Among the convoys of tour buses that meander through the canyons of New York City, one stands out as a distinctive, vehicle, guide and tourist attraction. It is called “The Ride.” The fact it is uniquely distinguished by its one-sided panoramic view, stadium -seating, and entertainment driven guides are all part of the allure.
However, what passengers, tourists and most New Yorkers may not know is that a couple of talented Black dancers are now integral to the part tour/part show/part entertainment ride through mid-town.
Samuel St. Juste and NaTalia Johnson are the pair of very talented dancers who perform along the main thoroughfares that the bus maneuvers.
Lucky tourists, residents and passengers often get a glimpse of St. Juste when he flips somersaults along 42nd St. as the bus cruises by to appease passengers.
St. Juste resides in New Jersey but has danced his way across the river to join Lubbock, Texas native Johnson in a ballet that nightly lights up Columbus Circle.
Johnson has been honing her career as a ballerina since joining the company of Dance Theatre of Harlem more than a decade ago. Selected by choreographer/actress/ dancer Debbie Allen, she performed in the principal role of Allen’s Los Angeles production of “Pearl.”
From the panoramic view of the Ride, Johnson’s electrifying tutu adds spectacular flair to her blithe, toe-tipping pirouettes past the fountains, statue of Christopher Columbus and clueless bystanders who seem awed by the impromptu performance.
“For a long time, I had stood out because I usually was the only Black person dancing on stage,” Johnson said in a previous interview about her selections in all-white showcases.
“At times I was uncertain if people were simply noticing me because I was not white.”
Now busloads are cheering her for being the sole female dancer in the Circle.
Coupled with the princely St. Juste, the pair provides the crème de la crème of a four and a half mile Ride.
In addition, the rocking rolling tour bus features 40 video screens 3,000 LED lights and an audio system that enables pedestrians to participate.
Riders are able to sing Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” anthem, count-down to a new year at Times Square and watch and hear a saxophone player jazz- up the sidewalk outside Carnegie Hall by playing Duke Ellington’s “Take The A Train.”
A Jackson Five fan joins him to sing “I Want You Back” and impromptu theater quizzes, NY history and pertinent information about the Chrysler Building and Duane Reade stores are humorously interjected into the 75-minute tour.
For more info. Log onto www.experiencethe ride.com
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