Once again, Tristan was at his very best and showing us his great sense of humor with his answers to our endless supply of questions. As always, it was a blast! I love what he has to say about the special dance he had worked out for Dorothy - the dance that they never got to perform.
What was your very first performance as a professional dancer? How were your nerves?
To be honest, I don’t really remember what my first performance was but I’m sure there were nerves. I used to struggle a lot with nerves when I was younger with regards to performing in general - the more I tried, the more nervous I would feel. The more I concentrated, the more I could feel my stomach lift. It was horrible, I needed to almost not try if that makes sense, not because it was natural but because it was the only way to not work myself up. I guess that comes with everyone when you aren’t sure of what you are doing but more so of why you are doing it. Now I perform to entertain and not to be good, so I have a purpose and so my nerves don’t get to me. What’s the worst that could happen? If people don’t like it,they are no worse off than before. I danced, and if they do like it then it’s made some sort of difference to them.
Is there a song you’ve always wanted to choreograph a dance to on DWTS, but just never had the chance? What type of dance do you perceive it to be?
A dance is a dance to me just as a story is a story, so it for sure would depend on which song was used. I always wanted to use one of my friends’ songs from home just because it’s a great platform to be heard, and it would give me the satisfaction of working together with my mates and showcasing the talent in my town. Songs from Empire Saints and Big September are crackers and many nights I’ve spent in my local listening to them write and sing songs about our childhoods and what we went through and go through. I don’t know if that answers it how you wanted but that’s what came to mind.
What is one place in the world where you have never been and would love to go?
I’ve never really been to South America, and I would love the chance to go, or an African safari would be great craic. I’ve been lucky to travel a lot in my life, and I appreciate the fact that I have had an opportunity that a lot of people have not so I’m not complaining, but for sure I’d love to give those places a good night out!
You have had four great, but very different, partners on Dancing With the Stars. We are curious about what you saw as the strengths of each one?
Yeah, great people I’ve had to partner. The mutual character that each person had was they wanted to improve. Nancy had great determination and put all the hours of the day in to get better and improve. Gladys had her natural ability to move but also the work ethic to work through her travel and signing commitment. She could hear exactly what the music said to her. Pamela had a great imagination and great imagery to relate to a certain character, really complete a scenario, and design an idea I think is the best way to explain it, and then Dorothy is just a battler. She has so much appreciation for the art and my time and our teamwork together. I really enjoyed each person though for who they are be it in front or most often behind the camera.
If you could have a guest starring role on any show on television, which show would you choose?
Game Of Thrones is my favourite but honestly I don’t watch too much television, I see adverts for a programme called Copper that looks pretty good. I loved Gangs of New York so something like that would be amazing or Vikings on History Channel that’s filmed in Ireland! They are the type I love that I wouldn’t imagine would care too much for some salsa moves in the background! Haha! I like comedy though. Modern Family and Parks and Recreation - stuff like that - maybe a name drop in Family Guy. Then again you will get stitched asking for that.
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 and Damian in Burn the Floor, and we’re hoping for a sequel.
I did a show before - Emma 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.
If you could have had one more dance with Dorothy during Season 16, what dance (and music) would you have chosen?
We wanted to do a Foxtrot to “Me and My Shadow.” Dorothy used to do something similar in her ice show with Kurt Browning that I loved when I saw it, and I always loved that song. I had it all planned out but it didn’t work out so what can ya do?!!?
Is there one particular talent or skill that you don’t have, but wish you did?
I wish I had the ability to play musical instruments. I don’t have the patience for it but maybe one day I’ll wake up and be class at it and just be able to play them all! I love listening to music so to be able to play along would be amazing. I know I just need to sit down and practice but I’d prefer to sit and listen to somebody else practice! Haha! Irish harp is my favourite instrument and I love Sinead O'Connor’s version of “Sacrifice” by Elton John and she now lives in Bray as well!!
As always, thank you, Tristan!
You have been so great about answering our questions, and now we are curious – if you could interview anyone from Dancing With the Stars (pro, celebrity, host, anyone working backstage), who would it be and why?
As far as interviews, I think it would be interesting to interview the script editors and field producers first off because they film everything and read word for word what happens every day through every rehearsal and decide what goes in packages. Basically between them and the executive producers the decision is made as to what an audience sees so I think people would enjoy their perspective. I know I would. The singers on the show are a big, big factor as well along with the band and stand-ins for tech runs. They have all been around just as long as the longest serving pros so their opinions on things would be good to hear and also see how they interact with everyone. I always think the loud people will always give their opinion but the quiet ones you actually wanna hear from!!
When working on a dance that involves special effects like the fog/smoke in the Paso Trio or the breaking mirror, does it require a lot of extra rehearsal to get that working just right? Along these same lines, have you ever had a performance involving these kinds of special effects that didn’t quite work out the way it did in rehearsal?
To a certain degree, yes it really depends on the particular prop. For the glass we basically got it before the dress rehearsal and were advised on how far from the shattering glass we were to stand. It smashed for us to see, and then the dress run was the first time we tried the dance with the effects. The fog and stuff not so much - if anything you get to rehearse it less. On the day of the show you get a tempo check of the music, a run through to the music, and one or two runs with full cameras depending on how difficult the camera angles are. If you have to check the smoke and fog and dance with it, it takes a wee bit longer so you may get less time if that makes sense. I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had any mishaps, but if I come up with an idea to use something and the producers think it may go wrong they cut it. Haha.
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 things.
In one of Mark Ballas’s post-show interviews, he mentioned that the music he and Aly had for Afro-Jazz was changed just before the live show. Has that ever happened to you? That’s not something you can really plan for, but how would you would make the adjustment and get your partner ready to perform?
I didn’t know that. I don’t know if his actual song changed or what happened but I know we can have problems sometimes with the music we dance to all week and then hear the actual show music. We rehearse to the actual track of each artist all week, and then on show day it’s the first time we dance to the orchestra and obviously all the instruments are different and the vocals sound different and that throws our celebs a lot so you have to just keep focus and comfort your partners to make them feel comfortable. We are used to it but our partners aren’t so you have to take that into consideration.
This season, we saw the addition of Afro-Jazz, Charleston, Hip Hop, Flamenco, and Lindy Hop as well. From a pro’s standpoint, how do you feel about adding these in (and with the choice being made by Twitter votes) and which would you prefer to have if you had these same choices in Season 17?
Em...I think there are good things and bad things about it. They are all great styles in their own right. Some are related to what we know, and some aren’t - for me personally anyway. I love to watch Flamenco, and I love doing the Lindy moves and Charleston. Hip Hop is not for me but I love seeing it done. A lot of my friends are super Hip Hop dancers. I still don’t know what Afro-Jazz is!!! I think the Twitter thing is what it is if it works. It worked, but everyone decided what they wanted to do so they told people what they wanted and then they ended up doing what they said they wanted. Haha! You tell me if it worked!!
Is there one particular dance (by any of the pros or teams) from your seasons on DWTS that stands out for you as being the standout performance?
Honestly I didn’t get to see the last two weeks of the show, I had to sort some things out but of what I saw I obviously loved the dance I got to do with Derek and Kellie but as a performance of everything - theme, music and feel good factor - I have to go with Val’s Trio with Zendaya and Gleb and his Side-By-Side with Maks and Anna. The Sherlock Holmes thing was super fun.
We missed you in the finale but it turned out to be a very emotional performance with Dorothy and Kristi taking the dance floor together. Would you tell us a little bit about how that all came together?
The finale number was cool, everything was up and down. Initially I didn’t know if Dorothy could dance as much as I knew she wanted to and because we don’t get to rehearse until the week before the show I couldn’t get an idea of what Dorothy could and couldn’t do after her injury so I asked if it was possible to get Kristi involved. I had planned on doing a tribute kind of dance with Kristi for Dorothy and then when I knew Kristi was in, we needed a second guy so I said I wanted Farbs. I was trying to buy as much time as possible because I had obviously broken my toe at this stage so I verbally - haha - taught the routine to Kristi on the Tuesday, and she went away then I got Henry in Thursday with Dorothy and put that together. Then I had a family emergency to take care of so I left the four of them to rehearse together while I flew out of the country. I saw the number and I thought they all did a great job and am glad that they all got a chance to enjoy the experience for four different reasons.
You have a lot of Ballroom With A Twist dates scheduled this summer. What is a typical day like on a show day? Sometimes there are cast changes, and if that happens, do you need a lot of rehearsal time to learn a dance with a new partner or do the adjustments come fairly easily after all these years of dancing and performing?
The show days of BWAT are fine. To be honest, all the rehearsals are done before we show up. Partners and cast change all the time but we have our numbers rehearsed together before we go. When we get to the venue we have some time to rehearse and block positions and stuff and then we rest, eat, stretch whatever it is and then go do the show. There are certain things as host that they make sure you say, but to be honest I like to talk so I just gab on when I get the microphone and if I forget something someone always reminds me. Anna is really good at that, and we just joke off each other!
There are lots of changes in the works for Season 17, and the most notable being the elimination of the Tuesday Results Show. How do you feel about this change, and how do you think it will affect the show overall?
It’s a shame that the Tuesday show is gone now, and it has a big,big impact on a lot of people there unfortunately. I think the results shows have been consistently been getting stronger and stronger. I wouldn’t argue that in a lot of people’s eyes it may have been more entertaining than the Monday show and it’s a credit to the amount of work and new ideas being put in by everyone involved. It will be interesting to see the Monday show now – it will such a different dynamic to it, but I think every decision that’s being made or at least attempted is to secure the best for the show and its longevity, so only time will tell on the new structure. Hopefully nobody gets to miss out and there is a place for everyone next season all across the board.
There has a been a lot of talk about the possibility of adding a fourth judge on DWTS. Do you think that is a good idea, and if it happens, what type of person do you think should be added? (another DWTS pro, a celebrity, a non-DWTS dancer, etc.)
There could be a fourth judge. I don’t know but I would imagine that if there was, it could only really work in the latter stages of the competition seeing as the show is already going to be more compressed. How you would fit another judge's comments or whatever into it I don’t know, but I guess it works in other countries, and if the producers think they can make it work and it helps, I don’t see why not. Maybe it could be ex-pros. Maybe it could just be a viewer of the week kind of thing. At the end of the day the show isn’t really aimed at dancers; it is aimed at homes with viewers so sometimes maybe a genuine reaction and comment from a viewer and not a dancer would be good for the show. It’s all about entertainment. One judge can stick to technique, one to costumes and sets, one for full production and one for pure entertainment - everyone wins!!
You’ve told us in the past about teaching Jive and Cha Cha, and one of our members asked about the Slow Waltz and Viennese Waltz. Is one more difficult than the other? What are the particular challenges involved?
There are a lot of differences I guess and I know that different people have struggled with each. Viennese is a constant revolve and some people find that tricky. Also the footwork can be a bit quicker as the tempo is slightly faster. Some with Slow Waltz find balancing quite difficult and lose control on rising and falling - silly technical things. It all really depends on the person.
So, we hear you will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the New Britain Rock Cats game on June 13. We’re curious….how are your baseball skills? Have you had a chance to go to any Major League Baseball games since living in the USA (and do you have a favorite team)?
If throwing a pitch is anything like throwing down whiskey, I’ll be alright. Haha! No, baseball isn’t really my game. I’ve been to see the Red Sox a couple of times, and I saw the Braves play the Dodgers in Atlanta while I danced with Nancy. I think I like the atmosphere of the games more so than the game, but I think the difference is I never grew up with baseball. I only really got exposed to it when I came here so while kids here throw a ball and have their mitts, from an early age, I had a football, so I like that about the sport. I’m happy to go to the games. I know it’s a big deal in America and anything like that that brings families together and is seen like a father or mother to son or daughter kind of thing is something that we should all encourage and get involved in. I can play football, but Val tried to teach me basketball one time so if that’s anything to go by, I can’t see this pitch going too well. Haha!
This interview was posted during Season 16 of Dancing With the Stars.
It was great seeing you back on Dancing With the Stars during Week 5, and we especially loved your performance with Witney Carson during the results show. Tell us about that one – it looked incredibly intricate and difficult, yet you and Witney seemed to embrace the dance and let the story develop.
I loved dancing with Witney- she is so good and fun to be around and Teddy Forance is unreal. I was a bit in two minds about doing the number. I really wanted to work with those two but at the same time I wasn’t too sure about doing the contemporary as it’s not really my style but Teddy made it work for me which I was happy about. He is very much a 'guy' dancer and let me do things I felt comfortable doing. I really enjoyed working with them for sure.
Len’s side by side challenges were great fun from the fans’ point of view. Would you share a little about working with Emma, Victor, and Lindsay for the Viennese Waltz and again with Chelsie, Peta, and Sean for the Quickstep? There must be some good stories to tell.
I always love working with Emma, and Vic and I hang out so rehearsals were fun. I love Emma’s dancing so it was great to dance with her but also it is good to work with the guy celebrities as well - if nothing else just for a new perspective for them and to freshen things up even for a week. We had great laughs there. I always love hanging out with Peta as well. She is one funny girl, and I was interested to get to know Sean. He is cool, real down to earth, and a bit of a dry sense of humor which kept me entertained while working.
Every time you and Sean are on our tv screen at the same time, we can’t help but laugh. You guys seemed to have a great time working together, and if nothing else, we were hugely entertained. How did all the silliness begin?
Yeah, like I said Sean is a good guy - the show really pushed the bromance thing which gets a bit old, but we do genuinely get on with each other so most of the interaction was just us really making fun of the situation and at how bizarre the intent of the packages was. Someone would start a ridiculous conversation, and we would just roll with it. I wasn’t expecting the rose thing so we tried to make that as ridiculous as possible. My language I guess was cut out of a lot of the footage. Haha!
We got a huge kick out of “Dressing For Dance With Tristan MacManus” - the DanceJunkiesTV segment with Stuart Brazell and Rib Hillis. That must have been a lot of fun, and you guys had lots of laughs. Would you share some of that day with us?
Stuart and Rib are cool. I didn’t actually know what to expect to be honest. I had done Dance Junkies before so I thought I was just coming in to talk about the show but it turned into the dress up thing. When I got there they told me Emma had done it the week before and had some sumo suit on so I didn’t know then what was gonna happen, and then when they showed me the costumes I was trying not to offend anyone, so I just gave them the clothes and left it to them.
You’ve been all over the place the last few weeks – the Dance Junkies TV piece, the DWTS Week 5 Pre-Show, the April 3 AfterBuzz TV segment and so much more. You seem so comfortable with all of it, and your sense of humor is always evident. Have you ever thought about being on the other side of the camera and being the one asking the questions? You seem like a natural.
Yeah, I’ve done a few of the talking things the last few weeks which I do really enjoy doing. It’s easy enough to just talk for me - being Irish I guess. I like the idea of interviewing or just talking on shows but that’s out of my hands. If I’m asked, I’ll do it. Hopefully that is something I can get into.
A couple of weeks ago, we all saw the photos of you and Anna with Mark Walberg, Marysol Castro, and Poncho De Anda? What's the occasion?
I’m not too sure what I can and can’t say about that project to be honest but we worked with Poncho and Marysol for a few days. I really just helped out on the project that Anna was working on, but I had a blast. Marysol is so funny - I could work with her all day long. Mark’s humor is very much like Tom's as well so he is cool to be around. Maybe I’ll keep schtum on that, and I’m sure it will come out when it needs to or maybe someone else involved will talk more about it if they can.
We’ve seen some notifications come in about your off-season appearances – the two Holland America cruises as well as a couple of appearances in Ballroom with A Twist. Do you have any other definite plans right now? Do you have any more DWTS performances or other appearances scheduled for the upcoming weeks?
I don’t have too many definite plans at the minute to be honest. There are a few irons in the fire but you never know with this industry until you are actually on the stage or behind the camera if things are going to happen or not. There are a few things I’m trying to put together and get involved in but until they are signed and sealed it's hard to say. It’s fair to say though if you don’t see me I’m busy working on something. I may be on the show over the next few weeks. I always want to be involved but again it’s not my call. We just have to wait and see what the producers want.
In our last Q and A, you explained some of the challenges of teaching the Jive. What approach do you take when teaching Cha Cha? What particular challenges are there?
I’m not too sure what I can and can’t say about that project to be honest but we worked with Poncho and Marysol for a few days. I really just helped out on the project that Anna was working on, but I had a blast. Marysol is so funny - I could work with her all day long. Mark’s humor is very much like Tom's as well so he is cool to be around. Maybe I’ll keep schtum on that, and I’m sure it will come out when it needs to or maybe someone else involved will talk more about it if they can.
The pros and troupe members always seem to have great camaraderie and get along great. Tell us – who is the biggest prankster on the show?
This interview was posted just after Dorothy and Tristan withdrew from Season 16 DWTS due to injury.
We especially enjoy hearing about your work to support charitable organizations, and we read about your participation in LA Fest 2013 to benefit the Mia Hamm Foundation and Grassroot Soccer. Could you tell us about that experience?
LA Fest was a great experience, but unfortunately I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked. I have been working for Grassroots Soccer for over a year now and their annual event date had been pushed many times due to scheduling and eventually they teamed up with Nomar and Mia’s foundation to have a joint event which fell on a Sunday- camera blocking day! Especially with the week we had with Dorothy, it became a scramble but it was definitely something I didn't want to miss out on so I managed to slip away for an hour or so while Dorothy was getting her therapy. I managed to get in a little under half the game and then had to run back in time for camera blocking and rehearsed for the remainder of the night. It’s something I love doing - playing football - and to meet the others and kick about with them was a blast. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to stick around and talk to them too much. It was down in The Home Depot Centre too where I go to watch LA Galaxy play so that was a bonus for me personally. I got to meet the pros from the Women’s National Team and some former Men’s National Team members and the hosts of FSC.
It was obviously a tough week for you and Dorothy and she had to make a very difficult decision, but like you said, it was the right one. How did things finally fall into place?
Well, I got a text from Dorothy early Tuesday morning saying she needed to talk with me so I called her, and I kind of had the feeling it was game over. I could see the pain Dorothy had been in for a few weeks, and I didn't think it was going to get better with the hours we had to put in. As the week was going on and it had got to Saturday and we hadn't started dancing yet so I knew it was a struggle to get things together for Monday but we worked overtime again on something than required rest. Dorothy had gotten treatments all week but until she had her MRI and got back the results and could actually see them it was something she felt she would work through - as all athletes do. To me that was the most impressive feat of the week- not to get through but to actually compete in the first place. After the show was informed they decided which way they wanted to play the announcement out, and then we followed.
We truly loved watching your interaction with Dorothy – in interviews and on the dance floor. What was it like working with her?
Dorothy was amazing to work with. She is so hard working and committed. It was difficult for her, I would imagine; the show wants to know how you feel every second of every rehearsal and wants everything verbalized which can be difficult when you are just used to putting your head down and learning quietly. She is exactly how she comes across – polite, gentle, and fun to be around. The live show is exactly the same for everyone; it’s hard to tell them what to expect. You just have to live it as it happens. You can prepare people for it but the moment takes over most the time so you have to soak it in instead of letting it intimidate you.
As fans, it will be difficult for us to find the same enjoyment this season without you and Dorothy bringing your own magic to the show, but we will be watching and supporting you in your appearances (hopefully many!) and the rest of the cast as well. Could you give us a brief comment on each of the remaining teams and/or what you perceive as their strengths? Want to take a chance and predict a winner?
I can’t really pick a winner because you just never know what to base it on to be honest. Sometimes people just can’t get over what they don’t like about some people and sometimes they can’t see past what they do like, you know. It’s best to just watch it and enjoy it for what it is. Everyone is genuine I feel this season. D.L took a truck load on the first show so I want to see him do well. Andy has things he wants to overcome so I want to see him do well too. Zendaya, yes, she is young but people forget she still has to work super hard to be as good as she is. If she slacks you can call her out but you can’t fault her for being young!! I really like Aly; she is funny so I hope she does well. Victor is a really cool genuine guy, and Jacoby is hilarious. Kellie is amazing and those two [Kellie and Derek] together are great. Lisa is a beast at the minute - she is great on the show and has so much going on outside as well that she deserves a medal already. I always push for Val and Peta because we came in together and l always love to see the new guys do well. So far Gleb and Sharna are killing it and Lindsay is working like a boss. I like Ingo too - no drama, he just gets on with things and is happy doing it. Wynonna too.
You mentioned something in one of your interviews on the press line this week about injuries and dancing while having injuries. In your career, you’ve most likely danced with an injury, so would you share with us how that affected the performance (if at all) and what changes you’ve had to make as a result?
Injuries always affect you in different ways. I don't take any sort of medications -never have - so I can’t just take pain killers when I'm hurt. I've had slipped discs in my back that I haven't had treated properly for different reasons, and when I was younger I used to break things all the time but kept playing football through it. When I knocked my knee cap out of place and tore my meniscus in the same knee I lost all pace I had and since then I tend to have a lot of hamstring strains and pulls which I tend to try dance through now. I hate missing out on things so you put yourself through these things that don't help you in the long run. I once cracked my ankle bone during a football game that I didn't want to quit, so I foolishly kept going but that's what we did and that's what we do. You hurt yourself and keep quiet because you don't want to miss out and then complain about it afterwards when you can’t do the things you used to be able to do! I have to be a lot more careful these days but I know exactly what it’s like to be going through something and be somewhat afraid to let anybody down or pull out so that's why you have to listen to your body and make the best decision for your health. If you can have a team who can support that, well then we are all doing what’s best for each other not for ourselves so nobody is ever being let down.
Do you have any dances coming up on Dancing With the Stars? We already miss seeing you dance!
The appearances on the show come up week by week so I don't really know when I'm going to be on again - sometimes the show has to keep people involved or to promote new dancers so I really don't know just yet - we will have to wait and see. I was trying to put a dance together for one of the weeks but it didn't play out how I wanted it to so I decided to knock that on the head. Sometimes you get to choose; sometimes you don’t, but if I can’t do particular things the way I want them done, I don't want to do them. Maybe next time. I do have a pro number this week though with all the guys. I missed the last all guys number when my back went out the during the dress rehearsal so I’m looking forward to this one.
We have heard of a few cases where the DWTS pro has asked to have the music changed several days into the rehearsal because the music just didn’t seem to work. Have you ever had to do that? Also, did you choose “Tiny Dancer” and “Chantilly Lace” for this season’s music? We loved both.
I like both songs, yes, but I didn’t choose either. That was the producers. I had different songs in mind when I heard we were doing contemporary, but I like the songs we ended up with. I do think the song has a big part to play in how the dance does and sometimes songs suit people more than the dance does so you just have to roll with it. Also I’m conscious that this is the only time my partner is going to realistically be on the show (bar all stars) so it has be more about their experience than mine. When people come to your house you make them feel as welcome as possible, and you get the enjoyment out of knowing that they want to come back! Sometimes my taste in music doesn't really work on the show on the particular week I want to dance to it, and in the end the whole show needs to run smoothly together. It’s no good having 11 songs that fit together and then something Tristan wants to dance to - unfortunately. Haha!
One of the favorite dances for the people here on MacManiacs.org is the Jive, and we’ve had the opportunity to see you do it several times. As a teacher, what is the most difficult or challenging part of teaching this particular dance to a student?
Jive is difficult enough to teach because people can be a bit cautious about it because it’s so fast. If you can’t move as fast as you like, sometimes you have to simplify the move to make it work. You gotta get high knees and keep your weight forward and kick and pick up your feet quickly. People don’t always like that – ha! It’s difficult, but everything is difficult when you don’t know how to do it. I don’t want to over dance anyone so I can take criticism on the chin because I know what I’m doing is the right thing to do. I’ll never hold anyone back but I certainly won’t ever make anyone trail behind either. You dance as a team and the captain will take the heat if it comes our way. You can’t compare apples to oranges; you can just make sure you shine brightest.
This interview was posted a few days before Dorothy had to withdraw from the competition due to medical reasons.
Obviously, Dorothy is a great partner with many strengths. As her teacher, what do you see as those strengths and how can you use that to your advantage this season?
Dorothy is great. I love working with her. Her willingness to learn and perfect is admirable, and it's purely to better herself which is amazing. Her biggest asset besides her elegance, grace and humility is that she can perform under intense pressure, and when it matters most she shows that she can pull it out of the bag.
We were surprised when Contemporary was announced as your Week 1 dance, but the end product was brilliant. How did you come up with the concept, and how did you go about teaching a basically unfamiliar dance style?
The concept came from just a story really in that we all find inspiration in our own ways from different things, and the thought that anyone can help anyone - a statue can inspire a down-and-out, a 'nobody' can help a 'hero” (statue worthy) - basically just the thought that we can all help and inspire each other whether we are trying to or not. I let the story be told, and I didn't think about it as a style.
This season is obviously very different than your seasons with Nancy, Gladys, and Pamela, but what do you see as the particular challenges facing you and Dorothy?
The main challenge I guess is the same for everyone to do your best and not be discouraged by comparisons, be it how your competitors did on the night or how your fellow athletes, tv stars, musicians, or comics did previously. Everyone has their own challenges without living up to someone else's as well.
You have the Jive coming up for Week 2. How is that coming along?
Jive is taking its time alright but looking forward to it. It's a lively, fun dance so happy faces make a difference when it comes to nerves I think against a more straight-faced restricted ballroom hold dance. It's gonna be a lot faster than last week for sure so I can't wait to see what Dorothy can do.
There seem to be a lot of very strong contenders in Season 16. How would you size up the cast?
The cast is strong personality wise, and it’s easy to write people off straight away but I'm sure another week of experience will be crucial, and the thick skin will bite back for a lot of people.
Since you and Dorothy were announced as Season 16 partners, the outpouring of love and support for Team Hamill on this website, Twitter, Facebook, and the new @TeamHamill Twitter page has been extraordinary. From those in the skating world to those who saw your dance Monday and jumped on board, it has already been a great journey. Any words you would like for us to share with your fans?
The support as usual has been immense, and we are very grateful. Hopefully we can continue to justify a portion of it each week until we can give it all back. Thank you. Keep being amazing and striving to be the best you can.
Thank you, Tristan. Until next time...
This interview was completed a few weeks prior to the cast reveal for Season 16 of DWTS.
Tristan is in Utah today for Ballroom With A Twist but that didn't stop him from answering more of your questions. Enjoy this little (actually, not so little!) interview with our favorite DWTS pro.
We know you have a lot going on between now and the rest of the DWTS off-season and that you have some upcoming performance dates for Ballroom With a Twist In Oregon and Dances With the Stars in Toronto later this month. Anything else going on that we can let your supporters know?
Yeah I have a busy couple of months leading up to next season, which I’m happy about but at the same time I’m looking forward to a rest this week after Utah and so is my body!! In a couple of weeks I’m going to Portland with Ballroom With A Twist to dance with Anna again which I’m excited about and I’ll also stay a few extra days to teach a bit there. Then the following week it’s Toronto again with Anna for 2SomeDance 5th year anniversary. At the moment they are the only shows I have planned. I’m sure I will do some more teaching but none confirmed as of now and also I’m aware of the need for a rest as the next season is fast approaching but I tend to get itchy feet when I sit down for too long. Tonight is the last night in Utah, and it was great to see Dmitry and Chelsie again and obviously all the cast of BWAT are super fun and talented.
We did a recent Q and A with Sasha and he confirmed that he was the culprit in the Atlantic City Burn the Floor ‘incident’ with the trousers getting tucked into the socks which you felt made you look like a farmer. But he also teased us with a video that you and he made that is still floating around out there somewhere – ‘MTV Cribs’ but Sasha and Tristan style. Do you have any other stories for us? You and Sasha sound like trouble, but all in a good way.
Ah yeah, I still haven’t seen that video to be honest. I think Damian has it - the three of us were rooming at the time on tour. There are loads of stories alright but it’s probably best that I keep them to myself. I only remember the wild ones and they won’t leave my lips. HaHa! There were some super crazy times but always fun. A lot of my stories are stuff that is best keep between the people involved –haha. Sasha, I’m sure can remember the tame ones as well as the wild ones.
Dancing With the Stars has changed a lot since you began as a member of the Troupe in Season 12 and through your three seasons as a pro. What positive changes do you feel have been made?
Yeah, the show has changed a bit since I joined alright but nothing too drastic I think. One of the major things I guess is that I’m a little more known now but still untested I guess to a certain degree in people’s eyes- I’m still having fun though! I think the comparing has increased since I joined - - is he better than this person, is he nicer than him, funnier than him? I guess that’s the nature of the beast, haha. It’s funny, but I just like getting on with what I do. It doesn’t matter if we place first or last so the comparisons don’t faze me. As far as everything else, I think the show knows now how to really get more out of the troupe and use them a lot more than our first troupe, so that’s great to see. There have been tweaks with certain pros swapping in and out so again most things have stayed the same. I think production wise there have been a lot more changes than cast.
Many of us witnessed first-hand your ability to teach when we saw you in Princeton on January 26. 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!!
Speaking of that performance in Princeton, would you share with us how you came up with the concept for the Cha Cha to “Rolling in the Deep” and how you accomplished so much in such a short period of time?
To be honest there wasn’t too much of a concept bar - I wanted the girls to have fun and not feel like they had to stand around and wait their turn. It’s difficult to get up and put on a show in front of people when you have been doing something for a long time, let alone twenty odd minutes, so once you have put on your swimmers you don’t wanna sit around and wait - you wanna dive straight into the pool and make it an enjoyable time. The girls did great and they had the support of me to partner them, the support of each other to do it together, and the support of everyone else there to keep them going. “Rolling In The Deep” was just a song that was there but its helps with my swimming analogy – haha - it came across well because the girls were so good at processing the information.
During your Question and Answer segment in Princeton 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 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 is irrelevant to me – it’s all about the delivery.
How do you choose costumes for your 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!
You have danced to the music of many performers on Dancing With the Stars. Which one stands out as a favorite, and is there any particular artist that you would love to see on DWTS so that you could have the opportunity to dance to their music?
I’ve been lucky enough to dance to a few acts on the show alright- I guess I liked "All the Right Moves" because it was our first one. I liked the Kelly Clarkson one with Kym, Jackie Evancho with Karina, Katherine Jenkins with Peta - not so much for the songs or what not but just I liked dancing with the girls. I like Kiss but if I had to dance to them I couldn’t have watched them, same as The Script because obviously they are Irish but also because I really like the guys. I’d love to see someone like Mumford and Sons on DWTS, I think, or Jack White, I like Emeli Sandé too. I loved Lady Antebellum on the show now I think of it.
It’s interesting that through your Princeton fundraiser, you have developed a new group of fan support from the volunteers and local community that wasn’t even within the DWTS demographic before. Any thoughts on this?
The fundraiser was great success. Yeah we managed to raise 2000 on the night I think which was superb and it’s always nice to know that people appreciate what you do but for me the main thing was to get the awareness across for the charity. I’m fully looking forward to working with a lot more charities this year. I don’t think it’s all about just giving money to charity but just having awareness of the work that they do is the main thing and you can help in whatever way you choose. I think it’s important though if I’m in a position to promote or to help an association that actually does give all their proceeds to the people we are raising the money for, I can’t neglect that responsibility. I appreciate all the support I get and I would never take advantage of people who work so hard at this all year round for the sake of getting people to vote for me. This work is much much bigger than the show I do. It’s just raising awareness of a very real situation.
Your website, MacManiacs.org, is very quickly moving ahead towards 300,000 forum views in just over a year. While we realize that you probably haven’t had time to look at it in a very long time, we are curious as to whether there is anything in particular you would like for us to do or include. Currently we have a forum with more than 90 different topics, image gallery, video page, blog page, and interview page. Is there anything else you would like to see?
I think you are all doing a great job with the website. I have seen it a few times, yes, but I won’t lie - I don’t sit and google myself everyday and see what I am doing haha. I appreciate that you all put so much time into supporting me and I’m sure whatever you feel you like to add is alright by my judging by the views you are getting its working whatever it is you are doing, ha! I think it’s great that you guys interview other people on it too. Like I said it’s not a competition of who is the best person and I enjoy all the people you talk to so it’s great. Sometimes I have to check the website to find out what I’m supposed to be doing that week- you guys usually know before I do!! Again just a huge thank you to everyone and anyone who shows interest in whatever it is I do and hopefully whatever it is you enjoy about whatever I say it sticks for long after I’m gone!! STAY POSITIVE STAY HAPPY
This interview was posted near the end of Season 15 of Dancing With the Stars.
You’ve been keeping busy this season! We saw tweets from Katherine Jenkins when you were in London, and she mentioned that you were rehearsing the Argentine Tango with her. Would you tell us a bit about that?
London was a blast. I flew over to dance with Katherine for her Christmas special she is doing on an English tv station there to be aired in December where Kat sings and dances. We did a reprise of her and Mark’s Argentine Tango. We had to change a few things, and the music was different but it was fun to dance with her again plus I got to see a lot of friends in London I hadn’t seen in a long long time. I also went home for a few days. I’m not sure when it airs yet but I’m sure you will hear about it through Kat when it does.
We were thrilled to see you back on the dance floor this season and we loved the fusion dance choreographed by Henry Byalikov. Tell us like about this dance with Kym, Anna, Louis, and the troupe and how it all came together.
Fusion week was cool enough. Yeah, I had just got back from London so I had missed the first couple of rehearsals, but I learned it on the Saturday and then performed it that week. It was a good number and it went down pretty well with everyone, so happy days! The troupe are getting to dance an awful lot more these last few seasons which is great. I don’t think they really knew what to do with us the first year round, and there is a lot more happening for the troupe now.
We knew we were all going to be in for a treat when you danced the Paso Trio with Kirstie and Maks. What was it like working with them?
Maks and Kirstie are great! I was just like everybody else on the outside looking in wondering what it would be like all day, but it was fun. It’s difficult with the trios I think because everybody is different at teaching and behaves in different ways while at the same time trying to make an impact so you sometimes have to be weary of stepping on people’s toes and contradicting things to get your point across. I tried to make it clear at the start that I was just a partner and that Maks was always the teacher, but he also gives you freedom to put your points across and certainly isn’t as bullheaded as some might assume - HaHa. I think it gives everybody a fresh impetus and perspective just having another voice or ear in the room. I really enjoyed it and was very interested to see how another pro teaches and how others learn. The score wasn’t the best but the experience was great and helped me to get to know people better. What I found though was a happy, fun relationship and a nice balance between hard work and play and a very honest couple.
You have done so many pro dances in your seasons on Dancing With the Stars, and we have to admit that last week’s “Locomotion” dance choreographed by Sharna is one of our favorites. Is there any pro dance that you have found to be more challenging than the others?
Em… I don’t know if I find them more challenging or not. I enjoy doing most numbers - maybe not so much the different styles sometimes - when they try do hip-hop numbers and things like that - it’s not really my thing. I love to watch them but don’t feel comfortable doing them to be honest so that can be challenging, and I’m not a handstand flip barrel turn kind of guy either - haha - so usually when they come along, I’ll puff the cheeks out and scratch my head. Most people have their style and moves that you see them do in a lot of numbers where you can say they are great at that or whatever but I’m low-key, you know. I don’t have specific moves; I just move to the songs I like!!
We’ve all noticed how much you travel, and you’ve been to many parts of the U.S. performing and teaching. One of the questions that our site members keep asking is what parts of this country are your favorites, and is there a place you want to visit but never have?
I get to travel around America, yeah not as much as I’d like to, and there are still a lot of places that I haven’t been yet. When you are on tour like I was when visiting most of the places, it’s very hard to get to see them. You are usually just in the theatre and then on the plane or bus moving somewhere else so I’d love to do a lot of revisiting. I was always fascinated by Texas and the South in general. I loved the stories of music in New Orleans. I’d still love to visit. Louisiana. I really like the East Coast too. Living in Boston was always fun, and I love NY. I love Canada so I’d love to get to Canada a bit more if possible at some stage this year, but I just love to travel so anywhere I go hopefully I get time to enjoy it. I’ve been to Chicago airport more times than most places but never got to Chicago, so I’ll work on that.
Since July, 2012, we have interviewed Tristan 72 times and each is posted here with the most recent first. All interviews are posted elsewhere on this website, including our forum.