Blink and you'll miss the Jeter move in 'Hamilton'

Choreographer inspired by the Hall of Famer's habit

July 3rd, 2020
(Art by Tom Forget)

If you're among the millions (tens of millions?) jumping at the chance to see "Hamilton" now that it's available to stream on Disney Plus, this is surely a noteworthy Independence Day weekend.

But even the most die-hard fans might not be aware of the homage to hidden in the intricate dance moves in the show.

On a recent episode of "The Hamilcast" podcast, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler told host Gillian Pensavalle how his love of the Yankees made its way into his instructions for the cast performing the second-act number "It's Quiet Uptown."

"There's ... a Derek Jeter Easter egg in that number," Blankenbuehler begins at about the 51:23 mark of the episode. "Because I love the Yankees and I love to watch baseball with my son. My son would always imitate, when Derek Jeter would take the plate, he would put his arm out in front of him ... like he was pointing to the outfield. He would put this long arm out in front of him, like over the pitcher's head.

"So when the men are singing to Hamilton, they all stand around him and they all put their hand out, like Derek Jeter. There's something about the power that Derek Jeter had -- of being an icon, of being a superhero, of being a gentleman -- that, when the men look at Hamilton, [they're] in a way remembering when he had power. So they're doing that move, like putting their arms across the horizon ... willing him to have the power he used to have. I like that moment."

"It's Quiet Uptown" is, as the title suggests, a slow, quiet song, the 18th track of the second act. It begins roughly 2 hours, 11 minutes into the show. As Alexander Hamilton -- played by the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- stands at the center of the stage in the spotlight, the men of the company stand around him in a circle, arms outstretched, singing, "They say he walks the length of the city."

And that's not the only baseball-inspired move in the show. In a video breaking down his process for choreographing "Yorktown," a climactic song in the first act, Blankenbuehler explains his reason for incorporating a pitcher's windup into the moves of a cast playing the role of Revolutionary War soldiers.

"This lyric is, 'At least I have a friend with me,' Blankenbuehler says. "So this is sort of channeling that idea. So from here, I take the baseball behind my back and into ... my glove, and instead of the pitch, it goes all the way to point to my rifle, which gets held up over my head."

To see those moves in action in the show, watch the ensemble behind Hamilton at the beginning of this clip, or look for it 59 1/2 minutes into the film.

Just be sure not to blink. Blankenbuehler's moves flow as quickly as the words from the actors' mouths -- or a fastball zipping toward the plate at 98 mph.

Now we just need to get him to work on a revival of "Damn Yankees."