Legendary Hip Hop Choreographer Rennie Harris Brings LIFTED! to White Bird for West Coast premiere, featuring live gospel music.
LEGENDARY HIP-HOP CHOREOGRAPHER RENNIE HARRIS RETURNS TO WHITE BIRD UNCAGED WITH THRILLING NEW WORK “LIFTED!,” BASED LOOSELY ON CHARLES DICKENS’ OLIVER TWIST, FEATURING OUTSTANDING DANCERS AS WELL AS PORTLAND-BASED GOSPEL SINGERS.
What: Rennie Harris Puremovement American Street Dance Theater, “LIFTED!”
Presented by: White Bird Uncaged, Ronni Lacroute Lead Sponsor
When: Thursday – Saturday, January 25-27, 8:00 pm + 2pm Saturday Matinee
Where: Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97201
Media Sponsor: Willamette Week
Tickets: Starting at $25, available at whitebird.org. Discounts available for groups/students and seniors.
White Bird is thrilled to welcome back legendary hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris with his world-famous company Rennie Harris Puremovement American Street Dance Theater (RHPM) from Philadelphia. Last performing with White Bird 10 years ago, RHPM is acclaimed for its exciting repertory showcasing funk, breaking, popping, locking, along with other jaw-dropping hip-hop moves. White Bird is proud to launch the extensive tour of Rennie Harris’ latest full-evening work LIFTED!, with four performances, including a 2pm Saturday matinee, January 25-27 at Lincoln Hall, PSU. A special feature of LIFTED! will be the inclusion of a live Portland-based gospel group led by celebrated vocalist Alonzo Chadwick. In addition, the 15-member RHPM dance company will also be supplemented by two gifted dancers from Portland (Donna Mation and Rashad Pridgen).
In his new work LIFTED!, Rennie Harris addresses topics of morality, spirituality and community. LIFTED! is based on the organic spiritual tapestry of House music and dance, which is often referred to as going to “church.” Joshua, the main character, has lost his parents and is sent to live with his uncle and aunt. Missing his parents, Joshua rebels against his uncle and aunt who force him to go to church with the hope of giving him comfort in his time of mourning. Eventually Joshua gets involved with a band of pick pockets (B-boys) who are members of the church. The arc of the two acts of LIFTED! is similar to that of Oliver Twist, following a young man’s path of loss, abandonment and ultimate redemption. Live gospel songs enhance the uplifting spiritual aspects of Rennie Harris’ important new work.
In 1992, Rennie Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement American Street Dancen Theater (RHPM), a hip-hop dance company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture. RHPM honors the history of hip-hop, explores its ideas and furthers its contributions to the surrounding community. The company is based on the belief that hip-hop is the most important original expression of a new generation, with the unique ability to express universal themes that extend beyond racial, religious, and economic boundaries.
Rennie Harris has been recognized by the United States Department of Education as a leading ambassador for the art of hip-hop dance. He has received a number of arts and academic honors, among them a Guggenheim International Fellowship and honorary doctorate degrees from Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois and Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Often cited as being one of the first artists to bring hip-hop dance to concert stages around the world, Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris continues to find new ways to expose the next generation to the power of the arts. 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.
Harris was voted one of the most influential people in the last one hundred years of Philadelphia history and has been compared to twentieth-century dance legend Alvin Ailey and Bob Fosse. He was also nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award and has been awarded the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. His group of dancers and their infectious brand of movement have toured around the globe disseminating Today, it is Harris’ attention to further exploring developing audience through hip hop theater that has begun to Share, Teach, Engage and Preserve.
Alonzo Chadwick (Lead Gospel Singer) is a vocalist, songwriter, composer, actor, Social Justice Activist, talent scout/recruiter and artist consultant, who has left his mark on the community of Portland, Oregon. As the former director/vocal teacher of Self Enhancement Inc. Alonzo has brought together some of Portland’s finest voices from it. He is currently the manager of Black Parent Initiative and Zoulful Music.
White Bird’s presentation of Rennie Harris’s LIFTED! is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is also supported by WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation), with the National Endowment for the Arts and Oregon Arts Commission. White Bird Uncaged 2017-18 is made possible through major support from Ronni Lacroute and the NEA. White Bird’s 20th season (2017-18) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund; Work for Art; The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, , Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Starseed Foundation.