Acclaimed choreographer and performer, Rennie Harris proposes a new teacher training program that offers the foundations in Hip-Hop and Street dance forms (notably Hip-hop and House dance). By codifying these techniques, the program elevates the dance field’s teaching expertise to include proficient and accurate technique as well as historical and cultural background. Rennie Harris was born and raised in an African-American community in North Philadelphia. Since the age of 15, known for bringing street dance to the concert stage and coining the term “Street Dance Theater” Harris has pioneered street dance theater globally. He teaches workshops and classes at universities around the country and abroad and is a powerful spokesperson for the significance of “street” origins in any dance style. 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. With its roots in the inner-city African-American and Latino communities, Hip-hop can be characterized as a contemporary indigenous form. Harris’ work encompasses the diverse and rich African American traditions of the past, while simultaneously presenting the voice of a new generation through its ever-evolving interpretations of dance.
In 1992, Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement American Street Dance Theater (RHPM), a street dance theater company dedicated to preserving and disseminating Hip-hop dance and culture. Inclusive of indigenous street dance styles and movement nationally, RHPM preserves and disseminates through workshop, class, lecture, demonstration, long term residencies, mentoring programs and public performances. In addition to touring nationally and internationally RHPM has performed for the Queen of England, the Princess’ of Monaco and served two administrations as Hip-hop ambassadors. President Ronald Regan’s American Embassy Tour (86) and President Obama’s cultural exchange program initiated by Hillary Clinton, Dance Motion USA (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, a Guggenheim, 5 Alvin Ailey Black Choreography awards, 3 Bessie awards. 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, at the turn of the century, 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 two honorary doctorate degrees, one from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, in 2010 and the other from Chicago’s Columbia College in 2013, making him the first Street Dancer to receive honorary degrees under the auspices of Hip-hop dance (see curriculum vitae).