May 16, 2012 at 08:38 AM EDT

Taylor Hill/WireImage

Ballroom dancing pro and amateur leprechaun Tristan MacManus continues to check in with even after he and partner Gladys Knight were eliminated in their quest for the coveted mirrorball trophy.

On the Macy’s Design a Dance with Chelsie Hightower: We got to rehearse it on the set, so that was pretty cool. All the rest of the stuff — the costumes, the different lighting and staging effects, like the carbon dioxide and stuff — we didn’t get to see until today. Yeah, she looked amazing, all that Beyoncé stuff, yeah yeah yeah. It all came together. She’s a great dancer, so I was glad to partner her but it wasn’t gonna be me doing Beyoncé moves around the floor, know what I mean? I just wanted to do a bit of samba. 

Essentially the people who voted decided what we wore and what song we would dance to, and the rest is just like when you’re dancing with your celebrity, I guess. You get a sense of the song and go from there. For any kind of girl who wants to dance with Beyoncé, there are certain characteristics to it and certain visuals that come to mind. They’re certainly things that Chelsie was focused on when she was doing it. For me it was just kind of coping in that light, you know? All the girls on the show are great and it was just an opportunity for me to dance with another one of ’em. That’s what you want to do.

I’d never danced with Chelsie on the show. After my very first season when I was in the troupe, Chelsie and I went to do a USO tour in Germany for the troops and stuff, so I got to dance a wee bit with her on that. We get on really well with each other. Actually after that USO tour, she ended up comin’ over to Ireland, stayed with me and my folks for a few days, so I got to show her around.

Yeah, it was great to get to do the Design a Dance, all right. Fans’ dance, I guess. I don’t know if it means I’m popular. Maybe people just wanted something different, you know? The show itself is the fans’ show and it’s not to do with anyone who’s on it. So to get them to choose the dance and sort of choose me and the partnership was pretty nice. They told us a couple of days ago. You don’t expect it, it was a nice surprise. Sometimes they tell you in advance when you have to dance on the Tuesday episodes, and sometimes you just have to fill in. That’s what happened with the Carrie Underwood dance. Supposed to be Val, and last minute Val couldn’t do it so they had me on it, you know? Thousand dollar prize. You just have to be ready in case they want to use you again.

We actually taped that with Carrie Underwood last week, last Monday. I think it just depends on when the artists themselves are in town, only certain days they can do it. That was my first pre-tape of this season, I guess. So we’d done that last week and it just got played today. There’s different people assigned to choreograph but then everyone gets in the room and kind of decides together and works on it that way. With the Carrie Underwood one, for me anyway, that one was different from all the rest of ’em that we’ve done because I guess the people who look after Carrie Underwood had a lot of input on that. I don’t know if that’s usually the case, but certainly for me that was the first time I was involved with something that specific. When they wanted us on camera, when they wanted her on camera, and I guess who they wanted to be in it, stuff like that. I just kind of wait and dance. I don’t really care about the rest of it. Just want to do a dance.

Maybe you’re Carrie Underwood’s favorite and she was too shy to tell you herself. I don’t know about that!

NEXT PAGE: The ‘Rock of Ages’ number — and Tristan should TOTALLY do Jersey Boys

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