An All-New Dance Style Emerges

An All-New Dance Style Emerges

In the United States, a brand-new dancing form known as “Hiplet” (pronounced hip-lay) is becoming popular. Hiplet was developed in 2007 by Homer Hans Bryant, the founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC), and named after its two main inspirations: hip-hop and ballet. Hiplet is not only a combination of two very different types of movement, but it also unites two art forms that were created by and are currently dominated by two different ethnic groups: a centuries-old dance form that has been exclusively practiced by white Europeans, and a young, urban hip-hop movement led by African Americans. Hiplet has gained popularity in recent years because to social media, and ardent ballet critics have responded to him with both acclaim and criticism.

Unlikely Fusion

If one is acquainted with Hiplet’s beginnings but hasn’t witnessed its dancers in action, they may be curious about the potential for fusing hip-hop and ballet. The beauty of classical ballet comes from a variety of coordinated pink pointe shoes chasséing across the stage, as well as from controlled, beautiful poses and quick leaps. Hip-hop dancing, on the other hand, is often free-form and frequently performed towards the floor. A dancer’s moves consist of popping, which is a range of motion from flowing to jerking, and locking, which is precisely freezing a move in mid-air before executing it. However, Hiplet dancer Nia Lyons clarifies, “Hiplet is the ideal combination of both: you must possess the discipline and skill to be able to move freely on pointe, without going to the extent where you are unable to express yourself.”

Sources

Having taught ballet since the 1980s, Homer Hans Bryant was in need of a means to maintain the form’s vitality. He created “rap ballet,” the first instance of fusing the two dance styles, at the CMDC in 1994. Bryant expanded on the concept as hip-hop gained in popularity over time. Bryant stated on a talk program in 2016 that “you have to do what they’re doing now in order to stay relevant with young people.” “…even though we have classical ballet training, I put my hiplet on pointe.”

Most of the hiplet dancers that Bryant teaches are African Americans and range in age from 12 to 18. Hiplet has made ballet accessible to underprivileged groups, despite the classical ballet industry’s historical exclusion of numerous body kinds and skin tones. Hiplet dancer Zipporah Wilson asserts, “If you can groove on pointe and have rhythm, you got it.”

Hiplet Is Unique

With millions of views on their combined YouTube videos, the Hiplet ballerinas’ distinctive stylistic combination has made them quite successful. However, it has also offended a lot of people online. Hiplet is criticized by some as a crass and failed “mash-up,” undermining African-American ballerinas who have fought for equity in their field, according to Dance Magazine writer Theresa Ruth Howard. Some have responded that Hiplet’s main reason for upsetting traditional dancers and fans is because it’s fresh, eye-catching, and has taken the limelight. Hiplet is unique, according to Zipporah Wilson. “You can bounce with it, you know, have fun with it, and you can just really move your torso more.”

Bryant’s Hiplet ballerinas have performed for TEDx lectures, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in Los Angeles, New York Fashion Week, Good Morning America, and a number of other talk programs since becoming viral in 2016. Watch this video to see hiplet dancers move to the music and demonstrate their incredible point-dancing skills:

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