Ballroom dancing pro and amateur leprechaun Tristan MacManus will be checking in with EW.com each week as he and partner Gladys Knight go for the coveted mirrorball trophy.
I’m Tristan MacManus — I’m “the hot one on Dancing With the Stars.” (That was just a bit of fun.)
On whether the quickstep was more difficult than last week’s cha cha: The training for it went really well — Gladys and I always have a great time rehearsin’. I’m not sure about whether the quickstep itself is more difficult. I think it really all depends on the choreography — each time I and all the others have to create a story that’s so particular to the person you’re dancing with. It’s like you’re learning the choreography instead of the dance, so it’s a lot of responsibility for us. But Gladys never had a problem with stamina, all during rehearsal.
On “Sir Duke”: Sometimes the producers pick the song, but I picked this one and then we worked with the band on all of the musical decisions for it. Gladys had mentioned she loved Stevie Wonder, so I picked that one specifically for her. I love that song. I like the message of it, just about feelin’ it, you know? It can really apply to music or dance. I think it was perfect for her.
On dancing on giant piano keys: Yeah! I’ve always wanted to do that. I love that movie, Big. I remember being mesmerized as the keys lit up with their feet as they moved. I loved it. Never could play the piano, though. I think “Chopsticks” is about as far as I got! ‘Course I would have liked to be able to go back and forth on the keys, changing direction like they do in the movie. But you’ve got to make the piano work for the dance and not the other way around.
On Len giving Tristan and Gladys a 5: Yeah, I was surprised he scored us that low. I know it’s not personal. I understand where Len was coming from with his comments. All of the judges’ comments are things we can work on for next week; it’s all constructive. Anything they say, we can use, and we will. But I was a bit annoyed that he gave us the 5. If you consider the dance on the whole — he was complainin’ about the frame falling apart, that she needed to work on her frame. But that’s just one part of the whole dance. I thought we deserved higher.
Martina Navratilova got a 5 from Len, and she forgot the steps! That’s what I mean. It doesn’t really seem fair, yeah? But like I said, it’s not a personal thing. And when he gave us a five, the fans started in on booin’. We can use all of that.
Why he sticks out his tongue during performances: I don’t think I’m aware that I’m even doing it sometimes. I think I started to do that when I was much younger, when I’d just decided to try dance. It was sort of a self-conscious thing. When I was just getting started, I didn’t really know if I was good at dancing or not. And I was a bit embarrassed to be doin’ it, at all. I think I started making those faces to let people know that I was in on the joke? And it just stuck.
As told to Annie Barrett over a few minutes — more next time!