Homer Bryant Raises the Barre in the Studio and on the Big Screen

I remember taking class at Homer Bryant’s Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC) as a little girl and coming to the studio early to watch Bryant’s advanced ballet class. He always demanded an absolute respect from his students that, quite frankly, was a little scary, but the result was beautiful. His motto, “The fun is in the discipline. The discipline is in the fun,” truly defines his teaching style. While I never actually took classes with Bryant, I loved every minute of watching them. Now, the inspirational teacher’s remarkable ways are caught on tape, so everyone can experience the awe that I once felt, peeking my head around the door of his studio.

Emmy-award winning producer Terry Spencer Hassel has created a 30-minute documentary film to tell Bryant’s tale. “Raising the Barre: The Homer Bryant Story” will premiere tomorrow (Wednesday, October 21) at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago at an event to benefit Bryant’s studio.

Among many performance and choreographic credits, Homer Bryant was a principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and is Assistant Artistic Director at Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. He currently devotes the majority of his time to running CMDC, which he founded in 1990. The center, located in Chicago’s South Loop in historic Dearborn Station, was opened with the goal of reaching out to underserved children so people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds could benefit from quality dance instruction.

Surely, Bryant will demand as much respect on screen as he does in the studio. For those that can’t make it to the “Raising the Barre” premiere, the film will also air on WTTW Chicago on December 17.

Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.