Chicago’s Very Own Homer Bryant

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CHICAGO -- During this Black History Month, we’re taking a look inside of a South Loop dance studio where for 25 years, Homer Bryant has been making a difference in the lives of dancers – from professional ballerinas, to special needs students.

Bryant is the founder of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance center.

Countless ballerinas have danced their way through his intense classes, including first daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama … and WGN’s very own Gaynor Hall.

It hasn’t always been glitz and glamour for Bryant.

When he was small boy growing up in the Virgin Islands – dance classes seemed unattainable.

My mom said, ‘You must be crazy, boy! We can’t afford dance classes!’” Bryant says. “But my friend, his mama, decided to pay for my first 6 months of dance lessons. And the rest is history.”

When he was a teenager, Bryant moved to New York to pursue a professional dancing career. He joined the first African-American classical ballet company, Dance Theatre of Harlem. He reached major milestones in the 1970s – performing on Broadway.

In 1990 his career led him to Chicago – where he started the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance center.

The school stands out because of its mission to train children with physical disabilities.

It’s an issue that hits close to home for Bryant. His daughter Alexandra was born with cerebral palsy.

“Alexandra lived to be 28 years old. She died in 2010,” Bryant says.  “I would bring Alexandra in her wheelchair to watch me teach, she would sit back and you would just see her little fingers moving. I would tell the kids, there is a dancer inside of her. “

Next month, Bryant’s dancers are performing with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.

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