BLACK VOICES

This Chicago Dance Studio Is Giving Traditional Ballet A Hip-Hop Makeover

The studio's founder is calling the style "hiplet."

The Chicago Multicultural Dance Center is putting a fresh spin on ballet by adding hip-hop moves to the traditional style.  

Homer Bryant opened the school in 1990, offering various levels of classical ballet and other dance styles, to make dance more accessible for low-income students and dancers of color. He then started teaching “hiplet” (hip-hop + ballet) in 2005, in hopes of keeping the discipline “relevant” and fun for his young dancers. Since then, videos of his dancers have gone viral and his students have even appeared on “Good Morning America.”

“It keeps them alive. If I’m rapping a rap cadence, it makes learning traditional classical ballet so much better for them,” he said. 

Cheryl Taylor, the school administrator at Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, said that dance can sometimes be both “rigid” and “exclusive,” but their unconventional style is widening its appeal. “Hiplet” also shows dancers a new way to express themselves outside of your standard grand jeté or pirouette, she added.  

“It’s giving people who maybe aren’t as fond of traditional ballet a way to experience pointe and classical training in a way that’s current and hip,” Taylor said.

This video was produced by Felicia Kelley and edited by Taylor Thompson. 

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