The acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris lives and works in Philadelphia, but his work is not always seen here. This season, local audiences get three high-profile chances.
The first, in March, is the most anticipated performance on Philadelphia’s dance calendar this spring: Lazarus, which he made in December for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In its review of the Lazarus premiere at New York City Center, the New York Times said, “Mr. Harris gives us something like heaven.”
Philadanco is also performing a Harris work on its April program, and in June, Harris’ own company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, will bring Funkedified, an autobiographical work that premiered Off-Broadway last year.
Other intriguing-sounding offerings this spring include a new Angel Corella-created Giselle from the Pennsylvania Ballet, a collaboration from choreographer Reggie Wilson and the city’s new Philadelphia Contemporary museum without walls, and more world premieres from BalletX.
The often-aerial Brian Sanders' JUNK presents a Romeo and Juliet with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (March 1-2, Academy of Music). The big draw here is the Philadelphia premiere of Rennie Harris’ Lazarus. The program also includes such Ailey favorites as Revelations, one of the company’s must-see works. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Dance Theater of Harlem (March 1-2, Annenberg Center). This year’s visit is part of DTH’s 50th anniversary season and will include Nyman String Quartet #2, a world premiere by company resident choreographer Robert Garland, who is from Philadelphia. Note the overlap with Ailey’s visit, and plan accordingly if you’re trying to see both. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
BalletX (March 6-17, Wilma Theater). The spring season includes three world premieres. Choreographers include Lil Buck, who danced in an Apple commercial — and with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a viral video that Spike Jonze shot on his phone. Nicolo Fonte, who made several popular pieces for both BalletX and the Pennsylvania Ballet, is back with a new piece, and he also mentored the company’s 2019 choreographic fellow, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, the third choreographer on the program. (215-546-7824, balletx.org)
Giselle (March 7-17, Academy of Music). Artistic director Angel Corella has been restaging many of the classic evening-length ballets, and this time he’s taking on Giselle, one he danced many times. Giselle is one of the most beloved ballets, as well as one of the oldest. (215-893-1999, paballet.org)
Dance Heginbotham (March 15-16, Annenberg Center). This New York contemporary company was founded by former Mark Morris dancer and 2018 Guggenheim Fellow John Heginbotham. It is making its Philadelphia debut, and tickets are already sold out online, but call the box office for possible additional tickets. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
All Stravinsky program (April 4-7, Merriam Theater). The Pennsylvania Ballet is dancing Balanchine’s Apollo and his Stravinsky Violin Concerto, along with Jerome Robbins’ The Cage (a company premiere), and a world premiere by Matthew Neenan. (215-893-1999, paballet.org)
Brian Sanders’ JUNK (April 4-6, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center). Sanders is known for his otherworldly scenes, sets made of found objects, and aerial dance. Here, he presents a new Romeo and Juliet, which will be performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Edgy meets classical? It sounds intriguing. (215-893-1999, philorch.org)
Union Tenguera + Kate Weare Company (April 5-6, Annenberg Center). Two companies meet for a mix of tango and contemporary in an evening-length work set to live music. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (April 12-13, Annenberg Center). A hybrid of Asian and western culture and movement, this esteemed Philadelphia company makes its Annenberg debut. The program includes five Lin dances from 1993 to a world premiere, Spring 101, Lin’s 101st choreographed dance. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
Philadanco (April 12-14, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center). Philadanco’s spring season will feature all ballets by choreographers born in, based in, and influenced by Philadelphia. On the program are new ballets by Rennie Harris and Dawn Marie Bazemore, as well as a revival from Gene Hill Sagan. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Koresh Dance Company (April 25-28, Suzanne Roberts Theater). Artistic director Roni Koresh presents a world premiere based on Matisse’s painting La Danse, set to an original score by John Levis with poetry by Karl Mullen. (215-985-0420, koreshdance.org)
BODYTRAFFIC (April 26-27, Annenberg Center). This Los Angeles company blends contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, and ballet. It brings a series of Philadelphia premieres to the Annenberg, including A Million Voices by Philadelphia choreographer Neenan and set to Peggy Lee classics. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
Prince Charming (May 2-4, Iron Gate Theatre at 3700 Chestnut St.). The young dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet II stage a retelling of Cinderella from the prince’s point of view that sounds — well, charming. Part of the Philadelphia Children’s Festival, Prince Charming features an original score by Kermit Poling. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
Reggie Wilson: Grounds That Shout! (And Others Merely Shaking) (May 3-4 at Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia, May 11 at three Society Hill religious sites). The boundary-pushing Philadelphia Contemporary joins Partners for Sacred Places and Danspace Project (NYC) for a series of site-specific performances exploring the African American religious experience. (philadelphiacontemporary.org)
“DGV,” a world premiere, and “Glass Pieces” (May 9-12, Academy of Music). The Pennsylvania Ballet closes its season with Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grand Vitesse (which the company first danced in 2015), a Jorma Elo world premiere, and the company premiere of Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces. (215-893-1999, paballet.org)
Parsons Dance (May 10-11, Annenberg Center). An audience favorite, Parsons is dancing a program of new work as well as its signature Caught, a solo performed in a strobe light and looking like a series of photographs. The piece has been danced by both men and women over the years, including Pennsylvania Ballet artistic director Angel Corella. (215-898-3900, AnnenbergCenter.org)
Funkedified (June 7-8, Merriam Theater). Everyone seems to be performing Harris’ work this season, including, in June, his own company, Puremovement. Funkedified, which premiered Off-Broadway last year, is an autobiographical piece centered on all things 1970s funk. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)