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Performance Mon Oct 26 2009
Hip hop and James Brown aren't necessarily commonplace in the world of dance theatre, but thanks to choreographer Rennie Harris, "hip hop theatre" is here to stay.
Harris, the "ambassador of hip hop" and founder of the Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM) dance company, recently brought his unique style of dance theater from Philadelphia to Chicago.
Admittedly, I didn't quite know what to expect from Harris' "I Want You," part of the Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago's "Giordano: MOVE!" series that ran this past weekend at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. When I learned the show would combine elements of "funk and street movement influenced by African dance and old school hip-hop," I was immediately intrigued.
The performance began with male and female dancers in a routine replete with tightly-choreographed hip hop and jazz-inspired moves, set to a super-funky beat. The longer the beat played, the more the crowd got into the performance, and gauging the audience's reaction, it seemed the up-tempo music was a welcomed change of pace from the preceding traditional performances. In fact, the dancers themselves appeared to enjoy switching things up to a more high-energy dance as they did classic moves including "B-boy stances," "locking," and the ever classic hip hop move, the Kid 'N Play "kick step." When the hip hop track ended, the music switched to an infectious (aren't they all) James Brown tune that really got the audience on its feet, figuratively speaking, of course.
The performance ended with some of the dancers capitalizing off the audience's energy and offering a short dance solo to keep the crowd hyped.
"I Want You" was beautifully executed with class and style, and proudly displayed the origins of hip hop dancing and how it has evolved today.