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Broadway Dance Steps: Dancin' in the streets

Broadway, the main drag in the quirky Capitol Hill neighborhood, would be still be fun and colorful, even without the dancing people you occasionally spot on street corners. But, the dancing does add a little special something you can't find anywhere else.

And it's all thanks to visionary street artist Jack Mackie.

In the beginning of the 1980s, the city tore up the sidewalks along Broadway in order to update and repair the electrical wires. Mackie approached the city with an idea: to incorporate public art into the new sidewalks. He got the green light, and in 1982, Mackie he hired dance teachers to perform classic dance steps, such as the rumba, the foxtrot, the mambo, the waltz and the Lindy hop.

He used their steps as the basis for the inlaid bronze footprints (cast by a second artist, Chuck Greening) that appear in 8 locations up and down Broadway that invite passersby to try the dance. Each set of dance steps is marked with the right and left feet and show the progression of the steps using arrows and numbering. 

Two of the funniest are steps created by Mackie himself as a kind of inside joke to pedestrians. The "Bus Stop" step is placed right beside—what else?--a bus stop and mimics the kind of shifting and small pacing folks do when waiting for a bus. The "Obeebo"  is set into a particularly busy part of Broadway and illustrates the shifting "dance" the artist observed of people weaving to pass one another as they made their way down the street.

HelloSeattle Tip: The steps aren't marked with anything at eye level. If you go, keep your eyes peeled downward. Most steps are located near street corners on both sides of the street, although a few are embedded in the center of blocks.

Posted on August 10, 2010 by Caren Gussoff Sumption
Broadway Dance Steps weird Seattle Seattle public art
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