Review: Breakin' Convention, Sadler's Wells
5.0Overall Score

Celebrating their 16th year, Breakin’ Convention explodes into the Sadler’s Wells theatre filling every corner with noise, life, hip hop and the gorgeous smells of Jamaican food. With a fish patty in hand I wander around the overwhelming experience, seeing beatboxing, graffiti artists and freestyle dances in-between performances. The day embodies the mantra “work from around the world and around the corner”.

Hosted by founder Jonzi D, the day is divided into one performance on the main stage, while during the interval there are many mini activities and workshops to see, along with another performance in the Lilian Baylis studio.

On the main stage the overall calibre is incredibly high. With the front section of the auditorium converted to a standing area, the atmosphere is electric. Gulf Dance Company are the first to really shake me to my core. A powerful duet by Deavion Brown and Thomas Carsley, they are a new company with such magnetic power, body popping with some nice use of contact improv to a thumping sound track. Straight after that, in true eclectic Breakin’ Convention style, we have a music video called Lost in the Juice. It’s a production by Future Elements, are youth scheme where a group of teenagers create a whole music video in a week. Not only is it of a very high standard, musically as well as thematically, but it is such an important link that Breakin’ Convention keeps to the community roots of hip hop.

Next the incredibly talented rising star of the B-girl circuit in LA Logan ‘Logistix’  Edra showcases the future of break dancing, and talent almost unbelievable for someone so young in years! Finishing up the first act the French Company Geometrie Variable flex their international dance muscles with their famous brand of hip hop. The shapes created by their bodies and their regimented control is mind blowing.

There’s just enough time for a quick drink and then off to the Lilian Baylis studio (in the interval) for a slightly less family-friendly selection of performances. I was lucky to catch Mitchel Taunton aka MtGainz in a glorious mix of spoken word and B-boy dancing. If you have never seen someone rap while standing perfectly still on their head, then have you even lived? This is followed by Fig Leaf, performed by Joshua ‘Vendetta’ Nash and Jordan ‘Ruckus’ Douglas. A gripping and violent exploration of masculinity and vulnerability through the dance style of krump.

Rushing back to the main stage I am struck by Angyil McNeal. Hailing from the states, she dances with such fire and strength – it is moving to witness. Contrasting with the truly raw solo show by McNeal we have the famous South Korean group Jinjo Crew, crafting a massive piece befitting their reputation in the B-boy circuit. Filled with humor, their talent dumbfounds and enthrals with an easy and cocky confidence. Lastly the whole magical day/evening is finished off by the East London dance Company Boy Blue. An award winning company providing training and support to the next generation of hip hop dancers, they encapsulate everything that is so important about Breakin’ Convention.

It is an experience I can’t help but recommend thoroughly. In such an established venue as Sadler’s Wells, with its sometimes slightly rigid atmosphere, Breakin’ Convention crashes into the space, tearing up what we thought we knew and crafting it from scratch. It’s inspiring, galvanising and totally uplifting! The festival is still as fresh and important as ever after 16 years. It has snared me into attending next year and hopefully you will join me!

Breakin Convention played at Sadler’s Wells on 4 May. For more information visit the Breakin’ Convention website.