Posted by Rebecca King on 05.31.2016
If you follow any social media related to ballet, or perhaps even just have a Facebook account, it is possible that over the past few weeks you have encountered a viral video coming out of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center. Through Instagram, Homer Hans Bryant chronicles his students’ training in a new form of dance he has created, “Hiplet,” a hybrid of ballet and hip hop (see video below). This morning Mr. Bryant brought some of his students to “Good Morning America” for a demonstration and discussion.
“Good Morning America” was just happy to follow up on a viral video and get the scoop from the man himself. But I am sure they didn’t understand the importance of media like this for ballet as a whole.
For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you know that I am very interested in ballet’s growing place in the pop culture spotlight. Whenever a story like this targets a huge audience, ballet has another moment in the mainstream news cycle. But what does this morning’s story this really mean for the art form?
As far as I see it, there are a few ways of looking at this. Mr. Bryant says that he felt he needed to “stay relevant with young people.” Any ballet teacher would agree with him. These days, kids are exposed to so much and are constantly being stimulated by the world around them. It seems to be taking a toll on how they focus and relate to activities. Trying to keep young students excited about ballet can be really hard. These girls are animated, they are happy, they are having fun: they are enjoying dance. To me, that’s a success.
Another plus: America this morning saw that ballet can be fun and exciting and that there are people out there looking to create new things based on a time-honored tradition. The ballet world just wants everyone to know that ballerinas are so much more than dying swans in tutus. This art can be so much more than most people even imagine.
One draw back, is their training. I have been following Mr. Bryant on Instagram for a few months now, so I have been seeing his posts on a regular basis. I was happy to hear him say this morning that “they have to train in classical ballet.” Though Hiplet is seemingly taking the country by storm, it is not a dance style that colleges or companies will be looking for. Their ability to move in ways outside of the classical vocabulary will be valid in their future, but a solid ballet technique is what will take these girls far.
So in conclusion, it’s all fun and games, but you still need to close in 5th position.
What do you think of “Hiplet” and Mr. Bryant’s classes? Join the conversation and leave your thoughts below.