Arts Administration Intern Joanna Bourain ’12 talks to Kelsey Siegel ’13 and Visiting Instructor in Dance Clyde Evans about Rennie Harris Puremovement.
On Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1, Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip-hop group from Philadelphia, will showcase a performance in the Center for the Arts Theater. The company, started in 1992 by hip hop veteran Rennie Harris, aims to drive hip hop away from its current stereotypes and commercial manifestations and back to its urban street forms through lively performances. I sat down with dance major Kelsey Siegel ’13 and Visiting Instructor in Dance Clyde Evans to discuss the importance of this performance.
Kelsey Siegel, a member of Wesleyan’s Fusion hip hop dance group, sat down with me to talk about the significance of this performance. Kelsey explained that in her opinion, “hip hop is an important dance form because its expressiveness and liveliness can portray much more than just a narrative.” She explained to me that Rennie Harris Puremovement is important because the group embeds a social message about hip hop within their dancing that battles stereotypes built up the media. “Hip hop is also a much more accessible dance form that allows for a hybridity of movements, dance styles, and cultures. This fusion of dance styles and culture is evident in Rennie Harris Puremovement’s integration of ballet-like moves, West-African body movements and gymnastic break dance moves. They’ve taken a dance style developed in the street and have brought it into a theater, which allows for the dance form to be considered from a more critical perspective.”
Clyde Evans, Jr. is a Visiting Instructor in the Dance Department and is teaching two hip hop classes this semester. Also from Philadelphia, he was a founding member of Rennie Harris’ company. “This [event] will not only broaden the experience of the traditional theater-goer, it may also inspire or even prompt artists to rethink presentation/choreography of their art.” Evans is excited to have his students see the company, and remembering what it was like to go on tour with the company, he’s also excited for the dancers. “The experience of traveling as a dancer and the well-rounded perspective of the world as seen through the eyes of an artist – it’s priceless. It’s amazing. It’s flying without wings. So my excitement is really for them.”
The company will present repertoire that spans its 20 year history set to music by the Headhunters, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Parliament Funkadelic, Groove Collective, and others.
Rennie Harris Puremovement
Friday, September 30 & Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 8pm
Pre-performance talk with dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday at 7:15pm in CFA Hall
$23 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Rennie Harris will give the Cynthia Novak Lecture entitled “Hip Hop History and Culture: Rage, Resistance and Regeneration” at 7pm on Thursday, September 29 at The Russell House, 350 High Street. There will also be a dance masterclass for intermediate to advanced students on Saturday, October 1 at 11am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street.
11 thoughts on “Kelsey Siegel ’13, Visiting Dance Instructor Clyde Evans on Hip Hop, Rennie Harris Puremovement (Sept. 30 & Oct. 1)”
When a performance resonates for days, weeks, months after, you know you’ve experienced a phenomenal performance. My spouse and I saw Rennie Harris Puremovement eight days ago. A day hasn’t past that some part of that performance hasn’t floated back to me. It was fantastic. We both loved it. Thank you, everyone who worked to make that happen.
Rennie Harris Puremovent is history in motion. It captures and preserves the art of hip-hop dancing, bringing this history to a diverse audience. The composition of the pieces pulls in the audience, taking them on a journey through the streets of Philadelphia and beyond – very nostalgic for those of us who are from Rennie’s generation. The music tracks were awesome! High-energy choreography and brilliant dancers who keep their own flavor while performing. Excellent concert.
I saw Rennie Harris Puremovement at Jacob’s Pillow, and I was thrilled to have the chance to see them again. The physicality, the weight and the lightness, the way the dancers embody the music is transporting, Loved it.
The book Dancing describes a successful performance by saying, “When a dance performance succeeds, it can transform passive spectators into active collaborators who may actually feel their bodies moving in sympathy with the dancers onstage; at such moments, energy flows back and forth between performers and audience…”1 At the end of Puremovement the dancers got a standing ovation. For the encore the stage exploded with a snappy metallic drum beat, b-boy moves, air flips, and head spins. Meanwhile, the audience remained standing. I felt my body moving to the beat and had to start dancing. The performance was fabulous and energizing. The encore was like a grand finale, and I loved it.!
1 Jonas, Gerald; 1935, Dancing, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, NY, p 25
I loved the performance as much I Loved taking a Master Class with
Rennie Harris Puremovement at the Inaugural DanceMasters
One of the best dance performances I have seen.
Incredible choreography and artistry. The dancers were miraculous.
My daughter and I loved it from beginning to end.
I could be wrong but there seemed to be modern dance involved with the hip hop making the sum of the parts wonderfully greater than the whole… best encore ever.j
Rennie Harris had his audience poppin’ and stompin’ and wishing they could do more. That’s the sign of a great show. Far more successful in its solo performances than in the ensemble/narrative performances, the show nonetheless drew in its audience and merited a standing ovation.
This show was high energy. I didn’t know what to expect but we very much enjoyed watching all the moves and listening to the music. We also truely appreciate the artistic integrity of the choreography and what each dancer brought to the stage.
My wife and I went to “Puremovement” with very modest expectations and I imagine that many others in the 60+ age group
had similar feelings. Yet within the first couple of minutes we were caught up in the excitement of the evening–from start to finish it was exhilarating–we loved it!
It was a pleasure to be reminded of an era that I lived through in Brooklyn NY in the 70’s/80’s – body spinning on designated small personal zones of concrete or asphalt. Everyone of age was trying to do it. It was great to see these and other iconic moves, but also to be uplifted by new and miraculous interpretations. Keep on dancin’!
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