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On Pointe: The Art of Hiplet [Part 1]



A term first coined in 2009, Hiplet is a combination of traditional ballet and modern hip-hop. This unconventional dance style gained popularity after a video was posted on Instagram featuring African-American girls aged 12-16 dancing in CMDC, the only dance studio in the world where dancers are learning Hiplet. Aside from that fact ballet, traditionally a dance that is ethnographically eurocentric and hip-hop, a dance rooted in African culture, have fused together to form a mind-blowing technique. Hiplet officially started in the late 90’s, though it wasn’t called that back then. Instead, Hiplet was referred to as ‘Rap Ballet’, where dancers performed to rap music through moves such as 'The Running Man' while dancing on pointe. Fast forward to 2005, where artistic director and founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, Homer Hans Bryant, started toying with the idea of various hip-hop movements. Little did he know that this would later develop and officially become a trademark known as the Hiplet technique.

Ballet is the absolute core of Hiplet. There are two important reasons behind this; the first is that dancers need to first be trained in ballet in order to progress to Hiplet, which requires powerful technical skills to execute the correct movement for safe dancing. The second is that Homer Hans Bryant wanted to illustrate that dancers of colour can be just as powerful, elegant and successful at traditional ballet as their caucasian counterparts. Hip-hop then enters at a later stage. A way of self-expression and a culturally reflective art form, this fusion of dance utilizes hip-hop with much sharper angles, but also less restricted movements as dancers have a lot more fun.


Hiplet has since taken over social media where it graces timelines in mediums that vary from status updates to short clips of the dancers performing and doing interviews on Good Morning America. The dance style has also trended on Twitter and gained thousands of reblogs and reposts on popular social media platforms such as Tumblr, while also maintaining its ever increasing popularity on the platform where it all began - Instagram. Furthermore, Hiplet has also extended itself onto TED Talks, or TEDx, where the dancers from CMDC gave an incredible performance in San Francisco.

The art was defined as “a ballet group that fuses classical pointe technique with Hip-Hop and urban dance styles.”

Other involvement in the media include being featured on Refinery29, where dancers did a fashion shoot and spoke about the dance movement while striking stunning poses on pointe. In the interview, the dancers were asked how on earth it was possible for two contrasting dance styles to work together so well if one is restrictive and the other is all about letting go. 18-year-old Hiplet dancer Nia Lyons simply answered, “Ballet tends to be more traditional, more strict, and more demanding. And hip-hop tends to be more of a social movement; it’s how you feel and how you interpret the move. Hiplet is the perfect world of both: You need to have the technique and discipline in order to get and be able to move freely, on pointe, but not to the point where you can’t express yourself."


In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more about this beautiful art form. Right now, Hiplet also needs our help in order to keep running, due to the Covid 19 crisis. If you're able to donate, you can do so here

Stay tuned for the next post!

All our love,

The Cappuccino Team

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