Mar 15, 2014
06:51 AM
Arts & Entertainment

After 'America's Got Talent', Connecticut Dance Troupe Catapult Is In Demand

After 'America's Got Talent', Connecticut Dance Troupe Catapult Is In Demand

A shadow-dance image from Catapult's Facebook page.

Catapult—whether used as a noun or verb—is a word suggesting extreme motion, something being propelled dramatically forward.

It was a beautiful bit of branding for veteran dancer and choreographer Adam Battelstein to name his shadow-dance troupe Catapult Entertainment. After making it to the semifinals of the NBC show “America’s Got Talent” last summer, the Torrington-based troupe has been catapulted to fame and a level of demand that has it overbooked—with twin troupes performing simultaneously in the U.S. and Europe.

“Forty or 50 million people seeing you on television definitely is a game-changer. So it’s kind of crazy for us right now,” Battelstein said by phone Friday afternoon from Scottsdale, Ariz., where one of those troupes had just performed. Almost as soon as he caught his breath, he would be off to Germany to check on that Catapult corps.

It’s not just Catapult’s artistry that’s in high demand these days but also its powers of persuasion through the troupe’s visually narrative version of trompe l'oeil.

It seems that among those who took notice of Catapult’s run on Season 8 of “America’s Got Talent” was the national nonprofit YMCA, which has employed Catapult's “amazing storytelling talents” for a new awareness building effort.

“This week,” a release says, “the Y launches the first of three videos created by the group to help more Americans better understand the breadth of services offered by local Ys in communities across the country—many of them free of charge and focused on developing the potential of youth and providing resources to help everyone live healthier.”

The 163-year old YMCA (U.S.) is a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening communities through programs and resources that foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and the first Catapult video (above) highlights the Y’s focus on youth development and early learning programs. I’ve included a link in case you’d like to share the video.

People may think of the local or regional Y as a place you go to play basketball, swim and exercise, but a Y is so much more. There are 2,700 Y locations in 10,000 communities around the country, and together they serve 12 million adults and nine million youth of all ages with services like these:

*   Chronic illness prevention programs – like the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program that’s held up by many experts as the model for how to deliver preventative care programs effectively outside of the medical setting

*   A hunger prevention program that delivers millions of meals to children across the country each year

*   The largest after-school program in the country that focuses on helping children achieve academic success

*   A Healthier Communities Initiatives program that, to date, has helped 175 communities make more than 35,000 changes to support healthier living opportunities for residents – from safe walking routes to bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to communities lacking healthy food options.

Contracting Catapult—the Y videos are a paid job for the dance troupe—is a natural not only for Battelstein’s storytelling skills.

Catapult started life as a corporate entertainment company with a mission of “getting people’s message across,” and Battelstein said the Y understands that “we were able to tell a story in a very short period of time.”

While that hasn’t changed, Catapult has grown in other directions, thanks to the “America’s Got Talent” experience. “With America as my client I was kind of free to tell any story I wanted to tell,” Battelstein recalled of the troupe’s experience on the show, noting that what was presented on the show “had to have emotional content and had to hit people where they live.”

“The experience did change me and the choreography quite a bit,” said Battelstein, who lives in rural Kent in Litchfield County when he’s not on the road with Catapult. The troupe’s studio is in the former Nutmeg Ballet space on Water Street in Torrington.

In taking his work prior to “America’s Got Talent” and adapting it to meet the demand for Catapult shows that came afterward, Battelstein’s short-form approach had to grow into pieces that could span 90 minutes.

That was scary—especially since it had to happen in just six weeks to take advantage of the offer to do the tour in Germany.

“How will I know if I don’t try,” Battelstein said of his thought process. “So I just said, ‘Yes, we’ll do it.’ So we now have a 90-minute show and it’s just now starting to get booked in the United States.”

Dates are set in Iowa and Montana, and Battelstein is working to nail down a full U.S. tour—and, he said, he would love for that to include a show at home, at the Warner Theatre in Torrington.

Stay tuned, and for more, see Catapult’s website or its Facebook page.


After 'America's Got Talent', Connecticut Dance Troupe Catapult Is In Demand

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