Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 19, 2011


Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA
February 18, 2011
by Stacie Beland

Once again, the Mahaiwe presented a memorable evening of dance, this time giving its audience Rennie Harris' company performing a number of repertoire pieces in a show called PUREMOVEMENT, and it did live up to its title. The company of 10, all of whom were onstage for nearly the entire duration of the show, presented a blockbuster performance.

Rennie Harris dancers, famous for their funk and hip hop routines, may not be the most technically precise company but they do have a great deal of fun onstage and they do not lack in talent. Mixing seemingly improvised movement with tight synchronization, the choreography was filled with jaw-dropping stunts as well as subtle intricacies. Often, the choreography was so fast-paced it took a few moments for one's brain to process what was just seen. The dancers did not seem beholden to the laws of physics, and the audience was often left stunned (or loudly cheering). Backflips, handstands, kicks, headspins-all set to a raucous, crowd-pleasing hip hop and funk score highlighted by a remarkably effective lighting design-were interlaced with some flashes of humor and spoken word performance art.   

From the opening number "God Made Me Funky" to the finale "Students of the Asphalt Jungle," the audience was treated to wonderful concert in dance.  One of Harris' great talents is designing his choreography around the specific talents of his performers. Some dancers showcased gifts in breakdancing and others in quick, stylized footwork, which made the show well-rounded. In addition, this fast-paced whirlwind performance rarely slowed down long enough for the awestruck audience to take a breath.

Words can't truly encapsulate the energy that leapt of the Mahaiwe's stage. With the music thumping and the dancers pulling off gravity-defying stunts, the energy in the room was palpable it. It took only moments for the audience to leap to its feet to give the performers a standing ovation after the performance's end.