Durham, NC – February 6, 2023 – The American Dance Festival (ADF) will present the 2023 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement to Rennie Harris, Hip-hop’s leading ambassador, choreographer, and educator. Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will present the $50,000 award to Mr. Harris on Friday June 9, at 7:30pm, prior to the performance of Nuttin’ But a Word by Rennie Harris Puremovement American Street Dance Theater. The 2023 Balasaraswati/Joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching, with an honorarium of $5000 will be presented to Jody Gottfried Arnhold, visionary educator, advocate for dance, and founder of Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) 92NY. Ann Biddle and Erin Lally will present the award on Wednesday, June 28, at 7:30pm. The award ceremony will be followed by a screening of the documentary PS DANCE! The Next Generation which was produced by Arnhold as a sequel to the Emmy nominated PS DANCE!

“Rennie Harris is one of the great lights of the dance world. By bringing his works to the mainstage, he exposes audiences to the rich world of Hip-hop culture. His emphasis on the history and preservation of Street Dance has given the art form its rightful recognition and legitimacy. We are honored to present Rennie with this award during our 90th anniversary season,” stated ADF Executive Director Jodee Nimerichter.

Rennie Harris introduced Street Dance to concert stages, coined the term “Street Dance Theater,” and pioneered the dance style globally as a powerful teacher/spokesperson for the significance of “street” origins in any dance style. Recognized as a leading ambassador for Hip-hop dance art (U.S. Department of Education), Harris’ work encompasses African American traditions of the past while presenting new generational voices through its ever-evolving interpretations of dance.

Harris’ work has been set on companies such as PHILADANCO!, Giordano Dance Chicago, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as well as ballet-based companies such as Ballet Memphis, Colorado Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet. As a dance educator, Harris saw the need for Hip-hop teachers to build a solid foundation for not only teaching the style and choreography but also its origins and culture. In traditional dance programs across the U.S., Hip-hop and other street styles have been relegated to the second or third row. With the founding of Rennie Harris University, Harris created a first-of-its-kind institution where Hip-hop, house, and Street Dance are first and everything else is secondary.

Harris has received three “Bessie” awards, five Black Theater Alvin Ailey Awards, and the Herb Alpert Award. He has also received a Life-Time Achievement Award in choreography (McCullum Theater 2019). In addition, Harris received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEW Fellowship, a USA Artist of the Year Fellowship, a Governor’s Artist of the Year Award, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and in 2022 an Andrew W. Mellon Grant ($1,000,000). Harris was voted one of the most influential people in the last one hundred years of Philadelphia’s history (City Paper). He has been compared to Basquiat, Alvin Ailey, and Bob Fosse.

In 2022, Rennie Harris Puremovement celebrated thirty years of Street Dance Theater. Harris’ company has and continues to bring people together in community, across diverse identities and dance backgrounds, to engage, share, inform, create, and witness universal stories through Street Dance. The 2023 ADF presentation of the company will mark its fourth engagement.

“We are thrilled to announce Jody Gottfried Arnhold as the recipient of the Balasaraswati/Joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching this year. Her dedication and tenacity to integrate dance in public education has allowed generations to experience dance and helped further the professional development of amazing dance educators,” said Jodee Nimerichter.

Jody Gottfried Arnhold, founded Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) 92NY in 1995. Jody’s experience teaching dance in New York City public schools for 25 years has been the catalyst for her visionary support of dance education in public schools. Her contributions to dance in higher education have created unparalleled opportunities for dance to be taught, researched, measured, and analyzed, providing substantial evidence that dance is essential to every child’s education. Jody’s support for arts programming at the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has created a robust and thriving community of dance educators. The Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College, which Jody created as a pipeline to train and certify dance educators, has contributed to the more than 500 certified dance educators currently teaching dance in NYC public schools. Her founding and visionary support for the Doctorate in Dance Education and the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University is generating valuable thought leadership for dance education in public policy ensuring that wherever education is discussed, dance is also discussed. In addition to her support of dance in public schools and higher education, Jody supports countless New York City dance companies including Ballet Hispánico where she is Honorary Chair. She also mentors dance educators, many of whom now lead the field.

Jody is Chair of the Board of the 92nd Street Y, NY. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Lincoln Center, Ballet Hispánico, and Hunter College Foundation. She is a Director of Arnhold Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, and Mulago Foundation. Jody is Chair of the Hunter College Dance Advisory Board and serves on the Dance/NYC Advisory Committee and NYCDOE Arts Committee to the Panel on Educational Policy and is Co-Chair of the NYCDOE Committee to create the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance Grades PreK-12.

She has received numerous awards including the New 42nd Street Marian Heiskell Award, Floria V. Lasky Award, National Dance Education Organization’s Visionary Award, Teachers College Distinguished Alumni Award, Education Update’s Distinguished Leader in Education Award, and Dance Films Association’s Dance in Focus Award. Jody received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from The Juilliard School and has been honored by Lincoln Center Education, Dance Theatre of Harlem, José Limón Dance Foundation, and American Dance Guild for her contributions to dance and dance education.

As part of this year’s educational programming, ADF, in cooperation with the Dance Education Laboratory will offer master classes to dance professionals and summer dance intensive students. These will be led by Jody Gottfried Arnhold, Ann Biddle, and Erin Lally.

Photo of Rennie Harris by Osamu Inoue
Photo of Jody Gottfried Arnhold by Emilio Madrid 

Katrin Deil

Performances during ADF’s 90th anniversary season will be presented June, July, and August in venues in Durham. The full schedule will be announced on March 1. Tickets to ADF performances will go on sale to the general public on April 25, 2023. Tickets will be available for purchase online at americandancefestival.org or through the Duke University Box Office.


About ADF:
Throughout its 90-year history, the American Dance Festival has been the home of an art form, attracting artists, audiences, and thousands of students from around the world. By preserving our modern dance heritage, promoting the creation of new works and collaborations, educating generations of dancers through intensive training programs, supporting artists at all stages of their careers, presenting live and screen dance to the public, and developing humanities and international exchange programs, ADF has served as a laboratory for experimentation and innovation. ADF was founded at the Bennington School of the Dance and moved to Connecticut College in 1948. For the past 46 years, ADF has taken pride in calling Duke University and Durham home. ADF also manages its first ever year-round facilities, the Samuel H. Scripps Studios, offering movement classes for students of all ages and abilities as well as choreographic residencies and outreach programs throughout the community.