Rennie Harris Puremovement is back in black at the Kimmel Center. Harris, the world-famous hip-hop troupe’s leader and choreographer, hails from North Philly, which might be why he and his exuberant performance seem so excited to be here. The feeling is mutual: Friday’s nearly sold-out show was given a standing ovation, and frequent hoots and hollers rang out throughout the performance.
The show was billed as the world premiere of “100NakedLocks,” a hip-hop version of a post-apocalyptic intergalactic war, complete with a video montage and the occasional Darth Vader sound byte, but I was delightfully surprised when they announced that Rennie had declared that “It’s Philly, I’ve gotta give them more,” and put an additional piece on the program.
“Something to do with Love, Volume 1” is part of a 3 part work that the company is currently developing, and from this 45-minute preview it’s clear that it’s going to be awesome. The love-centric piece exudes sex: four couples, clad mostly in black and hot pink outfits, tease and tantalize, saunter and sway, and do it all to undulating rhythms and funky beats.
After the intermission the 8 dancers were joined by many more (all with mad skillz), and the black-clad posse of future humanity rolled, battled, locked, and jumped through a futuristic sci-fi world complete with billowing fog and spectacular lighting. The rhythms of the piece and the accompanying choreography were alternately foot-tapping, mind-blowing, and awe-inspiring, and towards the end a drummer comes in, banging away on plastic buckets with more skill than any rock star I’ve ever encountered.
The performance was a great introduction to Rennie Harris for those not familiar with his work, and clearly an ecstasy for his long-time fans. The Kimmel also added in some great extras, like a Q & A with the man himself after the show and a Forte young professionals reception, offering up free gourmet grub and cheap drinks along with the chance to mingle with other young arts fans. Rennie Harris Puremovement’s short 3-performance gig is over, but keep an eye out for the next time they hop into town. These dancers are way too cool to be below your radar.