Queens Theatre presents Hiplet Ballerinas performance promoting inclusivity in dance

The Chicago Hiplet Ballerina Dance Company fuses classical pointe technique with African, Latin, hip-hop and urban dance styles that are rooted in communities of color. (Photo courtesy of Hiplet Ballerinas)

The Hiplet Ballerina Company, based out of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, is making its first appearance at Queens Theatre for three performances on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. 

This must-see performance fuses classical pointe technique with African, Latin, hip-hop and urban dance styles that are rooted in communities of color. Promoting inclusivity in both their cast and audience, Hiplet features true-toned tights, modern music and dancers of all shapes, sizes and colors.

“This will be an exciting, empowering and entertaining performance,” Homer Bryant, founder of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, told QNS. “We say, sit back, relax and absorb the beauty of classical ballet. We will take you on a nice beautiful roller coaster ride that will be so invigorating. I promise you will not be disappointed.” 

Created by Bryant, Hiplet incorporates popular songs from Black Violin to Beyonce that will be familiar to audiences who don’t normally attend ballet performances. Hiplet Ballerinas may mix the rhythms of African drums with Tchaikovsky, arabesques and beat-boxing or even tango en pointe — all while showcasing the group’s trademark sass, hip movements and struts.

Photo courtesy of Hiplet Ballerina

Bryant, who is a product of the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City, moved to Chicago in the ’90s and performed “rap ballet” with his dance company at schools. 

“I would rap about ballet and the kids would be excited about it,” Bryant said. 

In 2005, when rap had changed to hip-hop, Bryant decided to call the performance “Hiplet.” In 2009, he trademarked the name and created different moves in the studio that they were doing before, he said. As they began posting content on Instagram, the Hiplet Ballerinas became a viral global sensation. 

“A lot of people were interested in what we were doing and we got a lot of views,” Bryant said. 

Hiplet Ballerinas first found fame in 2016 when their videos went viral on BuzzFeed, “Good Morning America” and The Huffington Post. Since then, they’ve traveled the world performing in Paris Fashion Week, at half-time shows for the NBA, in Hong Kong’s Chinese New Years Day Parade and more.

The ballerinas are trained in classical ballet and pointe work, which takes years of practice and concentration, according to Bryant. 

“Hiplet has become a phenomenon. We have given people the space to shine. Our kids work so hard and receive the proper coaching and attention and we let them know that they’re appreciated,” Bryant said. 

The Hiplet Ballerinas were originally scheduled to make their Queens Theatre debut in spring 2020. But when COVID-19 hit New York City, their performance was canceled. According to Queens Theatre’s Executive Director Taryn Sacramone, they had been looking forward to their engagement, as their brochure cover that season featured a photo of the group’s dancers.

“We knew then that our audiences would be thrilled by their joyful energy, and tickets were selling fast, right around the time we shut down,” Sacramone said. Two years later, we’re finally able to present them — and that joyful energy feels even more important now. We are proud, delighted and also grateful to bring Hiplet Ballerinas to Queens this spring — finally!”

Queens is the last stop on the Hiplet Ballerinas tour. 

Tickets start at $20 for seating in the rear and side sections. Seating in the center section is $35. Students and seniors receive a 10% discount. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here or call the box office at 718-760-0064.

The Hiplet Ballerinas performance is made possible through the generous support of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Con Edison, Howard Gilman Foundation, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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