Homer Hans Bryant is founder and artistic director of Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center
and a former member of Dance Theatre of Harlem. You’ve seen Bryant’s students practicing “hiplet,” his
own blend of hip hop and pointework.
“I’d been posting videos for two years, of all of the kinds of classes we of-
fer, when the Facebook page Só Bailarinos posted our hiplet class video. It
got 8 million views there. BuzzFeed picked it up and that story received 25
million. We went on ‘Good Morning America,’ then came back to Chicago
and did ‘Good Day Chicago’ and ‘Windy City Live.’ We’ve done the ‘Steve
Harvey’ show and gone to New York for a big Vogue thing with Anna Win-tour, we did a video for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and I gave a TEDx
Talk in October in San Francisco. About 15 production companies have
contacted us wanting to do a reality show.
“The reactions we get are from one end of the spectrum to the other,
Alexandra Beller is a choreographer and artistic director of Alexandra Beller/Dances. You’ve
from ‘You’re ruining their feet. This is not what classical ballet is all about!’ to ‘This is incredible!’ and ‘I
wish I had this when I was studying ballet; I wouldn’t have hated
it so much.’
“There are people who think ballet is pure and perfect as it
is, but they don’t want to talk about how kids of color have to
wear pink tights. So there’s a disconnect there to begin with. Our
students wear flesh-colored tights, so their pretty legs match
their pretty faces. What I’m managing to do is to keep the kids
centered, grounded and focused. The parents can’t believe what’s
seen Beller’s son Ivo, at age 14 months, “leading” her company’s dancers in rehearsal as part of the
process for an ensemble work titled milkdreams.
“The nature of virality is that it escapes you. By the time
you realize it’s happening, there’s not a ton you can do
about it. You lose your grasp on it and, once that hap-
pens, other people can take hold of it.
“I’m not against people using social media to create
an image of themselves, even in a very calculated way,
but I don’t do that myself. A lot of people tell young
artists, ‘Just put it out there. Be visible. Start building
your brand.’ I see that kind of advice often; some of it’s
from the book Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon, which,
actually, I liked a lot.
“When something goes viral, that is all you are, for millions of people. I don’t say, ’Hi! I’m Alexandra
“That moment with Ivo was beautiful to me and I was happy to share
Beller, from the viral baby video,’ but that’s what I ‘am.’ I spent 22 years in the dance world. I danced for
Bill T. Jones, I’ve had a company for 15 years. But at this point, that one video has gathered more than
a billion views. It gets very skewed in terms of representation and, for me, it’s led me to become more
focused on curation, where I’m being much more thoughtful about what I
put out there.
it, and the response toward the video was mostly overwhelmingly positive.
There were certainly times that people would troll us, with comments like,
‘This baby is a schmuck!’ [Laughs]
“I can certainly imagine myself posting a 1-minute clip from rehearsal
without doing anything to it, even after all of this, although I haven’t
posted a whole lot of video in the last two years.”
If you plan
to put minors in front
of a camera, parents
or guardians must sign
a release form, ideally
one that’s been vetted
by a lawyer.
you to put everything
online. Ask yourself
whether you’re okay
with the possibility that
what you’re about to
post will be accessible
best to simply ignore,
block or delete antago-
Best practices for protecting
your media constantly
change. If you’re
interested in tracking
your videos, familiarize
yourself with the analytics tools provided by
the services you use,
whether it’s Facebook,
Google or You Tube.
Alexandra Beller’s company
in milkdreams; footage of
her son “leading” a rehearsal
(left) got a billion hits.
Online fame led to opportunities like a
video for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.