2023-01-24 10:00:42

At Rennie Harriss Hip-Hop University, Teaching the Teachers

Logo The New York Times
The New York Times
By Sophie Bress

On a Friday morning in December the hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris was in Boulder, Colo., teaching a master class. Rather than taking a post at the front of the studio and staying there, Harris moved among the students, weaving his way through the room and dancing along with them. He offered a few critiques, but more often he paused to share stories and historical tidbits, illuminating the lineage and theory behind the movements he was teaching.

But this was more than just a master class. It was one of the final sessions in a yearlong program to train and certify hip-hop and street dance teachers. A few days later, most of these students became members of the first graduating class at the newly minted Rennie Harris University.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Harris, who turns 59 this week, has been a guiding force, ushering hip-hop and street dance into new spaces and championing their history and legacy. He is perhaps most widely known for bringing these styles to the concert stage with his Philadelphia-based company Rennie Harris Puremovement. (The company will present its signature work, Rome & Jewels, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, at the Joyce Theater in New York in February.) Rennie Harris University builds on the principles that have shaped its founders career, bringing them into the classroom.

Continue read on nytimes.com

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