October 18, 2002 |
In the beginning there was a hand on a drum, a foot stomp, and a universal message. Down through generations, primal rhythms have laid the foundation for techno beats by scratching DJs, and dancing feet flipped upright as b-boys spun on their heads. But the drum remained steady and the message never changed. So it makes perfect sense, this convergence of hand drumming and hip-hop dance at the Painted Bride this weekend. "Flammable Contents: ZH/RH/SH" reunites three dynamic performers: tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, hip-hop choreographeridancer Rennie Harris, and the Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra.
February 15, 2006 |
There's no fancy dance studio at Ziehler Playground in Philadelphia's Olney neighborhood. Save for the smooth floor and one mirrored wall, nothing else here hints it's the place that Versatile, the popular Philadelphia hip-hop dance group, calls home. Yet it's here, a recreation center that neighbors consider a community safe haven, where the four friends perfect the street-style moves that have pushed them to the Apollo stage (two-time winners in 2001), appearances last summer on BET's 106 and Park, and to perform as opening dancers for 50 Cent, Fat Joe, Nina Skye, Trina and Amerie.
August 16, 2005 |
What makes a great hip-hop dancer? Rennie Harris knows, and he's not keeping it a secret. At the end of a long day of dancing he tells his students: "Hip-hop dance is not about the moves, it's about the spirit. You're reaching for the next spiritual plane on the dance floor. " You know he means it because each time he erupts into movement, with dreadlocks flying and feet swiveling impossibly fast, he burns so bright you can't peel your eyes off him. Harris' class was one of a dozen on offer Aug. 8, the first day of the weeklong Illadelph Legends of Hip-Hop Festival.
June 28, 2000 |
In the sweltering second-floor studio at the Kumquat Dance Center near South Street, 14 hip-hop dance acolytes were learning from the master. Rennie Harris, the man behind the hip-hop dance festival they had come to Philadelphia to attend, had been putting the all-female class through a dizzying routine for more than an hour. But now he brought the gyrating troupe to a halt. "Sometimes we're mistaken when we dance," Harris said. "We think it's all about the external, that it's all out there.
November 10, 2003 |
Christ Church's Neighborhood House was built as a place for the Old City community. Over the weekend, it heated up with community feeling - dance community feeling, that is. Choreographers Tina Bracciale and Ron Wood, who showcased their Winged Woman and Zen One dance companies, respectively, are linked by their connection to Philadelphia hip-hop dance-theater pioneer Rennie Harris. Wood, aka Zen One, is a veteran of Rennie Harris Puremovement; Bracciale is a Puremovement staff member who counts Harris as a mentor.
July 29, 2002 |
The hip-hop dancers were in the house this past weekend. And by house, we mean the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater. In a smart move, the Kimmel invited Rennie Harris to remount his Illadelph Hip Hop Legends show as part of its summer performance series. Harris, with his Puremovement company, is Philadelphia's international ambassador of hip-hop dance, touring several continents with his highly charged explorations of the form's possibilities. In return, he comes back to mount what has become the annual Illadelph Legends hip-hop dance festival, where hip-hop masters descend for a week or two in June to talk and share moves with younger dancers.
June 23, 2007 |
Rome & Jewels is dancer/choreographer Rennie Harris' tale of "a pair of star-crossed homies" who live in Philadelphia. But those homies' names are not Rome and Jewels - they're Rome and Tibault. Harris' Bessie Award-winning production was performed Thursday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater as part of the 15th-anniversary celebration of his dance company, Rennie Harris Puremovement. While the piece is based loosely on Romeo and Juliet (and more closely on West Side Story)
July 15, 2011 |
Rennie Harris' Awe-Inspiring Work RHAW is considered the forward-looking training company to Harris' legacy company Puremovement, which brought hip-hop dance into theatrical space. All of RHAW's members are under 21 and a talented few will make it to Puremovement. But despite the focus on the future, to company manager Rodney Hill, RHAW feels retro. The dancers "take you back to the parties and the dances of way back," Hill said about group's youthful energy and enthusiasm for movement.
April 28, 2008 |
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the dancers were in full celebration mode Friday night at the Academy of Music, the 16th stop on a nationwide tour. They rocked the house. Headed by artistic director and Philadelphia native Judith Jamison, Ailey is about as accessible as modern dance gets. But in case anyone needed help deciphering the dance, the program listed a phone number one could call during intermission for more information about several of the pieces.
April 8, 2012 |
TEL AVIV - After coughing regularly for half an hour, Rennie Harris, artistic director/choreographer of Philadelphia-based hip-hop company Rennie Harris Puremovement, paused a hotel-lobby interview last month to order a cup of tea. "It's sandstorm season in Cairo, or something," he apologized. Harris had just finished the first leg of his company's frenetic March 9-to-April 6 DanceMotion USA tour of Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, during which he and his dynamic dancers taught, performed, loved the food, loved the people, and spread the hip-hop gospel: Be young, be free.