What I love most about public art is that it takes on so many different forms and everyone experiences it differently. Bernice Radle tuned me into this very simple art ‘installation’ located on Summer Street between Elmwood and Delaware. It actually took me a while to locate the “Get your dance on!” dance steps due to the subtleness of the interactive artwork. If you happen to walk this route, then you may be aware of the painted dance steps… I’ve passed by this spot a thousand times and never noticed the number.
When I first happened upon the plotted foot placement chart, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone ever played along with the routine. I decided that I was going to ask the first person to walk by if he or she would demonstrate how the diagram worked. Thirty seconds later I flagged down my unsuspecting candidate. Her name was Nafisa Smith and in my best non-stalker voice I asked, “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” What an original ice breaker… doh! To my surprise she stopped and said, “Sure.” I pointed to the dance steps and asked her if she wouldn’t mind demonstrating a move or two for Buffalo Rising. She smiled and answered, “Actually, I’ve danced these steps before… I pass them on my way to work.” What a stroke of luck!
Without further hesitation Nafisa began to effortlessly dance along the sidewalk, following the dancing feet all the way to the end. Without stopping, she twirled around and began to head back towards me, dancing all the while. Not only was she a good sport, she was also a good dancer. When she got back to the starting point she hopped off the last footprint and the two of us began to laugh… the dance steps had brought us together in the middle of the city to not only interact with the art, but to interact with each other. This might not be a million dollar installation that draws thousands upon thousands of people to analyze it… rather it is a fun and whimsical gift that someone went out of his or her way to lay out. Whoever it was, the mission was successful.