Over the last 2 ½ years, we have been fortunate enough to interview Tristan many times and most of the questions have been sent in to us by his supporters worldwide. Since Tristan has been a pro on Strictly Come Dancing, dozens of questions have been sent to us and we found that some had been answered in our earlier interviews. We decided to research our archives and bring back some of those questions and answers (along with some that are just particularly interesting) in a new series. While some answers might make reference to earlier events, the response is still relevant. Keep sending in your questions!
How do you keep your positive attitude and “it is what it is” approach?
It’s easy to stay positive about what I do because it’s what I love to do. I have been in so many positions before where I couldn’t rub two pennies together. I was lucky to have a family supportive enough to 'bail me out' and also give me the ear full I needed to get straight. I know that I can get by without being in the public eye because I have done it all along and it’s what the majority of people do every day so when you don’t crave that role, it’s easy. What’s the worst that could happen? If something is wrong you have to ask yourself if you can do anything about it - if you can’t, there is no point stressing about it. If you can, well, then you change it. It’s all about priorities for me. [July 17, 2012 Interview]
Do you ever get nervous before a performance, and if so, how do you calm your nerves?
I don’t get nervous anymore. I used to alright during stage shows and stuff. I’d go missing for a bit and right as the music started I’d burst back in the room with a pale face and just run straight on stage. I don’t know what it was. I think it was the adrenaline taking over or wanting to do so well that it got the best of me. With a show like this though I’m fine. It’s my role to be the shoulder or the go-to guy so that calms me. I spend time convincing my partners it’s a doddle what they are doing and that it will be fine. The last thing they want to see is me walking in circles around the trash cans crying!!! [September 17, 2012 Interview]
What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to be a professional dancer?
I’m not really one for giving advice to people, but no matter what it is you do, love it and give it your all. Don’t be afraid to try something new because it’s the people who aren’t afraid to try that get the rewards or sometimes it just inspires others to. Your mind is your best weapon so use it. [October 9, 2012 Interview]
How do you choose costumes for your [DWTS] celebrity partner? Does your partner have much input into the process or do you have a plan in mind going in?
The costumes are generally chosen by the pros. I guess sometimes I just say, "Right, this is what I have in mind" but generally I leave it up to my partner. Chances are I will get to wear what I want at some stage but this is their first and only experience of it so they tell me what they want to wear and the wardrobe department will come up with the compromise of what they and the producers want. There are certain things that I never want to wear so once they steer clear of that I’m usually good to go. The Devil Went Down To Georgia was mine though. I wanted that voodoo look especially on Halloween - the costume, not the make-up - that was all them! [February 2, 2013 Interview]
During your Question and Answer segment in Princeton [Grassroot Soccer Fundraiser - January 26, 2013] you mentioned that you much prefer teaching to choreographing. Is there a choreographer in the dance world today that you particularly respect and/or admire for their body of work?
I’m not too sure to be honest. When you look at stuff like So You Think You Can Dance, people come out of the blue and just blow your mind with stuff so for me I love the work a lot of people on that show do. Mia Michaels and Travis Wall spring to mind but so many, many more are super talented. I love Savion Glover’s stuff as well. These guys and people like them have the ability (much like Derek [Hough] as well) to make all of their ideas come to life, which makes them powerhouses, where sometimes my ability falls short of my idea. Choreography for me can be as simple as telling the story; the difficulty and trickery are irrelevant to me – it’s all about the delivery. [February 2, 2013 Interview]
Clearly you love to teach, and you do it incredibly well. What is about teaching that draws you in? What is it that you love about teaching?
I like teaching because it makes me feel like I have some worth I guess, not in a negative way but I’m a giver and I like to help. I think everyone deserves a chance to better themselves at whatever they want to, and I like the thought of playing some part in that. I like to surround myself with positivity and there is nothing better than seeing a smile on somebody’s face when they achieve something they didn’t think they could or trying to convince somebody that they can do it however long it takes. I think it’s a great way to get to know people as well because you have to know somebody to a certain degree to know how to get the most of them so it gives me a chance to meet new people and try to help them achieve their goals. I’m like a lot of people in that when I was in school I didn’t really want to be there so I didn’t learn what I could have. Now I’m like a sponge and want to know everything I can about the things I like. When people come to dance it’s because they want to so it’s fun and not a chore, and if they get dragged along I like the challenge of trying to convince then that it's fun by relating it to something they do like doing!! [February 2, 2013 Interview]
We’ve heard the superstition bad dress rehearsal/good show. Have you found that to ever be true? And have you ever had a great dress rehearsal and a not so great performance?
Yeah, that’s usually a rule of thumb that people believe in and to a certain degree it’s right, but often wrong. It has worked both ways in the past for me. If it doesn’t go how you want it to it’s very easy to shut down for people, and they forget how many times they did it right because of the one time they did it wrong! It’s the first time they might have done it in front of a bigger crowd and get an actual reaction to it, so it is daunting and depending on your character, it can really make you shut down. Sometimes when you have done it so well in dress run you take the foot off the pedal a little (for some people). I think maybe for some celebrities they focus on their main competition for the week and can get to a place where they think ‘well at least if I’m better than that person I’ll be ok this week.’ You can only direct people so far but at the end of the day, we are all adults and we make our own minds up about how we approach thing. [June 3, 2013 Interview]
What has been your most embarrassing moment as a professional dancer (if it’s not too embarrassing to tell!)? We loved the ‘Farmer MacManus’ story involving Sasha [Farber] and Damian [Whitewood] in Burn the Floor, and we’re hoping for a sequel.
I did a show before - Emma [Slater] was in it as well at the time, and all the lads had a dance with a bunch of half mannequins. The top half was a mannequin and bottom half was like a stand on wheels so we would dance around with these dolls all side by side, but we were all dossing around a bit before we had to go on, so the first lad missed the music cue so we all had to rush on and my mannequin popped off the stand just as I got on stage, so I had to do the whole dance carrying half a mannequin and instead of rolling it between partners, we had to throw the feckin’ thing from partner to partner. It was like a Monty Python sketch. [June 26, 2013 Interview]
If you were a judge, what things would you look for in order to award a perfect 10?
For me, it’s just pure entertainment. I for sure want to see people try hard, but I would prefer to see them being able to enjoy it. In my opinion, you can only take the memories away from it so they may as well be good ones and not stressing over getting your feet tangled up. That’s really what people want to see - improvement each week and the realization and enjoyment out of improving every week. No matter what people say, their personal opinions of certain people will always cloud their judgment so when I’m watching, I take that out of it and 'judge' whether I enjoyed it or not. I always know when people smile because they are supposed to and do certain things and say certain things because they have to, but all I want to see is individuality and be entertained. [July 19, 2013 Interview]
What is the most unusual performance of your career? (unusual in the sense of staging, choreography, music, etc.)
I have done a few event-type of shows and the stage has literally been the size of a kitchen table, and they wanted us to do some waltz on it. It was very random and weird. To be honest, there was nowhere to go and barely room to turn around. I don’t know how that worked!! I have had to dance in the street before and in supermarkets. It’s horrible. One time we danced to promote a show at a halftime of an American football game, but I can’t remember where that was. We were dancing in front of all these blokes with their faces painted and no tops on - all tanked up - there was something very ballroom competition about that moment. Hahaha! [August 13, 2013 Interview]
If you had to choose one of the following, which would you choose: 1) a celebrity partner who already has quite a bit of dance training and/or experience or 2) a celebrity partner who has little or no dance training and/or experience.
If I could choose a partner, anything dance would be the last thing that came into it. If they had a lifetime of ballroom dance experience, and I didn’t like them, I couldn’t think of anyone worse to spend all that time with. I would choose someone with little to none with a brain of their own and a personality of their own every day of the week – breakfast, lunch and dinner!! [November 7, 2013 Interview]
What is your favorite comfort food?
Porridge, vegetable soup, lamb stew, Shepherd’s Pie, Eggs Benedict, Carbonara!! Not in that order but....... actually not too far off! [November 10, 2013 Interview]
Tell us something we would be surprised to know about you.
I have a really bad temper! [November 10, 2013 Interview]
What is something that might make you lose that temper?
Lack of respect and perspective and loss of common courtesy. [February 26, 2014 Interview]
If you could sit down to dinner with any 5 people throughout history, who would it be?
Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed, Richard Burton, James Dean. That would be a great night out. [February 7, 2014 Interview]
Do you have a particular workout regimen during the off-season?
None. I usually take the break when I can and then cram at the last minute to get myself somewhat respectable. Everyone wants to be ripped and cut; I just want to do a bit of dancing. [February 7, 2014 Interview]
Now tell us some of your favorites:
Favorite song by the Beatles - George Harrison - “Here Comes The Sun” is perfect in my eyes
Favorite song by U2 - “Desire”
Favorite song by the Rolling Stones - “Wild Horses”/ “Angie”/” Ruby Tuesday”
Favorite Irish musician - Luke Kelly(Raglan Road)
Favorite Movie – Favorite ever! The Field/ Willow/ Labyrinth
Favorite beverage that doesn’t have Jameson, Whiskey, or Water in the name - Rob Roy
Favorite sport other than football - Gaelic Football, Ireland Rugby team
Favorite sports memories - Italia '90 Wold Cup (Ireland penalty shoot out vs. Romania. Also, the year I moved to Boston, the Celtics and Red Sox won championships - Boston went off that period - it was quality!!???? [March 17, 2014 interview]