Six members of Hiplet Ballerinas of Chicago pose on stage with one arm raised in the air. They are wearing black and the stage is foggy.

Hiplet Ballerinas

10 a.m. (school show) and 7:30 p.m. (public show) Friday, January 24, 2025 | Yardley Hall

School show tickets start at $5.
School groups: please contact the Box Office for reservations.

Public show tickets start at $25.
Season tickets on sale now. Individual shows on sale June 17.

Individual Tickets Season Tickets (Save 10-15% per show)

School show recommended for grades 6-12. Public show recommended for all ages.

The only company in the world to perform the signature trademark style, Hiplet Ballerinas of Chicago fuses classical pointe technique with African, Latin, hip-hop, and urban dance styles rooted in communities of color.

They incorporate the rhythms of African drums with Tchaikovsky, arabesques, and beatboxing – all while showcasing Hiplet's trademark sass, hip movements and struts against music from Black Violin to Beyonce. Promoting inclusivity in both their cast and audience, Hiplet features true-toned tights, modern music, and dancers of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Homer Bryant

Homer Bryant is the founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and creator of the Hiplet technique. Bryant’s time with the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) was a catalyst for success in both his professional and personal life. In 1978, he married fellow DTH ballerina, Ronda Sampson, and three years later their daughter, Alexandra Victoria, was born with cerebral palsy. Bryant’s career highlights include performing in “The Wiz” motion picture alongside Michael Jackson and Diana Ross; in Broadway’s "Timbuktu!" starring Eartha Kitt; and in Drury Lane Water Tower’s “Evolution of the Blues.” He also has trained and toured under prima ballerina Maria Tallchief (one of Balanchine's wives) at the Chicago City Ballet and has worked with Cirque Du Soleil on the creation of “Mystere,” “Alegria,” “Quidam,” and “Saltimbanco.”

In 1990, Bryant 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 (CMDC) 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 reshared posts of Bryant’s Hiplet classes; his unique technique causing so much controversy, the video amassed over 8 million views. Shortly after, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and “Good Morning America” were knocking on their 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 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 created a professional touring company and 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 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.”

Bryant currently has 285 students training at his studio, almost all female and under the age of 18. Through touring, he and the CMDC staff hope to raise enough money to offer more scholarship opportunities and increase enrollment to 500 students with a goal of recruiting and training 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. Bryant would bring Alexandra, who was unable to walk or talk, 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 to his students. “You can take technique and put it on any child's body. The trick is to make kids feel good, 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.”