Another Q and A with Tristan! Thank you for sending in questions and thanks to Tristan for always making time for his supporters.
What has been the biggest challenge for you and Jamelia through 6 weeks of competition?
We have had a lot of difficulties like everyone else to be honest, and they change as the weeks go on so it’s constant work all the time. I know what I want to work on each week and then time and comfort and confidence levels play a big part in the final product, so I, as the professional and partner, have to decide where the focus has to be to make sure we have a dance that gets us as close to comfort as possible. Footwork has always been an issue for us and it’s one of the things I work most on, however, when that becomes overwhelming and detrimental to time and revision we have to switch focus. We have to take comfort in the fact that the things the judges point out are works in progress and the things they don't have to become the positives of the work put in.
In what area or areas has she most improved in the weeks you’ve been training together?
Jamelia’s approach and reactions to dance offs have impressed me most. She admits that maybe the first couple of weeks took her by surprise, and she wasn't expecting to be in the dance off so there was a lot of nerves and emotional negativity after that first one. The second dance off was more impressive in that there was a determination to correct a mistake, and then the latest to be honest I wasn't really expecting purely based on the fact that it was the most demanding of her stamina and the chances of 'over-enthusiasm' to get it right can make a jive quite difficult to accomplish, but I’m impressed by how she kept calm and just delivered a better performance. So her stamina is improving and her understanding of this particular show and reactions and opinions of everybody to take them on board - however leave them aside while on the floor - has been impressive. We are still working on the focus of the technique. It’s a balancing act of technique and performance each week.
It’s nice to see Jamelia’s confidence improve each week. How do you help to make that happen?
You have to shut out the outside interference. People’s confidence comes from understanding what you are doing but on this type of show it’s shutting out the negativity and doubt. The only people who know how much work goes into the show and 'your show' are the people involved in the studio day to day. Sometimes you don't want to go to the fairground and jump on a rollercoaster to help with your lifts. Sometimes you don't want to dance on top of a train and try not to fall off to work on your speed and balance, but these are parts of the show that need fulfilling. I can only keep confidence up by reminding ourselves that when we are working hard we are improving and that sometimes others don't see that or focus on other things but we have to remember what we have worked on. If you feel better than you did at the start of the week then you have improved and a 3 or a 5 or whatever shouldn't take that away from you. Unfortunately it does......but it does for everybody. Confidence and improvement come from knowing, not being told.
What’s ahead for Week 7? I don’t know if you can reveal your dance yet, but can you give us a hint of what you have planned?
No, we can't reveal anything just yet but I’m sure It Takes Two will at some stage this week. Once the audience finds out the result of each week, the next week has already begun for the professionals.
Did you have any input into the Halloween costumes? Knowing what we know about Rocky Horror, we were a little afraid about what you and Jamelia might have come down the stairs wearing. Yet, these worked and were surprisingly understated for anything Rocky Horror related, which is probably a very good thing.
Yeah, I did to a degree. At the beginning I didn't particularly fancy doing that dance or song purely because Brendan had done it before and I think it was expected that that is the character you played but I didn't want that and I 100% was never going to be the other fella from the film so I said we would be in the vein of the couple from the film as copyright is prohibited - haha. On the night everyone was then done up like dollies so it ended up being an attempt to get as close to Beetlejuice as I could before anyone noticed!! In the end the only thing Rocky was the haunted house and the song.
Saturday on Strictly there were a lot of special effects – dry ice, lighting, props, and more. After rehearsing all week in a studio, how hard is it to get your partner to adjust to the differences that she’ll encounter on the SCD floor? Do you recall a time when the special effects caused a problem for you and/or your partner? (slippery floor, crowding the space, bumping into skeletons, etc.)
We were only talking about this the other day. It can be a help and it can be a hindrance but at the end of the day I think it sometimes looks pretty cool. When it comes to props it can be quite difficult because you don't get them until the day and sometimes you have to move to a different spot farther away in the same amount of time but the cameras can usually help you out. In terms of performance you up the ante because you physically have what you have been imagining all week. That foggy dry ice can make the floor slippy sometimes but again it depends on how much and they dry the floor afterwards for the next victims.
You’ve given us a few tutorials in the past but someone asked about the Tango and Quickstep. What are the things you consider most important when teaching these 2 dances?
In general, I think for fast dances the slow steps are most important and to a degree in slow dances the fast steps because either you look too much or too little - too frantic or too boring!! People have trouble staying grounded in Tango, I noticed , so using your body and hips is very important for making room and being able to navigate in small spaces - character tents to give new dancers a clearer idea in their heads of what is going on! Quickstep can be difficult in trying to maintain frame while bobbing around so you have to focus on your feet and stop your shoulders from bouncing up and down. It sounds silly but people tense up and forget to breath in these dances - especially the intense ones.
Finally, for all your new supporters out there – and there are lots – how would you describe your approach to being a professional dancer and teacher?
Enjoy it. There is always someone better and always someone more talented so don't let that fear stop you enjoying what you are actually in the position of doing! And for teaching, only teach what you know. Don't make stuff up to make yourself sound great or feel important. The biggest and most important part about teaching is learning. Some people think they know everything and listen to nothing. If you are too good to listen then to me it doesn’t matter what you know.
Since July, 2012, we have interviewed Tristan 75 times and each is posted here with the most recent first. All interviews are posted elsewhere on this website, including our forum.