Despite having an insane travel schedule (and a birthday today - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TRISTAN!) - Tristan took time to answer more of our questions. Who is excited to see him back on Strictly Come Dancing this fall? We are!
Lots of us were fortunate to see BWAT in Kentucky, California, and New Jersey and it is impressive how different pros and performers weave in and out of the cast seemingly flawlessly. Is it as easy as it looks to change partners and performers and is it really as flawless as it seems?
It can be tricky sometimes but mainly due to logistics as opposed to difficulty level. We all tend to live in different parts of the country or world so that stands in the way sometimes. If you are lucky to have a couple of days before each show you can rehearse a lot but recently with a lot of the shows we have got in the night before so the day of you run it all or choreograph it all and rehearse and perform. I don't think anything is flawless but you do the best you can with whatever you do and keep it fun. I think that’s the goal.
For those who haven’t seen BWAT – and there have been a lot of changes from previous shows - would you mind sharing your favorite numbers from the show?
There has been a lot of cast changes the last few times I have done the show so I never know who is going to be in city to city and obviously everyone has their own particular style which for me makes the numbers different each time and what makes the show so fun. Partners are interchangeable and roles are switched so it’s always entertaining to watch. Kiki and Magda do a super Samba. I love watching those guys dance. They are unreal and another of my good mates Serge does a beautiful Rumba with Alla but again I enjoy all the numbers. That’s just the ones I remember most from the last show.
We are calling Saturday’s BWAT show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center the “giggle fest” because there were so many funny moments when you pros had the microphone (and you seemed to be laughing a lot yourself). Was there anything in particular that had you laughing? (any mess-ups, etc)
No, not really, to be honest. It’s just when there are four people trying to host a show it can get a bit mental because you don't want to take over and do all the talking and some people are not always so aware and end up talking over each other. Sometimes you just sit back and listen to the drivel some folks talk, and it’s funny to me – haha. I’m always looking for something to jump on and I can forget to give the right info. In the show the other day the running order changed and I announced the wrong couple but the lights were blinding me so I just kept talking while they tried to correct me from the wing. I hadn't a clue and then I thought it was funny that we were all walking off stage in like a line so I thought I’d just turn around half way and walk off the other side of the stage.
You participated in Trio Dances and Len’s Side by Side Challenge on DWTS. Would you ever like to see something like that on SCD or do you like the show as it is?
I don't like those trio dances or side by side dances really, no, to be honest. I think it takes the focus off the celeb and puts it onto the pro which shouldn't be the idea. I think maybe switch partners if you want to change something up and do it by random name in the hat thing. It’s hard to have a fair switch up when it’s down to audience I think because social media dictates then and you can just ask people to give you who you want??! I like the Strictly way when before the partners are paired we all learn group numbers together - all the pros and all the celebs - and you get to naturally bond with people similar in a way to the team dance weeks. We all work together and then we get paired based on that - but that’s just my preference.
Tell us about the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy show you did with Lacey. We’ve seen a few photos and a brief video, but we’re still curious. How many dances, what BBVD songs, etc. were included? How long did it take you and Lacey to rehearse?
We didn't do too many numbers to be honest. They kind of just wanted to do an opening and closing of the show deal so we did a number called “Go Daddy Go” and then “Calloway Boogie.” I loved the gig though. Those guys are unreal musicians and put on a great show. While we were there I’d have liked to do a few more dances but again that’s what they wanted and in reality we didn't have the time to put together much more. I’d for sure love to do one again though.
In the event that Movie Week returns to SCD this year - and assuming you don’t have to dance to ABBA again - if you could take any character from a movie and portray that character in a dance on Strictly Come Dancing, which character would it be?
Ah sure who knows!! Still raging I couldn't do Beetlejuice – haha!
You went right from the P&O cruises to the HAL Bermuda Cruise and then to the Canada/New England Cruise. You told us a bit about the first 2 cruises, but what about the last one? Did you see any of the area? Were there any changes to the show from the Bermuda cruise? Any of those “fall on my arse” moments like the story you told last year when the ship shifted and you went down during a performance…..
The cruise was good fun alright. I was training a lot so to be honest I got to see most of the places we stopped off. I saw most of Bermuda because myself and Jason were out running every morning and then there was a few bars there that we needed to 'research'. The Canadian cruise was cool too but we had a port or two where we couldn't stop because of the weather so we spent a fair amount of time on the ship. I got off between cruises since we had a few hours so I dropped into Boston to my local to meet my mates and watch the Ireland Scotland match. The cruises were great fun though. I’d imagine they would have been my last at this stage and maybe be more focused on the Strictly cruises. We had a great cast and great friends on DWTS At Sea and we will be around each other for a long time to come yet but I think DWTS At Sea needs DWTS dancers now not people who used to be – haha.
So what are you doing with all of your free time this summer – all 12 minutes of it?
I'll probably just be kissing the wife for twelve minutes.
I saw Ballroom With A Twist at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Saturday, July 18. It wasn't my first time seeing the show, but this was definitely a favorite for many reasons. Read on....
First of all, thanks to Scott and Chris from Ballroom With A Twist for their kindness and courtesy. They amaze me with the work they do and the professionalism with which they do it.
I’ll start by saying I have seen BWAT several times and the pro dancers who serve as the headliners have varied from show to show. This way of rotating dancers in and out keeps things fresh and exciting and makes every show unique. I will add that the rest of the dancers in the show are extraordinary, and I enjoyed them just as much as the four headlining pros.
I planned this trip months ago. It was originally scheduled for January and then rescheduled for July 18 which worked perfectly for me, and I was especially pleased because it meant Tristan would be able to dance in this particular show because in January he was dancing with Strictly Come Dancing 2014 Champion Caroline Flack on the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour. Tristan's appearance was an added bonus, yet since this show was reasonably close to my home I knew I would be there regardless of which pros were performing.
An hour or so before the show was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at the incredible New Jersey Performing Arts Center, we (meaning Suzanne – one of the very kind ladies who help run Dmitry Chaplin’s fan support page, Dmitry Dream Team – and I) met with Tristan and Dmitry who are not only gracious and gorgeous, but also hilarious with very different senses of humor. If this dancing thing doesn’t work out, they could have their own comedy tour.
I had met Tristan a few times before and Suzanne had met Tristan in California recently at BWAT and knew Dmitry well so it was a fun time for sure. We chatted a bit, talked about going on stage during the audience participation portion (Tristan asked if I could climb the steps – all 4 of them – so I’m assuming he thinks I’m 90 instead of….not 90). That made me laugh all over again. We took lots of pictures, some of which I have already posted on this website, Instagram, and Tristan’s Facebook Fan Page.
The show began promptly and the constant movement is why I appreciate BWAT so much. I'm easily bored, but I didn't have a chance to be bored. There is no dead time, the momentum keeps building, and the lack of props and elaborate staging is a huge part of the appeal. It’s all about the dancing, the vocals, and the performance. The entertainment factor is off the charts, and there is nothing to blur that.
In addition to dance brilliance from a stellar cast, the vocals by Gina Glocksen-Ruzicka and Von Smith brought the house down. Whether it was”The Prayer”, “Imagine”, “Gravity”, or another number, they were perfect throughout and gave me chills with every performance. Those voices………
Tristan danced with Anna and with Lacey, Dmitry danced with Anna and with Lacey, and the four pros danced together. The pace of this show is exhausting as it never stops and when you watch the dancers come and go and interact with each other throughout, you barely have time to blink, much less get bored. I hope I’m not missing anyone because a lot of the dancers changed after the program was printed but here we go: CJ Blair, Tony Pututau, Armen Way, Kiki Nyemchek, Magda Fialek, Alla Kocherga, Jenya Shatilova, Serge Onik, Patricia Kaniowski, Casey Askew, Jacque LeWarne, Jana Sapir, and Nick Garcia – what can I say? There were so many highlights that I don’t know where to begin. “You Can’t Stop the Beat” was pretty spectacular. Serge’s non-stop smile got my attention. CJ and Tony always impress me with their power and ability to entertain. I was glad I finally got to see Armen dance live and he was a delight. One of my favorite dances? Kiki and Magda’s Samba. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them, and I don't think I'll ever forget that performance.
There were a lot of moments at the “giggle fest” as we now call it because when Tristan, Lacey, Dmitry and Anna took the microphone, their collective senses of humor meshed so well that there was almost constant laughter. Magda’s yellow fringed/feathered Samba pants were the catalyst for plenty of laughs when Lacey suggested that Magda had borrowed them from Tristan. There was a Dmitry/Tristan exchange about body hair. Tristan introduced the birthday girl (Magda) and her "boyfriend Kiki" who were going to do a Rumba, except that wasn’t who was doing the Rumba so the ad libbing began with “Change of plans. CHANGE. OF. PLANS.” When Tristan finally got the right couple introduced he strolled off the stage with a “BE ROMANTIC” tossed over his shoulder. It was hilarious as were many other times during the show when Tristan was laughing about who knows what and the audience laughed right along with him. We heard a lot of giggles and saw a lot of grins throughout. The spontaneity of it all is reason enough to see the show. It is entertainment at its very best.
Anna, Tristan, Dmitry, and Lacey took a lot of questions about DWTS, partners, how long it takes them to prepare for a BWAT show and/or learn routines, etc. and somebody asked Dmitry when he was going to take off some of his clothes. Dmitry must be used to questions like that because he didn't miss a beat when responding.
NJPAC is an amazing venue with an old time opera house feel and it is enormous. The crowd was wild and crazy and there was a lot of whooping and applause and screaming out for favorite pros. I was lucky enough to sit next to a young man (maybe 9 years old) who told me that Nick is his favorite dancer, and he was delighted when Lacey answered his question about who was her favorite partner (Kyle Massey). I had never seen Lacey perform live and it was a treat and Anna mentioned that Lacey learns choreography faster than anyone she has ever seen. Anna is still one of my all-time favorite dancers and each time I see her perform, I am in awe of her talent. Dmitry? What can I say. He’s enormously talented, gorgeous, and sweet as can be. Tristan never disappoints. He is a natural host. His cheeky humor and quick wit along with all that talent are just what were needed to stir up the crowd, and it happened every time he took the stage. Oh, and kudos to Tristan for leaping off the stage and finding Allen Genkin who appears regularly in BWAT but was injured and unable to perform. They also brought Allen on stage for the audience participation dance in which my friend Suzanne also bravely joined in the chaos. I mean fun. I skipped that part - all those steps, you know - and captured those moments for Suzanne on camera instead.
Of all the times I have seen Ballroom With A Twist, this might be the best yet. Everything worked. Much loved pros stirred up the audience. Vocalists sang with so much passion and emotion that you could hear a pin drop when they paused for a breath. The cast was clearly adored by this very vocal and supportive audience. The pros had me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish.
Meet and Greet passes were sold at intermission only and after the show a few people were taken in at a time. In other words, they asked who you came with and that was who went in while the rest waited outside the room. Somehow Suzanne and I ended up in the last group so it was another laughfest back with Tristan, Dmitry, Lacey, and Anna. Even though it was late and they probably just wanted to leave by the time we got there, they were generous with their time. Anna and Lacey both said that we were probably only there to see Tristan and Dmitry but I spent more time talking with Anna and Lacey as I had never had the opportunity to really talk with either before. Anna and I talked about her beautiful daughter (nearly a year and a half old now!) and I spoke with Lacey about a little of everything. Dmitry wrote a very sweet note to my daughter (because Tristan MacManus or not – whom she has met a couple of times – Dmitry is her all-time favorite DWTS pro). Tristan asked if I knew Linda was at the show. She's an amazing lady from our website who was also on the Strictly Come Dancing Mediterranean cruise a few weeks ago and had also been at the Princeton fundraiser in 2013. I explained that she's an enormous help on our website and "fills in when I need to get away from the madness". Tristan responded, "Or when you get sick of me." It hasn't happened yet, Tristan.
Thanks to all involved and a huge thanks to the security people at NJPAC because by the time we left the Meet and Greet (even though we only spent a few minutes there), the place was nearly deserted. I was pleased that we did get to say hello to Allen Genkin who was leaving the lobby when we reached it. Security had us wait inside while they called us a cab and made sure we got back safely. They were very courteous and when we apologized for the late hour, they assured us it was fine. THANK YOU!
And that was the end of the adventure, right? Nope. We got back to the hotel where there were fire trucks in front, lights flashing. We get out of the cab right behind the hotel vans….and all of the BWAT dancers who were also apparently staying at our hotel. There was no fire, fortunately, but apparently an elevator issue. We figured by that time the pros had had enough of us so we left them to it and began climbing stairs. As we were leaving early the following morning we shared the elevator with Lacey, who immediately greeted us and then exhausted me with the story of her insane schedule! She was lovely and very kind to us.
Those seeing BWAT this week in Beverly, Massachusetts or in any other BWAT stop along the way are indeed fortunate. This year’s show is simply brilliant.
As a side note, lots of Tristan’s fans came to see the show, and while we didn’t get to talk with all of them Saturday evening, we have received a lot of messages from some who were lucky enough to attend. It is wonderful to see such continued support for these former DWTS pros and the rest of the cast. Thank you Linda, Toni Ann, Ann J, Janie, Judy, Anna, Stacy P. Charlotte, Chris, Cristina, Olivia, Mari, Jake, and Lana C for letting us know you were there! I know you enjoyed this as much as I did. Linda was right when she said on our website forum that next time we need to have a MacManiac Meet and Greet because Tristan’s fans were well-represented! Have I mentioned how much I adore Dmitry, Anna, and Lacey as well? How much I respect and admire Gina and Von and every single dancer in the show? Each of those performers could have his or her own show and I would gladly go. They are that good.
As many of you know, here at MacManiacs.org we love to talk with different artists about their work, and we were delighted when Strictly Come Dancing pro Kristina Rihanoff agreed to answer some of our questions. We know you will love this interview with her! It will be permanently archived here, but it also currently on this website's Spotlight Page where you will be able to see enlarged versions of all of the photos.
Special thanks to Fiona Whyte Photography for giving us permission to use the photos contained in this interview.
First of all, congratulations on a very successful Strictly Come Dancing series and tour. You and Simon created a wonderful partnership. How was the experience of working with him?
Simon was great to work with. Very dedicated and respectful. That is what is needed to create a good team on the floor.
What were his strengths as a dance partner and a dance student?
He never doubted me as a teacher and mentor. That's why he was partnering me so well.
We all want to hear about that amazing Argentine Tango! How did the choreography come together and how difficult was it to master that final lift?
The last lift was something I've done with Robin Windsor before and I always loved that lift as it is so unexpected. It's actually a very easy lift to do if the lady has a good core.
The Argentine Tango was a make or break deal and Simon knew it and rose to the occasion. He definitely took the show seriously and wanted to show how much he loved the dancing.
Tell us about the tour experience this year. Was there a particular venue, audience, or city that stands out for you?
The tour was really great as Simon and I won most of the shows around the country and now I have my own Glitter Ball!! Every venue is special as I feel so much love and appreciation for my craft. It's was my dream since I was 6 to perform in front of people so every time I'm on stage I feel very happy.
What made it particularly special?
Winning almost every night !!!
You are always busy – performing, teaching, and performing some more! Fill us in on what you've been doing.
Robin and I have been doing the Puttin’ on the Ritz theater show which is absolute fantastic. We love dancing and choreographing our own solos so it's a blast. Also we do loads of cruises, private and corporate events.
Things seemed to go so smoothly on the tour, but was that always the case? Were there any missed cues, wardrobe issues, etc. that would make for a good story?
Not on my watch!!
Take us through a typical day for you on a Strictly Come Dancing show day. For instance, how much time in hair and makeup, camera blocking, etc.
Girls get to the studios as early as 8 a.m. for hair and makeup. Then it's a band call with your partner, then full dress run and live show. After the live show we have about 40 minutes to change for a group number prerecord, and then we film the Sunday show. So I get home about midnight on Saturdays. It's about a 16 hour day!
Similarly what was a typical show day like on the tour – particularly on days in which you had 2 shows?
Tour is much easier. I have time to sleep in and take a look around the cities. I do my own hair and make up on the tour so I can get in a little later then other girls - about 2 hours before the show.
We have heard about your passion for charity work and would like to know more about it and find out how we can help. Please tell us about the Dot Com Children’s Foundation.
I've met my charity CEO Sharon Evans about 5 years ago. She asked me to perform at one of the events so I did. Then we got very close and I really wanted to help. I went to loads of schools in very deprived areas and spoke to children about how to achieve their dreams. It has been a very rewarding experience and I wanted to do more. I became a trustee and then a patron of the charity. I did my very first fundraising event last year and raised 93000£!!! I was overwhelmed with the amount of support from SCD professionals. It's great to have good friends in a very tough show business.
While Tristan has fans worldwide, we are U.S. based as are many of his supporters. Please tell us about the time you spent living, training and working here in the states. Are there any special cites or places that you were especially fond of?
I moved to Seattle when I was 23 to compete professionally. Also I lived a little bit in LA before I moved to London. I will always love Seattle. My best friend lives there and I'm a godmother to her son. The city reminds me of my hometown Vladivostok. It's also a seaport and I love the sea so much ! I miss it.
We have to ask. What was it like having Tristan as your pro partner last year on Strictly? Any fun stories you could share?
Tristan was great to work with and he has a fantastic sense of humour. We had a lot of fun at rehearsals. It can get tiring and hard but Tristan always cracks a good old Irish joke! All the pros love working with Tristan!!
It was such a pleasure watching you dance last year and seeing all the wonderful clips of you on the tour. Do you have any words for all of your new supporters? (and you have lots of new fans here!)
I just want to thank everyone for support and for giving us pros your kind energy. The show comes with loads of hard work and dedication. It's great to know that our fans are there for us. We create, teach and dance for all of you. Thank you for being such a wonderful fan group !!
For information on the Dot Com Children's Foundation:
Thanks to forum member (and Tristan MacManus super fan) Linda who made the trip from New York along her husband for the P&O Strictly Come Dancing Mediterranean Cruise. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on the experience.
The P&O Cruise out of Southampton on May 28th was super. I can't believe it was more than a month ago! The excitement entering the ship and knowing that Tristan was probably on board already created a ridiculous grin (husbands description). I’m pretty sure we were the only Americans on board. Our New York/Brooklyn accents turned heads the first few days. Many asked why we went on the cruise and Jim, my husband, would say, “Tell them, Linda!.” I did, and their curiosity about the show and Tristan made for some very nice conversation.
Each stateroom received one ticket for Tristan and Iveta's show, but once the show began it was not difficult to enter. Jim and I ended up seeing three shows. :) Tristan and Iveta danced 4-5 dances, and in between dances they were asked trivia questions about Strictly by Mark Kelly, the Master of Ceremonies. During costume changes Tristan taught some Rumba steps to an audience member, Iveta talked about her costumes, and another time Tristan answered some personal questions from Mark.
The dances performed were exquisite. Iveta and Tristan do really light up the stage, plain and simple! They were a joy to watch.
Tahyna (Tristan’s lovely wife), sat in front of us during one of the shows. Immediately recognizable by her beauty and demeanor, I whispered to Jimmy that she was Tristan's wife. He replied, “Good. I know you will behave!”
At the end of the show I introduced myself to her and congratulated her on Oren’s accomplishments. [OREN is Tahyna’s highly acclaimed film project] She graciously thanked me and also thanked the MacManics for their support of Tristan. Briefly speaking to her you can actually see how Tristan and Tahyna complement each other as a couple.
There was a question and answer session on Tuesday morning - my big break! My question was prepared in March and ready to go. When it was my turn the microphone didn’t work! After numerous clicks the gentleman that Tristan is came to the part of the stage where I was sitting in the third row and patiently listened to me (by that time I forgot my question) so I asked a question about the MacManiacs. He returned to his seat and continued and first explained that he has a fan club in America. He stopped mid sentence and said where did you come from? I replied New York and Iveta said, "I heard about that fan club and are you in mine?" It was all a very ha, ha moment. :) He also mentioned that Tahyna reads it [posts].
At the end of the Q&A the fans were invited to have photos taken, and I took advantage of that opportunity.
We didn't see him much after that, but there were sightings at lunch, but I didn't bother Tristan as I respected his space. We bumped into him in a port, and he said, “ I was saying to Tahyna that I hadn't seen you since Tuesday. We spoke for a while – Tristan, Tahyna, myself and my husband. We wished each other safe travels.
I have to say I have a very easy going husband, who is the best. I think I'll tell him that later on today.