Rihanna is known first and foremost as a hip-hop and R&B artist, however, she has used some more creative dance styles in her videos. One was ballet in the song Umbrella, but was she dancing ballet in the music video?
Rihanna does not do ballet, but learned some ballet dance moves for her music video for the 2007 song Umbrella. She learned the advanced Pointe technique, in a matter of days. Rihanna’s use of ballet in her music video is not something new. The style of “hiplet” has been prevalent in hip-hop since its invention in the nineties.
Scroll down to learn more about Rihanna’s dance style, the use of ballet in hip-hop, and hiplet in the Umbrella music video.
Rihanna’s Normal Dance Style
Since Rihanna’s first big hit Pon de Replay in 2006, the singer has been known for her use of hip-hop dance moves and Jamaican dancehall style of dancing. This is the type of dancing that is famously prevalent throughout the Caribbean.
Dancehall originated in Jamaica in the 1970s. It was the unique dance moves used by dancers at popular dance halls in the country. The style of dancing moved from Jamaica to other Caribbean countries like Rihanna’s home, Barbados. One notorious dance form derived from Dancehall was the 2006 dance craze of daggering. It was banned by the Jamaican government after health concerns arose.
Rihanna also uses different hip-hop dance styles like twerking. In her music video for the song Pour It Up, she can be seen twerking and pole dancing. In 2016, during her concert for the album Anti in Miami, Rihanna twerked for coperformer Drake and all of her fans.
Learning Ballet for Umbrella Music Video
While she is not a professional ballet dancer, Rihanna did learn some ballet dance moves for her 2007 music video for the song Umbrella. In the music video, Rihanna spends a decent amount of time walking around on her tippy-toes in the well known ballet technique called the Pointe technique.
Pointe technique is an advanced form of ballet and generally has a lot of health risks associated with it. Dance Facts highlights in one of their articles that “Pointe technique means that a ballet dancer performs on the tips of fully extended feet and in this way the ballet dancer supports all body weight… Dancers have to dance for a few years before they can start practicing pointe technique.”
This is why it came as a shock to choreographers and music video director, Chris Appelbaum, that Riri had learned the technique in a matter of days. Despite her quick learning, Rihanna was apparently in pain for most of the video shoot due to the stress the Pointe technique places on the feet.
You can watch the full music video for Rihanna’s song Umbrella by following the below YouTube link.
Ballet’s Use in Hip-Hop and R&B
Using ballet in hip-hop and R&B is not something new. There is even a term that has been coined for hip-hop style ballet calling it Hiplet. The term Hiplet came into being in 2009, after the self-proclaimed creator of the style, Homer Bryant, trademarked the name and dance style.
An article in The New York Times stated “The roots of hiplet date to 1994, when Mr. Bryant, now 66, created “The Rap Ballet,” inspired by a concert he attended in Canada: “I noticed that all the kids in the audience kept the rap cadence, and I said to myself, if I could put rap and ballet together, I could really keep kids engaged.”
Since Rihanna’s music video Umbrella came into being in 2007, it is clear the use of ballet with hip-hop and R&B has been around longer than the trademark of Hiplet in 2009. Even before Rihanna’s use of ballet in 2007, the 2001 film Save the Last Dance revolved around a ballet dancer incorporating hip-hop dance styles into her ballet audition for Julliard School of Dance.