INTERESTED IN
HIPLET BALLERINAS?

ARTIST BIO

"If ballet aims for the ethereal, hiplet, generally danced to pop music, is more concerned with earthiness. It has soulfulness, too; while the lower half of the body can be sharp and percussive, the upper half — how the arms connect with the back — conveys a natural flow" NY Times

SHOW DESCRIPTION

Hiplet™ fuses classical pointe technique with African, Latin, Hip-Hop and urban dance styles that are rooted in communities of color. It was specifically designed to make ballet accessible to all, by mixing it with current popular songs that will be familiar to audiences who don’t normally attend ballet performances. Performances may incorporate the rhythms of African drums with Tchaikovsky, arabesques and beat-boxing or even Tango en pointe - all while showcasing Hiplet's trademark sass, hip movements, and struts against popular music audiences will recognize from Black Violin to Beyonce and Prince. After features on Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, and The Huffington Post the new art form went viral in spring 2016 and has now amassed over a BILLION views. Since then partnerships with Mercedes Benz, Vogue's Anna Wintour, New York and Paris Fashion Week, W Magazine, Versace, and Old Navy to name a few, have culminated in an incredible worldwide demand for a live show featuring Homer Bryant's innovative technique. Featuring 10 dancers, CMDC is excited to partner with ECE Touring to bring its touring show to audiences everywhere. 

Premieres 2019-2020 season. Limited dates available, please contact us to be added to an interest list. Does not guarantee routing or a date on their tour. 

UPCOMING MUSEUM FEATURE

Homer Hans Bryant, creator of Hiplet, will be part of an exhibit curated by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History alongside recognizable innovators including director Jerry Bruckheimer & executive Sherry Lansing. Opening in 2020, The American Scene takes a deeply moving, provocative, and exciting look at entertainment through the eyes of our culture makers. Read more about the exhibit. To preview an excerpt from Homer Bryant's interview, click here.

MORE CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

BACKGROUND

In 1968, compelled by the tragedy of Dr. King’s death, Arthur Mitchell decided to start the Dance Theatre of Harlem. A year later, Mitchell took 10 dancers to Jacob’s Pillow for a lecture-demonstration and as they entered the theater, a young boy sweeping the stage found himself awestruck by the beautiful black dancers. Inspired, the stagehand signed-up for the evening’s class and by the end of the year was extended a scholarship to train at DTH where he later became a principal dancer and company member.

Today, that young boy is better known as Homer Bryant - founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and creator of the Hiplet™ technique. Bryant’s time with the Dance Theatre of Harlem was a catalyst for success in both his professional and personal life. In 1978, he married fellow DTH ballerina, Ronda Sampson, and 3 years later their daughter, Alexandra Victoria, was born with cerebral palsy. Bryant’s career highlights include:

Performing in The Wiz motion picture movie alongside Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, Broadway’s Timbuktu! starring Eartha Kitt, and Drury Lane Water Tower’s Evolution of the Blues

Training and touring under prima ballerina Maria Tallchief (one of Balanchine's wives) at the Chicago City Ballet 

Working with Cirque Du Soleil on the creation of Mystere, Alegria, Quidam and Saltimbanco

In 1990, he opened his own studio, Bryant Ballet, with a focus to offer all dancers, but especially low-income students and dancers of color, an entrée into classical ballet. By 1997, the mayor of Chicago renamed his school the “Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center” in honor of the studio’s work in the community. Over the years, Bryant has continued to incorporate hip-hop and ballet, eventually coining the term Hiplet™ in 2009. CMDC has trained many dancers who now perform with Cirque Du Soleil, Alvin Ailey, Broadway productions and more, but it was social media that propelled the program into another dimension. 

In 2016, Brazil’s Só Bailarinos re-shared posts of Bryant’s Hiplet classes; his unique technique causing so much controversy the video amassed over 8 million views. Shortly BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and Good Morning America were knocking on the door, elevating the view count to over 100 million. After GMA aired their performance, offers for commercial work and collaborations from the world’s most notable tastemakers, including Mercedes Benz and Vogue, started pouring in. Today, Hiplet™ has over 1 billion views and the phone has not stopped ringing since. 

ARTISTIC MISSION

Hiplet’s viral celebrity created such an overwhelming demand that CMDC began turning down many requests. The world was calling but everyone was on hold because most of Bryant’s performers were still in school and steady revenue was needed to hire dancers to form a professional company. Despite their immense popularity, the majority of CMDC’s funding and student scholarships was still coming from parent investors.

To keep the business growing, CMDC knew they had to create a professional touring company and has partnered with ECE Touring to premiere its first production. Together, they hope to expand upon Hiplet’s success and bring this innovative art form to audiences around the world, while continuing to invest in the programs CMDC offers its students and community. 

When Homer Bryant opened his studio in Chicago’s Dearborn Station, he envisioned a place where dance training was accessible to everyone. Emphasizing his dedication, Bryant shares, “My mom passed away in 2006; my wife passed away in 2008; my daughter passed away in 2010. I am married to my school and these kids.” Currently, he has 285 students training at his studio, almost all female and under the age of 18.  Through touring, he and the staff at CMDC hope to raise enough money to offer more scholarship opportunities + increase enrollment to 500 students with a goal to recruit & train 50 male dancers off the streets of Chicago. 

Bryant sees dance as a way to build character and discipline. Finding inspiration from his daughter’s challenges with cerebral palsy, he pursues perfection but understands fallibility.  Unable to walk or talk, Bryant would bring Alexandra to his classes where she would sit in her wheelchair and respond to the music by moving her fingers. “You see that? There’s a dancer inside of her,” he would say.  “You can take technique and put it on any child's body. The trick is to make kids feel good, to get them to open up that vision peripherally, to see others in class, not just themselves in the mirror, and to help them join a common purpose.” 


ARTS IN EDUCATION

Workshops, residencies and keynote speeches available. More info coming soon!

 

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