Dance: Rennie Harris Puremovement at the Joyce

Rennie Harris Puremovement
If this doesn’t get you excited for Rennie Harris Puremovement, we’re not sure our words can — but we’ll try.
Credit: Brian Mengini

A blast from the past, Rennie Harris Puremovement presents an evening of work from the ’90s in celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary. Blending daring feats of street dance and segments of spoken word in an elegantly curated compositional vision, Harris’ team of performers fill the Joyce Theater with enthusiasm and intensity.

Harris is a world-renowned choreographer that characterizes hip-hop as an “indigenous form express[ing] universal themes that extend beyond racial, religious and economic boundaries.” His Philadelphia-based company returns to the Joyce this week after 10 years away — time that’s been spent sharing his unique melding of hip-hop movement and dramatic theater with the world.

Rennie Harris has a strong reputation in the field and this performance backs up all that talk. He has cultivated a community, both onstage and in the audience, that feel connected to his mission of presenting the voice of a new generation alongside the rich and diverse African-American traditions of the past. For this program, they share two earlier, darker works, “P-FUNK” and “MARCH OF THE ANTMEN” (1992), alongside brighter pieces such as “CONTINUUM” (1997) and “STUDENTS OF THE ASPHALT JUNGLE” (1995). The award-winning “ROME & JEWELS” was reprised for this celebration as an excerpted and (in some ways) modernized version of the original work from 1997.

Harris’ Puremovement artists are truly unique individuals who gently expose their identities through unified sections of funk that contrast with striking moments of highly physical dancing. One voice rolls into the next in a series of solos in the cypher of “CONTINUUM.” They move dynamically, finding powerful moments of freeze amid themes of violence and love, ferocity and hope. The performance closes with the radiating energy of seven strong and articulate men wearing white pants and sneakers in “ASPHALT.” They show us the power of movement, and we understand what it means to stand together. This strength in numbers resonates because we’ve been given a chance to watch each one of these performers share their skills — oh yes, these dancers have tricks up their sleeves and aren’t afraid to pull out all the stops.

If you go

Rennie Harris Puremovement
Through Feb. 2
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave.

Tuesday 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday 7:30 p.m.
Thursday 8 p.m.
Friday 8 p.m.
Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday 2 p.m.

Tickets start at $10 through 212-242-0800 or www.joyce.org.


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