Breakin’ Convention returns for the thirteenth year to Sadler’s Wells Theatre for a three-day festival of all things hip hop. This year, it is hosted by the founder of Breakin’ Convention, Jonzi D- dancer, hip hop educator and mentor. The bank holiday weekend sees Sadler’s Wells transformed into an interactive space for the five pillars of hip hop: Bboying/Bgirling, MCing, Graffiti, DJing and spreading hip hop knowledge. Battles, workshops and delicious food feature on all three levels of the theatre throughout the day.
During the first half of the show, the main stage features fanciful moves from leading UK hip hop dance companies. The Locksmiths open with their funky locking. Take 1 display brilliant 90s grooves and formations. Myself UK are a force to be reckoned with their fierce piece, Red. Pro-Motion display impressive popping and lyrical hip hop. Protocol presents a beautiful piece of hip hop theatre discussing race relations with light humour with the poignant I Can’t Breathe. Wayward Thread displays impressive bboying in a powerful trio.
The format of Breakin’ Convention is held together by the brilliant and energetic Jonzi D’s emceeing and this year he is joined by co-host Jackie who provides the BSL translation. All ages, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, and religions are joined together under one roof to celebrate hip hop’s core message of peace, love and unity. This is what makes the event so important and memorable each year.
The second half of Breakin’ Convention features renowned international companies. Bandidas represent France with their incredibly powerful popping, body control and ensemble skills which make you shout “yas!”. Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) gift us with their brilliant, back breaking and comedic Pantsula moves with impressive hat tricks. Bboyizm (Canada) illustrate explosive bboying with character, flair and style. The show finale features Flawless (UK) who return with an array of new moves set to South London Trap Music Artist, Troyboi’s various tracks.
This year, as with every year, Breakin’ Convention has become bigger and better. It is amazing to see a more inclusive hip hop dance scene. All female companies such as Take 1, Myself UK and Bandidas powerfully represented women in hip hop dance. Additionally, there is a new audience who is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of hip hop, and how it can be used as a transformative tool. The UK hip hop scene is still growing, and thus it is important to see companies from other countries to show us how far we have yet to go. France and Canada as well (of course) the US are the supergiants of hip hop dance. However, with the success of Breakin’ Convention, workshops from practitioners such as Damon Frost teaching popping in the UK, we are sure to catch up soon.
Breakin’ Convention played at Sadler’s Wells until 30 April. For more information and tickets, see the Sadler’s Wells Theatre website.
Photo: Paul Hampartsoumian