Today, a giant sculpture of a hippopotamus in the pose of Degas's Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is being unveiled across the street from Lincoln Center. Danish artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup says he was inspired both by Degas and by Disney's Fantasia, which features a similar hippo twirling to Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours.
The art installation, part of Art in the Parks Program, will be on view in Dante Park through July 31. It's a truly monumental piece, weighing in at two and a half tons — which is about as much as an IRL hippo could possibly ever weigh — and stands over 15 feet tall.
Today's unveiling ceremony, at 1:30 p.m., will feature students from the American Ballet Theatre JKO School. NYC Parks are encouraging visitors to post Instagram photos of themselves dancing with the hippo; those using the hashtag #dancewithhippoballerina have a chance to win ballet ticets and a Skaarup etching.
Fantasia’s hippo, whose entrance via fountain was inspired by Balanchine's Goldwyn Follies, was carefully animated to embody grace despite her bulk. "With every laugh, there must be a tear somewhere," said Walt Disney. "I believe in that."