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Homer Bryant

Dance founder and instructor Homer Bryant was born in the Virgin Islands on the Isle of St. Thomas in 1950 and became involved in dance in middle school. His teacher arranged for him to dance at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance School where he studied under some of the most prominent modern dance pioneers. Bryant then came to the attention of dancer and choreographer Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem, the first African American classical dance company in the United States. Mitchell extended an invitation to Bryant to come to New York and study with the company, which he accepted.

In 1972, Bryant began his professional career when he won an audition to replace a member of the company. He continued to dance and tour professionally with the Dance Theater of Harlem and took a hiatus in 1978 to perform in the Broadway musical Timbuktu! alongside Eartha Kitt. He also appeared in the film version of the musical The Wiz along with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. He then worked with Donald McKayle’s dance company and while on tour came to Chicago and danced briefly with Maria Tallchief’s Chicago City Ballet.

In 1981, Bryant returned to New York to oversee the Dance Theater of Harlem’s pre-professional workshop ensemble. Four years later, Bryant moved to Chicago to start his own dance company and school, Bryant Ballet. In 1993, Bryant began working with Cirque de Soleil, a relationship that continued for three of Cirque de Soleil’s most popular productions, Mystere, Alegria, and Quidam. Bryant also served as ballet master for the Joel Hall Dancers and Dance Chicago.

In 1997, in recognition of the school’s influence, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley issued a proclamation officially renaming Bryant’s school the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. The next year, Bryant served as lead artist for the city of Chicago’s Gallery 37.

Bryant has received the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was featured in the short documentary Raising the Barre: The Homer Bryant Story in 2009.

Homer Bryant was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 23, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.102

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/23/2010

Last Name

Bryant

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Schools

Saints Peter and Paul School

Erasmus Hall High School

Adelphi University

Chicago School of Massage Therapy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Homer

Birth City, State, Country

Charlotte Amalie

HM ID

BRY04

Favorite Season

None

State

St. Thomas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

The Fun Is In The Discipline. The Discipline Is In The Fun.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/29/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Dancer and dance instructor Homer Bryant (1950 - ) performed with the Dance Theater of Harlem and founded the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center.

Employment

Dance Theater of Harlem

Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center

Manhattan Festival Ballet

The Wiz

Timbuktu!

The Evolution of Jazz

Victoria Arts Collaborative

Chicago Public Schools Advanced Arts Program at Gallery 37

Chicago City Ballet

Favorite Color

Lavender, Purple

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Homer Bryant's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant talks about his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant talks about his father's role in his life

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant describes his likeness to his maternal relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant describes the community on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant talks about the history of St. Thomas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Homer Bryant talks about the influence of Sidney Poitier

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Homer Bryant describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant describes the differences between the U.S. Virgin Islands and New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about the television programs of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant recalls his early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant remembers his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant recalls the start of his dance career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant talks about the death of his first dance instructor

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant recalls his friendship with Eartha Kitt

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant remembers his decision to move to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant describes the start of his ballet training

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant talks about Arthur Mitchell's ballet methods

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant describes teaching as a master

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about modifying the classical ballet pedagogy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant recalls joining the Dance of Theatre of Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant remembers the Dance Theatre of Harlem's debut performance

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant describes the influence of Cicely Tyson and Karel Shook

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant talks about touring with the Dance Theatre of Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant recalls his experiences at Adelphi University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant remembers his performances outside of the Dance Theatre of Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant describes his favorite performances with the Dance Theatre of Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant talks about filming 'The Whiz'

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Homer Bryant recalls taking photographs on the set of 'The Wiz'

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Homer Bryant remembers performing in 'Timbuktu!' with Eartha Kitt

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant remembers learning about massage therapy

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about his decision to move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant remembers his daughter's influence on his students

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant recalls leading the Dance Theatre of Harlem Workshop Ensemble

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant talks about his retirement from performance

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant recalls teaching dance courses at Gallery 37 in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant remembers his involvement with Cirque du Soleil

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant talks about combining ballet and hip hop dance techniques

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant talks about his reputation as a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Homer Bryant describes his documentary, 'Raising the Barre'

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Homer Bryant remembers his students

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant describes the location of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Homer Bryant talks about the funding for black arts organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Homer Bryant talks about his youth outreach

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Homer Bryant describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Homer Bryant talks about his aspirations for the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Homer Bryant reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Homer Bryant talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Homer Bryant talks about the death of his daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Homer Bryant reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Homer Bryant describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Homer Bryant narrates his photographs