Hip-hop heritage

Since it was founded in 1991, Rennie Harris Puremovement has performed for sold-out audiences around the world. On Jan. 29, the troupe comes back home for a historical overview.

Hip-hop may have evolved from the party music of young African Americans in the South Bronx, but its roots go all the way back to Africa. And now one of Philadelphia’s most talented hip-hop dance ensembles has chronicled its history.

Rennie Harris Puremovement’s “The History of Hip Hop,” at International House Jan. 29, surveys the emergence of a cultural phenomenon from the combination of topical rap lyrics, rhythmic music and breakdancing that first burst into popular consciousness in the early 1980s and has now become embedded in mainstream culture. In keeping with the hip-hop tradition, “The History of Hip Hop” incorporates historical film footage, intricate dance moves, and live rappers and DJs to tell the story of hip-hop’s evolution and offer current social and political commentary on issues such as police brutality and the balance of power in urban neighborhoods. The work fulfills one of choreographer Harris’ lifelong goals: to document the history of hip-hop as it happened.


THE HISTORY OF HIP HOP: 8 p.m. at International House, 3701 Chestnut St. Tickets $20, students/seniors/children under 12/International House members $18, International Music Series subscribers $17.50. Info: 215-895-6537.


Originally published on January 20, 2000