UMKC has a long history of the arts, and with that history are many art mementos scattered across campus. One of the most identifiable pieces of art on the Volker Campus is the “Dancing” sculpture near the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center..
This imposing yellow steel structure towers high at 26 feet, facing the PAC, in a sense mimicking the graceful choreography that dancers exhibit within the Center. It is located in its own little oval of grass, surrounded on three sides by the Student Success Center, Swinney Recreation Center and Stanley H. Durwood Soccer Stadium.
“Dancing” was originally designed and installed in an atrium in the now- demolished Bannister Mall that was in South Kansas City.
The artist, Rita Blitt, saved the sculpture after the mall was demolished. After Blitt discussed the issue with UMKC officials, she presented the sculpture as a gift to the school on Sept. 28, 2008.
“The University worked closely with Ms. Blitt on the location, landscaping, and lighting of the sculpture’s installation in an effort to reinforce its relationship to the Performing Arts Center,” said Robert Simmons, Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities.
Blitt is an internationally renowned sculptor, painter and filmmaker. She attended the University of Illinois, Kansas City Art Institute and is an alumnus of UMKC. She has had more than 70 solo exhibitions throughout the world, including Singapore and Israel.
She has installed more than 45 sculptures, many of which are located in Kansas City. Another example of her work is a stainless steel sculpture known as “Freedom,” which was installed at the Plaza Library in 2004.
In addition to being such an accomplished artist, Blitt and her husband, Irwin, are patrons of UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Blitt has been a longtime admirer of the Conservatory’s students and faculty. She is a significant benefactor of the school, and has two additional sculptural pieces displayed in the Conservatory’s White Recital Hall.
“Dancing” is an abstract piece of art that has a very modern edge to it. Even from afar, the piece seems to attract the eye, and one can lose his or her self in the fluid curves of the metal. It is easy to see how the figure earned its name. The flowing lines of a human figure create a contemporary interpretation of the lithe poise of a dancer.
“When those lines come from my hands, I feel like I am dancing,” Blitt said, as engraved on the sculpture’s plaque.
“Dancing” has become an integral landscape on the Volker Campus and will continue to capture the attention of UMKC students for years to come.