NYC's Latest Tourist Attraction Is a Hippo Ballerina

In honor of World Tutu Day (it's 2/2/2017, get it?) we're shining a light on the latest ballerina to make it big in New York City: She's tall and quiet, with a captivating sparkle in her eye. She hangs out near Lincoln Center. She's a traditionalist and prefers to rehearse in the old-style garb à la Degas-era Paris Opéra. She's also a hippo.

Wait, what?

Mockup of Bjørn Okholm Skaarup's Hippo Ballerina at Lincoln Center. Photo courtesy Cecilia Bonn Marketing and Communications.

Next Tuesday, February 7, at noon, the Hippo Ballerina sculpture will make its debut at NYC's Dante Park. The little strip of land at 64th Street and Broadway (across the street from Lincoln Center) will be the hippo's home through July 31. Yes, a night at the ballet with a pre-show hippo selfie is definitely in order.

Hippo Ballerina is the creation of Danish artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, and the sculpture installation is a partnership with Art in the Parks, a program of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

It's understandable why she's parked outside of the David H. Koch Theater instead of dancing on its stage. This hippo stands at more the 15 feet tall, and weighs upwards of 2.5 tons. Just think of how difficult it would be to find her a suitable male partner.

In addition to its proximity to Lincoln Center, Hippo Ballerina pays homage to two dance greats: the brigade of ballet hippos in Walt Disney's beloved Fantasia, and Degas' famous statue, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.

When you stop by the statue, be sure to post a pic of yourself sashaying with Hippo Ballerina on Instagram. Use the hashtag #dancewithhippoballerina, and you could win a limited-edition etching of Hippo Tightrope Dancer by the artist and a pair of tickets to the ballet. See you at Lincoln Center!

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Friday Film Break: Kyle Abraham's "When We Fell" for New York City Ballet

For his third work on New York City Ballet, choreographer Kyle Abraham has created a quietly haunting new dance film called "When We Fell." Abraham told Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times that a peaceful winter residency at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park deeply influenced the material, and it shows in the work's spare beauty and elegant sense of calm.

Available for free as part of NYCB's digital season until April 22, the film was co-directed by cinematographer Ryan Marie Helfant. The cast includes India Bradley, Jonathan Fahoury, Christopher Grant, Claire Kretzschmar, Lauren Lovette, Taylor Stanley, KJ Takahashi and Sebastian Villarini-Velez.

February 2021