Chicago’s Hiplet Channels The Dance Theatre Of Harlem And The A$AP Mob

In 1994, Homer Hans Bryant — dancer, instructor, and founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center — did something most classically trained performers would roll their eyes at.

He choreographed a piece, played some of the decade’s most popular rap music like the A$AP Mob, and encouraged dancers to break it down on pointe like the Dance Theatre Of Harlem. Back then, it was simply called “Rap Ballet”; and though it may have disrupted the preconceived stereotypes of what both dance and dancers should look like, it never seemed to completely infiltrate the industry in a way other contemporary styles have.

Nearly 25 years later, Bryant is still teaching that same hip-hop-meets-ballet technique — only this time, Hiplet (pronounced “hip-lay”), as it was formally named in 2005 (and trademarked four years later), has become widely known through video shares on social media, having gone viral both within and outside the dance community.

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Photo via Grip Magazine from the Nordstrom’s fall 2017 campaign that celebrates having a voice.

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