Advertisement
 
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,
Advertisement

Ex-catcher Piazza rehearsing for ballet role

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - Updated: 3:52 PM

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Mike Piazza knows that some people think it's funny for a baseball player to take up ballet, but the former catcher hopes to turn whoever is jeering him now into dance fans when he takes the stage with Miami City Ballet next month.

"You gotta sometimes have the courage to go out there and do something like this, and I think the overall effect will be positive," Piazza said Tuesday after his costume fitting for the role of a gangster in "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

Piazza will walk on stage and say a few lines in the company's May 3 production of the ballet George Balanchine choreographed as part of the 1930s musical "On Your Toes."

"If I have to take a few good-natured insults, you know, I've taken a lot of abuse before so, no question, I've got big shoulders," he said. "The bottom line is to draw attention to the show, to the arts, the art of ballet and dancing in general. It's something I'm very excited about."

He literally has big shoulders, too. In the ballet company's costume department, he swung his arms and shrugged his shoulders to test his range of motion in a taupe houndstooth suit usually worn by more lithe male dancers. Some tailoring would be required, along with a larger-sized fedora.

Even if he won't be dancing in the costume, he wanted to make sure his character could swagger convincingly to open a ballet featuring gangsters, strippers and an attempted murder plot.

Piazza, who had 427 career home runs and made 12 All-Star Game appearances, didn't know anything about Balanchine when he first stepped into the rehearsal studio, though he did impress the dancers with the exaggerated accent and smoking habit that he gave his character.

"He knows a lot about acting, which makes it a lot easier," said principal soloist Kleber Rebello, who will play the part of a jealous Russian dancer who hires Piazza's gangster to kill his rival.

"He'll be bringing different people, maybe people who haven't watched ballet yet. It's definitely a good opportunity," Rebello said.

Attracting new audience members has been a priority at the Miami Beach dance company, which is embracing new collaborations after a financial restructuring and a change in artistic director. One such collaboration paired two ballerinas with Miami Heat basketball players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for a recent ad campaign promoting downtown Miami's cultural scene.

Piazza, whose daughter is a student at Miami City Ballet School, said he's eager to help boost the dancers' image among sports fans.

"I remember back in the '70s when (former Pittsburgh Steeler) Lynn Swann said he used to dance. Obviously his athletic prowess is unmatched, so I think it's a cool thing," he said. "It's good to see that boys are participating as well. It's a very, very athletic activity."

Philip Neal, who is staging the production and coaching Piazza in his role, said he was thrilled that athletes such as Piazza are highlighting the athleticism and discipline of dance, particularly for boys. Neal played Little League baseball before growing up to dance at New York City Ballet when Piazza played for the New York Mets.

"It's a very taxing and athletic activity," Neal said. "I'm really grateful for Mike to bring some light to that fact."

     

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Advertisement
The Recorder Sports Schedule

 

The Recorder Newscast

Most Popular

    Area high school sports calendar
    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Amsterdam Police help Schenectady find homicide suspect
    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    URGENT New York panel picks 3 upstate resort casinos
    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Port Jackson Media changes ownership
    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    New tax: Vehicle use tax approved
    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Robert A. Savoie Jr.
    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    The Outlet Pass: AHS, B-P set to meet
    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Amsterdam bounces back from S-G defeat with impressive win over Broadalbin-Perth
    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    B-P senior portrait is given the green light
    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Second nature: St. Mary's staff conducts ebola drill
    Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advertisement

Copyright © Port Jackson Media

Privacy Policies: The Recorder

Contact Us

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook