Don't you love it when art changes, morphs, and grows along with the culture, its people, those who speak out, speak up, or speak differently? Many do, but it is often a struggle for artists in any field to stand up and create differently initially. This is ironic in a field based on creative expression, but critics, audiences, and artists alike sometimes have a hard time accepting new forms of something they have grown accustomed to (isn't this life for many, in general?). There are many reasons for this, stemming more deeply than simply, "we fear change"--and how change comes about is not insignificant either--but I'm not going into that here. Having said that, judging by the millions of people viewing one new dance form (thanks, Social Media!), the masses may be ready to embrace this new artistic expression.
Some critics are not necessarily wowed by this relatively new form of dance that's been garnering more attention since its videos have gone viral over the summer (it had some germination in the 1990s but didn't take off to the public until about a year ago with posted videos on instagram ), but that doesn't faze Homer Hans Bryant in the least. In fact, he sees this as a positive sign for his form of dance. Bryant is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, as well as a self-described "Disruptor/Innovator." He's also the creator of a style of dance called Hiplet. If you haven't heard of it yet, you can see what it's about by breaking the word down: Hip (Hip-Hop) and Let (pronounced "lay" as in Ballet). And, just as it sounds, it's a dance form that combines elements from both of these styles. So what does this mean? According to The Dance Center, "Hiplet fuses classical pointe technique with Hip-Hop and urban dance styles. 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."
Here is just one example of Hiplet, as featured on Good Morning America-
Others videos of Hiplet have received millions of hits.
“Watch and learn,” he said. “And I would ask them how many generations of African-American kids did they transform? What are you doing for the art? Get out of your comfort zone. Think outside the box. We’re keeping it relevant and getting kids excited. Some people didn’t like Picasso either. He painted funny.”
~New York Times
Bryant spoke last Friday on CBC's and PRI's Q with Tom Power further about Hiplet, and his experience giving validation and respect to his students of color by simply changing the required tights from pink to true flesh toned, be that brown or other (and really, are we still sometimes calling pink makeup, tights, etc "flesh color???" If it's not overt, it clearly is implied in some instances.). Granted, pink tights are still a requirement for many auditions, but at least Bryant is making a more inclusive voice heard among the youth he works with.
To see lots more from Homer Hans Bryant, you can check out his Instagram and keep your ears open for hearing a lot more about him and Hiplet in the future.