Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

The Past and Future of Hip-Hop Dance :: Me on Rennie Harris

Illadelph Legend :: Rennie Harris Puremovement celebrate their 15th anniversary next month.

Ah it’s great to be writing again. Here’s a piece I’m particularly proud of. It’s on Philadelphia hip-hop dancer/choreographer Rennie Harris.

Folks in hip-hop’s dance community know who he is and how important he’s been to the culture, from his work with Magnificent Force back in the day to the pinnacle of the global dance theatre with his company Puremovement to his founding of the Illadelph Legends Festival, probably one of the central events in the hip-hop dance revival.

Hip-hop dance remains the least well documented of all the original hip-hop arts. But the dancers retain that one-to-one folkloric tradition-passing much more than any of the other arts. The dance community is close-knit and well organized, and often presents a unified front on questions of its own history. That itself is a situation that Rennie has played an important role in helping make happen.

So, for me, Rennie’s story helps shed a lot of light on the story of hip-hop dance. Let alone the fact that he’s an incredible storyteller, and his journey has been a truly amazing one.

(If you find yourself jonesing for more of the real deal, get with someone like FABEL or Mr. Wiggles or the Rock Steady Crew or any of the many pioneers who are still around. Plus, check Rennie’s site for info about this summer’s Legends Festival.)

Rennie has been the Rakim of hip-hop dance and hip-hop theatre. His impact can be seen in the rise of the new generation of brilliant hip-hop dance companies and solo artists who are making noise all around the world, like Rubberbandance Group, or Compagnie Kafig, or Jonzi D and Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

If you’re luck enough to be in Philadelphia in 2 weeks, Rennie and Puremovement will be presenting a rare retrospective of their body of work over the course of three nights at the Kimmel Center. Those tickets won’t last long…

You can download the article here or preview it here. An edited transcript of the interview with Rennie is included in Total Chaos.

posted by @ 10:52 am | 3 Comments

3 Responses to “The Past and Future of Hip-Hop Dance :: Me on Rennie Harris”

  1. Morgan Parker says:

    Dancing is a visual expression of a story or emotions using your body. Dancing itself is a powerful expression, which makes it sad that the genre of Hip- Hop dance has not been allowed it’s rightful place in the history of dance. However, dancers pass down knowledge, techniques, choreography, stories through each other to create a strong tradition and it is wonderful that Harris is playing a major part in maintaining and promoting hip-hop dance.

  2. Lloyd Reid says:

    Would anyone consider Benjy Melendez a hip-hop innovator?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jeff,

    My name is Catherine. I’m a journalism graduate student at Syracuse University. Currently I’m working on a story about Jin. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about him and his music. Please let me know. I’d really appreciate your help. Thank you so much.

    Catherine Yu-Shan Hsieh

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