Main content

Can Hip Hop Save Ballet?

Classical ballet has a notable lack of elite black dancers. Eric Underwood asks why- and whether the hip-hop/ballet fusion of Hiplet can encourage greater participation.

In the world of classical ballet, black dancers are conspicuous by their absence. Eric Underwood, a former soloist with The Royal Ballet, wants to understand what might be restricting their participation.

In Amsterdam, Eric meets Michaela DePrince, born in Sierra Leone and now performing as a soloist for the Dutch National Ballet.

Misty Copeland, who became the first African American female principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, asks if ballet classes provide a safe space for black children.

In Chicago, Homer Bryant, The Ballet Disruptor, is fusing classical point technique with hip hop, and believes that Hiplet can help a 350-year-old artform find new audiences.

In London, Cassa Pancho and Cira Robinson from Ballet Black share their experiences of providing role models for aspiring black dancers.

Other contributors include dance critic Luke Jennings, cultural historian Theresa Ruth Howard, Precious Adams from the English National Ballet and Tyrone Singleton from the Birmingham National Ballet.

Producer: Rez Marino
A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 9 Jul 2019 16:00


  • Thu 4 Apr 2019 11:30
  • Tue 9 Jul 2019 16:00

Featured in...