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The Annenberg Center Presents Rennie Harris Puremovement in a Livestreamed Performance

The event also includes an interactive Q&A with the performers.

The Annenberg Center Presents Rennie Harris Puremovement in a Livestreamed Performance

The Annenberg Center presents a performance of Rennie Harris Puremovement (RPHM) on Thursday, April 1 at 7 PM. The live performance at the Annenberg Center will be streamed online and includes an interactive Q&A with the performers. Visit AnnenbergCenter.org for details.

Called "the most brilliant hip-hop choreographer in America" by The New Yorker, Rennie Harris brings RPHM to the Annenberg Center stage with an evening of works including two that directly reflect on current tragedies facing our nation. A reworking of the acclaimed 1995 duet, A Day in the Life, tells the story of brothers who get caught up in a violent street altercation with the police, while Black Promises, set to music by Beyoncé, is a tormented solo about systemic police brutality against black men. It's hip-hop storytelling at its finest. The program also includes Continuum, The Word, and The Big What If. Dancers appearing in the performance are Joshua Culbreath, Phillip Cuttino Jr., Lucas Mikan, Emily Pietruszka, and Kai Rapelyea.

In 1983, Rennie Harris began the next phase of his career by touring with some of the most seminal rap artists in the world. Unaware he landed a contract for the first official rap tour in American history, The Fresh Festival, he opened for rap legends and pioneers Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, UTFO, Newcleus and LL Cool J to name a few. Later, he would open and perform with artists such as Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force, Dougie Fress, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Kool Moe Dee and the Treacherous Three, Salt-N-Pepa, Roxanne Shanté, Madonna, Kathy Sledge, Gloria Gaynor, Harry Belafonte, Will Smith, Zakir Hussain and more. By 1987/88, Harris made his way home to Philadelphia, where he jumped right back into the spotlight by dancing and choreographing for local artists. Within just a few years, Harris was fully integrated into the Philadelphia street dance scene. Harris, now 27 years old, was just beginning to feel grounded again in his hometown when he received a phone call from a Michael Pedritti, director of a premier theatre in Philadelphia called Movement Theater International. Pedretti had been watching Harris for a while and thought he would be perfect for his festival. He was aware of Harris' childhood popping crew, The Scanner Boys, and wanted him to choreograph 45 minutes of work. Harris hit the clubs of Philadelphia to search for dancers for his new project. When it was all said and done, Harris recruited his founding members: Abdule Iote, Steffan Walker, Clyde Evans Jr., James Colter, Anisa Morgan, Chaquita A. Anderson, Joni Helton and Kim Wilson. He created works including Endangered Species and Students of the Asphalt Jungle that later propelled his career. With a successful premiere in 1992, Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement. Performed by The Scanner Boys, the last piece of that night was Puremovement, hence the company's name.

As a leading street dance theatre company in the U.S., RHPM is dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip hop aesthetics and street dance culture through workshops, classes, lecture demonstrations, residencies, mentoring programs and public performances. With his roots in the inner-city, Harris presents a unique story, one that is riveting, intimate and honest. He says it was hip hop that taught him honesty, humility and purity. RHPM's mission is to reeducate the masses about hip hop culture and street dance through its artistic work. Harris' work embodies the diverse and rich African-diasporic traditions of the past, while simultaneously evolving a new voice through dance. Harris is committed to showing audiences a sincere view of the essence and spirit of street dance rather than the commercially exploited stereotype portrayed by the media.

The company's most well-known, evening-length work is Rome & Jewels (1999), which was choreographed, written and directed by Harris in collaboration with dramaturg Ozzie Jones, d. Sabela Grimes, Rodney Mason, Raphael Xavier, composer/sound designer Darin Ross and lighting designer Pamela Hobson. Originally, Rome & Jewels used Shakespeare's text and colloquial language. During the workshopping process, the lead cast of dancers (Ozzie Jones, Raphael Xavier, Rodney Mason and d. Sabela Grimes) improvised their own poetry and writings into the script, earning them the title of co-authors. Rome & Jewels is the longest touring hip hop dance theatre work in American history with three Bessie Awards, four Black Theater Alvin Ailey Awards, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and a nomination for a Laurence Olivier Award (U.K.). Rome & Jewels has performed to sold-out audiences both nationally and internationally. It also became a highly successful outreach tool for the company. Fusing classical text with slang and mixing hip hop music with rock, modern and classical sounds, the work touched many cultures and communities. In addition to Rome & Jewels, Harris has a catalog of works that span more than 30 years with evening-length works such as: Falling Crumbs From the Cake (1990); Legends of Hip Hop (1998); Facing Mekka (2003); Something To Do With Love (2006); 100NAKEDLOCKS (2009); HEAVEN (2011 ); Luv: American Style (2015); Nuttin But A Word (2016); Rennie Harris Funkedafied (2017); Rennie Harris LIFTED (2017); and Caravan: A Revolution On The Road (2018) in collaboration with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. His latest evening-length work, Lazarus (2018), was set on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, marking the first time he has set an evening work on a company other than his own.

RHPM and its infectious brand of movement has toured the globe including France, Switzerland, South Africa, West Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Scotland, Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Congo, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Columbia, Finland and Monaco. Harris' company has performed for the Queen of England and the Princess of Monaco. It served as Ambassadors for the United States of America as part of President Obama's cultural exchange program and Dance Motion USA. Currently, RHPM is remounting Rome & Jewels and will introduce the American classic to new audiences worldwide. Look out for its cross-country tour in 2022 which starts in Philadelphia and then heads to New York, Maine, Vermont and Boston before making its way west. In addition, Harris will premiere two new works, American Street Dancer and Losing My Religion. Marking Harris' return to stage, Losing My Religion will feature his tour-de-force solo, Endangered Species.

Visit AnnenbergCenter.org to purchase access to this show until 7:30 PM on April 1. The performance may be watched live at 7 PM on April 1 to participate in the chat and artist Q&A. It will be available on-demand to ticketholders through April 3. Visit the Annenberg Center's digital streaming FAQs for additional details.


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