Notifications

New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Dubbed "the most respected—and the most brilliant—hip-hop choreographer in America" by The New Yorker, Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris reigns supreme in his hometown of Philadelphia. This June, he brings his latest world premiere, Rennie Harris: Funkedified, to the New Vic stage!

We sat down with Rennie and a few Funkedified dancers from his company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, to talk about the power and joy of movement and his mission to bring street dance to the world.

In between visiting "as many block parties as possible and dancing all night," Rennie Harris began teaching at universities around the country at just 15-years-old. Since then, he’s dedicated his life to preserving and presenting street dance as a legitimate art form. While breaking the stereotypes and expectations of what hip-hop culture can be, Harris has received two honorary doctorates, founded two dance companies and created Philadelphia’s annual Illadelph Legends of Hip-Hop Festival.

Funkedified Cast

The power of dance is a tangible thing in the world of Rennie Harris. His original work encompasses the diverse and rich African American traditions of the past, while presenting the voice of a new generation through an ever-evolving interpretation of dance. In choreographing he says, “I'm always chasing the feeling of freedom I get when I dance or when I choreograph a new piece,” and he aims to bring that sense of empowerment to others. 

Phil Cuttino Jr., who joined Rennie Harris Puremovement in 2012, emphasizes that dance has, "helped me learn about myself as a human, as a man, as a son and as a leader." Puremovement's Tatiana Desardouin adds, "[Dance] helps me discover new things about myself as a confident woman."

Throughout his impressive body of work, there's one continuous thread—spreading the word of hip-hop and street dance throughout the country. Since their founding, his two eminent companies, Rennie Harris Puremovement (New Vic 1999, 2004, 2015, 2018) and Rennie Harris RHAW (New Vic 2013), have taken center stage. Puremovement was born in 1992 to "re-educate [the public] about hip-hop and its culture through artistic work, lecture demonstrations and discussions."

Puremovement and Funkedified dancer Ricky "Glytch" Evans feels especially drawn to its core mission. He says, "My favorite thing about being a dancer is the ability to inspire others. Whether it's through teaching or performing, dance makes me feel something special, no matter how I'm engaging with it. It's a gift to positively affect the emotions of those around me by doing something that I love."

Funkedified Cast

Though thrilled with Puremovement's success, Rennie saw a problem quickly develop. Many talented young artists were lining up to audition—too many, in fact. They didn’t quite have the level of professionalism needed to join his flagship company. So, in 2007, he created a solution—RHAW (Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works).

Initially conceived as a youth organization, driven by community outreach and education, RHAW has evolved into a training program to "forge new paths for young hip-hop hopefuls, and present hip-hop in its 'RHAW-est' forms." Often, those "young hip-hop hopefuls" transfer from RHAW to Rennie Harris Puremovement. There, the students become the educators and inspire a new generation of dancers. 

Outside of his companies, Rennie tries to reach the world...by simply educating it! A professor at over 11 universities (and counting), he’s inspired dancers all over the country in the classroom. Puremovement’s Leigh Foaad recalls, "My wife snuck me into Rennie's class at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), for two years. Then, I was invited to his annual festival, Illadelph, and was asked to join RHAW. Soon, I became a member of Rennie Harris Puremovement."

For Rennie’s fifth visit to the New Vic, he wanted to bring something special, a look back on his own coming of age in Philadelphia. This is a brand new work that’s not only entertaining, but reframes an artform that’s commonly dismissed as just "subway entertainment." Funkedified is a celebration of funk, through and through, but more importantly it’s a celebration of Rennie’s evolution as a dancer, choreographer and educator, set to the tune of the music that echoed through his childhood and inspired him to first learn to pop, lock and break!
 
 
Funkedified Thumb Get on up with Rennie Harris Puremovement! Inspired by the soundtrack of his youth—Soul Train on the TV and James Brown on the radio—Rennie Harris celebrates all that is funk in the world premiere of Funkedified. Get your tickets today!
 
Posted by Beth Henderson

Discover your Chinese zodiac sign and imagine your very own adventure in this Family Activity for Panda's Home! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past posts on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.

Year of the You

In Panda's Home, dancers travel through the rich cultural landscape of China, encountering bamboo forests, ancient traditions and animals along the way! In Chinese astrology, each year is associated with a different animal. In this activity, develop a character based on one of these animals. 

Step One: There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. You can find your zodiac sign based on the year you were born! Use the chart below to discover the animal signs for each of your family members:
  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971
Step Two: Now that you know your zodiac sign, it's time to get into character. Pretend you are that animal using the prompts below. Don't be afraid to get silly!
  • What noise does your animal make?
  • Does your animal run? Fly? Slither?
  • Is your animal furry? Feathery? Smooth?
  • How can you move like your animal?
Step Three: As a family, look here to find some of the qualities associated with your sign to find out what makes your animal special. Try to show your special qualities while acting like the animal. Are you any of the following?
  • A smart pig
  • A happy horse
  • A loyal dog
  • A proud rooster
  • A wild dragon
Color and Create

In the show, panda footprints are used to map out the journey. In this activity, create your own map with exciting stops along the way to imagine an epic adventure!

Materials: My Animal's Journey Sheet, crayons or colored pencils, pencils or pens

Step One: Adults, print out a copy of My Animal's Journey Sheet for each of your family members. 

My Animal's Journey
Step Two: First things first—find out where you're going. Adults, ask your kids what their favorite place in the whole world is, real or imagined. Is it grandma's house? The playground? Fairyland? Puppy palace? Pick one and fill in that answer on the sheet! Everyone in your family should do this for their own journey.

Now do the same for the rest of the blank categories. Here are some examples for the other stops on your journey, but there are no wrong answers!

Somewhere Outdoors:
  • A local park
  • The beach
  • A hiking trail
  • A street corner
  • A forest
Somewhere to Get a Snack
  • A pizzeria
  • An ice cream shop
  • The grocery store
  • Candy Land
  • Your favorite restaurant!
Somewhere Wild
  • The tallest tip of the tallest mountain
  • Under the deep blue sea
  • The far reaches of outer space
  • Superhero training headquarters
Step Three: It's time to color in your journey. Draw the locations you picked in the boxes on your map. Get creative with colors and shapes!

Choose Your Own Adventure

Every journey has a story and now it's time to tell yours! Explore all the details of your Journey Sheet and act out your adventure.

Step One: Tell your story, beginning, middle and end. Adults, help kids imagine why their characters traveled from place to place. Think about these questions to get into character.
  • Why does my character need to go to my favorite place?
  • What is something outdoors they need to do before they get there?
  • What happens along the way from their outdoor location that makes them a little hungry?
  • How does eating their snack make them feel?
  • Do they get lost? Do they know where they’re going?
  • When they get to their third location, are they tired? Happy? Scared?
  • Do they meet anyone along the way?
  • How do they finally get to their favorite place?
  • What do they do to celebrate when they get there?
Step Two: Now get into character! Practice the face your character might make when they get to each location on their journey. Rehearse your character with your family. Are they...
  • Excited to get there?
  • Nervous about travelling to the next place?
  • Surprised by someone they meet along the way?
Step Three: Tell your story again—only this time, act out the story as your character. Invite family members and friends to see your animal's journey. Good luck, and have fun on your trip!
 
Panda's Home Thumb Get your tickets today to venture into the depths of China's rich culture with Panda's Home!
Posted by Beth Henderson
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10  >  >|