"Everyone's perception and expression is different. I just hope the audience goes on a journey," Harris said. Unique to this year's festival is a performance by teen-agers from Howard County schools created in conjunction with the Rennie Harris Puremovement dance company. Eighteen middle school and high school students participated in a six-month workshop with instructors from Harris' company. The program was designed to give students a voice through theater, according to Moncell Durden, one of the instructors.
"Dance is a way to bring people together, to think outside of the box and learn how to tackle different situations," Durden said.
"These kids took the hip-hop movement and made it their own. They put something together utilizing what they were feeling and what they wanted to say."
The performance, Nothin' But Us, which includes original dances, monologues and poetry, will be at the Rouse Theatre on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
The musical performances this year bring an array of cultures to Columbia. Oscar-nominated Philip Glass will perform a solo acoustic piano performance; Leahy, a Canadian folk group, is a nine-member brother-sister act, combining dance with fiddle-driven music; the Del McCoury Band will play popular bluegrass traditions; and Yerba Buena, new to the New York City music scene, will demonstrate Afrobeat and Cuban influences.
Rock 'n' roll legend Bo Diddley will make his first appearance at the festival, promising that his rhythm 'n' blues will appeal to everyone in the family. Diddley said he enjoys playing for kids and wants to be a role model for them.
"I want to set an example for kids to stay as clean as they can. I think that's why I lasted all these years." Diddley said. "I think we're gonna have a stompin' good time."
Diddley will perform at the Rouse Theatre on June 22.
Each year, the festival sponsors events for the entire family to enjoy. On Father's Day (Sunday), the Kite Festival takes off in Columbia Sports Park. The kite celebration is a tribute to the Wright brothers, who used kites to test their early theories on powered flight.
Wings Over Washington, a kite club in the District of Columbia, will bring large kites for everyone to enjoy. Just hope it is a clear day with gusts of wind to propel the kites high into the sky. Free kite kits will be available so kids can create their own. A 6-acre baseball field will be designated for flying.
The organizers have also planned a series of lectures that are to follow some performances. Refer to the schedule for details.
IF YOU GO
Rouse Theatre, The Smith Theater and the Columbia Sports Park
When: The festival runs June 13-June 29.
Tickets: $14-$68. Some events are free. Call 800-955-5566 or visit www.tickets.com. A service charge will be added to all phone and online orders.
Parking: Theater and parks have on-premise parking.
More information: Call 410-715-3044 / 3089 or visit www.columbiafestival.com