'I felt like the Grinch complaining about stuff' - Irish star Tristan MacManus on why he walked away from TV's two biggest dance shows
He's gearing up for new show with fellow former Strictly star Kristina Rihannof
Tristan MacManus took the bold step of walking away from two biggest dance programmes on television - but insists he has no regrets as he prepares to tour Ireland with his new stage show.
In an exclusive interview with Independent.ie from his home in Sydney, MacManus has opened up why he quit lucrative roles in America’s Dancing With The Stars and the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and revealed why he pinches himself every day as he lives a dream life with his actress wide Tahyna and their baby daughter Echo.
His new home in Australia seems a million miles from Tristan’s humble beginning in Bray, with the kid who dreamed about becoming a star in a very different profession reveling in his success story.
“If I’m being honest, I never imagined for a second that I could make a living out of being a dancer,” begins the dancer who was famously paired with Pamela Anderson on Dancing With The Stars.
“I just wanted to play football. The dream was to play for Leeds United and in many ways it still is! I think my time has come and gone on that ambition at the age of 35, but you never give up a dream like that.
“It has been a long road for me in my dancing career and on several occasions I felt I didn’t want to do this any more, but the journey I have been on has been fantastic.
“I competed for Ireland in the world dancing championships in Latvia and had the time of my life there, but I lost the buzz for dancing in many ways and decided to do something else.
“Then I went along to watch a show called Burn The Floor that was in Dublin and it gave me the bug for dancing again.
“To be honest, it was at a time when I didn’t have a job and that was something to do. It looked like a bit of a craic, and I fancied getting involved in a show like that.
“I wanted to travel around the world and make a bit of money doing it. It was a loose plan, but getting into that show helped me do the travelling I wanted and on the back of that, Dancing With The Stars came my way.
“That was the TV chance for me, the money contract for want of a better word…my Conor McGregor breakthrough moment I suppose you could call it! It opened doors for me and they are still opening now.”
The dashing MacManus became a firm favourite with TV viewers in America and the UK, but he admits the formulaic structures of the shows were not to his liking.
“I’m grateful for the chances I have had on TV, but I didn’t enjoy doing those show and that’s why I stepped away from them,” he admits.
“I have no regrets about quitting Dancing With the Stars or Strictly because I have always felt that if you are not happy doing a job, go and try something else, there is no point in hanging around.
“There are a lot of people there who loved doing the show and I just felt I was the fella lurking in the corner dragging everyone down, like I was the Grinch complaining about stuff.
“I felt like I was the only one complaining so much and I didn’t like being that guy, so I decided to get out of it. You can get lost in the bubble of being in that show, but I didn’t want to be in that bubble.”
MacManus was paired with Mrs Brown’s Boys star Jennifer Gibney in his first year on BBC Strictly Come Dancing and the friendship they forged on the dance floor continues to this day.
Tristan and his family have become close friends with Brendan O’Carroll and the Mrs Brown’s Boys cast, with Tristan now part of the tour that will be at the 3Arena in Dublin in December.
That will be followed by his own show with his fellow Strictly Come Dancing veteran Kristina Rihanoff. An evening with... Kristina Rihanoff & Tristan MacManus will tour Ireland in November.
“I haven’t done too much dance work back home so it’s great to be taking this show with Kristina over there,” says Tristan.
“I’ve done a couple of pantomimes in Dublin, but this will be the first time I’ve had a chance to do a theatre show at home and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m touring with Mrs Brown’s Boys as well and that is great fun to work on. The relationship was built on Strictly and our two families get along so well.
“It’s a great friendship that has built up from Strictly and I feel very fortunate to be working on two stage shows in the next few weeks that I will get so much enjoyment out of.”
Tristan has been getting used to life as a dad since the arrival of his first child with his wife Tahyna Tozzi last year. Baby Echo has been getting used to life on the road.
“All my work is away from home and my wife has had to sacrifice a lot to come with me on this because my wife has her own job here as well,” he adds.
“My little girl is already a very well travelled baby and I have loved taking her around the world with me on this adventure.
“She has not been sleeping very well and that has been a problem for us. We are trying every single article on every single internet page trying to find ways to help her to sleep, but she is still a delight.
“She is starting to say ‘da da’ now and she always has a smile on her face. It’s just amazing when they look up to you and try to talk. I’m a lucky guy.”
An Evening with Kristina Rihanoff & Tristan MacManus comes to Thurles, Waterford, Coleraine, Dundalk, Derry, Belfast and Dublin in November. Get tickets here - https://www.strictlytheatreco.com/kristina-tristan