Members of Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), Philadelphia’s iconic hip-hop dance company, will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville. Their appearance is part of the college’s Master Artist Series that brings arts professionals to campus to teach and mentor students in dance, music and theatre, capping their residencies with performances.
Tickets for the performance are $15 for adult orchestra and mezzanine seats; $12 for adult balcony seats; $9 for seniors, children, and University of Florida students and faculty; and $9 for faculty, staff and students of Santa Fe College. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181. Tickets may be purchased on line at:
Guided by “an artistic moral philosophy that every individual is a creative reservoir waiting to be tapped,” four instructors/dancers from Rennie Harris Puremovement—including Harris’s assistant, Rodney Hill—will conduct a Hip-Hop Academy for students in Santa Fe College’s Dance Department Sept. 22-27. During that time, the students will learn four different pieces choreographed by the RHPM instructors.
The Sept. 27 performance will include a lecture/demonstration about hip hop that features the students; several pieces by the RHPM dancers from their repertory including “Continuum,” which has been described as “a dazzling cipher that showcases the breathtaking virtuosity” of the company and as an “ebullient expression of the power” of hip-hop dance; a closing performance by the students; and a question-and-answer session with the audience.
Students in the Hip-Hop Academy will learn about evolving hip-hop dance moves including popping, locking, breaking, house and other styles that have emerged from inner city America. Different movements and techniques will be defined so that students can practice them and develop them into combinations. Under the direction of RHPM instructors, students will learn the history behind current and former hip-hop dance movements that can inspire them to create new dances.
Puremovement was founded by Rennie Harris, a choreographer dedicated to raising awareness of hip hop from its roots in the African diaspora to its evolution into a means of expression for today’s youth. Harris has received Guggenheim and Pew Fellowships in choreography as well as commissions for choreography from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Philadelphia Dance Company and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. He currently teaches at a college in California.
While Harris is not coming to Gainesville, SF College Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes has fond memories of meeting him. “I met Rennie at the Florida Dance Festival in Tampa in the late 1990s,” she relates. “At that time, he was an untapped talent but he had been recognized as a hard working street dancer from Philadelphia who deserved a place in the larger dance community. He came to class with a boom box, wearing jeans and tennis shoes, and told the dancers to follow him. He proceeded to move in ways that none of the young Florida studio dancers had ever seen and they all thought he was the coolest person they had met at the festival. Now when he teaches, he counts measures and calls out recognizable dance terminology. He has received an honorary Doctorate degree, so he is Dr. Rennie Harris. His hard work has paid off and he is an inspiration to be around—and so are his dancers.”
Harris believes that “Hip hop is about the celebration of life” and that because its popularity crosses racial and national boundaries, hip-hop dance can help to bring people together. He is committed to “demolishing the hierarchies of dance and style” and “providing audiences with a sincere view of the essence and spirit of hip hop rather than the commercially exploited stereotypes portrayed by the media.”
The Master Artist Series is sponsored in part by the SF College Fine Arts Department, the SF College Foundation and Arts Patron program, and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.
For more information about Rennie Harris Puremovement, see:
For more information, call Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes, 352-395-5296, or Cultural Programs Coordinator Kathryn Lehman, 352-395-5355.