Tristate Challenge - 2015

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Tri-State Shows Its Strength - Dancing!


Click here for video by SuperShag

Last night the Tristate Championships showed us their strength and that is the ability to bring great dancing to their competition. The Professional Challenge of Champions was a perfect example of this great finale here at the Tristate.


Challenge of Champions lineup2

The first to go was the Professional Latin Champions, Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who did an excellent Emmanueljive.  They had a little bit of a theme, but it was still their jive. Then came Mazen Hamza and Izabella the Smooth Champions and they did a complete routine, it had a great level of difficulty and many different elements very interesting.  If you were watching you almost felt you could not do better than that. Then came Travis & Jaimee Tuft, the Showdance Champions, possibly the favorite because their strength is the showcase material and on this night it did not disappoint!  Great combinations of dancing and lifts including some overheads that thrilled the audience.  Next came the Rhythm Champions, Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova, who presented a well sorted routine with a variety of skills and storyline that was fully complete and thought provoking.  We knew once the routine was over that it would be a difficult decision but that they had had a great chance as they did at the Ohio Star Ball of taking top honors home. There was just one Champion left to challenge and that was the Ballroom Champions, Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk who presented a classic well sorted foxtrot but this was not enough to knock Emmanuel & Liana’s performance.   The Rhythm Champs won the Challenge of Champions and very deservedly so with a routine that as we said before had all elements including a storyline, something that has seemed to disappear these days when it comes to showdancing. Congratulations to the organizers and to Emanuel and Liana!

Pro rhythm Lineup

The feature events of this final evening session were the Professional Rhythm and Ballroom and the Amateur Latin - all three were excellent in quality and in entries. The Rhythm was excellent as you saw before Emanuel & Liana won all five dances three of them with perfect scores - the C,SW,M.  In the rumba and the bolero Sam Sodano gave them second and joining him in the Bolero was Chuck Danza also giving them a second place, so three second marks total in the entire final. Andre & Natalie Paramonov placed second in all dances and as usual they were also a fantastic feature in this final. Third in all dances was awarded to Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakova, and fourth in all dances went to Shane & Shannon Jensen. Fifth in all was awarded to Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava, sixth went to Joanthan Green & Rachel Neilson and seventh was Dmytro Gurkov & Alexandra Efremova.

Maratt2The open Professional Ballroom was of the same quality.  Here the fight for us was between Anton Lebedev & Anna Broshch from Canada and Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashina for second place. For us either one of these couples could have taken that position and in the end it was close.   But first lets mention the Champions who easily won every dance with a huge majority of firsts, Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk.  The only judge to award them lower than a second place was Danny Villavicencio who awarded them a fifth in the tango and a fourth in the foxtrot and second in the other three dances.

ProBallroom lineup

As we mentioned, second place was very close. Anton Lebedev & Anna Borshch from Canada took second by placing second in three dances and third in the VW, F, leaving third position to Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina, and they placed second in the two dances mentioned and third in the other three dances. Fourth was Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova 4,4,4,4,4 and fifth in all dances was Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley, and in sixth place Yuriy Nartov & Sarika Hudson. I most also mention that Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blinova made the final but they had to pull out due to injury.  We spoke to Olga today and she said that she had been nursing a neck injury and it was much better, however, after the semifinal round it was bothering her again and they were not able to compete, so had to withdraw.

Am Latin lineup

The Amateur Latin was also a fun event and here for us the fight was very intense between three excellent couples all bringing something different to the floor. Danniils Kutuzovs & Maria Shalvarova from Canada, Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova and Nikita Malakhov & Nadia Vlasova. Danniils & Maria brought to the floor a more classical approach man/woman relationship lead and follow. Artur & Anastasia for us brought a more modern approach, very open to interpretation and very unique with some interesting body positions and moves. For us the middle ground was Nikita & Nadia they had a bit of both and for that were our favorites of the night. However, when the dust settdle and the final was over, Dannils & Maria won the comp four dances to one.  Artur & Anastasia placed second but won the paso, and Nikita & Nadya were third in every dance. Arturs Voicehovics & Albina Gorbachevskaya took fourth 4,4,4,5,4, Jason Chao Dai & Sasha Nissengolts were fifth 5,6,5,4,5, and Stanishlav Engelgardt & Tatiana Vasilyeva placed sixth.

RiccardoItCathy cake was a wonderful surprise when Riccardo Cocci & Yulia Zagoruychenko did a three dance performance to benefit Beata in her fight against cancer.  The show was beautiful and very touching there were few dry eyes when the video concluded and they began to dance.  A great thanks to this couple for contributing to one of America’s best Latin American Stars! It was also the Chairman of Judges birthday,  Cathie Nyemchek and they took time in the afternoon for a birthday cake celebration.


With this the Tri-State Championships came to a brilliant finale.  Today it’s children’s day and it’s quite busy.  

A Day of Snow but Hot Dancing Inside!

Click here for video by SuperShag

Yesterday nearly all day long the snow kept falling here in Stamford, Connecticut, but inside it was nonstop dancing.  Only when you went out of the ballroom did yTr1-15-Travisou realize that although it’s almost spring, it’s still snowing up north. That did not stop all the dancers from coming in and making the Tristate Challenge a great success.

The Professional Smooth, Latin and Cabaret were fabulous events.  The Cabaret closed the night and it was a six couple final filled with interesting routines and interesting results. The favorites for us going in were Shane & Shannon Jensen from Stamford, and they presented a new, exciting number with a Latin flavor and it was the first routine presented and we figured it could not get better.  Their life-daring maneuvers brought the house down.  However, it was not the best number of the night. Shane & Shannon did manage to get some firsts, five to be precise, securing them a second position but in the end the first place overall went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft who got the majority of firsts from the judges and with an almost perfect routine with very smooth transitions and liftwork. The only time we all gasped in horror was when Jaimee in an overhead (from where the judges stood) looked as if she was going to hit a light fixture, but they never knew, it was just us from where we were seated.

Tri-15-Cabaret lineup

Third in this excellent showdance heat went to Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley whose routine leaves you wanting more and this we would say is very unusual for ballroom showdances - a fantastic combination of steps, lifts and music.  All we could say is we wanted more. Fourth were Francis Lafreniere & Claudia Primeau, fifth were Mihail Mararu & Annae Rudenco, leaving sixth for Vincent Antonelli & Stephanie Falciano.

Tri-15-proSmooth lineup

The Professional American Smooth was terrific with six fantastic couples in this final round.  Mazen Hamza & Izabella placed first in every dance with a huge majority of firsts in every dance. Travis & Jaimme Tuft took second in every dance and stole a couple of firsts from the top couple in every dance. Their worst judge and only judge to award them four 3rd place marks was Ms. Meryem Pearson from Canada. Vladimir & Vera Kosarev placed third overall but not in every dance, in the waltz they took a fourth place.

Fourth in this Professional Smooth heat went to Michael Choi & Erin Marie.  They took a third in the waltz and fourth in the other three dances.  We have to say that this is a new but very promising partnership that in the future could easily challenge the very top. Fifth in every dance was awarded to Morten Jensen & Anastasia Zhitova, here we think we have another powerful partnership in the making, however, for us Morten could let go a little bit and allow Anastasia to take some of the burden after all it takes two to tango.  Sixth place after a long competition went to Dave Hannigan & Maggie Toth.  We have seen this couple dance for quite a while now, but we most say that last night we were left in amazement on the improvement these two have made, they totally are on another level, and we are looking forward to seeing more and even better things coming out of this fabulous partnership.

Tri-15-ProLatin lineup

The ProfTri-15-Nikishkinessional Latin we believe was also a very difficult competition for the judges to pass final decisions. For us the two obvious couples in the lead were terrific - Roman Italyankin & Sasha Bokova and Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets.  On this occasion Dmitry & Olena took all firsts and the cup home. For us it was a little closer between these two couples but were very impressed with Dmitry & Olena, who made us keep going back to them, they totally took over the floor and in the end as you can see they owned it. For the judges it was not as close Roman & Sasha were second overall but placed third in the samba and jive.  In our opinion this couple showed great quality but last night that was not enough, only the judges see this, they needed to come out swinging, kicking the doors down, like Dmitry and Olena did and they did not, in the end they had to settle for second place.

Third overall was awarded to Genya Bartashevich & Yana Mazhnikova who took the second in the samba and jive and placed third in the other three dances. Fourth was Francis Lafreniere & Claudia Primeau who took fourth place marks, this is a great looking couple but they need to reassess their performance a little, and perhaps a bit more energy could be used in some spots. Fifth were Stanishlav Savich & Nicole Prosser 5,5,6,5,5, and sixth were Dmytro & Nina Kovalenko 6,6,5,6,6.


The Amateur Ballroom was also a terrific heat with 8 excellent couples.  The overall win went to Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova who won four dances and placed second in the VW. Second overall and wining the VW was Brenton Mitchell & Alex Sevastianova from Canada 2,3,1,2,3, leaving third for Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda O’Connor 4,2,3,3,2.

It was a packed day of Smooth and Ballroom dancing for Pro/Ams yesterday.  The Smooth heats were terrific and so were the open scholarships. The “A” division went to Canada’s Joanne Kay Smith w/ Sharon Levit who won all dances.  We must also mention that Joanne won the “B” as well. Second in the “A” was awarded to Daniella Koren w/Greg Fidurski 2,2,2,2, and third in this heat was awarded to Melissa Hensik & Dave Hannigan 3,4,3,3.

As we mentioned earlier Joanne from Canada took the “B” scholarship as well by winning every dance again.  Second went to Irene Wong w/Matthians Kruschel 3,2,2,2, and third was Kako Matsumoto w/Dave Hannigan 2,3,4,3.

The “C” was also excellent in this Smooth categories. Robin Kencel w/Sergey Vasilyev placed first in every dance, Renee Kuwahara w/Ilya Reyzin placed second overall 3,3,2,2, and third was Andrea Flink w/Val Grebnin 2,2,3,3.

The Ballroom Scholarships were a little more tame.  The “A” for example had one couple and the scholarship went to Kim Spruill w/Ihor Kravets.  The “C” was more contested and in this six-couple final Hye-Kyong Park w/Linas Korieva won every dance, second was Vincent Feingold w/Frantsiska Yordanova, and third was awarded to Linda Dillman w/Arturas Misurenkovas.

The “B” was quite a large heat and this competition went to Celia Chou w/Erminio Stefano.  Second place was awarded to Michelle Peng w/Mihkail Avdeev and third was Suki Kramer w/Gunnar Sverrison.     

Tri-State brings in the Smoothies!

Last night at the Tri-State Challenge the Professional Rising Star Smooth division was packed with a full semifinal round and the Professional Rising Star Latin was not far behind with seven couples entered.

The Professional Smooth for us was the most interesting event, in no way shape or form the judges could make up their mind and so a rare 8-couple final was called and I’m sure this was quite a challenge for the judges especially with so little time to dedicate to each couple.

The overTri-15-Morten Jensenall winners were Morten Jensen & Anastasia Zhitova who placed first in all four dances but did not manage to get the majority of firsts in any dance.  They did capture 4 firsts in all dances but the waltz where they got 3 first place marks. The rest of their marks varied from second to 8th place. Their worst placements came from Ms. Marianne Nicole who awarded them 8th place in every dance. Second overall went to Dave Hannigan &Maggie Toth and they placed second in three dances and third in the waltz. Funnily, the lowest marks David & Maggie got were sixth place marks they did not get any 7th or 8th place marks from any of the judges. In our opinion this outing was a very good performance for Dave & Maggie, they are totally in shape and their performance drew our attention a number of times. Congratulations to you, great improvements!

Third overall was awarded to Kirill Gorjatsev & Daria Zotova, they took 4,3,3,3, and unlike Dave & Maggie this couple did manage to get a few 8th place marks, one in the Waltz and another in the VW from Meryem Pearson, and one in the tango from Danny Villavicencio. Fourth overall went to Mark Short & Alyssa Kark, they placed second in the waltz but from there you will see the judges did not know what to do with them, fifth in the tango, and fourth in the other two dances. Fifth were Matt Fortuna & Tania Nunes 5,4,6,6. Sixth was awarded to John Campbell & Jaki Brockman 6,6,5,5, seventh went to Aaron Talbert & Angela Maughan 7,8,7,7, and  in eighth place was Leo Mora & Christina Garced 8,7,8,8.  I felt that this couple could have been placed much higher in some of their dancing. I understand their work can be a little flat at times but just in clarity of movement they were much better than a few others out on that floor.


The Tri-15-Stanishlav SavichProfessional Rising Star Latin was a straight 7-Couple final and we must say it was not thrilling and also a very difficult job for the judges.  Nearly everyone was at the same level with very little difference in their approaches.  As we’ve said before, it was more about perspiration than inspiration. The overall winners in this heat were Stanishlav  Savich & Nicole Prosser who won all dances clearly with a majority of firsts from the judges.  Only in the jive they got five firsts making this dance a little under the majority, but still god enough to give them this win. Second in this heat went to perhaps our favorites of the night, Adam Katona & Bella Gubzheva who placed second in every dance. We think we like this couple because down to their look it was a clean-cut deal.  Yes when looking back Stanishlav & Nicole were quite rhythmical in all dances but we felt for Adam & Bella’s clean work and look could have taken the day. Third overall was Jang & Adele Jan Dong 4,3,3,3,3, great improvement we saw in this Latin outing for this couple congratulations!

Fourth was Aleksandr Lushnov & Maria Bavyko 3,4,5,6,7, as you can see this couple started high and worked themselves down to seventh place, I wonder if they started like a bullet and fizzled like a Champagne? Fifth went to Andri Gavrilov & Alona Tovarlova 6,5,4,5,5, sixth was awarded to Dennis Sy & Mae Lozada 5,7,6,7,4, and in seventh place were Leon Turetsky & Kim Le 7,6,7,4,6.


The Pro/Am Rhythm competition went throughout the day and at night the scholarships were run.  The “C” was the most contested and here Joan Goddard w/Chris Johnston took first in all dances.  Second went to Jennifer Marre w/Plamen Danailov 2,2,2,2,3, and third was Janice B Gonzales w/ Vladimir Kosarev 3,3,3,4,5. The “B” division had three couples and here the winner was Gwen Bourque w/Chris Johsnton and the “A” went to Carolyn Reed w/Anton Shkyaver overall. 

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