The mission of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC) is to offer the highest quality dance instruction in an environment that celebrates the diversity of its students and the community. Homer Bryant has been changing lives through dance for 25 years, providing a safe and welcoming environment for students of all abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds to pursue serious dance training.
CMDC is a not for profit organization which has served Chicago’s communities for over 20 years under the leadership of Founder and Artistic Director Homer Hans Bryant. He founded the Bryant Ballet School and Company in 1990 to create a neoclassical ballet technique which integrates a diversity of dance styles and honors the richness of our varied multicultural heritage. The name of the school was officially changed to Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center in 1997. In 2008 he merged ballet and street dance to create Hiplet™, a new technique featuring hip hop dance in pointe shoes.
Instruction and The Importance of Purpose
Exploring movement arouses physical and mental development in children, leading them to understand its importance and expressiveness. Seasoned instructors have long been aware of this. Much of our teaching is a day to day, class by class journey during which we help our students discover Purpose. We are then obliged to function as guides along a path which identifies their desired outcomes, and leads ultimately to the achievement of their goals. This is a part of the “Life Process”, and as teachers of dance, it is a process to which we are uniquely attuned.
There are few areas of learning in which a student’s goals and objectives and that of a teacher’s meticulously defined curriculum are more perfectly in sync. The study and physicality of dance create strong problem-solving skills. Students learn not only to enjoy movement, but through determination, exploration, and intense concentration they learn to control their facility in ways they had never imagined.
Not all CMDC students will become professional dancers, but a body infused with the discipline of dance is a more focused, harmonious, caring, and sharing human being with a reverence for life.
The Homer Bryant Story
On growing up in St. Thomas and discovering dance
I grew up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. It is a very small island in the Caribbean, owned by the United States since 1917. My grandfather Edgar Steel was a carpenter. He was the only coffin maker on the island. So every day after school, all the young men would have to go to my grandfather’s shop to learn the trade. And every time that we wanted to take a nap, my brother and I, we would go in the coffin and lay back and say, “This is perfect, Grandpa! This one fits!”
My grandparents had 18 kids. So it was truly a village, not only my immediate family but with all the neighbors. My grandparents lived on top of a hill, so when we would visit, every little old lady along that path would know who you were and who your grandparents were, and you could not misbehave. I have a brother and two sisters, and my mom was a single mom. She was a cook at a school facility, and she would work in the afternoon at three or four different restaurants. She was a very hardworking mom.
We had a black-and-white TV in St. Thomas, and when I would see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly in different movies, I would start dancing around the house. I had this passion for movement. When I got to the eighth grade, my friend and I would stop at a dance school on the way to basketball practice and watch the girls through the window. After a couple of months of doing that, the teacher came outside and said she was going to call the police. I said, “But I really want to dance!”