Dance Finds a Place in Baseball With the Savannah Bananas
Zachary Frongillo thought he had left dance behind. Then, one fateful day last summer, the owner of the Savannah Bananas, a Coastal Plain League baseball team, asked him to coach first base. Reluctantly, the former Erick Hawkins Dance Company member agreed, and, in addition to telling Bananas base runners when it was safe to steal second, he executed a series of pirouettes between pitches. The clip of the ballet dancer in uniform went viral.
As the director of entertainment for the Bananas, Frongillo is responsible for ensuring crowds don’t just see a baseball game, but a variety show that includes everything from a 65-and-up line-dance squad (the Banana Nanas) to a batter walking up to the plate on stilts—and, yes, dancing first-base coaches, which has become something of a tradition for the team.
“Everything that’s normal, we do the opposite” is the Bananas’ mantra, Frongillo says. His viral moment was the result of him subbing in for Maceo Harrison, a dancer whose resumé includes music videos and who replaces the cryptic hand signals you’d normally see from a first-base coach with freestyle hip hop.
“It’s becoming this giant show because it’s making baseball fun, and dancing is a big part of that.” Zachary Frongillo
Frongillo’s “Waltz of the Flowers” clip was seen by Savannah Ballet Theatre artistic director Suzanna Braddy, who recruited him to join the company as a guest artist. Now, he’s back to taking class three times a week, and planning to incorporate more dance into baseball games for the Bananas’ 2022 season.