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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.

Discover your dance aesthetic, explore different rhythms and make up your own dance moves in this Family Activity for Victory Dance! 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.

Your I-Dance-Ity

Every dancer has a style, or aesthetic—something unique about the way they dance that makes them special. In this activity, discover your dancer identity and design a fantasy dance costume to match!

Materials: Dance costume worksheet

Step One: There are many, many, many kinds of dances. From tap to flamenco and from kathak to ballet, humans from all over the world have found different ways to move their bodies throughout history. Watch the videos below to see some of the dance styles coming to The New Victory Theater this summer:


Step Two: Now it is your turn to choose your favorite dance style! Try out some dance moves that you saw in the videos, or think about the style of dance you like best. Ask yourself: 
  • Do you like to move your feet quickly?
  • Do you like to move with grace and poise?
  • Do you like to boogie?
  • Do you like to dance with other people or as a soloist?
  • Do you like to dance with props?
Once you have discovered your favorite dance style, it's time to give it a name. Decide on an adjective that personalizes your dance move, and then the dance style that inspires you. Are you a Boogying Ballerina? A Funky Tapper? Fill it in on your dance costume worksheet.

Step Three: Take a look at some of the costumes from Victory Dance.

Victory Dance Costumes

With your dance style in mind, design your costume on this worksheet. Think about what you will be most comfortable in, what fits your dance style and, most importantly, what represents you as a dancer.

Groove is in the Heart

Music makes you move, and if you can move, you can dance! Our Victory Dance companies dance to a variety of musical styles, spoken word poems and unconventional sounds. In this activity, see how different sounds influence the way you move. 

Step One: Before dancing, take a minute to stretch, change into comfortable clothes and find a place in your home where there is room to move around. To warm up, try the following:
  • Roll your shoulders backwards and forwards.
  • Stretch your arms all the way up towards the ceiling.
  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet touching each other. That's butterfly position. Now, try to smell your toes. Pee-yew!
  • Lift your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • Bend over and stretch your arms towards your toes. Can you touch your toes? Your shins? Your knees?
Stretch!

Step Two: Now it's time to find the rhythm. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, put on a playlist and try to bounce to the beat of each song. Once you get into the groove, try the next song and see how fast you can find the rhythm with your body.

Step Three: You found the rhythm by bouncing—now, put on your favorite song and find the beat with different parts of your body. Can you find the rhythm...
  • In your shoulders?
  • In your hips?
  • In your feet?
  • In your neck?
  • In your fingers?
  • In your chin?
  • In your nose?
  • In your eyes?
Dance Till You Drop

Get ready to move as you put your dance aesthetic and rhythm skills to the test by creating your very own dance phrase! That is a small piece of choreography that you can expand into a larger dance sequence. 

Step One: From the previous activity, pick three body parts that you like putting rhythm into the most. Name them A, B and C. Put on a song and see all the different ways you can move them. For example:
  • A = Shoulders. I roll my shoulders forward.
  • B = Hips. I isolate my hips and swing them from side-to-side.
  • C = Fingers. I reach my fingers towards the sky while my feet come into relevĂ©.
Each member of your family can create their own three moves!

Step Two: Once you have created your three moves, try to find a way to transition from move A to move B to move C. Do all three in a row, and repeat them to the rhythm of the music. You have just created a dance phrase.

Step Three: Perform your dance phrases for each other. Invite friends and family members to watch you perform them to the music. 

BONUS: Put on different songs and see how your phrase changes depending on the different rhythms of music. 

EXTRA BONUS: Learn each other's dance phrases, combine them to make one longer dance sequence and perform it as a group.
 
 
The New Victory Theater Get your tickets today to see the best dance New York City has to offer!
Posted by Beth Henderson

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
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