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 interview with Homer Bryant below: