Rennie Harris

By: Emily Crump & Paivikki Salmi

History of Hip Hop

The origins of Hip Hop date back to the 1970s. During this era, several dance crews formed, and the dance style became widely known on the streets. Break-dancing, by hip hop dance activists, is claimed to be the purest dance style. Break dancing originated in the 1970s when people began to mimic dance moves from the song "Get on the Good Foot" by James Brown. Clive Campbell (a.k.a DJ Kool Herc) spun records such as the one by James Brown at parties in New York, at which the attendees danced this new style of dancing. Another type of Hip Hop, using funk styles, was discovered in California during the time that the New Yorkers began to break dance. Locking, Roboting, Popping and Boogaloo are all considered funk styles. They were not originally created for Hip Hop Music, but eventually were discovered to also work with Hip Hop. As Hip Hop came to be more widely practiced, dance crews emerged.

The essence of hip hop revolves around the concept of battling one another. Dance crews are primarily groups of street dancers who join together. As the different crews met to battle, new dance moves came about. Hip Hop was not taught in studios and dancers learned from each other, and created new dance moves. Socially, hip hop dancing became popular through the release of popular hip hop songs, which accompanied specific dance styles. The Charleston, The Twist, The Boogaloo ,The Good Foot, The Funky Chicken, and the Mashed Potato were all dances that were socially danced, and transformed Hip Hop dance. Hip Hop is an ever evolving dance style, in which moves are constantly conceived and revolutionized as new songs and dancers come about.

Rennie Harris

Lorenzo Rennie Harris was born in northern Philadelphia. He was first inspired to dance when The Campbell Lockers performed on Soul Train. He, his brother, and his childhood friend formed a dance group called Cobra III when Rennie was 12. Cobra III won the local church talent show, which kick-started his commitment dance.
He started his career in his teens when he formed 2 dance groups, the Scanner Boys and The Step Masters. The Scanner Boys have worked with people and groups such as Madonna, Kurtis Blow, the Treacherous Three, and many more. Rennie Harris, also known as the Prince of the Ghetto, was a member of The Magnificent Force.
Harris worked for dance tv shows including, "Dance Party USA" and "Dancin' On Air" before he was finally given his own show to host, "One House Street". He finished his commercial career with a prolonged tour with Cathy Sledge. He was both a dancer and choreographer for the tour.
After the tour, he returned home to Philadelphia and the Scanner Boys. The boys worked on innovating hip hop dance. The Scanner Boys disbanded in 1992.
Also in 1992, Harris made the Rennie Harris Puremovement. The Puremovement is a movement to preserve and disseminate hip hop culture. It wants to re-educate people about hip-hop and its culture with artistic work, lecture demonstrations, and discussions.
In 1998 Harris started the Illadelph Legends of Hip-Hop Festival. The festival's goal was to bring people who enjoy hip hop together with lessons, performances, and discussions. The festival passes down knowledge of different dances such as Popping, Breaking, Locking and others.
The Puremovement had such a great response from younger dances that Harris needed a second organization just for them. This introduced the Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring-Works company which is just like the Puremovement only with easier dances for the younger ones.
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