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Ballet Talk for Dancers

catcher


Robin G

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Here's one for you-I met a guy who had an interested job backstage at the ballet.He was a catcher-does anyone know what he had to do?I'm not telling yet! :D

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I'll take a guess - does he "catch" the dancers as they run offstage to keep them from running into something backstage?

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Strictly a guess, but could he "catch" any hand-held props or costume parts when the dancers run off stage during a scene?

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He gives the dancers the "signs"... fast turn, curve turn, change-up... so they know what to "pitch" to the audience :D

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I like sgmca's answer. :shrug:

 

Two guesses: catches dancers who leap off the stage into the wings, or catches props (with a net) like the candle that Clara throws in the Nutcracker (I had that job once :D )

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Does he make sure that the stage is clear of debris that the dancers can trip on? Don't you hate that when something falls out of a dancers hair or a prop didn't get thrown off the stage far enough? You end up worrying for the dancers and watching the offending object on the stage instead of enjoying the performance until someone kicks it off stage or a dancer swoops it up.

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We had a catcher for a walk off the stage torch lift in Arabian. The guy would carry the girl off stage the the catcher would help her down.

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You guessed! He said he actually not only caught spinning dancers but threw them back onstage. There were a couple of catchers who rested one foot against a wood wedge on the floor so they could catch and toss. Now I wonder if this is common practice? Major Mel? Anyone?

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He gives the dancers the "signs"... fast turn, curve turn, change-up... so they know what to "pitch" to the audience :D

I knew this couldn't be right. Here in Chicago, that's what we call a backcatcher. Go figure.

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Not only is it a specific job, but IATSE, the stagehands' union has it as a specialty for which specific training is needed, like pyrotechnics. Ballets like Swan Lake need quite a few for the last act. Ever seen an Odette take the Fatal Plunge, and bounce right back into view? I have.

 

And the backcatcher goes back to the ancient days of town-ball baseball, where the catcher didn't step in until the third strike. Until then, he could be anywhere he liked and only recovered the ball from the ground after it hit the backstop. The only one he had to catch was the third strike, and he had to hold onto it, because if he dropped it, the batter was entitled to take a base and could not be thrown out. In this game, there was no strike zone, and the only things that counted were pitches that the batter swung on and hit, fouled or missed. Hence, there was no "walking".

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Knock, knock... sorry, couldn't help myself...

 

Ever seen an Odette take the Fatal Plunge, and bounce right back into view? I have.

 

No, but I have seen the soprano in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Tosca bounce after her fatal plunge... being the catcher for the ballet seems much safer!

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