Today we have a new guest blogger, Dancer Ashley Hammond.
I think you will find Ashley’s views on our rehearsals for PLAYBALL to be quite amusing.
The Traveling Ballet Master
My name is Ashley Hammond and I have been dancer at Boca Ballet Theater for the past 8 years. Just 6 (seemingly short) years ago, I was in the audience, watching a girls team and a guys team battle, fight, and play a baseball game… on stage! It was so amusing and gripping that I was on the edge of my seat, laughing. In a ballet, dialogue is expressed through movement of any part of the body, but usually has to be explained to a common viewer; not this ballet. You really experience the feeling of a real baseball game, from the bats, gloves, and balls, to the songs like “Take Me out to the Ballgame” and the American National Anthem. Since that day, I had only wished to actually be a part of this ballet soon. I had experienced the comical ballet, Play Ball.
Soon came faster than expected, now going into my senior year of high school, and this summer Play Ball is part of the repertoire programme we are performing at Boca Ballet Theater. I was expecting to go away to dance this summer, but once I heard we were going to perform this piece, there was absolutely no way I was leaving home. And you know what?… It has been even more of a memorable experience than when I had first seen it. To perform in it is so fun, enjoyable, but tough. Between Christopher Fleming’s constant corrections, our partners (who just arrived the other day), and obvious feet pain, it is a challenge. But who doesn’t need a good challenge?
Maybe some of you are wondering what goes on through our heads while we persevere through each inning. So… (since I’m a female, I will tell from my perspective)
Inning One: “Wow… I really hope no one notices I’m lip-synching half of the National Anthem. I have a really bad voice.” “It’s ok. It’s just the beginning.” “I hope I don’t hit anyone with my bat and I really have to catch this ball in the next 5 seconds or the ballet is ruined!”
Inning Two: “[catcher] what are these signals I’m trying to give?! I’ve never played baseball in my life!” “Stupid La Bayadere line… *grumble*” (Boca Ballet Theater had just performed La Bayadere in April, so for those of us who were in it, to do the Shade lineup again… what a drag…)
Inning Three: “I need to keep my ankles strong for all these hops.” “Double turn, turn en dehors, turn en dedans, turn en dehors, turn en dedans, passé, passé… again? What~? ” “And jump and jump and trois and pointe… chassé, around, down, trios and down, trios and pointe, HIT… wow that’s fast.”
Inning Four: [offstage for girls] “Guys section… sucks for them… Now where did I put my bat…?” “WATER!”
Inning Five: “The umpire must die!” “That pitcher chick in the corner… what in the world is she doing? Boy, is she oblivious.”
Inning Six: [from the outfielder’s- male- point of view] “Ohh, look… that cutie in the stands is waving at me… well, there hasn’t been a Pop Fly Ball or Homerun hit yet and it doesn’t seem like there will be anytime soon… should I? yes… come with me, darling and dance with me. Yes, I will put my hat and glove down… tra la la la la la… oh cr*p! Ball!… ok I threw it back, its all good now… Bye cutie…”
Inning Seven: “Peanuts! Popcorn!”
Inning Eight: “Rock and rock and butt scratch and wink… run run run slideee” “penché, turn, around the world.” “Ouch! My armpits hurt.” “Bruises aren’t fun.” “Screw the game, I want to be a swan.” “…so… much… partnering…” “[to] Base stealer: that’s the wrong kind of base stealing…” “Stay away from us, we are beautiful swans.” “GET THEM!”
Inning Nine: “Finally! The game is almost over but we are tied.” “s…l…o…w…m…o…” “Uh oh, I feel rain drops.” “What? The game is cancelled?! Even though the game kinda ended in the 8th inning where things got out of control, we were tied… somehow.” *sigh* “shaking hands? Ew.” “More partnering and hectic runs, jumps, and leaps across stage.”
Personally, I have learnt and grown so much just from working with the Traveling Ballet Master along with the excitement and energetic ballet itself with each dancer having his or her own individual character. So, for those of you who have not performed or seen this production, it is a wonderful and comical experience for everybody (especially for those little boys who think ballet is for girls only). For those of you who have had the chance to experience Play Ball… you know exactly what I’m talking about then.