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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ballet Wichita 5K run blends art and fitness

By Amy Renee Leiker
The Wichita Eagle

Runners and dancers left a one-of-a-kind footprint on the bank of the Arkansas River during a Saturday morning race dedicated to love of local art.

Los Angeles artist Rachel Kice estimates about 400 people contributed to “The Footprint,” a billboard-sized painting created after the first Ballet Wichita 5K Art Run.

The canvas – a 14-foot by 48-foot piece of vinyl – features abstract images of ballet dancers colored by the race participants’ footprints.

Saturday, some walked on the canvas; others skipped or twirled. A few dancers in pink and white tutus flitted across, steady on their toes.

A few even ran – cautiously.

All had paint rolled on the soles of their shoes or bare feet.

“It’s kind of an interesting look at life, at this event,” said Kice, a Wichita native responsible for the painting’s design.

“Every little action a person takes makes something beautiful.”

The run and the painting are firsts for Ballet Wichita.

“It’s completely new for the arts organization,” executive director Barbara Chamberlin said. The race, a benefit for the nonprofit, showcased performances by local artists along the race path.

“Wichita is an incredible little enclave of culture and art. … It’s just joyous and fun and brings so many elements of the community together,” Chamberlin said.

The canvas will be displayed on a local billboard in about 10 days, said race organizer Mark Chamberlin. Its final location has not been determined, but runners say they’ll be looking for the mark they left.

“We’ll look for it around town and try to pick our footprints out,” said a barefoot Mark Hansen, who completed a 9-minute mile with wife, Janet – their best time yet. The Wichita couple’s running shoes were secured in a plastic shopping bag – paint-free and dry, after race volunteers washed the paint off their feet.

“It’s kind of a neat cause,” Mark Hansen said.

Julie Sharp, a tap-dance teacher for Wichita Children’s Theater, said she plans to find her footprints, too. After running and painting, she slipped shoes on freshly washed feet.

“I know what color my footprints are and where I stepped.”

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com.

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