Like cookies and cream, chocolate and peanut butter, it makes a lot of sense to combine hip-hop and ballet. And just like these addictive indulgences that are better than the sum of the elements, once you discover Hiplet, you may never want to experience them separately again. .
A captivating fusion of hip-hop and ballet, with jazz and modern twists, the dance style has roots in the 1990s, got its name in 2005 and was trademarked in 2009, but has since moved into the mainstream. It appeared after Chicago became a multicultural society. The Center for Dance (CMDC) began to stage it. An Instagram video that went viral in December 2016 and ABC News’ coverage of the performance sparked interest in the style and increased demand for classes and performances.
CMDC’s Homer Hans Bryant is considered the originator of Hiplet. This hiplet embraces the technical precision of classical ballet – a European-centric, predominantly Caucasian ballet – with the creativity, eclecticism and percussive roots of several African dance styles. His “Rap His Ballet” in 1992 formed the subsequent establishment of Hiplet as its own form. It is fun and inclusive, unlike ballet, where exclusivity is often limited.
What is Hipplet?
Early in the evening in Chicago, I met Hiplett captain Taylor Edwards and fellow dancer Alexandria Franklin. I have watched countless of their performances on her YouTube and social media platforms. So for this dance-loving and shameless Janet her Jackson fan, I’m so excited to have the opportunity to talk with this duo about dance, body and music.
Edwards provides some background on her career, including practicing hiplets before they were officially named.
“I started with Hiplet when I was 12 or 13,” she says. “I had already had pre-training. I’m proud to be a versatile dancer, and hiplet to me was like, ‘Oh wait, this is all the style I’ve ever wanted! “It was that kind of feeling.”
Franklin’s story is different, but she also started early.
“I started formal training with Homer when I was 11,” she says. “When I was a kid, Homer was in a ballet company called the Bryant Ballet, and his choreography was always ballet to different types of music, including jazzy tunes on pointe. It was long before he came up with his name Hiplet, then it was rap ballet.”
To better understand what the emergence of hiplet-like forms means for young dancers, Misty Copeland, the first prominent black ballerina, gave an interview to NPR earlier this year. terry gross fresh air. Copeland said she wore “flesh-colored” tights throughout her tenure with the American Ballet, even though it was not her skin tone, but that of her white colleagues. He said he was asked to wear it. She also had to paint her face white and bear the brunt of audience unfair criticism of her work on social media.
Despite all the evolutionary progress, the pace of change in ballet is slow, and the damage done to the body and soul of a woman trying to conform to a near-impossible mold is immense. New forms of dance offer paradigm-shifting alternatives, and Edwards is proud to be a part of that shift.
“Being a hiplet helps me better understand my purpose as an artist, not just as a dancer,” she says. “So many people saying, ‘I’m glad to see someone with a butt dancing,’ shows us that we’re breaking down the dance barrier of having to fit into a certain mold. I knew.”
It’s important to note that Hiplet never does. Easier As a derivative of this form more than classical ballet, it is still an elite form of physical training and is performed mainly on enpointe. However, it is much more accessible in terms of embracing race, culture, body type and size. And even now, more than 10 years after its birth, it continues to evolve with the people who practice it. Unlike ballet’s rigid lexicon, Hiplet allows for modification of movements, new interpretations and variations.
But let’s press pause. Anyone who watches hiplets on YouTube knows that these dancers still have physiques that have been toned by intensive training. To play the Devil’s Advocate, I certainly suggest that there are still expectations around the body and physicality that may be barriers to playing Hiplet.
“I’m going to avenge the devil’s advocate!” Edwards replies with a laugh. “It’s true, we are fit and dance well. Alex is a different build, so her story is different, but for me, would I be hired by a classical ballet company? No, I wouldn’t, It’s just for my body.”
She keeps thinking about that question. “If I were in a ballet audition, I would probably get cut because I have hips. I don’t see many people.
However, Edwards was quick to point out that as much as they were breaking the mold when it came to their professional dance physique, they were also breaking the mold when it came to their skills. “We are all classically trained, immersed in versatility, as Homer says. ”
Franklin recalls that at the audition for The Nutcracker, she had a good chance of being chosen as the young protagonist, Clara, until the director told the group that she would be selected based on who could play the parents.
“I knew right away that I wouldn’t be selected. Where I lived, they weren’t going to cast a Latino or a black parent,” she explains. “Small things like at auditions, microaggressions, people may not even realize it’s happening.”
Where to see Hipplet
In collaboration with the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, Hiplet will perform at the Ravinia Festival from June 6th to September 10th. The theme is kinky, which definitely matches the concept behind Hiplet.
This is the latest opportunity for Hiplett dancers to engage with the audience, and not in the formalistic manner typical of classical ballet. If you’ve ever clapped or coughed at the wrong time, you know it is. it’s not over.
“We tell the audience they can laugh, they can clap, they can do whatever they want!” Taylor enthuses. “We don’t want you to sit there and wait for us to clap at the end of a song. We want the audience to interact with us from start to finish. Break down the walls between stages.”
Franklin added: “A lot of the music on our show is music that people have heard before. You might have a favorite song, such as “Miss You”.
The Janet Jackson Special? It’s a dream that Edwards is trying to make a reality.
If Janet called you to play on stage, I would scream. I’m a desperate Janet fan.
“She’s on tour right now, but I think she’s going to do one more tour before it’s over,” Edwards replied. “She was able to participate in the last tour.”
What if it’s not Janet?
“Beyoncé,” Edwards says confidently.