After a successful 2020 performance at FIM Capitol Theatre, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center’s select Hiplet™ Ballerina Company will make its return to FIM Whiting Auditorium on Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. Hiplet™ (pronounced hip-lay) is an innovative dance form that infuses classical pointe with African, Latin, hip-hop and urban movements.

“The performance and crowd in 2020 made bringing Hiplet™ back a no-brainer for the 23-24 season,” said Ella McAndrew, director of programming for FIM presenting series at Whiting Auditorium.

The Hiplet™ Ballerinas first found fame in 2016 when their videos went viral on social media. Hiplet™ was created and developed by decorated dance instructor Homer Bryant, whose career highlights include principal dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, training Lady Gaga, working with Cirque du Soleil and performing in Timbuktu! on Broadway, to name a few.

Hiplet™ dancer Nia Parker told Rolling Out that the unique style helps connect the art of pointe to modern day people and enables her to experiment with dance.

“Being able to dance, it is really cool because I’m always exploring what I can do with pointe past the limitations of ballet,” said Parker.

Hiplet™ is also part of a larger initiative to bring diversity to the dance and ballet world. Homer Bryant’s studio, Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, seeks to make dance training accessible to everyone, especially students of color, low-income families and dancers with disabilities. CMDC has trained many dancers who have gone on to perform with companies including Cirque du Soleil, Alvin Ailey, on Broadway and more.

“Hiplet™ brings an incredibly diverse mix of dancers to the stage, which guarantees a little something for everyone. Each dancer is classically trained and then taught to infuse hip-hop into their moves,” said McAndrew. “The music is upbeat and fun, and probably most importantly, recognizable. Your attention will absolutely be held throughout the performance.”

The show combines Tchaikovsky with the rhythms of African drums and arabesques with beatboxing, mashed up with popular music from Black Violin to Beyonce. The combination of classical and contemporary music was intended to make Hiplet™ accessible to audiences who don’t normally attend ballet performances.

“Hiplet™ is a beautiful reminder that anything is possible, and that dance is for everyone,” McAndrew said.