MEET THE DANCE INSTRUCTOR BRINGING “HIPLET” TO THE WORLD
Earlier this year, a video of Black ballerinas dancing to hip-hop on pointe went viral. Those girls study “Hiplet” under instructor Homer Bryant at The Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. Even though Bryant and the dancers have just recently gained national attention, Bryant has been instructing dancers of all ethnicities at the school for decades.
“Everybody’s talking about the school and all of a sudden we’re an overnight success,” Bryant said. “But that took 26 years—26 years of hard work, focus, discipline and determination because as an African-American man with classical ballet training school, people would say, ‘you’re not going to make it.’”
Bryant proved the naysayers wrong. Since going viral, Bryant and his dancers have been on Good Morning America and are now preparing to go to Germany for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. But even with the outpour of support that these dancers have been getting, there are still critics that feel that “Hiplet” is wrong.
“No one has ever seen African Americans do what they’re doing on pointe,” Bryant said. “Classical ballet is this ethereal thing; it’s this high art form and you’re not supposed to do anything to it. The girls are on pointe doing African [dance] and hip-hop, or Hiplet, my trademark, and it’s upsetting a lot of people. But that’s good.
“They see ballet as that tunnel vision and they don’t have the peripheral that opens up and says, ‘Wow, this is new, this is different, this is amazing, this is entertaining, this is staying relevant. This is pulling kids off the street. This is staying with what’s happening now.’”
Check out the full video interview with Homer Bryant below:
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Briahnna Brown is a recent graduate from the School of Communications at Howard University. Briahnna was born and raised in Baltimore, Md., and many of her stories have focused on issues that affect her hometown. Briahnna’s articles have appeared in the Howard University News Service and the NNPA News Wire. Last year, Briahnna was selected to be an American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) intern and she worked at the Smithsonian Magazine in Washington, D.C. Briahnna has also interned at Howard Magazine, the university’s alumni publication.
Fellow, Chicago Defender
McKenzie T. Marshall is a senior journalism major with a concentration in broadcasting at Howard University. McKenzie is a contributing writer for “The Hilltop,” and a member of Howard’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. She also interned at the Washington, D.C., bureau of the BBC in the spring of 2016. McKenzie’s ultimate career goal is to be an on-air news reporter. One day, she wants to host her own television show focusing on politics and foreign news.