Cultural Traditions Program Director
2012 School Programs
Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris, raised in an African-American community in North
Philadelphia, has taught workshops and classes at universities nationwide since the age of 15. He is a powerful spokesperson for the significance of "street" origins in any dance style. In 1992, he founded Rennie Harris Puremovement, a dance company dedicated to preserving the diverse and rich African-American traditions of the past, while simultaneously disseminating hip-hop culture, in the belief that hip-hop is the most important original expression of a new generation. With his company he has choreographed many works including Rome & Jewels, his first evening length work, referencing in part Shakespeare's text and Robbins' West Side Story. The show, the longest touring hip-hop dance theatre work in U.S. history, has won three Bessie Awards, two Black Theater Alvin Ailey Awards, the Herb Alpert Award and a Laurence Olivier Award (UK) nomination. With his work, Facing Mekka, Harris sought to expand his choreographic work for females and bring the company's women out of the "chorus" to showcase their skills. Harris founded the Legends of Hip-Hop Dance Festival in 1997-98 to honor and preserve the tradition of hip-hop dance. Harris and his company have performed at the Pillow since 1997 in five different seasons. He previously directed the Cultural Traditions Program in 2005.