House music and dance are often referred to as “going to church”—legendary hip-hop dance artist Rennie Harris takes the phrase literally, exploring issues of morality, spirituality, and community.
A story based on Oliver Twist that includes Chicago’s own dancers and a church choir, LIFTED begins when Joshua is sent to live with his aunt and uncle after his parents pass away. Hoping to comfort him in his time of mourning, Joshua’s relatives mandate he attend church, which he rebels against. When Joshua gets involved with a band of pickpockets, he is intrigued their disregard for authority, but must make big choices in order to be down with the band of thieves. This story of shame, forgiveness, and redemption is told through gospel music, hip-hop dance theater, and the complex footwork of house dance—one of Chicago's own unique club cultures. Joshua's journey reveals the influences and roots of black oral and spiritual traditions, while celebrating the community and collective energy of black culture.