After having seen Ballroom With A Twist many times over the last few years, I knew that Dance To the Movies - a new production from Scott Stander - would be stellar. It’s hard to imagine that I would ever love a show as much as BWAT, but this was edge of your seat, non-stop action brilliance. Low on props (thank goodness) but high on performance from dancers and singers who love their craft , this “High-Octane Ballroom Dance Extravaganza” delivers just as promised.
My oldest daughter and I traveled to Long Island and saw the show three times over the weekend and would have happily seen it a few more times if real life hadn’t needed our attention. The Friday night show began with a special performance from Dancing Classrooms, which is a 20 lesson artist-in-residence program integrated into the Long Island school curriculum for 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th grades. 18 students from 7 different schools danced together for the first time, and it was a special treat to see the joy of dance on these young faces. These same children were invited up on stage for the audience participation disco lesson from Tristan MacManus, Jonathan Roberts, Chelsie Hightower and Lacey Schwimmer.
There were a lot of unfamiliar dancers in this new production, but we got to know them quickly because each one appeared over and over again. If I tell you that this show was high energy, that would be a huge understatement. Later we were told that everything came together with basically six days of rehearsal. Unbelievable.
Tristan, Jonathan, Lacey, and Chelsie were the hosts for Friday’s show, and Karina Smirnoff flew in Saturday and was part of the team for both Saturday shows (as well as Sunday). Like BWAT, Dance to the Movies relies heavily on audience participation. Jonathan and Chelsie conveyed right from the beginning that they wanted a sporting event atmosphere, and I would say it came close to just that. On a side note, on Saturday afternoon Lacey told the audience that “Baby Tristan” was backstage, and with some gentle encouragement (and a lot of prodding), Tristan brought baby Echo on stage for a brief introduction. Let’s just say that the “Awwwws” were louder than any applause that afternoon. It was a special treat.
The interaction with the audience was wonderful and the questions and answers in this type of show never get old. “Who was your favorite celebrity partner on DWTS?” came up every time. A popular question on Saturday was, “Karina, may I get a selfie?” The disco dance lesson on stage was a riot and all the pros did a wonderful job demonstrating the coolest moves from the 70s. There are clearly some wicked senses of humor among these pros.
Back to the dancing. Early in the show, Jonathan and Academy Award Nominee Lesley Ann Warren came to the front of the stage to take questions about her career. She told many stories about how she got started in show business and how much dance has influenced her life. She’s still as beautiful as she was in Cinderella. She sang twice and danced to “Moon River” and is beautifully elegant and graceful. Jonathan also danced separately with Chelsie and Karina, and both Chelsie and Lacey were featured heavily in special group numbers.
The show’s vocalists were American Idol’s Von Smith (Season 8) and Vonzell Solomon (Season 4). Having seen them together in Ballroom With A Twist-mas in December and having heard Von sing many times in BWAT, I knew how good they would be, but this time they gave me chills and I mean that in the best possible way. “Over the Rainbow” (Von) and “I Will Always Love You” (Vonzell) were only two of their many amazing performances. Vonzell was an amazing Roxie from Chicago as well.
And then there’s Legacy (SYTYCD) who could do a one man show and have the audience on its feet the entire time. Each time I saw him in BWAT I was amazed, but he was in his element in this show. He is the consummate entertainer, and I was delighted that he was in so many different types of numbers because he brings a special energy and humor to everything he does. He also popped into the audience now and then, taking an empty front row seat if he could find it. If not, a random lap did nicely. Oh, and all the ladies around me – no matter what their ages – wanted to see Legacy.
It was wonderful seeing some familiar faces from BWAT and BWAT-mas – CJ Bair, Tony Pututau, Anya Fuchs, and Patricia Kaniowski. I love them all and will never get tired of seeing them dance. They are some of the most versatile performers around, and I always found myself looking for them on stage. No, that’s not right. My eyes were drawn to them on stage. That is a whole lot of talent, and you can’t help but pay attention to them. They are all versatile performers and superstars, in my opinion.
But that’s just the beginning. We saw performances to music from Men In Black, The Matrix, Chicago, Grease, Dirty Dancing, Singin’ In the Rain, Ghost, Harry Potter, The Bodyguard, Lion King, Jailhouse Rock and more. Charlie Chaplin even made an appearance. Those were just the ones I could think of immediately! Tristan and Lacey’s Jive to Jailhouse Rock was a showstopper and drew enormous applause. An entire James Bond Movie sequence with lots of James Bonds, including Tristan, featured spectacular lighting and choreography. Karina danced with Tristan in this number on Saturday (and Sunday). In order to keep this recap a little shorter than War and Peace, I’ll let your imagination take over. My descriptions can't possibly do it justice.
More dancers. SYTYCD finalist Hailee Payne was in so many numbers that I lost count, but my favorite might be her role as one of the Men In Black. Dancer, aerialist, and super-performer Antonio Martinez did it all including a breathtaking performance on the silks while Vonzell Solomon sang “I Will Always Love You.” Antonio showed up as Johnny from Dirty Dancing and Sam from Ghost and so many other times than I lost count. Each time he portrayed a different character and took on a new role with ease. I told Tristan Friday night that I was a little in awe of Antonio’s performances. He was a breath of fresh air and an unexpected boost of charm, energy, and strength.
There was so much more. Brandon Armstrong led us into the show opener, "Puttin' On the Ritz" and made an immediate, lasting impression. Tristan reminded me backstage that Brandon was on DWTS. I remember that! In 2008 Brandon (age 13) was Junior Champion on DWTS with Brittany Cherry. Talk about talented! He has that naturalness about his performances and never makes it look like work. Eric Ascione … what can I say? My friend, Linda, told me that he was her new favorite dancer (she had to qualify that – her new favorite dancer after Tristan, of course). Linda's daughter, Tara, commented that Eric seemed to be enjoying every second of the show, and he was. Timothy Lewis is a fabulous entertainer and his “Singin’ In the Rain” performance was a huge crowd pleaser and one that I couldn't wait to see again in shows two and three. Ekaterina Fedosova was perfection as Baby from Dirty Dancing (yes, she and Antonio did The Lift), but that was only a small part of her involvement in this production. Kimalee Piedad and Laura Kveladze rounded out the cast and impressed me with their energy and passion; they were the perfect complement to this show and had incredible focus and skill. I loved watching them. It’s hard to describe adequately or give everyone the credit they deserve as there was a huge amount of talent under one roof.
This was storytelling through dance at its finest.
The best part of all was how well the cast worked as a cohesive unit and how everything moved almost seamlessly from one number to the other. Well, almost seamlessly. There was a moment on Saturday when Von Smith came on stage, and he was greeted by dead silence. No music. Just silence. So Von did an impromptu tap dance and walked backwards off stage until the announcer got into the spirit and said they would try it "one more time."
The image projection set the mood for each dance and thus there was no need for tons of props. The focus was on the dancing and how the music and voices meshed with the choreography. The costumes were beautiful but not overpowering. The lighting set the mood and enhanced it but didn't take over. It’s how it should be. When many of the cast members came into the audience at the end of the show to “You Should Be Dancing”, we all wanted to high five every single one of them - or give them all huge hugs. I would have given each performer a standing ovation if it wouldn’t have taken all day and night too.
Now please indulge us for a moment as we talk about Tristan. He’s one of the nicest guys around and always, always treats everyone with respect. He’s great to the fans, knows how to engage an audience, and isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. I had the pleasure to speak with him a couple of times times over the weekend, and when I mentioned that we needed some new photos for the website, he indulged me. It probably would have helped if I had lifted the flash on the camera. At the meet and greet the following day I told him the photos were garbage (my fault) so he willingly agreed to take more and it was fun getting Lacey Schwimmer and Karina Smirnoff in on the action. I asked him to sign something for a couple of his big supporters who couldn’t make the show: Kiki (whose second of three scheduled flights from Montana was cancelled causing her to miss everything and who also won our website contest to guess the time/date we reached 1,200,000 forum views) and Toni Ann (who couldn’t make the show because she couldn’t leave her babies for that long). He didn’t just sign his name; he wrote sweet, heartfelt messages.
Special thanks to good friends Linda and Tara who we met up with for a fun afternoon that ended way too soon. Yes, we had our photo taken with Tristan and all the other pros, but I was laughing so hard that I don’t think these will ever see the light of day. Thanks to all of you lovely MacManiacs who made the trip to Long Island. I think the California to Long Island trip was the longest, but the dozen or so Tristan supporters that we met up with over two days all enjoyed the show every bit as much as we did. A few came from New York, several from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia. I know I’m forgetting some, but the MacManiacs were well represented. Oh, and Tristan? We all miss seeing you on stage so come back soon, okay?
I now have a new favorite Tristan dance and that is “Jailhouse Rock.” It’s a good thing it isn’t on You Tube because I would probably watch it over and over and over….and over and never get anything else done. And Tristan as James bond? A simple “wow” seems too tame.
The show’s choreography was brilliant. Paul Winkelman is the show’s Director and Choreographer but the following also had a huge role in choreographing different dances: Lacey Schwimmer, Randi Strong, Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, Jaymz Tuaileva, Oksana Dmytrenko Platero, Jon Platero, and Nathan Trasora.
Scott Stander, you’ve done it again. Special thanks to you and Chris Powich for your kindness all weekend long. So when will we have the chance to see this fantastic show again? Do let us know when and where and we’ll be right there.
****We have posted lots of photos from the show in our website gallery as well as on Tristan's Facebook Fan Page, and we are still adding new images. Some of the dances were just too fast to capture, but you can get a good idea of what this show is all about by taking a look at the galleries.****
Tristan will be back in the USA in August for Dance To the Movies at the Patchogue Theatre For the Performing Arts where he will perform with DWTS alums Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, Jonathan Roberts, and Karina Smirnoff. Also appearing will be Academy Award Nominee and everyone's favorite Cinderella Lesley Ann Warren. Tristan took time today for your questions and we know you will enjoy our latest interview (#61 and counting).
First of all, we all hope you enjoyed being back in the states last month and performing in Life’s A Dance. Tell us your survival tips for traveling with an infant. How is your beautiful family?
We got lucky. Echo was just perfect on the flight. We flew at night so she was calm and she was happy so she slept a few hours and then we played with her and changed her a few times but all in all the flight was good. I'd imagine when she gets a little older it will change but for now we don't travel too often so all is good. She is a calm, happy little girl.
You once mentioned that during your time in Burn the Floor you had all kinds of different jobs including operating the spotlights and selling merchandise in the front of the house in San Francisco. If you were put in charge of casting a high-energy show like BTF, what qualities would you look for in the performers?
Yeah, BTF was great times while I was there. I think variety - the standard is so high in the show and the whole process behind it - so standard is never an issue. I just like variety for all shows of any kind. I like people who are different and who don't fit a particular mould. A lot of people style themselves on dancers they like or admire which is fine but I think it's the individuality that works. Generally, all shows try to fill a particular role or tick a certain box. This is the dancer who does the tricks. This person is so fast. This person is the sexy one, the funny one, whatever, instead of just letting everyone be a bit of everything if that makes any sense. Maybe I can't explain it properly or the way I want to. I did all those jobs at the time because I wanted so much to be involved and was happy to just be there.
We all know you’re a big football fan but if you were back in the states, which of these major sporting events would you most like to see in person? The World Series, the Super Bowl, or the NBA Championship?
Most probably the NBA. I like all the sports there but I just find baseball for the most part is too long with little happening, haha. I don't want to offend anyone but maybe it's just the games I have been to. Super Bowl would be cool but, to be honest, it seems to be more about the halftime shows and adverts these days. I do like the game itself though and basketball is cool. I just think that all these sports are getting too far away from reality just like soccer with all the money involved that it's hard to relate to it anymore. I like to watch it all and I enjoy going to games but I'm happy watching it at home with some friends. The year I moved to Boston they dominated most sports that year so it was great to be around it and I'd go watch the Celtics and the Revolution play a fair bit.
Speaking of football, you tweeted a lot about Ireland competing in Euro 2016. Share some of your favorite moments from that – and did you get to watch a lot of it live?
I watched most of the games. I was afraid I'd miss the Ireland and Belgium game because I was flying but the game was playing on Fox on the plane so I got to see it. I wish I missed it now - we got hammered!! I watched most of the games though. They were on 11pm, 2am, and 5am here but the baby was waking up a lot so it worked. Ha!
Be a little kid again. Who is your favorite cartoon character?
I watch Winnie the Pooh now and Elmo. They make Echo smile so they are my favorites.
Two basic questions from forum member, Katie: What do you like most about dancing? What do you like least about dancing?
I like the way dancing makes people happy and I like that it makes people want to move themselves. I don't like how competitive it is or when people don't want to do it because they are afraid of being made to feel like they are bad at it.
In the past you’ve told us what you think is important when teaching and learning certain dances, but the one we never asked you about is Salsa. What’s the most important thing to know about this dance?
Remember that the best salsa dancers don't rely on their technique. They listen to the music and let their bodies do the rest. It's about the rhythm and the music.
Obviously the DWTS/SCD days are done, but this question came up anyway. If you had complete control over any and all of your costumes for any performance, what are some things you would insist on never wearing?
Skinny pants, see through shirts, diamond encrusted anythings. Compulsory shirt wearing is a must and no bandanas or glitter.
Finally, are you still planning to do Dance To the Movies in Patchogue in August? Lots of your supporters are planning to make the trip so I’m warning you ahead of time. Assuming you are still performing in this, are there any planned rehearsals or will it all come together once you arrive in Patchogue? Do you have any other shows or performances between now and then? Do you have plans to get back to Ireland soon?
I’Il be in Patchogue, yes. I haven't done or seen his show yet so I am looking forward to it. I may be in LA for a few days beforehand to learn what I can. I'm not sure which other shows, if any, I will be doing. I'm figuring out what I want to do, to be honest, so for now it suits me to do a show now and again and take some breaks from full time dancing.
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.
Tristan is in the final three weeks of the Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown Australia/New Zealand Tour and took time today for our questions. Continue reading to find out the latest news and updates. As always, Tristan's humor, candor, and humility are truly refreshing.
We have seen the occasional photo of you with the cast and crew of Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown. Are you still doing the tour as it winds down and have there been any especially memorable moments?
Yeah, I’m still doing the tour. Only three weeks to go now - one in Perth and two in New Zealand. It’s been real fun and I will miss it when it finishes, but it’s been great. Everything is memorable about it. The cast are great. People have really taken me on board and looked after me there. Every show is great and every night Agnes makes me laugh on stage so the struggle is getting through the lines without laughing....it’s that way for everyone in every scene though.
We did a survey on the website and had close to a thousand responses about which of your dances with your celebrity partners were our favorites. Here are the results. Any surprises on this list? Your supporters seem to remember every dance and could talk about them all day.
1. Cha Cha with Gladys - "Best Of My Love"
2. Contemporary with Dorothy - "Tiny Dancer"
3. Foxtrot with Nancy - "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life"
4. Waltz with Valerie in Finale - "What A Wonderful World"
5. Charleston with Jamelia - "Straight Up"
6. Samba with Gladys - "Fiebre"
7. Quickstep with Jamelia - "I'm A Believer"
8. Foxtrot with Valerie - "Some Kind of Wonderful"
9. Foxtrot with Gladys - "Cupid"
10. Tango with Nancy - "The Naughty of Shady Lane"
11. Waltz with Jenny - "Natural Woman"
That’s nice. You forget what numbers you have done before and that was a nice surprise. I liked the dance with Gladys the best probably as well. That was one of my favourite seasons. I think with Valerie's “Carry On” sticks out, and I knew in my head after that dance that I wasn't going to come back.
You have answered a lot of our questions about learning and education in the past and here is an interesting one we recently received. If you could be a teacher of anything besides dance, what would it be?
There isn't anything else I’d be able to teach - haha - but I love History. Maybe PE. I think that’s really important for kids to do in school for social skills and mainly for health reasons.
We haven’t heard much about little Pike lately? Is he still around stirring up trouble?
Pikey is great. He is back in Ireland with my folks having the time of his life. He loves it there, and we are travelling so much that it’s not right to be dragging him around everywhere. He is very happy and probably too comfortable with his life in Ireland – haha.
Being a professional dancer definitely has its ups and downs. Generally speaking, what do you see as the highs and lows of your job? Does the uncertainty of the profession ever bother you or do you just accept it for what it is?
Yeah, there is an uncertainty with the profession but only if you limit yourself to the things you want to do. There is uncertainty whether you are gonna be on a tv show or not, but you can still be a dancer and you can still do shows and you can still take class and earn a living from it. The tv shows aren't the be all and end all of everything. You probably just earn more that way. I accept the way it is because the majority of people who do it get it. Take Maks and Val. They capitalize on the fact that they are on the show to make their own show or shows and make opportunities for their crowd to be able to work all year round. You just have to decide what you want to do. For me in a way it’s the same as everything else. Do you want to be a dancer or you want to be a famous dancer??! Do you want to be an actor or you want to be a famous actor?! Do you actually want to do something or do you want people to know what you do? It’s all perspective. I enjoy being a dancer, but it’s only a part of my life. It’s not everything.
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the website forum to get us to 1 million views? (Or do you assume it is insanity – or lunacy – at work)
People are always posting everything from the website to me, so I see a lot of things and the pictures are always a nice surprise but I’ve no doubt missed the bulk of all the work you guys put in and the banter between you all that no doubt is what has people coming back more than what I’m doing.
Also, there have been a lot of questions about Ballroom With A Twist and Dancing With the Movies here in the states. Do you currently have any plans to be in any of those shows later this spring and summer?
I have heard great things about the new show and maybe later in the year I may do some but right now I have a lot of stuff going on that needs my undivided attention, and I’m putting all thoughts of what’s next out of my head for a bit. I’m very happy where I am working at the minute and very content.
The question everyone is asking - Do you know if you will be coming back to Strictly?
No, I won't be going back. I think over the time I have been there I have realized more and more that it is not for me. I think the show needs someone a lot different to me on the show to get what they want, and I need something a lot different to make me happy and get what I want out of it. I think there will be a lot of changes on the show, and I have enjoyed it for the most part but right now I just need a break from it all. This kind of goes hand in hand with the other question in that you can do whatever it is you want to do but when you have to start doing things you don't, then you have to decide if it’s for you or not. You can be a dancer or you can be a dancer on a tv show and with that comes a whole other bag. It can be fun, but I’d sooner leave it as it is then spend all my time complaining about it.
Tristan is currently in Australia, and he always surprises us with what he's doing and how gracious he is about taking our questions no matter where he is. Thanks to all who sent us this round of questions, and of course, big thanks to Tristan for always making time for his supporters.
First of all, what’s going on with Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown?! Tahyna posted a picture, and there you were in Wollongong on stage! What is your character? We were talking about that on the site – some said you looked the part of a minister, another said a Geek Squad computer repairman, another an accountant. Have you been doing the full Australian tour or only select performances?
Yeah, I have been doing the show here. We came out in January and decided we wanted to stay here for a bit and it happened that MBB was coming out too, so Brendan and Jenny asked me would I be interested in playing one of the roles while I was here - it was a no-brainer! The cast is great. I had got to know them a little over the last few years and now to be part of the show itself is an unreal experience. I love it. I play one of the Mormons from the Church of the Latter Day Saints who call to Mrs. Brown’s house. It's a comedy show obviously, and it’s been great fun working with these guys and seeing how they work together. It makes you wonder why everything else can't be so much fun and run so smoothly – haha.
Every season on DWTS and SCD has challenges, but what was the biggest challenge for you on SCD in 2015?
I think for me the biggest challenge each season and every episode is fitting into what the producers want to happen and trying to compromise your ideas and work. I understand it has to happen but it's hard when that becomes the priority. Sometimes you have to play 'the role' you don't want and it can be frustrating when everyone isn't privy to it. That's the nature of the show though and some work with it and some fight it, but I just think if you are going to be judged (more so by the audience) it should be your work and your work and ideas alone that are being judged.
Speaking of SCD 2015, Carol Kirkwood paid you some very nice compliments on Twitter a few weeks ago. Have you had the chance to dance with her or perform with her away from SCD? Did you get to know her well during the series?
No, I haven't danced with Carol since but she is such a beautiful person. I have a lot of time for her. We danced together in the group number at the very beginning of last season and we talked a lot during the season and are still in touch now like I am with a few others from last season and the previous one. Sometimes you meet people on the season and that's the last you hear of them unless you put yourself in those circles, but other times you get some messages asking how ' real life ' is – haha.
You have been asked many times what you would do if you weren’t a dancer, but this question from one of your fans in Europe touches on something different. If you were to have an alternate career in the entertainment industry, what do you think it would most likely be? Or conversely, what would you like it to be?
I don't really know. I like to talk and I'd love to do some presenting so maybe that. I have been very lucky with the opportunity I have been given now with MBB but I know not every gig is as smooth and as fun as this one. I don't know how much I would enjoy acting or certainly auditioning for acting roles – haha - maybe viewer is best option for me.
As a teacher of dance, what is the most important lesson you want your students (of all ages and occupations) to learn?
That enjoyment come first and improvement comes second. They are not equally as important but if you want to focus on one more than the other then that's up to you, and you have to decide and make sure that you realize that your opinion is most important not someone else's. If it's for fun, don't treat it like a competition, and if it's a competition don't treat it like fun. But you decide.
We all get bored at times. You travel a lot and have spent a lot of time on airplanes. Do you ever get bored on long flights? How do you pass the time?
100% - everyone gets bored on long haul flights. I just do the same as everyone else really - watch some films and think about what you are gonna do when you get to wherever you are going! I never used to move on planes. I'd plant myself down and just stay until we got ther,e but more recently I’ll go take a walk. I can't seem to sleep on planes and when I do I wake up with the bed neck and a chin full of slob - hahaha! I have been lucky enough with some companies where they flew us business class and then a few times I have corpsed it almost straight away after take off. I used to be bad with turbulence as well but I'm over that now.
In one of our recent interviews, you mentioned egos and then spoke about the cast of BWAT and how there are no real ego issues with the close cast. We’re sure you’ve come across this now and then in your career, but how do you deal with people who have inflated opinions of themselves - on SCD, DWTS, or just in everyday life?
The thing about that is that it's just my opinion. It's not to say I'm right and it frustrates me to bits, but I just leave that as it is. People are people and everyone has their reasons for whatever they do but I've stopped letting things like that get to me and just worry about my own stuff. Sure some people think I have an ego! That's the way it works. We see things the way we want to. Everyone can do whatever they want to and let's leave it at that – haha. Ego is frustrating but not as frustrating as entitlement.
Thinking back to your time in Burn the Floor, does any particular dance stand out as a favorite or is there perhaps one that you especially enjoyed performing night after night?
No, I don't think of shows that way - just the experience in general or whether it was good or bad! There are always songs we dance to and I remember them from BTF but the show changed so much so many times and at different stages. I'm sure I liked some dances more than others. I don't remember dancing through the dances just through the people and the times I had doing them. I'm not the type to think that dancing is everything and it fixes everything and it doesn't control my life like I believe it does a lot of people. I just enjoy doing it and the times I've had doing it and the people I've met and the places I've gone through and because of dancing are what make me happy.
The website forum contains a thread called “Tristan Trivia” and as you can imagine, it covers a lot of territory. One of the most recent questions involved the USO tour from several years ago when you, Chelsie Hightower, and Peta Murgatroyd visited and performed for troops in Germany. What do you remember about that experience?
Yeah, I remember the USO tour. It was a great experience and it's a shame I didn't get to do more of them. I really, really would have loved to. I remember meeting all the families that had been there and meeting the guys who has just flown in to Germany and were trying to settle. It just set me back seeing how young so many of these guys were and what they were committing themselves too. I mean you look back to the war times we learned about in school and you see kids fighting 14/15/16. It's all different times now but still surprising and sad at how young so many soldiers are! We visited a lot of the injured soldiers while there as well so it was very humbling. In saying that, we were looked after really well and had fun there doing the shows and hanging out with the soldiers. Afterwards, Chelsie came to Ireland and stayed in Bray and I showed her around Dublin. We had a great time.
We have to ask – do you have any scheduled performances coming up?
I don't have anything scheduled, no.
As many of you know, this website is a very busy place. We don't know exactly how many site views the site has had since we launched in November, 2011, but it's a lot! Our forum, however, is going to be hitting a huge milestone soon as it alone will reach 1,000,000 views. Stay tuned for a special message for Tristan when that happens!
Our last 3 surveys received a terrific response, and we decided to keep it going. We're gathering information for a future blog post and would love your input on the following question. Who are your favorite female pro dancers from Dancing With the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing? Choose 5 and if your favorite isn't listed, feel free to include her. Please post your answers in the comments section below. Those results will be combined with the results from a similar survey posted on this website's forum as well as any answers submitted on Facebook, via DM, or by email. Thank you!
Who are your favorite female pros?
Our last two surveys were a big hit, and we decided to keep it going with a few new ones. We're gathering information for a future blog post and would love your input on the following question. Who are your favorite male pro dancers? Choose 5 and if your favorite isn't listed, feel free to include him. Please post your answers in the comments section below. Those results will be combined with the results from a similar survey posted on this website's forum as well as any answers submitted on Facebook, via DM, or by email. Thank you!
Anton du Beke
Louis Van Amstel
We recently surveyed our forum members about how many times they have seen Tristan dance live and at what venues. We then expanded it to Facebook and Twitter and also posted the surveys on our blog so that anyone could participate. We also accepted responses via email and DM. The results are quite interesting.
Question 1: How many times have you seen Tristan dance live?
Results - With more than 250 people responding, nearly 35% have seen him dance four or more times!
0 - 7.0%
1 - 16.0%
2 - 19.0%
3 - 23.4%
4 or more - 34.6%
Question 2: We also asked that those who have been fortunate enough to see Tristan dance to specify which shows they have seen. Keep in mind that multiple responses were possible as some of Tristan's supporters have seen him in several different shows. In addition, for those who have seen a particular show more than one time, even in different cities, it is only reflected once in the percentages for that show.
Results - Not surprisingly, almost 34% of those responding have seen Tristan in at least one BWAT show and another 14% saw him in Burn the Floor.
Ballroom With A Twist - 33.9%
Other - HAL Cruises, P&O Cruises, DWTS Live In Las Vegas, etc.- 22.7%
Burn the Floor - 14.1%
Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour 2015- 10.2%
DWTS - any live show - Seasons 12-17 - 5.4%
Life's A Dance - 5.1%
Dance Temptation - 4.5%
Strictly Come Dancing - live show- 2014 or 2015 - 4.1%
If you have been lucky enough to see Tristan dance, tell us all about it below in the comments.