Thursday, December 11, 2014

Interview With a Ball-Sitter


Yes that's me. A ball-sitter cause I don't have the 'balls' to do my own routine so I use others' balls. "Grow a pair, Yummy!", shouted an angry person from the abyss.

I confess, its an easy life. Less stress-free. Less scary.  Less responsibility. No fear of failure. Oh I've heard horrid tales and been in some of them. The person asked to rehearse for 36 hrs in one particular week and their primary function was to sit on a dance-ball and press a button at the right time. The unrehearsed shows where I had no idea of which ball to sit on or even worse, how to get to my ball. "Hey, I need an invite over here. Invite, Invite!". "When do we go on?". "Oh I am supposed to wear that accessory too...with this outfit you bought me (in exchange for a share of the tips?)". Yes I know you asked for volunteers and I said 'yes'. Yes, I know the definition of 'volunteer', no need to get rude.

So what is the appeal of ball-sitting?

 It gives one something to do. I feel a part of something. I don't really create anything. Sort of like a 'club-member'. I get to play 'dress-up'. I get free (cheap?) outfits. I'm helping someone. Something to look forward to? I feel like a dancer? I will be in videos? My friends will come and love me more?

So the discussion came up...and a good one...about 'dancer'. No not the reindeer. What is a dancer? I said, " Someone who moves their body in sync with music, (or to the beat in their own head that is sometimes contra-beat to the music). It is a form of expression.

But for SL?


 The theory goes that it is someone who makes conscious decisions on what animations to execute and with an intentional order. I would say a choreographer spends extra time in the refinement of the sequence of dances. i.e., smooth transitioning primarily and dance animations whose tempo matches song tempo. Choreographers are often also tasked with the accouterments that go along with presenting a holistic form of entertainment...that being a set, emotes, a costume, and maybe some special effects.

So the argument came up? Is a ball-sitter a dancer? Food for thought. Does it matter? They are happy, the audience is happy. So the real question I've been pondering and in discussions with those attempting to address the issue of more ball-sitter involvement is...how can ball-sitters take more of a creative role? ...those that do want to.

So it may be something on my future radar. 

One area I've seen where ball-sitters contributed is in emoting presented as ad-libbing to the audience, even interacting. Sort of star with a script and then let the interaction veer them off into adhoc expressions.

Is this the only practical area. A device was introduced years ago called DanceDiva. It had and still does allow a member of a controlled dance group to disengage and perform solo then reengage and become part of the group. Thus the 'Diva' part of the name. I'd seen this disengage-re-engage idea performed at a show that came off real well, (not using DanceDiva but another system). I felt more of a creative part of the ball-sitter process. 

Could we extend ad-hoc emoting and breakaway soloing to, say, costume changes? Stripping? Set changes? Particle emissions? If I went to a show and I knew that was what was going to happen (very important that the audience know that in advance)...that being that non-leads would be creating stuff happening on the fly at random as they felt it applied to the moment and the place and time in the 'creation'...well for one thing each show would be different so i would be much more inclined to see repeat performances. Sort of like some type of avant garde, group-performance-art thingy. 

Could it wind up amazing? Yes! Could it wind up a mess? Yes! but that's the fun of going and not knowing how it will actually come together. Could be like a word-association game. I say Pluto and you say...dog, cartoon, planet. Then the next answer is based on your answer. Well extend that to a live theatrical
production. So all of a sudden, ball-sitters become more involved. The creation becomes more homogeneous and collective. 

Now there would need to be some skeleton path to go by but then each person would have an idea of what options in animation choices, (ala tempo lets say) costume accessories, set parts, particle types, emote lines, and adlibs, etc, etc. to have on hand and ready.

Its an idea. The intent is to give ball-sitters who want to be a bit more involved without the pressure of being responsible for a whole routine...a chance to do more.

And i hear the alarm-woof of that crazy sneaker-named-dog, the Anti-Yumz, saying "enough"!

The Yumster



3 comments:

  1. Oh, sheesh, Yummy's tricked me into revealing my inner geek. :-P
    As I was reading through this, I thought, it's kind of like playing D&D. You (the DM) start out with an idea of where you want things to go. And then you turn the players loose and they are all over the place, instead of following your carefully laid out plan.
    Sometimes it's total chaos and a complete disaster. Sometimes it's total chaos and the most exciting, fun, hilarious, amazing time you've ever had.
    And I agree, the element of change would certainly be a factor in going to repeat performances (something I generally avoid).
    As for whether ball-sitters are 'real' dancers, it's honestly something I never considered. Some are happy to only ball-sit and participate. Some ball-sit at first and move on to become choreographers. But even choreographers are ball-sitters every now and then.
    Because who doesn't like to have a ball-sitter?! :-D

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  2. I love to be a ball sitter for someone else. I'll even pay for my own costume. I love to dance but sadly do not have the talent to be a good choreographer.

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  3. @ JMB - If you are not so good at choreo create an act where choreo is not the focus. Make a set based or comedy dance. Make a basic dance and let wit carry you :)

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