During this time, while live performances are not possible, many Black choreographers have shifted their conversations about race and the Black experience from the stage to virtual platforms. Today’s Spotlight on Black Choreographers highlights Rennie Harris and J. Bouey, two artists recently featured on the July 24th episode of Black Dance Stories, a live streamed storytelling and discussion series with Black creatives in the dance world.
Founder of Rennie Harris Puremovement, the first and longest running hip-hop touring dance company with a mission to bring street dance to the concert stage, and to a broader audience, Mr. Harris has received several accolades, including the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and a United States Artist Fellowship. His company Puremovement was chosen by DanceMotion USA as one of four companies to serve as citizen-diplomats to tour Egypt, Israel, Palestinian territories, and Jordan in 2012.
Exemplifying his view of hip-hop as a “celebration of life,” Harris underscores the crucial role of action and movement in effecting change.
Inspired by Alvin Ailey’s life growing up in rural Texas during the Jim Crow era, Lazarus uses the biblical metaphor of resurrection and rebirth to pay tribute to Ailey’s legacy. The piece reflects Ailey’s journey establishing the Alvin Ailey Company and pays homage to some of his most influential pieces.
Member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and co-host of The Dance Union Podcast, a show that discusses issues in the dance industry. They have shown their choreography at The Chocolate Factory, New York Live Arts, Movement Research at Judson Church, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Gibney Dance, and other institutions. They were a Movement Research Van Lier Emerging Artist of Color Fellow for 2018 and a Dancing While Black Fellow for 2017-2018.
Holding Onto Innocence (2016)
This piece reflects the difficult conversations surrounding police brutality that many Black Americans must have with their children. Bouey recalls a conversation they had with their child explaining Tamir Rice’s killing while trying to preserve their son’s innocence.
By guest blogger Gabrielle Bohrman