Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Dance collaboration to represent ‘love’ city with ‘Straight Outta Philly’ Oct. 27 at Eisenhower

Philadanco and Rennie Harris Puremovement, two of Philadelphia’s premier African American dance companies, will represent the City of Brotherly Love with their collaborative performance “Straight Outta Philly.” The dancers will interpret social, political and historical issues through contemporary and hip-hop-themed pieces at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

The program will feature five pieces: “Nuttin’ But a Word!!!” and “A Day in the Life,” created by Harris for his company; “A Movement for Five” and “Folded Prism” by Philadanco; and “Philadelphia Experiment,” a finale featuring both companies and choreographed by Harris. “‘Philadelphia Experiment’ just grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go,” wrote a reviewer for CultureVulture.net. “It is a modern dance masterpiece, and Philadanco refines it every time out.”

Purchase tickets, which are $38 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student, and $28 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Watch a preview of “Straight Outta Philly.”

The Philadelphia Dance Company, known as Philadanco, was founded in 1970 by longtime dancer, choreographer and artistic director Joan Myers Brown. She saw her troupe as a professional dance training center for black artists who historically were not welcome at other schools. The troupe performs a repertoire espousing predominantly black dance traditions and choreographers. In addition to myriad awards and nationwide recognition, Brown was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2012.

Watch a Center for the Performing Arts interview with Brown.

Rennie Harris Puremovement also celebrates the dance and works of black artists but through the lens of theatrical hip-hop styles. Harris helped to put hip-hop dance on the map with the dance crew The Scanner Boys, which performed with legends of hip-hop including Whodini, Run DMC, Salt-n-Pepa and Gloria Gaynor. After concluding his professional dance career in the early 1990s, he formed Puremovement to further his efforts to keep hip-hop dance thriving and innovative. His choreographed works—including commissions for ballet-based companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Memphis Ballet—aim to break down stereotypes and expectations of the broad hip-hop genre.

See a Center for the Performing Arts interview with Harris.

Find more information about the dance companies and the performance.

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Joan Myers Brown, founder of Philadanco, and Rodney Hill, company manager of Rennie Harris Puremovement, is offered one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis. Performers will also participate in a post-performance discussion with the audience.

Audio description, which is especially helpful to patrons with sight loss, is available for this performance at no extra charge to ticket holders. Reservations are required by Friday, Oct. 13. Phone 814-863-0255 to reserve this service.

Rich and Sally Kalin sponsor the performance.

This presentation is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative, which seeks to: immerse an array of people in the performing arts; educate the community about cultures and art forms different from the familiar; influence thinking so we become a community that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion; and ensure the activities of the collaborative have a sustainable impact on the community. Funds from across Penn State and throughout the community support the initiative. The university’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee provides lead funding. Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support. Find more information about the collaborative.