BREAKIN’ CONVENTION ’18 (@BConvention ) | International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre


Jonzi D Photo cred­it Paul Ham­part­sou­mi­an

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.”


Chad Taylor CRED­IT Owen Ling

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:

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 CREDIT Paul Hampartsoumian

House of Abso­lute CRED­IT Paul Ham­part­sou­mi­an

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.

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

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.