Nia M. Parker is part of the famous Hiplet Ballerinas of Chicago (founded and directed by Homer Hans Bryant). Along with her troupe, she has danced in New York Fashion Week, Harry Connick Jr. Show, Steve Harvey Show, and recently wrapped up a campaign with Nordstrom. Check out her interview with PrettyBrownDancers.com
How you became a dancer?
My mother has been a dancer and taught at my studio Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (@cmdc_school) since way before I was born so naturally she put me into classes and I’ve just stuck with it.
What are favorite parts about dancing?
My favorite part of dancing is being able to personify music. Dance also gives me a different relationship with music than I feel like I would have if I never trained.
Tell us about being a “Hiplet Ballerina”?
Being a Hiplet Ballerina is to carry on a legacy of a new way of moving that students and Mr. Homer Hans Bryant (@homerhansbryant) have worked to create and perfect over the years. Hiplet is also another way to create a safe space for girls of any shade or body type that wants to dance while utilizing they’re classical techniques in another way.
What were your favorite dance collaborations?
All the collaborations we’ve been able to do have been nothing but blessings. I don’t know if I’d be able to pick!
What do you think of the criticisms projected to The Hiplet Ballerinas? How do you handle the negativity?
I think a lot of the criticism comes from a lack of understanding our methods and how we train to make Hiplet safe. I also believe some people are frustrated because it goes against the “norm” of ballet and because it looks different. I mostly ignore the blatant negativity but some critiques are helpful and informative so we just try to filter the hate from the help.
What changes you will like to see in the dance community?
A change I would like to see in the dance community is more diversity of course, but not just stopping with black girls. I want to see girls of every color and country do ballet, because representation of everyone is important.
Tell us your fondest dance memories?
One of my fondest memories is doing my first solo variation at @yagp at 17. I had a lot of fears and confidence issues leading up to it but it was a necessary growing step for me as a dancer. I didn’t place or anything (and didn’t expect to) but the fact that I fully followed through and held a stage by myself was crucial, especially for when Hiplet went viral a few months later.
What are your inspirations?
I don’t have exact people as my inspirations, but I’m inspired by people who live their life the way that is best for them and are just carefree in such a harsh world. From my experience those people tend to be the happiest despite the most desolate situations.
What are your future goals?
I plan on competing again in YAGP in 2018 as it will be my last eligible year. My goal is simply to make a good impression as a Hiplet Ballerina that we can do classical ballet, and as a black dancer that we have a place in the ballet world.
What advice you will give to young girls who are beginning to enter the dance world?
Find what works for you, in body and soul. I’ve seen instances where students will feel pushed into one style or a way of dance when their personal preference is the opposite and they end up not happy or no longer dancing. I highly suggest learning as many styles as you can, not all at once of course but throughout the years it’s important to know multiple genres.