ON?POINT: Philadanco connects through movement

Rennie Harris’ “Wake Up” premieres Friday.

Philadanco’s close ties to Philadelphia are embedded right there in its name, but the venerable dance company plans to express its local roots throughout its upcoming performance, “The Philadelphia Connection.”

The program includes a revival of Dwight Rhoden’s abstract ballet “Tribute,” which pays homage to Philadelphia International Records and its hit-making production team, Gamble & Huff, as well as late Philly choreographer Gene Hill Sagan’s “Suite en Bleu” and Ronald K. Brown’s ballet “Gatekeepers,” created especially for Philadanco.

The centerpiece of the show, however, is the world premiere of “Wake Up” — a newly-commissioned ballet by Philly-born hip-hop dance pioneer Rennie Harris. The piece is set to the music of Nigerian musician/activist Fela Kuti, the title an echo of his musical calls to arms. “Most of Fela’s music is about consciousness,” Harris says, “so I thought the title was appropriate for his aesthetic.”

The new piece is not the first Harris has created for Philadanco, yet the contrast in styles still seems surprising. “Anytime I work with dancers from a different genre, it’s always different with regard to movement that’s homegrown and understood from childhood versus movement that is kind of a foreign language,” Harris explains. “I’ve worked with Philadanco a few times, so it’s not a big issue — but it’s always about trying to get the dancers to the point of being at least bilingual, so to speak.”

If you go

Philadanco: ‘The Philadelphia Connection’
Friday through Sunday
Kimmel Center
Broad and Spruce sts.
$29-$46, 215-893-1999


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