Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Baseballet": Baseball meets ballet and it's a perfect fit

Baseballet / When performance art combines with sports
on one of the most scenic sports stages in the world.

The kid can dance.

The "kid" is Weston Krukow, who is the youngest of five children of former Major League baseball pitcher and current San Francisco Giants television analyst Mike Krukow.

As a kid, "I was always dancing," the younger Krukow said. "I never stopped thinking about it." He regularly put on after-dinner shows at home for his family. The older Krukow adds: "We encouraged him to take dance classes." Now, Weston Krukow is a professional dancer for the famed San Francisco company Smuin Ballet. He's expressive, tight with his choreography, entertaining and, most of all, athletic. He can jump, he can tumble.

So, it should come as no surprise that Weston Krukow has created "Baseballet," which combines baseball inspired movements with traditional ballet movements together with athletic prowess set on one of the most scenic sports stages in the world. Interspersed throughout the eight-minute film are candid observations from both Krukows.


Weston Krukow (left) and Ben Needham-Wood /
Moving about the AT&T Park infield, the San Francisco
Giants' home ballpark, in "Baseballet."
After watching "Baseballet," the similarity between baseball and ballet movements becomes clear. It is brought out by the various strength-power-movement components that the charismatic Krukow and his dance partner, Ben Needham-Wood, exhibit as they gracefully move about the AT&T Park infield, the Giants' home ballpark, where "Baseballet" was beautifully filmed recently one early morning.

On his Instagram account, Weston Krukow wrote: "Getting up at 4:30 totally worth it."

In "Baseballet," Mike Krukow recalls a dinner conversation between him, his son and Needham-Wood. "They were marveling at how graceful baseball players were," he said. "There's a lot of ballet in baseball, just by the way they move ... there was rhythm. Rhythm was constantly being referred to: the rhythm of the pitcher, the rhythm of the hitter, the rhythm defensively. And, I think that was interesting to the dancers because their whole life is about rhythm."

Said Needham-Wood: "We found there were so many parallels between this idea of legacy where, in baseball, there's the previous generation that has to train the new guys exactly how to throw the perfect pitch, exactly how to come in contact with the ball. So, there a finesse to it you can't learn from a textbook. It has to be taught to you. And, it's the same with dance. One generation has to teach the next generation, otherwise the art form is going to die out."

In a 2014 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Krukow said: "Some of the ballet techniques that have been around for a hundred years, I wish I could have used some of them as a pitcher.

Weston and Mike Krukow /
Together, sharing a conversation about life
in "Baseballet."
"I used to think I worked hard. I never did what Wes does. ... He's in a lifestyle directly related to what I did, and I'm reliving my past through him, in a world I knew nothing about. It's opened my eyes not just to dance, but to many things. We've just been intrigued by this journey. It's been one of the most exhilarating things that's ever happened to our entire family. It's fantastic."

Adds the soft-spoken Wes: "I live with my hero," he said, in describing his relationship with his father. "I talk with him all the time about what I'm going through emotionally and physically, and get advice from him."

Is there a baseball lesson that Wes has absorbed from his Dad? Yes, indeed. "As a professional, you have to find a balance and moderation in all of it," he said."The thing I've been able to get from (Mike) is to ground yourself, be humble. You're never as bad as you think you are, and you're never as good as you think you are."

In watching "Baseballet," not only are we witnessing the beauty of sport and dance combined, we are also seeing a loving father and his son sharing a conversation about life. It's one generation passing along wisdom to another.

Seeing the younger Krukow dance is an emotional experience for his Dad. "It's emotional," Mike Krukow says near the end of "Baseballet." He admits: "It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch him dance. I cloud up because he's doing what he's needs to do, what he wants to do. It has made all of us in our family very proud."

When he performs in front of his Dad, it's game on! "I pull out all the stops," Weston Krukow says. "I love it because it's such a nostalgic feeling for me. It's where I can feel like I'm performing for my hero."

Photos: Courtesy of CSNBayArea.com.

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