Your worst personality trait
The most amazing things your children have done recently
They look out for each other.
A couple of words for your supporters (yes, we are still here and as feisty as ever)
I hope you are all keeping safe, being smart, and realizing that you are in control only of the way you react to things. I appreciate the continued support and honestly wish you and yours nothing but love and continued support in the pursuit of happiness.
Tristan is busy these days as one of the judges on Dancing With the Stars Australia, but he will also be touring with Burn the Floor in a few weeks. In addition, he has been cast as The Prince in an upcoming production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in July. He took time out of his busy schedule this week to chat with us.
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Several months ago, it was announced that you will be back with Burn the Floor for the Australia Tour in May, 2020. What are your thoughts on getting back with this wonderful production and will you be dancing and/or hosting? Any other cast news?
I can’t wait to go back to Burn the Floor. A few months back, I got to host it in the Sydney Opera House which was unreal and while I was there, I was so inspired by the dancers that I wanted to give it a try. Physically it’s very demanding, and I feel I miss that a little. I train and run and keep active but that routine and those demands are always difficult to get used to when you remove yourself from that environment. I wanted to see where I could go with it—coming back all these years later just for myself maybe just for my head. I’m also going to go out of my comfort zone a little. I will host and dance and I’m gonna sing a little in this show!! Not 100% on who the cast is just yet but I’d well imagine a lot of our pros from DWTS here in Oz will make up a lot of the cast as well as the amazing vocalists and musicians who make the show what it is and always has been!
We recently saw the notification on Twitter and via Broadway World that you will join the cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in July. What can you tell us about this production so far? How did you become involved with it?
Snow White, yeah, that’s another one where I thought ah sure I may as well give it a craic!! I have known Bonnie Lythgoe for a little bit now and I had gone to see a friend Jimmy in her production of Jack and the Beanstalk last year in Sydney. We took the kids and saw how much they loved it so when it came up this year, I said that it would be great for the kids to come along again. We as parents are always trying to encourage the kids to do as much as possible and as many different things as possible to grow and develop and, sometimes, we don’t take the advice ourselves, so this time I did! Echo said I’d be a handsome prince and that sealed the deal then!
It’s been nice seeing you back as a judge on Dancing With the Stars Australia. Is there anything special that you learned from being a judge last year that you have carried over to this year’s show? Have there been any surprises with regard to any of the cast or what you’ve seen this year?
I loved last season of DWTS. It’s nice to back in that environment with a different attitude to it and being happy. I learned a lot last year for sure, and it’s just continuing to learn. You have to be open to the other side of any argument to have a full understanding. I think maybe last year I rambled so much trying to justify why I had the role and being worried about what I said coming across different to how I meant it. Now I have just learned to let it go. My and others’ opinions are just as valid based on our own experiences. They may not always be right, but they are our own.
Nobody ever surprises me in that I don’t have any expectations good or bad because I know the gig and I know that even though everyone always tries their best, they won’t always do their best and vice versa. I want them all to do well and always hope they do but the validation has to come from themselves and how far they have come.
In terms of the show, I’ve learned that I’m more productive and beneficial when I focus on the positives and motivation. I’m only disjointed if I’m giving info that I don’t believe in myself. We have three judges, Each has to comment on what they believe in first.
What is the most difficult part about being a judge on DWTS?
The difficulty is not getting carried away with public opinion. I’m generalizing now for the sake of this answer, but dancers can get infuriated with things they hear and see on the show—comments and scores and fans of certain people who won’t see the opposite side of their adulation for who they love, for example. Others will never change their opinion on someone they don’t like and will just never give someone a fair crack and then some will never get over the fact that if they don’t know them then they aren’t stars—conspiracy theories galore! It’s hilarious and entertaining at the same time. The difficulty is not letting that overrule what you as an individual think. Lucky for me, I don’t pay attention to that. All I’m worried about is not hurting anyone’s feelings when they feel as though any of this is anything but personal.
What do you think makes a performance worth a score of 10?
A 10 can come from anywhere and everywhere. It has to be entertaining, engaging, relatable, and enjoyable for the people doing it and the people watching and trying to understand it. It can’t just be about something. It has to be that thing happening that inspires you in some way or another and sometimes it could be a breakthrough moment for somebody.
Finally, some “lightning round” questions.
The most fun things your children have said or done recently
The kids are hilarious. We have a family pillow fight most nights and when we suggest it, they lose their minds. With Oisín, all you have to say is “pillow fight” and he will hit the deck wherever he is. Echo asks for a cuddle, and when you go for one, she pays you on the head and sticks a wet finger in your ear!
The last movie you’ve seen
Last movie was Frozen 2. I’ve seen it about 7 billion times now. If I get to watch anything else, I can pick Frozen 1. Myself and Tahyna need a date night.
The last play you’ve seen
The last play I can’t remember—maybe Billy Elliot with Echo and Cirque du Soleil with Tahyna if you would call that a play, maybe more a show.
The television program that is watched most frequently in your house
Something you miss about America
Our friends. I miss the Farbers most days but just in general we had a great gang in America when we were there, so you always miss that being on the other side of the world.
The last sporting event you’ve watched or attended
I stay up or get up pending how nervous I am every Saturday night/Sunday morning and watch Leeds. It kicks off 2 a.m. and then I get an hour or two sleep and go judge the show.
In our latest Q and A, Tristan talks about Burn the Floor, Ballroom With A Twist, the challenges of his travel schedule, and lots more. Enjoy!
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You have traveled from Australia to the states a few times recently. How do you pass the time on those long flights?
Yeah, those long flights can be a bit of a mare sometimes but they are necessary when you decide to live on the other side of the world!!! I always think I’m going to sleep for the flight because the kids aren’t there, but I’ve always had trouble with my neck on flights so best I can hope for is an hour or two sleep if I’m lucky. I sometimes read, watch some movies, try and make some plans, and assess everything. Sometimes it’s hard to do that when you can’t find downtime. Most recently I started writing out almost like a TED talk of sort just following what I’ve been through and how I got there and how I found myself here now. I’ve always felt like I’m a people person so I talk to people on flights too—not everyone, just the people who seem pleasant and engaging!
You were teaching again recently in Florida and that is something you have always told us that you enjoy doing. Is there a particular dance or dance style that you especially enjoy teaching?
Yeah, teaching is cool and the style never really bothers me. I try to approach teaching on a personal level too. I think students and teachers day-to-day can work tirelessly on their technique, so I try to start by asking what they are having trouble with or what they want to understand differently. Sometimes you just need a different voice and new words to hear what you don’t realize you have been listening to already!! It’s easy to forget why you started dancing when all you are concerned about is validation from others. I try to bring some fun and perspective back into it whilst hopefully teaching some performance and understanding.
Has there been any word on whether or not Dancing With the Stars Australia will be returning in 2020? If so, will you be judging again?
No official announcements just yet, no, but to be honest I wouldn’t be able to say even if I did know. I do know that I loved it last year and am hoping there is another season. I think we would all be a lot more comfortable now with a run behind us! It’s a fun show again. Having taken a break from it and working in production more, I have a different understanding about it all and how it runs so now I can enjoy it for what it is. Reflection and taking responsibility for everything that has happened good or bad has really been key for me.
Many of us have seen Burn the Floor at some point or another, and you were not only a dancer in the show for several years, but you had the opportunity to host the Burn the Floor Gala in Sydney earlier this year. The show has obviously evolved over the years, but were any of the numbers similar to those that were in the show when you were a BTF performer? Did you already know many of the dancers?
This Burn The Floor was amazing but also it was more a gala so it featured dances from all the shows over the years. As host, I guess my role was talking about my experiences in the show and how it affected me and molded me to a degree. The first number was "Proud Mary" which generally was our last number when I was a cast member. I love it as much now as I did then! I wish my body could do the things my head wanted it to. It’s such an inspiring show and sad at the same time to know physically I can’t do what I used to. I knew most of the cast from DWTS in Oz and then a few I have known since we were kids. Victoria Martin is the one I’ve know the longest. Vic used to be the girl I always wanted to dance with and she is still as amazing as ever and smashing the show every night!!
What did you enjoy most about being back with Burn the Floor – even if it was just for one night?
It surprised me how much I missed it, and just the nostalgia I had talking about my experiences was quite emotional for me. Maybe I’ve just got softer since the kids came— haha—but honestly I saw the love and dedication that the cast has and the ethic they have that I could mirror when I joined the show first. It’s literally the best environment to be in as a performer and always a student. It’s like getting into the college you always wanted and learning from your idols and then actually being around nice people who care about more than themselves! Everyone in that show only strives to improve themselves and those around them and the collective is what I missed most. I left Burn The Floor for DWTS but I never forget how important that time was for me and hopefully I get to work with the show in some capacity again.
You have performed off and on with Ballroom With A Twist for years. How has that show changed? We see lots of familiar faces time and time again and yet the show always seems fresh and new. What do you think makes it so successful?
Ballroom With A Twist again is another great show that I love being part of. Generally I get to dance with Anna most the time and I always have a blast with her and have over time gotten to know her so much more than I ever did while we did DWTS together. The cast is always great. There is always a tweak in the cast for whatever reason in different venues but there is always a new energy to feed off. The cast love each other and that shows. Nobody gets bored doing the same numbers because they realize who they are doing those numbers with. I have been very, very lucky in the shows that I have been part of over my career.
If you had the chance to host any show on television (Australia, Ireland, America, or anywhere else), which show would that be?
I’d love to host a show that made people feel good and happy about themselves, I can appreciate competitive shows but I’d love a show where at the end you could tell someone how amazing they are and those reasons being genuine and important. I love those shows where they build a house and give it to a family or finding jobs for people down on their luck. Mostly if it was in the realm of a DWTS show then I’d love to do a show where the pros dance with people of their community—people who may want to be nurses or teachers, doctors, care workers, whatever it may be but can’t afford tuitions and the prize may be their education paid for whatever it may be. Maybe homeless people down on their luck get some weeks of a wage and shelter while getting themselves feeling good about themselves and realizing their worth again. I don’t know just something feel good!!
Finally, if you were inclined to write a book or screenplay, what would it be about?
Yeah, a memoir would be fun but I don’t know if anyone would be keen on reading that—hahaha. I like self-help books and people’s stories but sometimes you need a book to inspire you, not necessarily tell you what to do. I’m also good at telling lies and making up stories so maybe that could work too—hahahaha.
It's hard to imagine that this is our 71st Q and A with Tristan since the first way back in July, 2012. In this one, Tristan talks about judging on Dancing With the Stars Australia, working with Craig and Sharna, and so much more. Enjoy!
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Now that you have been a DWTS Australia judge for a couple of weeks, what would you say has been the most challenging part of the job so far?
I guess the most challenging part so far is just to be conscious of being helpful and empathetic towards each individual. Sometimes it’s more important (in my opinion) to be more conscious of someone’s emotions on screen than their ability. For the show and for some audience members and viewers, they want me to prove I know what I’m talking about in critique but if I feel like it might be too much to take for the celebs in relation to what they have heard from the other two, I’ll go with making them feel good and maybe have a word off camera a little later. I know a live performance can go either way, so it’s difficult in a way to give criticism that can be taken forward to the next week as opposed to just pointing out mistakes they made on something specific they will never do again. When they know they made them, why should three of us point it out if it makes them feel uncomfortable and self-conscious? The point is to make them fearless. I see that as my role.
Have there been any surprises with regard to your judging responsibilities?
I don’t know if there have been any surprises. I just say what I see. It’s always been my way. I’m not really a typical dancer’s dancer kind of thing—haha. Sometimes I know what they should be doing and I know why they do it that certain way, but I just never liked it so I don’t comment on it if that makes sense. For example, like the whole top off thing. Why dance with no top on? Why run your hands through your hair? Why make the noises and faces when you dance? I get it but it’s just not my style, so I have to remember that just because I don’t like it it’s not wrong!! There seems to be a thing now in everything you see that instead of just being happy with what you think or what side you take, it’s not good enough unless you bag out the other side. If one thing is good, everything else has to be horrendous to prove the point. I’m glad that this makes me look at things from a different perspective. I’m a little surprised at how guilty I feel after an elimination even though it’s not down to us!!!
We all know Craig as a judge and entertainer and Sharna as a professional dancer, but what would you say are the strengths of Craig and Sharna as far as what they bring to the judging panel? What would you say is your strength as a judge? The 3 of you work well together and provide a nice balance.
Sharna and Craig have been fantastic and the fact that we genuinely get on is a major bonus. We all know what the show is about and we all know what each other’s personalities and, to a degree, points of view are so I think the strength is in the full picture and, like you mentioned, the balance. We listen to each other and either back each other up or plug the gaps that are left open. Myself and Sharna have known each other for so long and have traveled and worked together for many years before DWTS even so we have banter and she has a great presence and knowledge. Craig is just funny and so helpful with his experience. From the off he has been a great springboard. He is hilarious. No malice and great tv.
You’ve been a professional dancer on both Dancing With the Stars (USA) and Strictly Come Dancing, but how is it different being on the other side of the table than you expected? How does DWTS Australia differ from the other two shows?
I can’t compare the shows as my role is completely different and I’m in a completely different phase of my life now. A lot of the problems I had on the other shows at times were down to how I was feeling myself and obviously sometimes down to certain people doing my head in—hahaha. My priorities were what they were and they had their own priorities. On reflection, I had a great time and I can appreciate that now. At this moment, I love the role I’m in here. I hope I get to do it a lot longer and I hope I’m up to the task.
Now that you know the DWTS Australia couples a little bit and see how they can express themselves through their performing, what are some songs that come to mind that you would love to see used on the show? (just general titles, not necessarily connected to a particular DWTS team, pro, or celebrity)
I have no idea to be honest. People will be more comfortable one week and the opposite the next. The thing with the songs is that if it’s one you like you can relax a little more and enjoy it. If it’s one that you don’t like or care for, it can be a nightmare but again that could just be me?! I want them all to do well. There will no doubt be a week or memorable year and we can get to know them a little more and that’s the fun part. Seeing people grow and enjoy themselves is always great. There is a bubble they can get lost in while the show is on but that’s okay. At the end of the day, it is a reality show but the hard work is real and the effort and emotions are real so you can forgive the ‘be all end all’ feeling and drama that you see which I guess I never did when I was on the other side!
What has been the most unusual thing that has happened so far on the show?
Nothing as yet everything is pretty smooth sailing—maybe my hairstyles—haha. I forgot that when you are on tv you have to brush your hair and my head doesn’t suit a brush, so one week I look like my grandad and the next I look like Johnny Cash. The other two look how they look all the time. I do not—haha. I don’t wear suits unless I’m there or in court and I don’t brush my hair. Actually, I don’t even look at my hair unless I have to—haha, There is nothing like being on television and being in the public eye to give you a complex.
What have been some of the most memorable moments in your career as a professional dancer?
I’ve had some fantastic memories. I’ve done things I never would have dreamed of. I just wish that I looked after myself better. I got unlucky with my knees and ankles early on, but I could have helped myself more with proper treatment and recovery but I was living the life of Riley. You live and learn. I look after myself so much better these days and I have regrets but I have been so lucky with my career and the paths it has taken me and the lessons I’ve learned. For every mistake I made it got me to where I am now with my family. I wouldn’t dare change a thing because I’m being the best me I can.
What’s next after DWTS finishes in a few weeks? (Other than your growing family, of course!)
I’m learning to live in the moment now. I don’t know what comes next . I know now I’m focused on this and in less than two weeks I will have another baby so that’s my own priority at the minute. The rest will look after itself.
How does Echo feel about being a big sister soon?
Echo can’t wait for her brother to come. She is gonna be the best sister and she keeps picking things she is gonna let him play with and things they can do together. No doubt she will want all the cuddles when he does come, but she is full of love this one is, so she will be great.
Lightning round (the first thing that comes to mind)
The last sporting event you attended
The last sporting event was a triathlon here in Sydney—just as a spectator this time although I want to get back into them.
The last sporting event you watched on television
Football is on here at 2 a.m. so I was watching Leeds but the UFC was on yesterday so I watched the Darren Till and Tyron Woodley fight.
Favorite show on Australian television (not including DWTS)
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Favorite U.S. city
Boston although I’ve never been somewhere in the U.S. where I didn’t have a good time honestly.
The last book you read
I’m reading Positively Unstoppable at the minute by Diamond Dallas Page but I just finished Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and Face the Music by Paul Stanley.
The best movie you’ve seen during the last few years
Green Book was pretty good and Bohemian Rhapsody
A book you want to read but haven’t yet
I like documentaries when I can or biographical books and movies although we don’t have much time or energy recently to watch any.
Favorite thing about Australia during this time of year
Just being here!!
We always love hearing from Tristan, and here is the latest in our series of interviews. This is number 70! Where has the time gone? Enjoy, and feel free to leave any questions below if there is something special that you would like for us to ask him next time.
There is also a very special slide show at the conclusion of the interview.
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Lots of people still ask us about your time on Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing. What would you say was the most rewarding part of being on those shows?
On reflection, it was a wild ride being on the shows and overall, I had a good time. Obviously, there were many ups and downs along the way but I met some great people, made some good friends, learned a lot about myself and ultimately it put me in the place I needed to be to meet my wife and make my family. I came across some old emails the other day of before it started and how excited I was to come to America and then each time I learned of my new partners. I forgot how lucky I was to be able to go on a USO tour and what an amazing experience it was.
There was the time I wanted to try going to Strictly and see if I could enjoy myself again. I remember the times I nearly came back but I think overall my decisions were the right ones for me in the end. I look at the people I started out with and they are still smashing it and loving in but for me it just wasn’t me at the time or me now but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. You could be doing the best job in the world but if you aren’t happy in yourself or your surroundings you have to be brave enough to move on and then live with the decisions you made. I look back now and am genuinely happy with the good parts and made my peace with the bad.
Speaking of Strictly, what are some of the special moments on the show (including the Christmas special, Children in Need, the tour, etc.)?
Yeah, Strictly was fun too. I loved It Takes Two that was always fun to do. We enjoyed living in London even though both my partners lived outside London so we traveled for rehearsals but we lived out Notting Hill way so we enjoyed the markets and the parks there. I enjoyed touring around and enjoyed seeing the country. Just again at the time it sometimes wasn’t enough to just like it. You had to love it and that was something I just couldn’t deal with. The show is very demanding physically for sure but time consuming too and for me I like spending the majority of my time with my family. That being said I loved spending time with Jenny and her family and the most important thing about that was that they, more than anyone, included my family in the whole experience so it was enjoyable for everyone similar to the way Nancy and Gladys would have. Strictly, I think, is better than ever now and they have cast well and the environment is probably a lot better for everyone so I have nothing but good wishes for them.
You had a lot of interesting times during your six seasons on DWTS, but is there one performance, moment, or anything else that stands out as a favorite?
I got to sing with Gladys and The Temptations in rehearsals on Motown week and go on tour with Gladys. That was amazing. I absolutely loved it. That season I got to meet Huey Lewis and Kiss as well so it was pretty cool. I loved the trio dances I got to be involved in with Mark, Derek and Maks. All are really good guys.
You did quite a bit of teaching when you were in the states and elsewhere. What did you enjoy most about that experience?
Teaching was always fun. I taught in a great studio in Boston for the guts of a year before I came to DWTS. It was called SuperShag and I had a blast. Granted I had a wild time there too but I just loved being in the studios and meeting everyone. Positivity is great to be around and I find that is the environment on most dance studios. People are there because they want to be not because they have to be. I had a blast in Akron too and got to throw the first pitch at a baseball game. That was pretty fun.
We have been hearing about the new production Motown With A Twist from Scott Stander and his team. Who are some of your favorite Motown artists and what are some of your favorite Motown songs? (Is there any chance you will be involved with this new show?)
I love Motown and I would love to do some of the shows with Scott. You know I love that company but at the moment there just isn’t anything on the calendar that I can make work as much as I’d love too. I love all the Motown groups. It was so cool and unreal voices and talent. At the time, I must have asked Gladys a million questions a day about it all. I think that’s why she got us thrown off the show - just to have a break from me and my questions. I loved the Chi-Lites, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and,Tammi Terrell I loved it all and obviously the Jacksons much later—such good music—The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Commodores…
And now for a few random topics…
Your current favorite athlete
Katie Taylor is the best athlete I know of at this time and I have been reading a lot on Tyson Fury and Eamonn Coghlan.
Your all-time favorite athlete
All time, I don’t know. I’m getting into so many more sports these days.
Favorite sports memory
Ireland beating Romania in penalty shootout at Italia'90, Packie Bonner save, and Dave O'Leary scored the winner. This was one of my first and best memories.
Latest Echo milestone
Echo in full voice at the Women’s march in Sydney screaming for equality and an end to domestic abuse.
Based on Echo’s current personality, what do you think she will be when she grows up?
She will be whatever she wants to be and she will be the best at it based on her attitude!!! She listens to Nas' song :”I can” and smashes the chorus.
How are Echo’s dance skills? What about directing and producing? Bossing you and her mother around don’t count!
She loves dancing and singing. Yeah, good is a stretch at the minute but she loves it an she acts out all the Disney songs. She’s the best. We love watching her.
You’ve mentioned how much you enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors. Are you still enjoying the great outdoors?
Yeah, I love it. I run a lot these days so I’m outdoors a lot and it’s the middle of summer so we are swimming every day. I still can’t convince Tahyna to come camping although she is a lot more open to the idea last few times it’s been brought up. I did a marathon a few months back through the forest in The Shire where we live and it was unreal along the lakes and the barbecue and swim after were perfect.
And finally. Have you been back to Ireland lately? What do you miss most about living there?
We haven’t been back in a while, no, just close by when filming in Glasgow but we will for sure go back at some stage thus year with the family. My folks have been over for Christmas so I’ve seen my family. I just miss the friends and the proper Guinness. It’s not the same here!!
Tristan recently returned to Australia after several weeks performing in Ballroom With A Twist 10th Anniversary Tour and Dance To the Movies while also juggling his production responsibilities with Mrs. Brown's Boys. He took some time out of his very hectic schedule to answer your questions.
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You mentioned last week that you were back at work on Mrs. Brown's Boys. Are you still involved in the production end of things and will you be doing any more acting?
We have literally just finished filming the Christmas specials in Glasgow and are switching gear now in preparing the 2019 touring show so we really are flat out. I’m still working and learning the production side of things here, yes, but I’m open and happy to be considered for some acting roles too. It’s just not something I’m actively putting myself out for. I don’t have an agent or manager like most do so I just really focus on what I’m doing at the time and then see what happens from there. I have always been that way inclined unless I’m unhappy in what I’m doing and then I go and find something else!!
Every production of Mrs. Brown’s Boys that you are involved with must mean different responsibilities. What are some of the specific things you are doing now, and what is your favorite part of the job?
Right now a lot of my work is in the scheduling and making sure the right information gets to the right people. I’m learning from some great people so I’m eager to sponge it all in. I’m trying to learn a bit of everything by helping in any department I can without getting in the way or slacking in my specific responsibility. I’m very aware that eagerness, as refreshing as it is, can sometimes also get in the way and too much help can become a hindrance. I’m a quiet worker, so basically I do exactly what I’m told to do as efficiently as I can. It’s not always interesting to hear about but I like it and generally the fun and exciting stuff is all secrets until it’s ready to reveal.
You have been working with Mrs. Brown’s Boys for a while now and have been part of several shows. Do you have a favorite production thus far?
Good Mourning Mrs. Brown was great craic and I’ll always love that but then again, I was acting in it so I’m a bit biased—ha. For every show I have done something different so I love them all for different reasons but I’m excited to see what the new tour is about and where I can weasel my way into it.
It was nice seeing you back in the states for Dance to the Movies and Ballroom With A Twist 10th Anniversary Tour. Do you have any particular standout numbers that you consider as favorites from either show? Do you have a favorite number that you performed with Anna during this last round of shows?
It’s always great going back to that show, and it’s a broken record but the cast make the show and experience what it is for me as well as the audience. These last set of shows were great because Kiki was back and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. We used to live with each other when he came out to Hollywood first. Myself, Keeks, and Farber lived in a studio apartment together—haha. We had some times then—mental stuff!!!! I had to do a couple of numbers I hadn’t done before and had limited time to learn them so they were fun/stressful after the travelling but it went grand I suppose in the end and I didn’t get booed or anything so I suppose that’s a positive—haha.
You will be heading back to Australia soon, but do you have any future shows in the works?
Yeah, I’m sitting in the airport in Glasgow now waiting to get back home to the girls. I can’t wait. I have a whole bunch of stuff in the works but not too sure on time frames and when they will be ready to go or not. My attention is all over the place with all the travel. Tahyna is flat out with some exciting projects as well so we are trying to balance it all as a team and see how we go! Always working on things but priorities always determine how far they go with all the work and travel. As I mentioned, it’s more important for us to spend as much family time as we can together and make sure Echo is getting the parenting she needs and that our marriage gets the time it deserves.
Finally, here is the lightning round. Just give us the first thing that comes to mind.
Virgin always get me where I’m going and pleasantly.
Least favorite airline
I’m in a phase now where I’m working on the words I use to keep me sane, so only positive words or I keep quiet—haha. It’s been a trip but it’s making me happier!
Anna is great. Good things happen to good people—maybe not always when you want it to but it rings through for her .
If it helps you get what you want and you like it, then social media is for you.
I'm not big on it these days, but caramel honeycomb is always good though.
Sesame Street character
Elmo—I love Kevin Clash but anything Jim Henson
Moana.............Echo loves it!!
Ice cream toppings
Least favorite household chore
It doesn't help. I’ll still have to do it—haha.
Favorite dance that isn’t a rumba or waltz
Tristan will be back in the states soon and will be performing in both the Ballroom With A Twist 10th Anniversary Tour and Dance To the Movies. The links for tickets to those shows are listed on this website's Updates page.
Over the last year, you have been busy with lots of different projects including the rehearsals and tour with Kristina Rihanoff, trips back to the states for Dance To the Movies, and your production responsibilities with Mrs. Brown’s Boys. When you step away from dancing for a while to work on other projects, do you find it difficult to get back into the rigors of dance and performing?
To be honest—not really, but in saying that some would say that’s why I’m not very good at it— haha. I enjoy dancing but to enjoy it for me I need to get away from it when I can. Dancing is fun and stays that way because it’s a part of my life and not all of it. My competitive nature comes from doing things where there is no denying it’s not down to opinion. I either run faster and further or slower and not as far. Stage is great because I can be myself, I can talk to people how I talk to people, and—if allowed—I answer whatever they want to know. I deal with people every day, so it’s no different in my mind then when I'm on stage. I stay fit now because I enjoy running and training more. The breaks I take let me recover, so it makes such a difference to my life waking without the agony I used to be in. I have a new way of dealing with everything these days, and it works for me so long may that continue.
Have you been working with the cast and crew of Mrs. Brown’s Boys recently, and do you have more in the works? Are there tours coming up?
Yeah, we have been busy with the new shows. We have a UK tour coming up next year but before then we have the Christmas specials to record and also the new seasons of All Round to Mrs. Brown’s and For Facts Sake. I’m also putting some things together with a friend—like a passion project—so things are great work-wise, and, most importantly, great family-wise.
This question comes from Jessica who traveled to Boston to see you in Dance To the Movies. How does preparation for a show that uses a recorded track differ from one that uses a live orchestra like the Boston Pops? Are their differences with regard to rehearsal and performing?
Yeah, they can be quite different but only in terms of how it sounds and that we don't rehearse with the orchestra. Well, I didn't anyway as I only flew in the night before. The orchestra is unreal and I love it. Dancing to live music is always the best and, not that they do, but the live musicians can make mistakes as much as the dancers can. I guess when it comes to track you just have to hope it doesn’t skip—haha. I literally just watched something the other day of myself and Emma when our music stacked it and pretty much it was a sham from then on—unreal bad but we had a giggle on it!! The stage is a lot different with the orchestra as well seeing as they are so big. The dance space is a lot smaller so you modify. The show in Boston had Act 1 just orchestra and Act 2 was orchestra with us guys, so workload differs also for the dancers on a show like that. I love the live music and it adds another great element along with the dancing and obviously the singing that is there whether it is orchestra or track. Everything about that show was great for me the cast obviously are great as are the Boston Pops, I love dancing with Anna, and it was in Boston which is always my favourite place to go back to!
You have performed in venues all over the world, but is there anything in particular that stands out when you perform here in the states? In other words, is there something you especially enjoy about performing in America?
It’s a bit of everything really, but mostly now because I don't live there anymore and when I come back its always for fun now! I see my friends, I do fun shows, and I get to hang out with great people in great places. The Scott Stander group is so good to work for and they always have my back so it’s a pleasure to come back. I must say I’m very lucky with BOC Productions also in that they allow me to come back and dance as they are my bosses now..............bar my wife.........and child!! I also enjoy seeing the interest people have for DWTS and hearing how much they enjoy it. It kind of feels good to know that you played a part in it however small it may have been. At one point in time, it was the greatest job I had ever had and I was lucky that America embraced me.
You have danced with lots of pros in lots of shows, but who (other than probably Sasha) has the most wicked sense of humor? What about your celebrity partners on DWTS and SCD? Was there anyone in particular who was especially amusing or that you stay in frequent contact with?
Everyone has always been great to be fair pro-wise. I never met a pro I didn't get on with or, at least, I never met one I had a problem with—haha. It’s fascinating that you can spend so much time with the same people and not really get to know them that well. Maybe that was me at the time, maybe it was them, but there aren’t too many that I am still in contact with. Sasha will always be in my life. He’s a genuine guy with a great heart, I could hammer that guy every single day with some of the stuff he does, but it makes me laugh. I love him—haha. Emma, the exact same. She is a cracking girl and I’m delighted for them both. They deserve everything they get. Maks, Peta, and Kym are all great people who I love to see doing so well. Mark Ballas is pretty funny. I like him and he makes me laugh. Chelsea and Lacey are great. I just recently met Fabian. He is a really cool guy, and I have a lot of time for him. Celeb-wise, everyone was cool at the time. We just never really stuck it out. I still hear from Nancy and Gladys, and I see Jenny from Strictly most the time so I got lucky pro, celeb, fan of the show, on camera, off camera. It doesn’t matter what you do once you are a good person. We all have bad days and bad periods of our life so I wouldn't hold anything against anyone that happened back then, and I’d hope they would stay the same either way. I’m in a good place now and I like who I like.
We have missed your stories about Pike. Is he still living with your folks in Ireland?
Yeah, Pike hasn't a care in the world. He is golden. No doubt he has his feet up now somewhere clicking his paws and filling his boots.
Have you been teaching and/or do you have any plans in the immediate future to teach those of us with two left feet how to dance?
I haven't been doing much teaching, no, just helping a few friends out here and there with them getting married but that’s about it. I have no plans but I’ll be back in America in a couple of weeks so if anything comes up, we will see. We are all looking to actually just having a holiday together where we can shut the phone off and just spend time together.
Lightning Round (quick answers)
What is the first thing you think of when you hear these words or expressions?
Ballroom With A Twist— How much more do I need to learn?
Brendan O’Carroll— Legend. Absolutely love the man
Dancing With the Stars-- Hope Farbs wins this time!
Echo’s latest milestone— How did she get up there and what’s that smile for? (frantically look around for danger), swimming class
Airports— Rubber gloves!
The last movie you saw-- Mission Impossible
The last show or play you saw— Book of Mormon
The last book you read— Charlie Engle Running Man / Cody Garbrandt The Pact
The last time you danced— Echo’s dance class Thursday mornings
Strictly Come Dancing— Hope Kev wins this time
Rumba— Feeling faces-Haha
Journey— Haha - Singing "Faithfully" top of my lungs into Tahyna’s embarrassed face
Dance-related injuries-- Drink
Burn the Floor— Great times
Being a dad— All I’ve ever wanted
Tristan has a lot of projects in the works, and we caught up with him today to talk a little about the past, present, and future. Enjoy this interview (our 67th!) with him.
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We hear that you will be back at Trundle’s ABBA Festival in May along with Alana Patience. Will you be dancing again this year?
Yes, I’ll be back in Trundle this year with Alana Patience for the ABBA festival. It was good craic in the end last year and looking forward to another positive experience this year. We also have an Elvis cruise coming up in Australia so that as well should be fun. These themed weekends and shows are always great because it’s everyone coming together to celebrate people who they love and appreciate and you can just swoop in and do a little gig, and no matter how good it was or bad it was it was just another element to the festivities. The whole thing is great. We stayed in an old bank that was converted into a house, so the bedroom is actually in the old vault which is really cool.
It’s been a long time since you were on Strictly Come Dancing and even longer since Dancing With the Stars, but what are some of the special memories from those experiences?
Yeah, it’s been a while now since being on them but I still have some great memories. I don’t miss being on the show and I still have grievances about the way some things went, but at the same time when I reflect back I can see some things I would have done differently. Maybe that’s just since I’ve changed since becoming a dad. Also, maybe since now I’m producing I can see some things in a different light. One thing I know I did right on the show is how I treated people and that would not have changed for a second, and I never went against anyone for my own benefit. I never would have changed that. I more than likely would have focused more and treated my body better and not gotten as riled up with what was going on around me, but on the whole I’m glad I left when I did for the reasons that I did. I still keep in touch with the majority of my partners. I’ll always remember my first show as a troupe member. I remember the arguments with Nancy but also the great chats we had. I still remember how happy and excited Gladys was after the first dance we did. I’ll never forget that smile. I remember how emotional Valerie Harper made me feel and how proud I was of that experience. I remember first being told I wouldn’t be used and then me saying I won’t be back. I had good times/bad times with Jamelia. I looked after her but maybe not in the interests of the show, and then making a lifelong friend in Jenny who I now work with full time. I have great memories of both experiences and am glad I was lucky enough to live them and wish nothing but the best for those still involved.
Conversely, did you ever have one of those days on either show when everything seemed to go wrong?
Hahaha—oh yeah 100%. There were more than a few of those ones, but again different times and different attitudes change a lot of things. When I went to LA first it was all mental to me and I was very loose and wild at the time so that in itself helped and hindered. I was always conscious of the bubble of the tv world and sometimes I made more of that then I should have. I would exclude myself from things I probably should have gone to and then went to things that I shouldn’t have—things like that!! I would never go to events which would have helped me with the show and when it came to getting songs/themes etc. I wasn’t into, I’d just reject it instead of trying to resolve it. There was a time when I wanted full control over everything, and when I felt like I couldn’t then I’d shut down and just 'do my job’. That’s why everything turned sour for me. I felt like it was portraying that you had to be good or nobody was interested. Whether I was right or wrong at the time, I felt like only 'the good' dancers were getting the breaks and the good ideas—haha. I can’t help but get annoyed by how somebody like DL Hughley, Michael Bolton or Martina Navratilova felt. It wasn’t nice viewing. I just thought there was a nicer way to thank these guys for being part of the show as opposed to exploiting the gulf in abilities. Some days though, yeah, you just wanna throw some fingers up, crack some cans, and keep on truckin'—hahaaha.
You traveled a lot with Burn the Floor and performed in many other shows including Dirty Dancing The Musical, Ballroom With A Twist, Dance To the Movies, etc. What are some standout moments?
The stand out moments are always the same. It’s the crowds! You could be anywhere in the world but seeing smiles before during and after shows though trumps everything, although Boston is always special to me. I absolutely love it!! Yeah, the crowds and—luckily enough for me—the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with on a lot of these shows—Jaymz Tuaileva, Brent, Sasha, Iveta, Magda Jon, CJ, Tony—all these guys make the shows what they are, and those experiences stay with you for always. Magda, by the way, has it all. How she hasn’t been on these shows yet is beyond me. She should be on DWTS no doubt for her humor alone and ability. I loved Dirty Dancing also. I’d love to go back and do that again, especially with Swayze being a real idol of mine, but I really loved that show and it’s a shame it wasn’t longer.
You’ll be back in the states for Dance To the Movies in May. Will you have a chance to visit old friends or see familiar places during your visit? Do you have plans to teach or perform elsewhere when you’re here?
I’m not too sure about plans for America just yet. I’ll try to do as much as I can while there, but having travelled so much this year I would like to be able to get home and put my feet up for a little. I’m very fortunate with what I get to do but what’s the point if you don’t get to put your kids to bed every night and live wherever you have been lucky enough to work? I’ll catch up with friends for sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to Sasha and Emma’s wedding which killed me, but I will definitely see those guys. America may be a quick trip this time as we can’t keep taking Echo from kindy, and I won’t keep travelling away without them.
The last time we spoke you mentioned that you were still involved with Mrs. Brown’s Boys working on the production end. What type of work did you do and will you be working/performing in future productions?
Yes, I am working full time now for Mrs. Brown’s Boys as a producer so that is fun and it’s a great way for me to learn the industry from the other side. We work on the tv side and theatre/touring side so I would be responsible for setting up and running of the shows. We have a great team here who have all the experience and I am sponging all the info I can. While we are on the road, the production show we are working on determines whether I have an onstage role. If I’m not onstage or on screen, I will be on the set floor or in the production office. It’s all very interesting stuff and again it lets me learn, and I can see if there is a way to see if the things that irked me before can be done in a nicer way.....haha. I enjoy it and with Tahyna being a writer and director it helps. She teaches me things too and eventually we plan to work together where she can be the boss..........just like at home and at least I can get paid for being told what to do instead of doing it for free every day of my life. Hahahaha.
Finally, a fun “what’s the first thing you think of” exercise. In other words, just give your first response to the following:
Food you can’t stand
Food you love
Television show that makes you crazy
Worst movie ever
Stop remaking films!
The thing you dislike most about flying
Leaving the girls
An incredible professional dancer
An incredible actor
Current favorite musician
Funniest thing Echo has done/Most adorable thing Echo has done
Everything. She is hilarious but changes the subject if you ask her about her dirty nappy.
She kicks you in the face in her sleep, sleeps laying across my face and as soon as she wakes up she pulls my eyelids open and says, “Wakey wakey, I LOVE YOU DADA.”
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Links to all of our interviews with Tristan from July, 2012 to the present are posted here: