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Rennie Harris

Recognized by the United States Department of Education as a leading ambassador for the art of hip-hop dance, choreographer Rennie Harris has received numerous awards in his career, which spans nearly four decades. Harris is known for having brought “social” dances to the “concert” stage and creating a cohesive dance style that finds a cogent voice in the theater. He has often been acknowledged as a powerful spokesperson for the significance of “street” origins in any dance style.

In 1992, Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), a hip-hop dance company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture through workshops, classes, hip-hop history lecture demonstrations, long term residencies, mentoring programs and public performances. His group of dancers and their infectious brand of movement have toured around the globe. The company was one of four dance companies selected by the Obama administration to represent the United States in a cultural exchange program initiated by Hillary Clinton, Dance Motion USA. In 2012, the company toured the Middle East, performing and teaching in Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Jordan.

Harris has received a number of arts and academic honors, among them are a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2011 Creative Ambassador of Philadelphia, a 2007 United States Artists Rose Fellowship, and a Master of African American Choreography Medal from the Kennedy Center/Washington (DC) in 2005. He was also nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award and has also received the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. In 2007, Governor Rendell recognized Rennie Harris as a Pennsylvania Artist of the Year. Additionally, in 2011, Harris was voted one of the most influential people in the last one hundred years in Philadelphia history. He is featured in many publications, including Rose Eichenbaum’s Masters of Movement: Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers, alongside dance legends such as Carmen de Lavallade, Judith Jamison, Fayard Nicolas, and Gregory Hines. Harris has received honorary doctorate degrees from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, in 2010 and from Chicago’s Columbia College in 2013, making him the first Street Dancer to receive honorary degrees under the auspices of hip-hop dance.

Exodus

Set to gospel and House music along with poetic narration, “Exodus” underscores the crucial role of action and movement in effecting change. Commissioned and performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

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Heaven

“Heaven: A B-Girl Ballet” refashions Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” to challenge the possibilities of hip-hop theatre. This love story features women and the breaking movement vocabulary, which is one of the most physical, athletic and masculine forms, to highlight the role of women in hip-hop dance.

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Rennie Harris PureMovement

Rennie Harris Puremovement is a hip-hop dance company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture through workshops, classes, hip-hop history lecture demonstrations, long term residencies, mentoring programs and public performances.

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