Rennie Harris2003

Rennie Harris walks the tightrope between what he calls the "truth of hip-hop" and the "formality of the theater stage." A self-taught dancer who performed under the tag "Prince of the Ghetto," and opened for both Grandmaster Flash and Run DMC, Harris, versed in the hip-hop styles of Stepping, Poppin, Boogaloo, B-boy, Campbell Locking, Hip-Hop and House, moved from the tradition of hip-hop to choreographing it as a concert dance form. His early solos wove gestures of psychic fragmentation with autobiographical text. In his group works, he draws on what he terms "the tension of individuality" and multiple vocabularies from the African diaspora. In Rome and Jewels, iambic pentameter meets the rhyming syncopation of street slang. His newest piece, Facing Mekka, contains dances for women as a counterweight to the machismo of the hip-hop world.

"Structure's a guideline; it shouldn't control every thing. Making work, the only thing that's real is what's happening now. I have few laws: (1) you remember everything that's good; if I don't remember it, and especially if the dancers don't, it wasn't that dope; (2) don't force anything. If I'm just making people do the same shit over and over that means that I can't see the next step, and it's time to change the space, do something else; (3) learn the rhythm first, the choreography last. As long as there's a pulse the body will respond, and if the body knows it, you always will. Stay away from the urge to count; the rhythm is a feeling, a quality, it moves you."