Nashville, Tenn. – October 26, 2023 – Contemporary arts center OZ Arts Nashville today announced that renowned Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris and his internationally acclaimed Philadelphia-based company Puremovement will stage their critically-praised performance Rome & Jewels, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, from November 9-11.
After wowing OZ audiences with his breathtaking piece Nuttin’ But a Word in 2021, Harris returns to Music City with an ambitious rendition of the timeless tragedy, but set in the streets of Philadelphia rather than the Verona of Shakespeare’s time. Dueling DJs and more than a dozen dynamic Hip-hop dancers and actors brilliantly enact the rivalry between two families with a mix of live video, Hip-hop poetry, and virtuosic movement. With choreography deeply rooted in the traditions of street dance forms, old-school Hip-hop, popping, break dance and more, this Shakespearian adaptation is unlike anything ever seen before, showcasing an innovative way of storytelling through updated, rap-like dialogue inspired by the playwright himself.
When Harris first premiered Rome and Jewels in 2000, it quickly became an international sensation, garnering a prestigious nomination for London’s Olivier Award, as well as multiple New York Dance and Performance Awards or “Bessies.” He revived the performance last year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his acclaimed company, using several of the same outstanding performers from the original. With Rome and Jewels, Harris builds on his mission to embody the diverse African-Diasporic traditions of the past to create vital, contemporary work. He describes it as a story of fear, love, violence, and triumph that can give us insights into many racial questions we face in religion and economics.
“I was thrilled by Rome and Jewels when it was first made over 20 years ago, and I was honored to be one of several co-commissioners of the project,” said Mark Murphy, OZ Arts Executive and Artistic Director. “Rennie’s work demonstrates the ability of dance and theater to unite diverse communities and tell meaningful stories about culture, and we are more than excited to host his work at OZ Arts once again.”
Hailed as “the Basquiat of the U.S. contemporary dance scene” by The Times (London), Harris founded Puremovement in 1992 as a street dance theatre company dedicated to preserving and disseminating street dance culture through workshops, classes, lectures, mentoring programs, and public performances. The group’s mission is to provide audiences with a sincere view of the essence and spirit of Hip-hop rather than the commercially exploited stereotypes portrayed by the media. In his prolific career, Harris has also been honored with numerous prestigious awards, including the Alvin Ailey Black Choreographers Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Arts Award, and the Dance Magazine Legend Award.
To celebrate Rennie Harris Puremovement’s (RHPM) 30th anniversary in 2022, Harris raised money to remount his classic work, Rome & Jewels, to bring the awe-inspiring production to viewers around the country, including those at OZ Arts Nashville.
TICKETS & MORE INFORMATION
Thursday, November 9 at 8:00 pm
Friday, November 10 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, November 11 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Attendees can RSVP at ozartsnashville.org.
About OZ Arts Nashville
Founded in 2013 by the Ozgener family, OZ Arts Nashville has quickly established itself as one of the Southeast's most influential and respected producers and presenters focused on the creation and presentation of significant performing and visual artworks by diverse cultural visionaries who are making vital contributions to the evolution of contemporary culture. Through performances, exhibitions, and community events, OZ Arts focuses on producing and presenting the work of local and visiting artists who reflect our diverse society, utilize new artistic forms and technology in creative ways, and provide opportunities for meaningful engagement with audiences, students and cultural and civic leaders. OZ Arts' unique creative warehouse has developed a reputation as a major national and regional laboratory for experimentation and a home for contemporary dance and performance. More than 50,000 audience members have been introduced to adventurous artists from around the world since the organization opened, and hundreds of local and regional artists have used OZ’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse theater to develop new works. For more information, please visit ozartsnashville.org.
About Rennie Harris
Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris is a leading ambassador for Hip-hop. Harris grew up entrenched in Hip-hop culture and was immersed in all its forms — music, dance, language. Throughout his career, he has embraced the culture and sought to honor its legacy. He believes Hip-hop and Street Dance is the purest form of movement in that it honors both its heritage from African and African American-Latino culture. His life has been devoted to bringing Hip-hop and Street dance to all people. Harris’s artistic philosophy reflects a deeper understanding of people that extends beyond racial, religious, and economic boundaries. He believes that Hip-hop, because of its cross-racial and transnational popularity, can help bridge these divisions. Harris’s work encompasses the diverse and rich traditions of the past, while simultaneously presenting the voice of a new generation through its ever-evolving interpretations of dance.
Harris is the founder of both Rennie Harris Puremovement, founded in 1992 and recognized as America’s longest-running Hip-hop dance touring company, and Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works, founded in 2007.