Three Local Artists will perform in Delaware with Rennie Harris Puremovement

The Delaware Art Museum Presents the World’s Leading Hip Hop Dance Theater Company on March 8.

Wilmington, DE (February 20, 2019) –

On Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. at The Grand Opera House, the Delaware Art Museum presents the Delaware debut of Rennie Harris Puremovement in Lifted! Loosely based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Lifted! follows a young Black man from “trouble to triumph” as he is surrounded and supported by his church community.

Lifted! draws upon gospel music, which is one of the many musical genres to have influenced House and has deep roots in Black oral and spiritual traditions. The complex footwork of House dance, which is often referred to as going to “church,” has many parallels to gospel music. Within both cultures, there is the collective energy of the entire community, the physical transformation of protracted dancing (and in the case of gospel music, singing), and the vital liveliness of that heightened state. Led by musical directors, Steven Sapp and Mildred Ruiz-Sapp of UNIVERSES, the sound score for Lifted! merges the rhythms of House with the spiritual vocals of Gospel to create an emotionally potent narrative.

Sam Sweet, Executive Director of the Delaware Art Museum “We’ve been on a mission to be a conduit for the community for all art forms and saw the need for modes of performance that reflect the diversity our City and region. The Museum is honored to present Dr. Rennie Harris’ choreography. He is a recognized master at Hip Hop and House dance, and adds gospel music to the mix for an unforgettable experience.”

Not only is this performance for the community, it is “of” the community. The Delaware Art Museum hosted open auditions for local and regional singers and dancers to perform in Lifted! with Rennie Harris Puremovement. The following artists will represent our area:

Singer-songwriter, Ladyy DeFined (Ladyy), is a vocal powerhouse with 20 years of experience performing and recording R&B, Classical, Gospel, and Hip-Hop music. As a proud Air Force Veteran with a career in Communications, Ladyy has made a name for herself as bold performer and radio producer. Ladyy graduated with honors from Delaware State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications (Radio Production) and minor in Music Performance. Ladyy DeFined won the Delaware Art Museum’s vocal audition to appear in Lifted! with Rennie Harris Puremovement and is thrilled to take the stage, once again.

Reverend Jonathan Whitney is the Pastor of Brandywine Community and Buttonwood United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and has served as a Minister of the Gospel for several area churches since 1996. Rev. Whitney has always loved music and has been a drummer all of his life. He played with Shepherds Band and Show, the Northern Lights, and Six Pence to name a few. In addition to his abilities as a musician, Rev. Whitney has sang with several church choirs and in A Women Called Moses, an opera written by Thea Musgrave and directed by Loller Rogers. As a singer, Rev. Whitney gravitates toward Negro Spirituals and Gospel music. Rev. Whitney will lend his vocal prowess to the Delaware debut of Lifted! and is excited to represent the community.

Hip hop dancer and choreographer, Ryan Bonner, was born and raised outside of Philadelphia and currently resides in its East Falls section. With more than 17 years in the dance world, Bonner has performed for recording artists, stage productions, and competitions all along the East coast, including ECDC, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Garden State Dance Festival, Culture Shock Atlanta Showcase, and Koresh Artist Showcase. Ryan has set choreography for Cedar Chest College, Gettysburg College, and several independent film and media projects. Ryan is currently the principal dancer and contributing choreographer for Sanbrooka Productions under the artistic director, Samuel Reyes. Bonner was immediately selected to participate in the Delaware debut of Lifted! by Dr. Rennie Harris himself, after flawlessly executing Harris’ incredibly challenging choreography.


Tickets are $27 – $35 each (all fees included in pricing).

Tickets can be purchased by visiting The Grand Opera House box office or via this link.

This presentation of Lifted! by Rennie Harris Puremovement was made possible, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information about the Delaware Art Museum’s Performance Series, please contact Ti Hall, Manager of Communications and Storytelling at or 302-351-8558.

Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris

Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris was born and raised in an African-American community in North Philadelphia. In 1992, he founded Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip-hop dance theater company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture. Voted one of the most influential people in the last one hundred years of Philadelphia history, Mr. Harris has received several accolades, including the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Governor’s Arts Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, and an honorary doctorate from Bates College. The London Times wrote of Mr. Harris that he is “the Basquiat of the U.S. contemporary dance scene.” Harris is a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow in Dance. Rennie Harris Puremovement was chosen by DanceMotion USA as one of four companies to serve as citizen-diplomats to tour Egypt, Israel, Palestinian territories and Jordan in 2012. Mr. Harris’ other contributions to Ailey’s repertory include Love Stories (a collaboration with Judith Jamison and Robert Battle) and Home.

Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.