Rennie Harris Puremovement and Rachel Maddow at Jacob's Pillow
This afternoon, I went to Jacob's Pillow to see Rennie Harris Puremovement perform, and then, after the performance, to hear what Rachel Maddow has to say about the role of the arts in the US.
There were four pieces on Puremovement's program, one new (or, according to what I read, in progress) and three old. All drew on hip-hop movement as their basic medium of expression.
The new piece was the five-part "Something to Do with Love Volume One," with a selection of smooth, generally down-tempo songs as its score "Rain," by Henderson; Marvin Gaye's "I Want You," mixed by Kenny Dope; and songs by Vikter Duplaix, Ayo, and Nina Simone. The printed program noted that that the third section of the dance, "A Man's World," was co-choreographed with Emilio Austin jr, aka Buddah Stretch.
The older repertory pieces were "P-Funk," choreographed in 1992, the year Harris founded Puremovement, with music by Parliament Funkadelics (P-Funk) and Groove Collective; "March of the Antmen," also dating from 1992, set to spoken words and a score of the same name by Dru Minyard, rewritten by Darrin Ross and Grisha Coleman; and "Students of the Asphalt Jungle" (1995), with an electronic score by Darrin Ross.
After the first three pieces, which were all relatively subtle in their incorporation of break dancing into the movement, "Students of the Asphalt Jungle" pulled out the stops, which left the audience exhilarated as the lights came up.
Maddow was speaking on the Pillow's outdoor stage. Her main theme was that the arts are of vital importance as a dimension of a country's claim to excellence. You can pick up the gist of Maddow's views by reading a brief statement she contributed to the LA Times back in March.
After offering opening remarks, Maddow answered questions from Suzanne Carbonneau, the Pillow's scholar in residence, and from the audience, which was a couple hundred people, at least.