Gateway Dancesport Championships 2024

The Art of Dance!

This week at the Gateway Dancesport Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, the theme was the arts.

The beautiful ballroom was decorated with famous works of art from some of the most notable artists. The competition was as usual in all styles, but as an invitational challenge the organizer invited five well-accomplished dancers to take part in a very unique competition. They were asked to choose a painting and then interpret it with their dancing. This was not only interesting, but brilliant.

Before we move on to this excellent competition we must comment on the hotel – the Chase Park Plaza, St Louis, MO. This hotel was very accommodating with a touch of the old grand hotels like the Breakers, the Phister, or even the Casa Marina. It was very comfortable with some terrific convention food and plenty to do if you were’nt on the floor dancing – The Gateway Arch that was built as the gateway to the west, and around the corner from the hotel some amazing restaurants and places of entertainment all within walking distances. And within the hotel, if you had any time, there is a full theater that featured a number of current movie productions such as “Dune.” A few of the people attending went to the movies when they had a little time but if you did not you could just get a bag of popcorn and go to your comfortable rooms and enjoy a snack. But as you can see there was no dull moment at the Gateway Dancesport Championships.

The organizer, Ms. Larinda McRaven, introduced the event. “Welcome, seekers of beauty and wonder, to a domain where imagination is limitless, and creativity is the ruling power. Step into the world of Art In Motion, where every stroke of the brush, every chisel upon stone, reveals mysteries of the human spirit.

From the ancient rituals of our ancestors to the kaleidoscope of contemporary forms, art has acted as a reflection of our souls, mirroring our deepest desires, fears, and delights.

Journey with us to explore art and dance, and the infinite potential of the human spirit to conceive and dream. This is Art in Motion…. (then she proceeded to introduce the couples along with the art pieces)

Just so that you know, the judges awarded the couples points for their interpretation, quality of work…etc. But we must point out before we continue about the performances that each couple chosen by the organizer for this invitational competition, chose their art and the music as well as to how they were going to interpret that painting.

First to go after Larinda’s small narration were:

Brandon Barker & Chelsea Cherie

-From divine hands they found BIRTH
-Crafted from clay upon the Earth
-Adam formed from dust’s embrace
-Eve from his side found her place
-Two souls entwined in sacred light
-ADAM and EVE a heavenly sight

I though their work was solid, and their interpretation at hand of the painting was okay, no major flaws even though we have seen much better performannces from them in the past. In the end they placed 3 overall.

Przemyslaw Modrzynski & Magdalena Zybura were next

-In Warhol’s hands Maryln’s face divides
-A DIPTYCH tale where art resides
-Two sides of fame in CONTRAST and stark
-Iconic Image of light and dark

-Electric hues of pop where shadows play
-She stands immortal come what may.

Magdalena portrayed Marilyn, but we’re not sure it was a powerful enough performance to award them more than the fifth they were awarded.

Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich

-In PYGMALION’s world where stone takes flight
-Galatea glows a marble delight

-In tender embrace she comes alive
-As stone meets flesh passions a fire

-From Sculptor’s vision to lover’s bliss
-Pygmalion and Galatea locked in eternal kiss

This was well interpreted and their moves as always had a lot of difficulty and risk. We have seen in the past more secure performances. On this outing we think they did a wonderful job with the interpretation, but a couple times they looked a little insecure for what they were doing. But this performance was good enough for the majority of the judges who awarded them top prize – first.

Lukas Spisak & Eva Tibenska

-Upon the canvas, strokes of despair
-A figure trapped in the abyss of air

-Mouth agape, eye wide with fright
-A symphony of anguish throughout the night

-In Swirling mist of terror and pain
-The SCREAM endures and echoes remain.

Here Lukas & Eva tried to assimilate the painting in a smooth kind of way. The scream was appropriately placed but not sure the quality or the difficulty of work was good enough to award them any more than the fourth place finish they received.

Andrew Escolme & Asta Sigvaldadottir

-Bustling street in a world of gray
-A splash of red gently sways

-From alleys dark and shadows deep
-A balloon rises from dirty concrete

-An innocent moment transformed into Grace
-Banksy’s RED BALLOON in urban space

For us we thought this to be the best – the work was clear and technically very sound, no missteps oops. Yes it might not have had the risk of some of the maneuvers from Zachary & Ariel, but they got their point across and it hit the spot for us on the firing line.

This was a wonderful idea put to life by the organizer we thought it to be fabulous and in the words of Oscar Wilde perhaps “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

This was an amazing finish to this fun great evening of competition, but was not the only thing going on this week.

The Open Professional Smooth was the second most exciting and interesting competition of the weekend and here Travis & Jaimee Tuft won all dances, the waltz with perfect scores from the judges and the other three dances they won with a huge majority; in the tango they lost 2 first place marks and foxtrot and Viennese Waltz they nearly won with perfect scores they took two seconds.

We also saw an excellent performance by Aleksandar Vukosavljevic & Alexandra Smirnova who were the recipients of the few firsts missing from Travis & Jaimme’s column. For us the close contest was for third and fourth place between Alexandru & Stephanie Munteanu and Peter Minkov & Yuliia Sorokata. We truly have to say that it was close, and in the earlier rounds we thought for sure Alexandru & Stephanie were going to walk away with third. Unfortunately in the final, with the exception of the Viennese Waltz, Peter & Yuliia really stepped it up and got us all at attention and so we can easily see why they were third and Alexandru & Stephanie fourth. There was a tie for fifth and sixth places between Joseph Lettig & Madalina Varlam Lettig and Vasilii Platonov & Irina Platonov. This tie had to be broken by a rule 11 and in the end Joseph & Madalina were fifth and Vasilii & Irina Platonov took sixth.

It was also a terrific Professional Latin and here the clear winner in all dances with a majority of firsts were Andriy & Amanda Besyedin. Dmitrii Chopenko & Valeria Khrapak were clearly the runners-up taking the majority of seconds in all dances. Third went to Mishiko Bregvadze & Alena Khoroshevtseva. Nazar Zakharchenko & Anastasiia Rozdabara took fourth overall but not in all dances 5,4,4,5,4, Oleksandr Kozhukhar & Rachel Sayotovich were overall fifth 6,5,5,4,5, and sixth was awarded to Giovanni D`Arpino & Nicole Heisler 4,6,6,6,6.

It was also an easy win from the judges perspective for Gene Bersten & Elena Bersten in the Open Professional Rhythm with a clear majority from the judges. We did not see it the same way we thought that Roger Romero & Arismel Naya could have easily won two to three dances including the mambo. It is great to see the Rhythm have so much talent in the field nowadays, we look forward to see where it all ends. Third overall was awarded to Mateusz Dorot & Maysen Wilder 3,3,3,3,4, Vasyl Voinarovskyi & Khrystyna Voinarovska took fourth 4,4,4,4,3, Donovan Kirrane & Olga Goncharova placed fifth 5,5,5,6,6,

We must give great credit to Larinda McRaven for doing such an amazing job and for the care that she paid to all the officiuals. Congratulations on a successful Gateway 2024!

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