For the third year in a row, ballet dancers in Wichita will be running down the streets of the Air Capital wearing pink and blue tutus. As they run, they’ll listen to live music and watch performers construct artwork.
“I love watching the great athletes in any sport,” said Jill Landrith, Ballet Wichita’s artistic director and sponsor of this annual event. “I admire people who can push themselves so hard.”
Along with raising awareness for Ballet Wichita, the dance group is helping to raise awareness for other local arts organizations as well.
“People who wouldn’t sit in a concert hall will listen to live music while they are running,” Landrith said. “The arts are right there.”
Wichitans of all ages, whether they run or not, will be able to listen to jazz, folk and rock music; watch characters perform; and see runners participate in a silk painting at the “silk village” at the end of the run. A variety of entertainers will be stationed along the course of the run.
Performers from the Crown Uptown’s newest show, “Shrek: The Musical,” will be there.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Kelsey Shackelford of Crown Uptown. “It’s really important for the arts community to support each other.”
By coming to the run, performers are able to interact with both the audience and the runners. They are able to bring their shows to the streets.
“It helps unify the community,” Shackelford said. “It’s fun stuff.”
This year, the 5K Art Run will begin with Wichita’s very own Broadway performer and opera star Karla Burns singing the national anthem.
“I love singing the national anthem,” Burns said. “I think that any time I can help raise money and do something good for an arts organization is great.”
Recently, Burns sang the national anthem for her alma mater, Wichita State University. Burns has also sung the anthem at a San Francisco 49ers game and in front of President Jimmy Carter.
“When you go out of the country, you remember Wonder Bread and the national anthem,” Burns said.
Larry Rolander, a veteran 5K Art Run performer, will once again station himself, with his acoustic guitar and tambourine, next to the Keeper of the Plains. Rolander, who plays flamenco, enjoys performing for the runners.
“They all wave, say ‘hi’ and give me a thumbs up,” Rolander said. “It’s a lot of fun and a good mixture of the arts and motion. Kind of like ballet.”
The first wave of runners pass the entertainers and smile or wave. Subsequent groups meander by; some sit, some walk.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Roland said. “There are always people milling about.”
Runners and onlookers also will get to see hula hoopers and others along the 5-kilometer course that goes by the Delano Clock Tower, the WaterWalk and Exploration Place.
“It’s a way to make Ballet Wichita visible to the community without them (the community) going to the ballet,” said Alana Veges, Ballet Wichita’s board president. “Dancers are every bit the athlete that runners are. It’s a way to intertwine the two.”
By Alice Mannette
The Wichita Eagle