Breakin’ Convention, the award-winning and critically acclaimed powerhouse behind a hip hop theatre revolution, celebrates a landmark 15th Anniversary this May Bank Holiday during its annual hip hop dance festival at Sadler’s Wells. To honour this auspicious anniversary Breakin’ Convention’s Artistic Director, UK hip hop theatre pioneer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, Jonzi D, has created an extended programme looking back over the festival’s achievements, as well as looking forward to the future and possibilities of hip hop dance and culture.
The festival takes over the whole of Sadler’s Wells and the Lilian Baylis Studio, from Saturday 5 — Monday 7 May. Renowned for showcasing high calibre and diverse representations of hip hop dance theatre from across the globe, Breakin’ Convention 2018 takes this even further via an innovative collaboration with Jazz re:freshed, the prestigious live jazz organisation, which also celebrates its 15th anniversary.
Supported by Red 1 Arts and Sadler’s Wells’ 20 landmark commissions to mark the 20th anniversary of the theatre, the specially commissioned Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra brings together for the first time 15 establish and up and coming musicians across jazz, hip-hop and beyond, providing original soundscapes to accompany five newly commissioned works from dancers to mark both festivals’ illustrious histories.
The line-up includes Olivier Award-winning Boy Blue Entertainment; lockers, The Locksmiths from London; Netherlands-based b-boy crew The Ruggeds; French hip hop freestyle dancer Mufasa; and Jonzi D himself, premiering new work to a score composed by Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra’s Musical Director Jason Yarde. This partnership develops on from the success of the 2017 festival, which saw Breakin’ Convention and Jazz re:freshed present an evening of live jazz, dance theatre and poetry in the Lilian Baylis Studio, to launch the weekend’s events.
Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding says: “When Jonzi D and I announced we were launching a festival of hip hop dance theatre at Sadler’s Wells 15 years ago, we were bringing a culture and dance style that historically had been receiving no infrastructure support into the theatre. Breakin’ Convention was a pioneering initiative. I am proud of the great success that it has achieved since then, with sold-out performances that see people queuing around the block for returns every year. Under Jonzi’s artistic directorship, the festival has gone from strength to strength, touring the UK several times and, in recent years, also internationally to cities in America and Canada. Through its festival and artist development programmes, Breakin’ Convention is setting the standard for hip hop dance theatre on a global scale.”
Jonzi D says: “15 years in the game but it still feels so fresh! Every collaboration, every commission, every new project opens up new avenues of expression for hip hop culture.”
In addition this year’s festival features its usual eclectic mix of performances across the hip hop genre, many exploring provocative topics. Highlights include hip hop artist Chad Taylor whose trio explores the theme of male mental health; Kloe Dean & Jared Harrington whose work looks at an abusive relationship between a man and a woman; Jade Hackett, who shows an excerpt from her work, The Duke Joint, which looks at the theme of slavery from an alternative perspective, investigating the strength and resilience of black culture; All female dance group led by Elsabet Yonas has created a work about their shared experience of growing up in families with absent father figures; Muslim brothers Shiraz and Faraz, also known as KR Flow, look at how appearances are deceptive. Born and raised in Birmingham, they have been b-boying for many years alongside established careers; Finally, Ukweli and Tali perform an extract from the forthcoming full length version of Ukweli Roach’s Vicycle which addresses mental health through a series of scenes depicting different vices — alcohol, nicotine and sexual obsession – which are slowly destroying a young man.
During the festival, Sadler’s Wells’ foyers will once again be transformed so that audiences can enjoy dance workshops, live graffiti, award-winning hip hop DJs, MCs and impromptu dance circles spilling out all over the building, creating an unforgettable and inclusive experience for all ages.
Below is the confirmed line-up of this year’s artists and companies. For more information on the line-up and news and updates on Breakin’ Convention, visit the Breakin’ Convention website: www.breakinconvention.com
Breakin’ Convention and Jazz re:freshed line-up:
Boy Blue Entertainment – Boy Blue Entertainment is an Olivier Award-wining hip hop dance company and Barbican Centre Associate Artist. Founded by choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy and composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, they work together on the development of all of Boy Blue Entertainment’s productions and projects. Boy Blue Entertainment choreographed and created music for London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
Jazz re:freshed – A multifaceted music arts organisation striving to raise the profile and demonstrate the breadth of expression within UK jazz and jazz-influenced music, challenging the preconceptions that have kept jazz on the side lines. Jazz re:freshed has created a space for musicians to experiment and push boundaries through live performance, it supports emerging and established artists, and via multiple platforms communicates various aspects of the culture associated to the music.
The Locksmiths – Produced by artistic director Mr. Ben, The Locksmiths is a fresh London-based company passionate about exploring the artistic expression of locking and its potential.
Mufasa (France) – Solo hip hop champion at the 2012 UK B-Boy Championships, Mufasa’s strong foundation, musicality, innate skill and unique style makes her a powerful dancer who never fails to blow audiences away.
The Ruggeds (Netherlands) – This renowned eight strong crew are one of the most active b-boy crews in Europe, taking part in battles all over the world, including the UK B-Boy Championships world final, which they won in 2014. Each member is well known for their different styles and influences.
UK acts in this year’s Main Stage line-up:
BirdGang – A welcome return to the Breakin’ Convention stage by this unique hip hop dance company. Since their première performance in 2006, BirdGang have gone from strength to strength, developing an idiosyncratic movement style that has influenced street dance worldwide.
Bonetics – Twisted, muscle sculpture full body contortionist Shakirudeen Adewale Alade makes his première at Breakin’ Convention this year but is a well-established artist having wowed the Britain’s Got Talent judges and audiences back in 2015.
Elsabet Yonas – Five women negotiate their shared experience growing up in families with absent father figures and the way this shapes their purpose and intention.
Fuse 596 – An international funky house dance group based in London. Japanese, French and UK dancers exude positive vibes and cool confidence in this collaborative piece.
House of Absolute – An all-female dance group who specialise in waacking, jazz dance and spoken word, for Breakin’ Convention they present Dedication to Dizzy. Inspired by the iconic trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie, who was an advocate for art as activism. This piece is dedicated to the elders of the underground UK jazz dance scene.
Myself UK Dance Company – Kloe Dean has been making work with the all-female collective Myself for 10 years and will be celebrating its anniversary at Breakin’ Convention ’18. Lyrical street dance and spoken word meets social commentary as the company continues to examine the female identity. The company was last seen at Breakin’ Convention in 2016.
Room 2 Manœuvre – A Hitchcockian twist to create a world that is slightly off kilter, expect plenty of darkly comedic and powerful breakdancing.
U.M.A – Cause and effect is explored in this duet using popping techniques and an awesome connection between Rikoshay and Luke Lentes.
International acts featuring on the Sadler’s Wells Stage:
Amala Dianor (France) – This is the birth of “Abstract”, a dancing style that dares to be hybrid yet remains rooted in the rules and conventions of hip hop. Through their complicity and unrelenting playfulness, Amala Dianor pave the way to an abstract journey where codes and colours mix.
Extreme Pushers (Jamaica) – Direct from the coastal paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Extreme Pushers specialise in dancehall as wells as creating their new dance moves including ‘Addicted’, ‘Call-her-again’, ‘Extreme’, ‘Jook out yuh eye’ and many more. Breakin’ Convention presents Extreme Pushers’ UK première.
Femme Fatale (USA) – Marie Poppins, Lily, Sumi and Dassy make up Femme Fatale. Known for their strong abilities in popping, animation and a high level of musicality with a feminine touch, their mix of cultures, backgrounds and individual styles is what makes Femme Fatale an original, powerful female collective.
Salah (France) – A living legend in the world of hip hop dance, this award-winning, consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all round entertainer. Salah returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after a seven year hiatus that has seen him work with Cirque Du Soleil, Puma and David Blaine among others.
Zeljko Bozic (Slovenia) – Award-winning dancer and choreographer Željko Božić is an internet sensation following his work, Letter. For Breakin’ Convention, he performs an extract from his latest work, Dream Job, based on motifs from the book Can I Tell You a Story? by Jorge Bucay. The duet shows dancers manipulating boxes, portraying their dreams and lost hopes, enthusiasm and fears, expectations and their goals.
The Lilian Baylis Studio line-up:
Chad Taylor – Manchester based, Taylor started dancing from the age of 11, training in hip hop. After graduating from the Hammond School he went on to work with artist such as Cheryl Cole, Paloma Faith, Sade, Take That and Little Mix and performed on The X-Factor and at the Brit Awards. For his new work he deals with mental health and includes images of substance abuse and paranoia.
Chey Jurado (Spain) – Chey performs Agua, a sensitive piece filled with gestural droplets that develop into a waterfall of b-boy fluidity. This talented mover won the solo section of Festival HOP in Barcelona 2016. A Breakin’ Convention première.
Jade Hackett – Jade performs an excerpt from The Duke Joint. The piece tells the story of an enslaved African who struggles with his role as servant in racist America, using text with impassioned breaking and stark gestures.
JDP (Jonzi D Productions) – This new dramatic hip hop theatre piece is directed by Jonzi D and Jade Hackett, performed by Corey Somefun and Mo’Sean. Created at Breakin’ Convention’s Open Art Surgery in March 2018, this is a Breakin’ Convention Première. This is JDP’s latest collaborative work since 2014.
Kloe Dean & Jared Harrington – Sensitive choreography which tells the story of an abusive relationship between a man and a woman in an intense but subtle duet.
KR Flow – B-boys and brothers Shiraz and Faraz perform a humorous duet that challenges our preconceptions about appearance. Both Shiraz and Faraz dance in their spare time whilst working full-time in dentistry and teaching, respectively.
Ukweli and Tali – An extract from the forthcoming full length version of Ukweli Roach’s Vicycle, a feature length production which follows a man’s descent into a number of vices — alcohol, nicotine and sexual obsession – and the affect it has on his mental health. The full piece debuts at Sadler’s Wells in September and demonstrates a fresh way of exploring hip hop dance theatre. It is produced by Breakin’ Convention.
Once again this year’s festival is hosted and curated by Jonzi D and co-hosted with BSL interpreter, Jacqui Beckford.
Breakin’ Convention goes beyond presenting work on the stage and continues in its ambition to support and inspire the next generation of hip hop artists with learning and engagement projects and professional development platforms both in the UK and internationally. 2018 sees many projects, including Back to the Lab, a two week intensive training and mentorship programme which concludes with a performance and audience feedback. Open Art Surgery, an evening that offers hip hop theatre performers and companies the opportunity to develop and experiment with new ideas and receive mentorship from Jonzi D and other hip hop theatre aficionados in front of an audience. Future Elements, a week long project for 13–16 year olds to create a music video, which is presented at the festival. January 2018 also saw the start of Starting From Scratch, a four month hip hop youth theatre project working with 13–21 year olds that culminates in a performance in the Lilian Baylis Studio during the festival.
The festival has firmly established itself as one of the major highlights on the British dance calendar and one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip hop culture, and continues to tour internationally. This year the festival is returning to Toronto’s Sony Centre on Friday 1 & Saturday 2 June, its second visit to the city, premiering in 2017.
Breakin’ Convention is a Sadler’s Wells Project.
Jonzi D is a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist
The Breakin Convention and Jazz re:freshed collaboration is a Sadler’s Wells commission, part of 20 landmark commissions to mark the 20th anniversary of the theatre.
BREAKIN’ CONVENTION ’18
International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre
Sadler’s Wells EC1R
Saturday 5 — Monday 7 May
Performances: Saturday — Monday at 6pm, doors 4pm
Tickets: Standing: £15, Seats: £24 (£17 concessions)
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com