At first look, Dance Informa looks like the final place to function an article on a summer season collegiate baseball group, however the Savannah Bananas, primarily based in Savannah, Georgia, are greater than a baseball group. Well-known for his or her “Banana Ball” in addition to their TikTok movies, Bananaland has captured the hearts of many throughout the nation. The Bananas’ motto is “Followers First. Entertain At all times,” and attending a recreation at Grayson Stadium will earn you the prospect to see what some attendees liken to a Broadway present.
Dance Informa had the pleasure of chatting with Zack Frongillo, Savannah Bananas’ director of leisure. Frongillo has a dance and sports activities background and has been concerned within the sports activities leisure world for a number of years. He attended the College of Nevada, Las Vegas for Dance Efficiency and Choreography.
A possibility with Vegas’ Golden Knights hockey group launched Frongillo to the sunshine of sports activities leisure which finally led him to the Savannah Bananas. “Sports activities leisure is one thing that not lots of people take into consideration, as a result of once you go to a sporting occasion, you clearly are there for the game, however that’s not essentially the case right here in Bananaland.” Many are intrigued with Banana Ball, however followers know to count on a present!
The Bananas have one thing for everybody: “The World’s Slowest Race” that includes crawling toddlers; The Banana Nanas, a senior dance squad; The Man-anas, dad-bod cheerleaders; The Banana Splitz, a pre-teen dance squad; and the most recent addition, “Dancing with the Bananas”, a dance competitors that includes six gamers and 6 ballerinas from Savannah Ballet Theatre. Not solely are there alternatives for fan involvement but in addition important participation from the gamers.
The group is consistently brainstorming methods to “Entertain At all times.” “Jesse (Bananas’ proprietor) and I’ll do thought classes,” Frongillo says. “We used to generate 10 concepts a day, however that’s modified, and we now have OTT conferences – Over the Prime moments – these are the moments all through the sport that actually exhibit what makes us totally different. We ask, ‘What are folks going to see at a baseball recreation that they’ve by no means seen earlier than?’… an OTT second.”
The Savannah Bananas are passionate and motivated to attach with followers and supply particular moments for them within the park. “The large factor for us is we break down the barrier between participant and followers,” Frongillo explains. “We’ve got guys who go up within the crowd each recreation and hand a rose to slightly lady. We ship gamers into the group to shake navy servicemen/veterans’ palms. Every part that we do may be very intentional. Additionally, the buy-in from our guys is unmatched. We’ve got gamers doing full choreographed dances on the sector.”
Merging baseball with choreographed dances is sudden, however the Bananas prioritize choosing the proper folks to hitch them. “Our head coach talks on a regular basis about how we’re not searching for the perfect gamers on the sector; we’re searching for the correct folks with the correct attitudes – nice human beings on and off the sector,” says Frongillo. “For the pro-team, now we have a tryout which features a TikTok part and dancing part; it’s not all about baseball. It all the time comes again to searching for the correct folks, not the perfect gamers.”
A baseball tryout incorporating TikTok and dancing wouldn’t make sense to the seasoned baseball fan, however a lot of the Savannah Bananas’ fame has come from their social media presence. When requested which movies stood out to Frongillo, he talked about their 3-2-2 movies. “The three-2-2 is a second throughout Banana Ball, third inning, second batter, second pitch. This second has received us over 100 million views on TikTok alone – over a few totally different movies. The pitcher, brief cease, second baseman and catcher all do a choreographed dance proper earlier than a pitch. They do the dance, after which he goes immediately right into a pitch.”
First Base Coach Maceo Harrison is just not solely coach but in addition choreographer for many of the Bananas’ dances. “We’ve got the world’s solely and biggest dancing first base coach,” Frongillo shares. “He joined us in 2018, and is unbelievable. He dances the third, fourth and seventh inning of each recreation, and choreographs all of the participant dances – a staple in our recreation.”
Dance Informa readers could particularly benefit from the Savannah Bananas’ ballet-dancing first base coach video, starring Frongillo! “One of many extra viral movies on our TikTok was the ballet dancing first baseman, and that one was me. Maceo had informed us earlier within the 12 months that he couldn’t be at this recreation. We weren’t capable of finding a substitute, so I hopped on the market. The video went loopy, and that, in flip, introduced me again to Savannah Ballet Theatre, and now I’m dancing professionally once more.”
The Bananas have struck a chord with folks of all ages, not simply baseball lovers however most of the people, too. When requested what they credit score for his or her success, Frongillo shares, “It begins on the high. Jesse is with the followers on a regular basis. There’s no different proprietor within the nation who’s so in contact with the followers. We’re additionally a really shut entrance workplace – our Followers First Director does an important job bringing in folks. You possibly can have all of the accolades on this planet, however in the event you don’t match our tradition, the ‘Followers First, Entertain At all times’ mentality, you’ll by no means slot in right here. It begins there after which it’s dwelling, respiratory, all the time being Followers First.”
From eliminating ads within the park, to offering $20 all-you-can-eat tickets, to the creation of fast-paced Banana Ball, each choice the Savannah Bananas makes is filtered by their Followers First, Entertain At all times mission. And it’s paying off – the ready listing for tickets is over 60,000 names! For these unable to get tickets, ESPN+ is releasing a six-episode documentary, Bananaland, this summer season.
Subsequent 12 months, the Savannah Bananas World Tour is planning to journey to much more cities to satisfy the excessive demand for Banana Ball. Maintain a watch out, as they might play close to you!
Observe the newest Bananas information on social media: @thesavbananas.
By Melody McTier of Dance Informa.