The MCA welcomes legendary hip-hop dance theater choreographer Rennie Harris to present his new work-in-progress Rennie Harris: LIFTED, a loose adaptation of Oliver Twist. The performance follows Joshua, a teen orphan who has been relocated to live with his religious relatives, on his journey from joining a band of pickpockets to finding salvation and worship in the communal experience of house music and dance. This awakening is often referred to as “going to church.” Performed by a group of Chicago hip-hop dancers and vocalists from Mosaic Community Choir and St. Benedict the African Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, the performance is set to an original soundtrack of gospel-inspired house music and follows a community in their deep examination of communion and redemption, and broader social justice concerns.
Known as one of the first choreographers to bring hip-hop to the concert stage, Harris’s work looks at African-American cultural practices through a contemporary lens. Keeping with past works such as Rome and Jewels—an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet—Harris updates the classic coming-of-age tale Oliver Twist to explore the practices and traditions of the black church, and the ways communities address issues of morality and spirituality today.
Dr. Rennie Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement, dedicated to preserving hip-hop culture through workshops, lectures, residencies, and performances. Dr. Harris received a medal from the Kennedy Center as a master of African-American choreography. Rennie Harris: LIFTED is presented as part of the MCA New Works Initiative.