Dating all the way back to the 15th Century during the Italian Renaissance, classical ballet is known for its elegant movements and elaborate, strict training. But ballet is also known for being predominately White. Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be a principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theater just two years ago. Some in the dance community have tried to make space for a more diverse pool of talent, from creating ballet costumes, shoes and tights that match darker skin tones, to incorporating more modern dance styles into ballet. One such effort: Hiplet, a combination of hip-hop and ballet. But others in the ballet world think the change veers too far from what ballet should be.
The Morning Shift sits down with Homer Hans Bryant, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, and 18-year-old ballerina Nia Parker to talk about the importance of diversity and evolution in classical dance.