Dancer dares to do the Paso Doble

Paso Doble: Just saying the name of this Latin dance elicits romantic images of strong men, beautiful women, measured movements and passionate guitar strums.

For a large crowd of dance enthusiasts in the Gorge, a recent fundraiser-competition called Dancing with the Gorge Stars provided the opportunity to witness the Paso Doble performed live, featuring Hood River native Gavin McAlpine.

“It was kind of one of those once-in-a-lifetime shots to do something that I was really curious about,” said McAlpine, a realtor with John L. Scott Realty. “It took me about a millisecond to say yes to doing it.”

While McAlpine is not a stranger to the stage — performing annually in the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy’s Nutcracker performances — this was his first foray into a true dance competition.

“I have no dance training whatsoever,” admitted McAlpine, who, though the only entrant from outside Wasco County, garnered significant cheers and hoots of support in The Dalles-Wahtonka High School auditorium, in front of three judges, all The Dalles residents.

McAlpine noted that although he wasn’t the top vote getter, he was extremely satisfied with his performance.

“The Wasco County Sheriff won it and that would be a hard person to beat in The Dalles!”

The event was presented by the Corvallis-based Utah Ballroom Dance Company. The dance troupe also performed in Hood River the same weekend. The troupe was on a 47-city tour across the West producing fundraisers for a variety of nonprofit organizations in combination with its regular dance shows.

The Utah Ballroom Dance Company stages the Dancing with the Stars events by teaching local volunteers specific ballroom dances and then partnering them with their semi-professional dancers for the “competitions.”

The Dalles’ event featured five volunteers from The Dalles community and McAlpine. Each volunteer worked with a Utah Ballroom dance partner for more than 15 hours of practice prior to the event.

McAlpine, to his credit, was the first local participant to ever seek out the challenging Paso Doble routine.

“They told me I was the first Paso Doble volunteer in the history of their presenting their ‘Dancing With’ events,” said McAlpine. “The Paso Doble has very crisp movements. It has an aggressive nature. It was the one I wanted to do.”

McAlpine was partnered with Casey Bartlemay, a longtime member of the troupe whose athletic build, flexibility and dramatic moves resembled that of a professional gymnast.

“She was absolutely fantastic as a dancer and teacher. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner,” said McAlpine. The pair were dressed in red and black, providing the additional visual drama needed for their chosen style of dance.

While McAlpine was “the lone foreigner” in the competition, he was encouraged by the great show of support from other Hood River residents.

“I was amazed at how many showed up from Hood River and I was equally shocked at how many people from The Dalles voted for me,” he said. “There was a lot of support all the way around.”

Thinking about next year, McAlpine admits that he would jump — or perhaps jeté — at the chance to do it all again.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners