Tristan is back in the UK for the next leg of the Good Mourning Mrs. Brown tour. We caught up with him on Wednesday, and he answered lots of your questions. Enjoy!
You have recently taken a break from dancing but will be performing again this fall. During your time off the dance floor, did you try anything new? (a sport, activity, travel somewhere new, etc.)
Yeah, I've been doing loads of new things since taking the break and, to be honest, it's been really good for me. I'm working as a project manager in Sydney building commercial properties so a fair bit different—ha—but again my head needed the break from what I was doing and not enjoying. I've also joined the RFS and I'm back playing football and, obviously, the best job of all is being a father. I always need to get away from things from time to time to reassess what I'm doing and find out whether I am happy enough doing it or not, so for that reason the break is great. I can try new things and appreciate the old things.
If you had the opportunity to sing with any band or solo artist (other than Gladys Knight), who would it be? Do you ever sing to Echo? What’s on the playlist?
I have no interests in singing with famous people, no—ha. I'm happy with the sing song at the house or at the pub. We sing all the time at home for Echo. She loves it.....well, she puts up with it more like, but Tahyna has a lovely voice and she has the talent with the instruments. I just close the eyes, throw the hand in the air, and smash out (perfectly) those Mariah Carey notes / every music is blasting there. Echo loves all sorts—generally an epic remix mashup of Peppa Pig and Giggle and Hoot.
Speaking of Echo, have you introduced her to football yet? How about dancing?
Echo watches the football with dad, yeah, and she will sit and watch the UFC but her mammy won't let her— hahaha. She is always dancing around though. Yeah, it's funny. She is gonna be a handful but is a hilarious little girl. She knows how to get what she wants.
What do you like most about being part of the Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown tour? Are you back touring with them in June/July?
We are back on tour with Mrs. Brown’s Boys now. The first show is tomorrow [Thursday, June 8], and I love it as always. I feel very comfortable when I'm with these guys. Everyone just supports each other here and appreciates each other's work and time. Everything is very transparent, and you always know where you stand. If something needs to be said about anything, you will be sure you will hear it firsthand and not through whispers. That's very important to me. It's a positive environment where backstage is equal to onstage, and I love the affection the venues and their staff have for the cast and crew and how much is it returned with no expectations. It's second nature to be kind and thoughtful, so you can't ask for more from your surroundings and the people closest to your family.
You were scheduled to dance at the ABBA Festival in May. How did that go? What dances did you do?
ABBA festival was a bit of craic—bizarre and mental but a bit of craic. I'd go back again. We did three dances—Samba, Cha Cha, and Rumba to some of ABBA's songs. I can't remember which ones. Basically, Trundle (the town) shuts down, and the whole place is taken over by ABBA enthusiasts. The people line the streets, and we danced in the middle of the town. The next town over has the biggest Elvis festival, and this was set up to rival it. There is a tribute band, fancy dress, and table quizzes—all that shebang. If you love ABBA, you will have a good time. It was a long, but enjoyable, road trip for the family up there.
We were delighted to hear that you will be touring with Kristina Rihanoff this fall. Do you have any details about the tour, when you will begin rehearsals, or any other information? Will you and Kristina be doing the choreography? Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to with regard to this show? (a venue, the tour itself, the performing, etc.)
Yeah, I’m looking forward to this tour coming up. We will choreograph it and probably start putting ideas together over next few weeks while I'm in the U.K. Initially it will probably be for about three weeks—two in the U.K. and one in Ireland. Mark Read who was in A1 will be hosting and singing, so it should be good. I’m looking forward to doing the Irish shows. I’ve never really done any at home before so that will be special.
I don’t know everything about it yet, but I'm guessing it will be all ten dances with probably a few more thrown in, but we will be catching up soon and going through what the plan is.
You have a busy schedule coming up. Are you looking forward to getting back on the dance floor? (And do you have any plans to return to the U.S. anytime soon?)
Lucky enough. it’s going to be very busy for the rest of the year and hopefully some things coming up in the new year. I'd love to come back to the states and do some shows, but it's not that easy just saying “Yeah. I'll do it.” I kind of closed that door. It was making me too frustrated and most shows rightly so need to stay relevant and, in my opinion, need to use people more recent on the tv so who knows? I'll come back and teach for sure, and if timings work, I'd be happy to do some shows.
You’ve choreographed many dances and performed many more, but have you ever been tempted to try songwriting? If so, how did that go for you?
No, I don't do the songwriting. I used to be real smooth and have all the right things to say but had to stop that when I grew up—haha. I absolutely love lyrics and anyone who knows me knows I love doing an impromptu speech now and again, be it gibberish or banter, but the sensitive words are saved now for my girls at home.
You said these wise words in one of our interviews back in September, 2012: “Don’t fit in, stand out, be different. There is a place for everyone in everything.” How does that apply, in particular, to those in the entertainment industry?
The entertainment industry is its own beast. Most people think they are more important than they are, but it's also full of genuinely good people following their dreams so it's a fine split. I sometimes notice that people at times find what they like about other people and become that until the new flavor comes. You have to choose what it is you want. For instance, you have to decide what is success to you and appreciate what you do. Some people, as strange as it sounds, rely completely on acceptance of other people and never appreciate their own value. The biggest and most important thing I think you can have is knowing worth—value of worth in yourself, your talents, and the people around you and the people you let in your life. I can't comprehend spending your life trying to impress a bunch of assholes who don't care about what happens to you before or after they have got what they want from you! Do your best and know the value of hard work and achievement. The important thing is your opinion of worth, not someone else's.
Finally, a few random words or phrases. Just respond with the first thing that comes to mind.
Farbs and Emma
*a food you tried once but will never eat again
Oysters and shellfish
*a beverage you tried once but will never have again
That stuff that tastes like licorice
*Mrs. Brown’s Boys
Not for me but enjoyable when it's done right
Proper story telling
Love it. I just saw a few old dances with Kym recently, and I'd like to some dancing with Kym again. That was always fun.
Learning. I've met a lot of great people from teaching, and they inspire you and remind you to appreciate what you are lucky enough to do.
I love a cuppa tea.
*An Evening with Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus
Hopefully fresh, fun, honesty—haha
Thank you, Tristan! For information on both Good Mourning Mrs. Brown and An Evening With Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus, refer to the links below.
Good Mourning Mrs. Brown
Tickets for the UK dates:
Tickets for the Ireland dates:
An Evening With Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus
Tristan is part of the cast of Good Mourning Mrs. Brown and is currently on tour in the UK. He took time to catch up with us and has answered lots of the questions you have sent in for him. This is our 63rd interview with Tristan since July, 2012, and each one is more fun than the last!
Congratulations on being part of the cast of the Good Mourning, Mrs. Brown tour. Will you be doing the full tour and how do you like being on the road again?
Thank you, and it's great to hear from you. Things are great. Mrs. Brown’s Boys is amazing as always. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of friends and again, it's another amazing gift from the DWTS and Strictly experience. The tour is broken up into four/ five week stints so the touring isn't too bad, and I have the girls with me which makes it so much easier. Tahyna is writing on the road and producing from the road so we got lucky with timing, and obviously being close to Ireland we got to get home for Echo’s first birthday and christening.
You mentioned in the past how funny the entire cast can be and that there is always a lot of laughter when putting on the shows. Have there been any practical jokes backstage? (please share) What parts of the show itself are your favorites?
The best thing about Mrs. Brown’s Boys is that most of the practical jokes are all onstage so it's hard work in itself to keep the straight face especially when the changes in the script come about! Everyone in the cast at some stage tries to catch each other out. Offstage funny is just funny between the jokes and the tricks. Most definitely, it's the best kind of work you could be lucky enough to do!
It’s been a while since our last Q and A – in November, actually. How was your holiday season and how was your first Christmas as a dad? Now that Echo is a year old, have you been able to keep up with her and is she dancing a Foxtrot yet?
Being a dad is the best experience of my life and the proudest I have ever been. My girl is just the greatest little gem, and I couldn't be happier and prouder of her and obviously Tahyna for bringing her into our lives. Christmas was amazing and every day since has been the same. We couldn't believe it was her birthday already and we hadn't seen the guys here since the Oz tour last year when Tahyna was just about to pop so they have all been great with us. They were super excited to finally meet her, and we are definitely that annoying couple who always talks about their kid-—hahaha. She loves music so no doubt she will be dancing before long as she has just started walking.
It doesn’t take long for news to reach us...we read that you will be dancing with Alana Patience at the ABBA Festival in Australia in May. How did that happen? Any idea what tunes you’ll be dancing to?
I don't know too much about ABBA just yet. Alana is the best. I hadn't seen her in a long, long time. We caught up recently at a mutual friend’s wedding and said we should put some shows together and dust off the cobwebs so this was literally a few days later she asked if I was up for it. I haven't done any since Strictly and am now looking forward to it and who knows after that?!
Do you have any plans to come back over to the states? We are missing you over here.
Ah, who knows? Things change all the time. It wasn't too long that I said I wouldn't ever go back and then a few times over the last couple of years we came close to it, but we have been away for a bit now and concentrating on ourselves and Echo but we would like to come back and spend some time. It all depends on circumstances.
We saw that you were able to attend the semi-finals of DWTS Ireland. What are your thoughts on the show? Did you know most of the pro dancers?
I think it was great what they did with DWTS Ireland. There were a lot of talks and whispers about me doing it and then rumors about why I didn't do it and I heard that I didn't want anything to do with it. As a new show, I think they did great. I think it gives homegrown talent a chance to show what they can do as well as giving future professionals a goal. It doesn't have to be on par with America or the UK or whatever anyone else was expecting. I thought it was produced very well. I thought the pros smashed it, and I'm glad that now we have our own. I wish them all the success for the future.
Speaking of Ireland, did you get to spend some time with your family? How’s Pike doing?
We had a few days at home before the tour started yeah, so that was great. Pike is great—very happy and being well-spoiled and looked after. He didn't like the attention he was losing to Echo but sure, what can you do? Haha.
Now that you’re traveling again, things will probably be different but what are your favorite things to do for fun these days? Have you been doing a bit of dancing?
Yeah, everything has changed these days alright, but for the better. I think I still do most the same things just not as often and for not as long—ha. I haven't been doing any dancing, no, but like I said I needed the break from it and now I may come back into it a bit more with a new perspective again which always does me good every so often—freshens up your head and your attitude.
Now some just plain nosy questions from your fans:
You once said that you get bored just thinking about golf. What about pool? Have you ever tried billiards and are you any good?
Yeah, I used to love playing pool, but I wasn't consistently good, just consistently bad with a dash of amazing trick shots and lucky breaks—haha. Everyone I know seems to love golf, and now the Masters has started. It's all I'm hearing about, but I’m still no closer to getting on the green.
What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
I have seen many, many movies I hope to never see again or wish nothing more than going back in time to erase it from my brain. I just don't want to mention any—hahaha.
Just for laughs, we started a topic on the forum where we ask people to tell us a song that they hope you never have to dance to…..do you have one to add to our growing list? (So far, "Gangnam Style," "Who Let the Dogs Out," "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," and "Macarena" top the list)
“Whip/Nae Nae”—holy lord have mercy—never, ever, ever.
Is there any chance of you doing another triathlon?
I would like to do another, but to be honest, I still don't understand why once I did that last one, I lost complete motivation after it. I loved it, so I have no clue why. I think I was just drained from everything and that came at the end, but I'm back running now and in the water so who knows.
What is an activity or sport that you have never tried and don't really care to try?
Sumo. I don't like the thought of wearing diapers.
Along those same lines, what is something you have tried and don't want to try again? (could be a sport, food, etc.
Ahahaha! I had a night out with some friends from home a few days ago and when I came back to life the next day i swore I'd never do that again...................I'm an awful liar though.
Other than getting a spray tan, was there ever a time on DWTS or SCD when you thought to yourself “I’m never doing that again!”
At one stage, it was a weekly occurrence to be fair—ha. I said many times before that it really is wherever your head is or, for that matter, wherever my head was when things were suggested or decided that makes me go along with it or switch. Sometimes I have very clear intentions of how I want to do things or how I want to react to things and when I can't make those decisions for myself and I'm told how it's going to go, frustration is my biggest enemy. Sometimes again you need to take a step back and realize you are a piece of a puzzle and either accept it or not. At the time, the unfortunate thing is that it seems like the biggest issue in the world and it really isn't—perspective.
Finally, you’re going to be very busy off and on for the next several months with the tour, but will you getting back to Australia for extended periods of time?
Yes, we will be going back to Sydney and wherever else we need to go between the blocks of weeks where we will tour. I may have a few more shows happening in the UK. and maybe the states over the next while so we will just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
Five years ago today, MacManiacs.org was launched, and what a wild five years it has been.
This all happened just after Tristan and Nancy Grace finished their run on DWTS Season 13. We started off with a few pages that included some videos, photos, blog posts, and the forum. That forum, MacManiaLand, was and still is the cornerstone of the site and our busiest page. With currently nearly 1,310,000 views, it continues to evolve. We talk about anything and everything – except politics or controversial topics – and we have fun every single day. We’ve made friends, many of us have gone together to see Tristan in one show or another, and we’ve worked together on interviews, blog posts, and forum ideas. Several brave souls volunteer their time to monitor the forum for the occasional troll or naughty behavior. Others run various threads and keep conversation moving, and somehow it all works. Sadly, we have also lost a few of our members, but they are certainly not forgotten.
If I tried to tell you everything we’ve done here since the beginning, you would be reading for days, so I’ll give you the condensed version. Since July, 2012, we have interviewed Tristan a total of 62 times – yes, 62. As long as he is willing to answer our questions, we will keep sending them. We have also been fortunate enough to interview Tahyna MacManus, Oksana Dmytrenko Platero, Kristina Rihanoff, Emma Slater, Sasha Farber, Jasmine Takacs, Antonio Martinez, Jason Leppert, Nikki Lorenzo, Henry Byalikov, Andy Steinhauser, Fiona Whyte, Risa Kaplowitz, and Gina Carbone – and that’s not all.
Different pages come and go and we try to switch things up now and then. It’s the forum where things really happen and yes, we do talk about Tristan – a lot – but we do lots of other things as well. Much of that is completely random.
For example, we do trivia better than anybody. We have had more trivia threads than we can count on many different subjects that include movies, television, music, DWTS, SCD, Tristan, and even trivia about our forum.
We’ve talked about dances we loved and dances we hated. Most of us have an aversion to shirtless dancers, skimpy costumes, sheer anything, and costumes with yellow feathers, excessive sparkles, sequins, and rhinestones.
It’s safe to say that we use social media but the majority who took our poll don’t like it for the most part and don’t use it often or regularly.
Polls. You name it, we’ve done it. From the serious to the silly, here are just a few results.
*Props in dances – Most of us can’t stand them.
*Theme Weeks – a big no.
*Extra backing dancers in pro/celebrity dances – Hell no.
*Len Goodman is our favorite judge from either DWTS or SCD.
*Of all the songs Tristan has mentioned in our interviews, our forum members named “Hollywood Nights” as their favorite.
*Of the Charleston, Samba, Merengue, and Viennese Waltz (yes, we realize that is an odd combination), more of us feel we are least suited for the Viennese Waltz. (I guess the word elegant and ballroom-like isn’t in the dictionary definition of “MacManiac.”)
*We agreed with Rolling Stone’s 2011 #1 ballad all-time choice of “Stairway To Heaven” – even though our lists of top ballads didn’t match their list. We decided to play nice and vote based on their choices.
*Our forum members preferred Hairspray over Grease or Mamma Mia. (Another random poll)
*It’s a toss-up as to the favorite song by a girl group – “Alone” by Heart or “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles.
*We took five songs used for pro numbers on DWTS, and the one we most wanted to see Tristan dance to is “Rock This Town” as performed by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
*We talk a lot about important things like ice cream and there was no definitive favorite although Double Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter and Chocolate pulled a couple more votes than the rest.
*We want to see Tristan dance a Samba with Oksana Platero or Karina Smirnoff, a Rumba with Oti Mabuse, Kristina Rihanoff, or Edyta Sliwinska, and an Argentine Tango with Cheryl Burke. In addition, we think Karina Smirnoff is the most entertaining female pro.
*The dance we most like seeing Tristan perform is the Jive.
*The ballroom dance we most like to see performed (by Tristan or anyone else) is the Foxtrot, and the chosen Latin dance is the Samba (followed closely by the Cha Cha and Jive).
*Our randomness continues with our favorite “school” song (song with the word “school” in the title) – “Be True To Your School” followed by “School’s Out” and “Rock N’ Roll High School.”
*Our forum members love NCIS, Sherlock, and Hawaii Five-0, snd only a few have seen Outlander. We also love sports.
*We even did a survey on ABBA songs (sorry, Tristan), and the winner was “Dancing Queen” by a large margin.
*From a list of five random pro dances Tristan was in on DWTS and SCD, we would most like to see “Dark Side/Stronger” again.
*As far as dances we think suit Tristan’s personality? We chose the Jive and Foxtrot.
*Our favorite songs by the Eagles are “Hotel California” and “Desperado.”
*And then there are the “crazy” songs…our favorites? “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, “Crazy On You” by Heart, and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen. For the “wild” songs, we chose “Wild Thing” by The Troggs, “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, and “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones.
*The madness continued. We loved songs with “eyes” in the title and the poll winner was “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison followed by “My Eyes Adored You” (Frankie Valli). “City” songs? “Philadelphia Freedom” was our choice. “Dreams”? That winner was “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” by the Mamas and the Papas.
*And when we asked the forum members that if Tristan actually was willing to do the MacManiac group dance to “Shout” from Wedding Crashers (he chose the song incidentally, not us) would they do it? You betcha. There was a 100% “yes indeedy” vote.
Like I said, we talk about almost everything and do polls and surveys just because we like to have something for everyone who comes to the forum. We never, ever run out of things to talk about. We do random better than anyone.
We talk about traveling and our travels, where we would like to go and where we have been. We have a thread dedicated to photos of Ireland and another for photos of other wonderful places on our planet. Yet another is devoted just to Oksana Platero and Judge Rinder on Strictly Come Dancing because they are just pure fun and make us smile, and everybody needs to smile a little more, right?
With more than 100 threads (and a large number have been deleted over the last few years just because we wanted to) topics are varied to include lots about Tristan but just as many about other pros, dancing, entertainment, and a subject near and dear to us – food. In other words, we have a good time, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we don’t let the trolls come in and ruin the fun.
We’re going to making a few changes to the website over the next few months and you might see some new pages and definitely some new forum threads. We all came together in our support for Tristan, and that is what we will keep on doing. It’s been so much fun these first five years, and huge thanks to all of you who have made it happen. Special hugs to those who have been with us since the early days and those who are giving us record views these days and everyone in between who stopped in for a quick peek at the site.
We hope you will all Cha Cha or Waltz over and say hello. Fun is never overrated.
In honor of the fifth anniversary of this website's launch (November 29, 2011), we asked three of the forum members who have been with us since the very beginning to come up with questions for Tristan for a new interview. As always, Tristan happily answered them and also sent along a very sweet message for all of you who have kept the site thriving for the last five years. Since our forum recently surpassed 1.3 million views, his messages are especially meaningful to us all. We will keep going as long as you keep showing up here! Thanks to Babs, Jamie, and Carol for the great questions, and thank you to everyone who supports Tristan and this website.
Message from Tristan
"I can't believe it's been five years this website has been running. You guys are unreal! Thank you so much for showing interest in something so uninteresting as my life - hahaha. All the best to you all and keep enjoying the show and focus on what makes you happy!
Congrats on keeping all your forums and stories so interesting and enjoyable for everyone - whether it's related to me or not. I'm glad you guys have found each other - 'keep her lit!' "
You and Tahyna were the hosts of Elena Samodanova’s Ballroom Superstars Dance Ball on October 22. Would you tell us a little bit about that and how it came together? Do you have plans to do future work with Elena?
Yeah, we did Elena’s show, and we had a blast. It just happened over dinner, to be honest. We were out with the kids, and Elena was talking about the show. We said we would help out however they needed us, and then she asked if we would host it which we were more than happy to do. We are glad we did. We met some great dancers there, and Elena and Alex had put together a great show so you never know - we may do more in the future. At the time, it was just a new show, so it’s always difficult to get going and there are a lot of costs involved. We were happy to help our friends out.
[Note: The following 2 questions regarding Shall We Dance on Ice and any additional time in the U.S. were asked and answered prior to Tristan having to withdraw from the show due to injury.]
You are listed as being one of the professional dancers in Shall We Dance on Ice in Las Vegas in December. That is another incredibly talented cast of performers in music, skating, and dance. Do you have any more details about this yet or do you know what type of rehearsal will be involved prior to the show?
I’m not too sure as yet – still waiting to hear what the plan is, but I’ll be dancing with Chelsie so I’d imagine I will come into town a few days in advance and put some things together and then when we get to Vegas, we will rehearse with the cast and learn the group numbers together. I know one or two of the skaters who I met while dancing with Dorothy but most of them I will be meeting for the first time as they did the show after I had left.
Do you have plans for other performances or teaching while in the states? Will you be staying for a while this time?
No plans, no. I don't think I will be doing any this time round.
First, it was wonderful getting to see you perform again in Dance To the Movies back in August. We loved the cast, concept, and show itself. What did you like about this show? What were the standout numbers for you?
Yes, Dance To the Movies was great. Just like BWAT, the cast are great and so down to earth. I always enjoy spending time with them and I hadn't seen Karina, Chelsie, or Jon for a long time so that was good to catch up. I loved the James Bond numbers because I love the music, but I know Kiki and Magda usually do the section I did and I miss seeing those guys and would have loved to see them do it. The cast had a few new guys I hadn't met before either, and that energy is always great when a new cast comes together.
Do you have any plans to return to the U.S. for the spring tour of Dance To the Movies or are your plans still up in the air at this point? Do you have other things in the works right now?
You never know what’s going to happen, but I have chronic knee pain and slipped discs in my back and neck that flare up so much that the thought of it isn't that appealing to me. I have a job in Sydney I really enjoy so that’s what I am concentrating on at the minute.
A lot of people have asked us about Dancing with the Stars Ireland. Have you been approached about being involved or do you know anything about the structure and similarities/differences to DWTS US and SCD? Would you like to be involved in some way?
Yeah, it’s good that they are finally doing one in Ireland. I was surprised when it was announced as I hadn't heard anything about it until I got messages from Ireland asking about it, and I had been contacted about it later on to be involved but again I have a job that I enjoy here that I had committed to. It would mean leaving that and moving my family again for three months or whatever it is. It’s been a long time since we could actually get settled somewhere, and I absolutely love Sydney. I always wanted to be a part of a show in Ireland but everything has to be right for all parties to make that work. I think the show will do very well, and I'm glad it’s happening and I'm glad it’s giving Irish professionals a platform to show our talent. It really is about time, so I’ll be happy to help out which they know but not in a full time capacity at this stage for that amount of time.
Have you followed what’s going on with the pros and celebrities on DWTS and SCD this year or is it a case of out of sight, out of mind?
I haven't seen too much to be honest, but I’m still in touch with most of the crew on Strictly, and Oti and I talk a lot. I had to reach out to Laura being a Bray head, then obviously with DWTS I talk to Farbs and Emma so I’m delighted he is doing so well but no, I don't watch the show. Tahyna loves it though. I’m sure I never watched it when I was in it myself. HAHAHA
You occasionally performed non-Latin and non-Ballroom dance styles on DWTS/SCD. Have you ever trained in any of these other areas or did you just learn it as you went along?
No, I never trained in any other style. I’m actually surprised you had to ask that – haha! I learned them when I had to, but all these styles I prefer to watch. I don't feel comfortable doing them or really enjoy it too much, but I appreciate people who do and I love to watch anyone do a style they love. The only other style I ever had an interest in really was tap. I never did it, but I love it. The rest I can enjoy as a spectator. I have never had a critical eye, so I can enjoy shows and numbers for what they are. There is nothing worse than people picking out things wrong with something you are enjoying watching. Competition I get is different, but I’m talking generally.
Now for some other general stuff -
If someone knew very little about Irish music/musicians, which artists would you put at the top of your recommended list?
Fiachra Treacy (Columbia Mills)
Not in that order but you should listen to all these guys.
What do you like most about living in Australia?
Everything - the weather, the mentality, my surroundings, my family - I just love it here.
When you haven’t performed or danced for a while, do you miss it and have any desire to get back on stage?
No, I don't - I have had a great time doing what I did, but I don't like to dwell on things. I had a good time at the time, but my knees hate me now, and I’m happy with what is going on. I’ll look back on a lot of it and smile, but I’ll remember it how I do.
You once said that after you do some dances you forget about them and move on. If you had to name 10 performances from DWTS, could you do it?
I’m sure I could remember some numbers but not the actual dances start to finish. Again, it’s one of those things that you remember weird things about them. I would remember moments when Nancy would be looking for a fight - haha - or rightly so proud of herself or when Gladys laughed and cheered me up. I’d remember just sitting and watching Valerie go through everything or Pam deciding what she wanted to do or talking about life, just weird things, certain things we may have talked about - conversations or comments and reactions immediately after each dance or the next day but not so much of the dance itself.
And from a standpoint of pure fun and having a great time, which show (DWTS, SCD, Ballroom With A Twist, Burn the Floor, etc.) best fits that description for you?
Probably little bits of each. They were all at different times in my life. I loved and hated them all at different times for different reasons but I'm glad I experienced them all - certain characters can depend on the day - haha.
You told us a couple of months ago that Echo loves Elmo and Winnie the Pooh. When you were a little guy growing up, did you have any favorite toys?
As a kid, I just loved football. Thats all I remember - playing football and having muck ball fights. I’m sure I had toys that I loved, but I just remember sports.
Now to the most important question of all. You’ve been all over the world and have probably visited lots of Irish pubs. Where were the best ones? (including Ireland)
The best Irish pubs are the ones I was in on that particular night.
Is Pike still living the good life in Ireland?
Pike is the most spoiled animal on the face of the planet - of course he is loving every second of it!
Finally, how’s the family and how much are you enjoying seeing your daughter change every single day?
Being a dad is, to any man, the luckiest and most amazing thing that could ever happen to anyone and to be the father of this particular child and husband to this woman makes me the luckiest of them all.
Dance To the Movies in Patchogue had a cast of incredible artists, and these very versatile performers have showcased their talents all over the world. In addition to Tristan MacManus, Karina Smirnoff, Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, and Jonathan Roberts, we were treated to performances by artists from American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance but that's just the beginning. One of those very special entertainers was the multi-talented Antonio Martinez who not only showed us his dancing skills in many numbers but also proved to be a huge fan favorite with his work on the silks. He graciously agreed to this interview, and we can't thank him enough for taking time from his busy schedule to talk with us. Links to Antonio's social media accounts are at the end of this interview, so be sure to follow him and like his pages.
Additional photos are posted at the end of this interview. Click on any image to enlarge it.
Antonio, many of us had the pleasure to see you perform in Dance to the Movies in Patchogue. Would you share a little about how your involvement in the show came about?
I auditioned with many other male dancers in LA for a position in this production. Lacey Schwimmer lead the preliminary ballroom audition then I was called back for a second ballroom audition lead by Jonathan Platero. A few days later, after sending my aerial choreography links and performances, Scott and Stacie Stander offered me a dancer / aerialist contract!!
You were in a lot of different types of numbers. Obviously, one of the most spectacular was your performance on the silks while Vonzell sang “I Will Always Love You.” What kind of rehearsal and preparation went into that jaw-dropping number?
Since I choreographed and performed this particular number, I was in charge of creating and rehearsing it. I teach and rehearse all of my aerial work at Aeriform Arts in Hollywood. Scott sent me a You Tube link of Vonzell's beautiful voice singing "I Will Always Love You", then I went to work emulating her powerful voice and emotion with aerial choreography and dynamic musicality. It was a pleasure working with Vonzell on this. We both agreed that our performances together were electrifying and emotional.
What were some of your other favorite performances from DTTM?
I truly loved each and every routine that was taught to me! I love all styles of dance especially ballroom so I was in heaven from beginning to end of this production of Dance To The Movies! Everything from Jazz Dance, Viennese Waltz, Jive, Tango, Salsa, ChaCha, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, Samba, and Adagio work... I can't possibly pick my favorite. LOL!
Did you already know many of the dancers before rehearsals began?
The only dancer I knew was Ekaterina Fedosova, who I had worked with recently on the set of Jane The Virgin and Gilmore Girls as a dancer. We never got to dance together though until Dance To the Movies coupled us up for a few of the featured ballroom roles.
Are there any fun moments from rehearsals or the performances that you would like to share?
We were lucky enough to get to celebrate 2 birthdays during our 6 days of rehearsal with the cast. We had cake and donuts! Chocolate is my favorite!!
What was the most challenging part of being in a show like this?
The new cast members had only 4 days to learn all of the choreography and 2 days to clean it. It's usually very challenging to learn almost 3 routines a day and partnering with dancers that you have never worked with before. But the entire cast was super professional and we pulled it together for an amazing opening night and entire week of performances!
Who was the most serious member of the cast? Funniest?
Well, definitely a matter of opinion but I would say most serious goes to Kimalee Piedad and Eric Ascione while Legacy and Karina were the funniest!
If you could have been involved in any other number from DTTM (other than those you were in) which would it be?
I would have loved to have been in the "Men In Black" routine. I love the movie, song, and choreo for this particular routine!
What are your thoughts on DTTM in general? (the concept, production, choreography, cast, etc.)
I love every aspect of the show! I really do! I hope to perform it again. I was very pleased with my role and track in the show. I loved every routine I was and was not a part of and hope to perform it again with the same cast members. It truly was a joy and a fun challenge. This show has so many styles of dance and everyone has their moment to shine and bring their best to it! I'm so impressed by every choreographer, dancer, singer, and actor in the show. The production team behind the scenes as well were all a joy to work with as well.
Do you have a favorite type of dance that you love to perform in general?
I typically love anything Latin so I would say the final Lion King Samba routine choreographed by Jonathan Platero and Oksana Dmytrenko [Platero]. I love the music and dynamic choreo along with the dance formations and flow of the routine.
You seem to have a real love of performing and being on stage. Describe for us what it’s like being in front of an appreciative audience like we saw in Patchogue.
It's thrilling and very inspiring. The energy you feel coming from the audience is addictive indeed. There is already a passion that is ignited in my heart and body for dance but it multiplies when there is an audience that reacts to my artistic choices. It really does help fuel the flame within!
Seeing you in so many numbers from our favorite movies was a special treat, but if you could dance to any number from any film, what would it be? Who would you visualize as your dream dance partner for that number?
Fun question. Let's see. I would want to dance "El Tango de Roxanne" from Moulin Rouge with Karina Smirnoff. That is my favorite scene in the movie and Karina would definitely perform it well.
What advice would you give to anyone who is hoping to have a career in the performing arts?
My advice would be to focus on one or two styles the most but diversify your skills with all other styles of movement. It is important in this industry to be well-rounded. Take everyone’s criticism as constructive and don't forget why you love to dance and perform. Stay focused and motivated...you are your own boss.
And since this is a Tristan MacManus website, we thought we would ask – what did you think of Tristan and was this the first time you had met him?
I love working with Tristan! This was my second time working with him. He is always a pleasure to work with as both a choreographer and fellow performer. His energy on and off stage is an absolute joy. He is always witty, funny, and thoughtful! I look forward to working with him again very soon.
Tell us more about you – your background, training, etc. – anything you would like to share. How long have you trained/worked on the silks as well as been involved in dance and other forms of the arts?
I am first generation Mexican American, born in Chicago, raised in Wagoner Oklahoma and now reside in Hollywood, California. I have trained in dance for 16 years and aerial arts for 10 years and continue to do so every day in LA. I have a dance degree from Oklahoma City University as well as a BA in Spanish. I have training from the Toronto School of Circus Arts and continued training in LA. I have worked on tv, film, music videos, stage, tours, industrials, and commercials as a versatile dancer, aerialist, and model. My most recent TV credits include Gilmore Girls as a Tango dancer for Marguerite Derricks, New Girl as a Bollywood dancer, Jane the Virgin as a Latin dancer, and Angie Tribeca as a Zombie Thriller dancer! Other credits include Dancing With The Stars, Bun Heads, True Blood, America's Got Talent, Beach Body Fitness, the Will Ferrell Dodge Motors Campaign, and the international tour of West Side Story. Being a part of Dancing To The Movies is a dream come true! I pride myself on being a versatile performer and my favorite quote is "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity" (source unknown).
Finally, you seem to be gaining a lot of new fans lately. Is there anything you would like to say to everybody?
I want everyone to know how happy I am to share my passions, creativity, and love for movement. I am very pleased that everyone has been enjoying all my styles of dance and aerial performances. Stay tuned for more performances with Dance To The Movies!!
Social media links and for more information:
Instagram: @antoniomartinezla https://www.instagram.com/antoniomartinezla/
Twitter: @AntonioAerial https://twitter.com/AntonioAerial
For Bookings: Contact MSA at 323-957-6680
Please leave comments for Antonio below.
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.