Battelstein & Co. earn 'Talent' finals
Catapult Entertainment is alive and well in its bid to capture the $1 million grand prize on NBC-TV's "America's Got Talent."
The shadow dance troupe, led by Kent resident Adam Battelstein and including FineLine Theater Arts instructor Rebecca Moore -- wowed judges Aug. 20 with an evocative performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
Their Aug. 27 semifinal featured an under-the-sea theme considered by judges to be less well defined.
Yet in a last-minute decision, the celebrity judges moved Catapult on to the finals.
Battelstein explained during an on-air interview that technical glitches had hurt the group's performance Aug. 27.
"We need you on this show, you're an important act," said judge Howard Stern. "There's no way I can say no to you."
Performing Aug. 20 to Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Catapult used silhouette images to portray the circle of life, along the way offering an inspirational tribute to those who had died in Newtown.
Judges were unanimous in their assessment the performance was the best of the 12 offered in that round.
Catapult will compete soon for the $1 million prize, to be awarded Sept. 18, and the chance to headline a show in Las Vegas.
"Having America fall in love with our work and our company is amazing," Battelstein, 50, said Tuesday. "But now the pressure is on not to let our fans down."
"There has been no time to experience the emotions of moving through this," he said. "In the back of my mind, I know this is very exciting and important for the company."
"But the other 99 percent of my brain is trying to pull together two 90-second sequences in a very short time," re remarked. "There's a great deal of pressure and work involved."
Battelstein started the troupe in 2008, after a long career with Washington-based Pilobolus.
Catapult is comprised of 10 dancers. It specializes in shadow dancing, creating imges with the human bodies to resemble objects and people behind a screen.
"Each new act takes about 40 hours of work to create," said Moore, who is 29 and lives in Stamford with her husband, Jonathan Winter.
Moore holds a masters degree from Sarah Lawrence College and has been dancing since she was 4.
"The unique part of shadow dancing is it tells a story," Moore said. "This is what I think draws a lot of peopler to it. You can use as many people as you want to create something. The possibilities are endless."
Despite being a seasoned dancer when she joined Catapult, Moore had to learn shadow dancing from scratch.
"It takes a lot of body awareness. For example, I learned if you go closer to the screen, the image gets smaller," Moore said.
Elizabeth Parkinson, owner of FineLine Theater Arts, lauded Moore and Battelstein for being very dynamic dancers.
"Rebecca has a really keen focus in her movement," Parkinson said. "She is a fabulous teacher/choreographer."
"Adam has been a guest teacher here and great contributer to the arts in this area for years," Parkinson added. "Its is so great to see him succeed and get recognition for his troupe."