Yes, you are reading correctly. It's our second interview with Tristan in four days, but he knew how many questions you guys had sent in and was happy to answer more. Enjoy this very candid Q and A.
One of the things we talk about on the site is also something you have mentioned frequently in our interviews, and that is how you like stories and how you create a story and tell it through the performance. How does it work? Do you let the music guide you? Do you start with a basic concept and then let it take shape as you work with your partner or do you plan it through in advance?
Sometimes it changes. I never come up with a concept before I meet my partner. I always have ideas and songs that I want to use, but if they don’t suit our partnership then it’s hard to make them happen! I get to know my partner, and once I hear the song, I either relate it to them or I will come up with an idea that I think they can relate to or can imagine. I try to use word association at certain times to remind steps and feelings. I think when you know your story or know your character then if you forget stepwise what you are doing you won’t lose the character. Some find that comforting; some just forget that too. Haha!
Does your celebrity partner ever have input into the choreography or the story that you tell?
To a degree. In terms of coming up with it not so much, but they influence it in that if they can’t do certain things I’ll change it to suit and vice versa. If you have someone who no matter what you say and how many times you comfort them with words they just focus on whatever they want to, sometimes you just have to accept that. I don’t mean in a negative way but people react how they react, and no matter what people say we do things our way, so if they are confident enough to want to try something or suggest something, I will always consider it, of course. Some have in the past, and it has gone horribly wrong, but every person is different and it’s their experience, so you gotta do what you gotta do.
You mentioned that you like the slower dances such as Waltz and Rumba. Do you have a favorite Waltz or Rumba performance in your career?
Not really, no. I’ve enjoyed all the ones I have done before. I liked dancing to Jackie Evancho with Karina but it was so short and same with Peta and Kym. They were all pretty short. I just enjoy the tempos of these dances and the emotions behind them...... in my head.
You have told us in prior interviews that you want to make sure your partner’s experience is as enjoyable as possible because it is likely her only chance to do the show. How do you go about making that happen?
Getting to know them is the only way. Production and competition cause things to wander in a certain way, and you potentially end up doing things to win or to get an upper hand. I like to know my partners and try to relate everything to them as opposed to relating it to dancing and techniques and what not. I want them to get better, but I want them to get better by understanding what they are doing - why I like to dance and not about what 'makes me a dancer'. I never concentrated on technique when I went back to dancing. I know it’s very important, but at the same time if I know what I am doing storywise is right or wrong, I will always lean that way before technical.
While we see only a fraction of the whole process with what we see on Monday nights, we also realize there are days of preparation and rehearsal. Would you take us through what generally happens on a given week with your celebrity partner? (getting the dance style, the music, the costumes, rehearsals, etc.)
You usually get the music on a Saturday/Sunday before each following show. We get an early call Monday for the girls to start their makeup and hair so they are always called before us. Then we rock in and individually we camera block our number for the first time with the orchestra. Then we do a dress run of the show start to finish with stand-in actors for the judges and hosts. Then we run the show at 5 p.m west coast time.
The director likes to get 'wide' (this is a recorded version of our dances in the rehearsal hall where we first explain the floor plan so he can consider camera angles and lighting) on the Friday or at latest Saturday. Sunday is the first time we get to rehearse on stage for the live show, and following that we will have our wardrobe consult for the following week after this first block. You may or may not go back to the rehearsal hall for a final session before Monday; some do, some don’t! Tuesday morning we start at 9 a.m. with the group number for the following week, and then we rehearse with our partners.
Is there anything on DWTS that you have not yet done that you would really like to do?
Yes, yes there is, but I won’t say in case they finally cave in and let me do it. The show has to run I guess as a complete show if that makes sense and sometimes people’s ideas don’t fit in with what is going on so we don’t get to do them. I’m sure we are all in the same boat when it comes to that case and now with the show being cut to one day it may be a little harder.
Do you have any sort of pre-performance ritual?
No. I’m not superstitious at all. I usually like to just keep quiet on a show day and sit in the trailer and play my Irish music. There is a lot of sitting around show day as busy as it is.
You have been in all kinds of performances other than DWTS in the last couple of years – Life’s A Dance, Ballroom With A Twist, the New York Red Cross Ball, the DWTS: At Sea cruises, and many more. Is there one particular event or performance that is particularly memorable for you?
I did a USO tour with Chelsie and Peta a few years back that was amazing - not so much the show part but meeting everyone and their families and seeing what was going on. Actually being there and realizing that it’s not just all in the news and on TV was an eye opener. I get a lot of satisfaction from any event where we can help indirectly by doing what we have been doing for most of our lives. Dance shows, I think, bring people together whether it’s families or strangers, and that is special so any event I am a part of is pretty memorable for different reasons.
In previous interviews you mentioned that when you were younger you stopped dancing for a while and then picked it up again. What made you decide to get back to dancing?
I left dancing because I stopped enjoying, and I was happy with my decision until I went back. I didn’t understand a lot of it and it used to do my head in with all the clothes and make-up - all that garb. I always enjoyed theatre so I would go and watch plays, and that is how I got back on stage. That kind of rolled back into musicals and dance and then back to Latin/Ballroom shows and then Burn the Floor and then DWTS. I have a love-hate relationship with it all I think.
In one of our early interviews, you said you could sit back and watch the cooking channel and be thoroughly entertained. How are your skills as a chef and what are your culinary specialties? Any kitchen disasters that you can share?
No, I can cook a wee bit alright - nothing too special, but I like it now and again. There is a much better chef in the house these days though. I’m more the one who likes to use things up so I can make all my Irish dishes - no probs - but anything else I’ll just throw together and see what happens. I haven’t had too many complaints though. can make hearty food and desserts, but I’d love to learn the rest.
Speaking of food, 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!
What do you miss most about Ireland?
My mates and our sessions. Ireland is the best place in the world - I miss everything about it!
Tell us something we would be surprised to know about you.
I have a really bad temper!
A few months ago, we asked you to give us a couple of questions that you would like to ask the MacManiacs. We did so and the results were hilarious, so we thought we would see if you could come up with a couple more questions for us.
No questions just yet. You are doing a good job of them - see if you guys can up with funny ones!
Since July, 2012, we have interviewed Tristan 73 times and each is posted here with the most recent first. All interviews are posted elsewhere on this website, including our forum.