No, we are not talking about the stuff that David Copperfield and David Blaine pull off, although the illusionist comparison might be appropriate. We’re talking about the Tristan MacManus kind of magic – the forces that have yielded more than 220,000 forum views on this website alone, the forces that somehow convince adults to go to amazing lengths to vote excessively when this man is on DWTS, the forces that have us talking dance (particularly Tristan dance) for hours on end, and the forces that inspire us (SWAT and Shakes) to take fictional road trips in the pursuit of mysterious dance lessons and tiramisu. Whatever it is, it’s powerful stuff. Case in point…
*Immediately after Tristan showed up as a troupe member in Season 12, our eyebrows raised simultaneously, our heart rates accelerated just a little (okay, a lot), and we started to get a little giddy when the word was out that “Tristan” was dancing. Then when the Season 13 cast list was revealed? Did you catch the ABC message boards then? It was 100% non-stop craziness that escalated to the point that he had to have a fan site where his super-de-dooper supporters could come to talk all things Tristan. Thus, you have the beginning of MacManiacs.org, MacManiacism, MacManiacs Anonymous, and MacManiac Dungeon and Gutter Dwellers.
*Let’s back up to Week 1 Season 13. Remember the boyfriend suspenders? We were convinced they were magical, with all kinds of powers infused in their stretchiness. Remember the Rumba with Kym? We all fell a little bit in love with Mr. MacManus. Remember the Bickersons and the way that week after week Tristan and Nancy made it fun to watch a show that, let’s face it, was becoming dull and insipid? It’s magic, we tell you. Pure magic. It was as if the huge, dark cloud that had been hovering over Dancing With the Stars for the past few seasons lifted, and we were gifted with a magnificent rainbow. Probably with a pot of gold at the end of it, too.
*But it got better. In Season 14, Tristan became the star. He rumba-ed with Peta and waltzed with Karina, tugging a little at our heart strings along the way. Week after week he gave a performance clinic when he danced with Gladys – whether it was the Cha Cha or Samba. And the Samba with Chelsie? Extraordinary. As always, Tristan showcased his partner, but believe us, there was plenty of Tristan brilliance in that dance. It was deliciously deceptive and crammed full of complex skills but so smooth that it was breathtaking. Some called it magic. There’s that word again.
*Season 15. Short and bittersweet. In a season of “All-Stars” it was going to be difficult to stand out, yet somehow Tristan managed to weave his magical spell over us and give us something innovative and exciting to remember for a long time.
The critics were harsh, and some criticism was warranted, but much was not. Team Pamela may not have had the most technically outstanding performance, yet it was not bad, and it was better than others. When the scoring was low (particularly in comparison to others), we knew that we could have had 10,000,000 people voting for 14 hours straight, and it wouldn’t have mattered. We’ve seen it before, but that blog will have to wait for another time. Back to the critics. We heard “the audience didn’t like it.” Looked like they did to me. We heard “the fans didn’t like it.” Says who? The ones who wanted fun and flirty and instead got a performance dictated by the music? We heard that people wanted something light and sassy and full of happy faces. Now think about that. When you hear the music of Amy Winehouse do you think “fun and flirty?” Ever? Had Tristan choreographed such a routine with smiling faces, laughing eyes, and happy feet, we would have seen judging annihilation. This was a no-win situation, yet somehow Tristan and Pamela managed to do the impossible. Tristan took the music and created a story based on the lyrics of the song. The song is dark, unsettling, and edgy. So was the choreography, but it was perfectly appropriate to the music. We have to think that had any number of pros had the guts and insight to choreograph based on these lyrics and do it so perfectly well, he or she would have been praised as been innovative and cutting-edge. But for some reason that didn’t happen. Sure, Tristan and Pamela were praised for their characterization, but what we didn’t hear praise for was the pure artistry, the intensity, the emotion, and innovation, and yes, the magic. There isn’t another team in Season 15 that has the kind of chemistry and passion that Tristan and Pamela have, and unfortunately that will not bode well for the season. In a season of lukewarm performances during Week 1 (with perhaps a couple of possible exceptions), the writing just might be on the wall. Without the magic of Tristan and Pamela and particularly Mr. MacManus, well, how much will we be able to watch? Personally, we found Week 1 to be boring with 2 exceptions – and one of those was Team Pamela. We even went on record immediately after the show as saying it was the worst season premiere ever. It was just flat out boring and painful to watch. Week 2 was barely lukewarm unfortunately because the magic was missing.
The season is a mixed up mess and not even a hot mess. With original pairs, unoriginal pairs, illogically-matched pairs, and pairs paired for the pimping process, it’s not nearly living up to the hype. And let’s face it, the magic from Season 15 is now gone. Yawn. Is “The Voice” still on on Monday night? Okay, so maybe we will still watch DWTS and complain.
Magic, dark magic, black magic, magician style magic, or Tristan MacManus style magic. It’s all that, and it’s also defined the Shakes and Swat way: something inexplicable, something mystifying, enchanting, enthralling, and at times, bewildering, confusing and confounding. It’s all part of that magical aura that surrounds our favorite ballroom dancer, and why we keep coming back for more. And always will. It might be the magical suspenders, the magic Cuban heels, or maybe the black hoodie magic that made all of us melt into puddles of goo. Our guess is that it’s the magical Samba rolls; let’s hope we get to see plenty more of those because you want to get that heart rate pumping? It’s better than 30 minutes of aerobics. Watching Tristan Samba is all that. In fact, watching Tristan dance is all that. And more.