When Ball in the House puts on one of its energetic a cappella concerts, the group’s goal is to engage the audience.
“We really try to connect with them,” said Ball in the House vocalist Dave Guisti. “Whether it’s getting comments from people like, ‘Oh, that took me back to when I was a kid listening to doo-wop songs,’ or when they hear one of our original songs, it’s the best feeling in the world, seeing people laughing and talking with each other and enjoying the show.”
But holding the attention of young audience members is a bit more challenging. When performing for children, Ball in the House bass vocalist Ben Detty said that keeping audience engagement up is tricky, but rewarding.
“Performing for a younger audience in particular, especially kids as young as 5 or 6, the hardest thing can be getting them to sit still and have a good time,” Detty said. “When you do see them focused and engaged though, and maybe even inspired, it’s really cool.”
Ball in the House will face the challenge of entertaining and enthralling a group of young listeners when they perform at 5 and 7 p.m. today in Smith Wilkes Hall as part of Chautauqua Institution’s Family Entertainment Series.
The series offers audiences of all ages a chance to engage with a variety of acts and entertainers. Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts at Chautauqua, said that the FES is a chance for younger Chautauquans to expand their horizons.
“For me, (FES) is just about always surprising, always delighting and trying to expose families to as many different art forms as possible in what I hope is an intimate, fun way,” Moore said.
Ball in the House will be the first act to take the stage for 2019’s series, and the group said that they hope to provide an educational and entertaining experience all at once. While they also performed Monday on the Amphitheater stage, their act for the FES will differ slightly from their regular concert format.
According to Guisti, in addition to the five or six songs the group will perform, they’ll discuss the history of a cappella with the audience, take them through the process of writing a piece of music and open the floor up for a Q-and-A at the end to make sure everyone in attendance is able to engage with the art if they so choose.
Although they will be focused on discussion and education, today’s performances will be as high-energy and dynamic as other Ball in the House shows. Vocalist Wallace Thomas said that when performing for a younger audience, he brings as much energy and excitement as possible.
“Whenever I’m on stage, I like to be jumping and moving around,” Thomas said. “But when performing for kids, I’m doing that even more because I’m trying to match their energy. When they’re excited in the crowd, I’m excited up on stage.”
Despite the kid-friendly nature of the performance, the group is confident the show will be enjoyable for viewers of all ages.