Dance Umbrella and Somerset House are thrilled to unveil the exhilarating details of London Battle, a sensational event set to ignite the heart of the city’s dance scene. Taking place on the opening weekend of the festival, Saturday, October 7th, London Battle promises an unforgettable day in the iconic open-air courtyard of Somerset House.
Prepare to be immersed in a whirlwind of talent, energy, and the infectious spirit of hip-hop culture, as we celebrate its 50th anniversary. With Breaking poised to steal the spotlight at the 2024 Paris Olympics, this event is a dazzling tribute to the art form that has inspired generations.
Curated by the visionary choreographer, Jade Hackett, London Battle will see the city’s finest talents from every corner unite to showcase their skills across an eclectic range of styles. From showcases to workshops, cyphers to live DJs, and an epic outdoor party, this event has it all.
But here’s the twist – the audience becomes the jury! You will have the honor of deciding which quadrant of our sprawling global city claims the title of the best dance flavor – will it be the electrifying north, the soulful south, the dynamic east, or the creative west? The stage is set, the dancers are primed, and the battle lines are drawn. London Battle at Somerset House is not just an event; it’s a dance revolution that will leave you breathless and inspired. Get ready to experience the future of dance on the streets of London!
We catch up with Jade Hackett to find out exactly what to expect…
What inspired you to curate an event like “London Battle” at Somerset House?
A love for my city. A love for my community. A love for the dance. A love for Battle culture. A love for health. A love for family. I wanted an event, here in my city, that answers to all these great loves in one event.
Could you share some insights into the selection process for the talent and teams from the four corners of London?
It’s a marriage between top tier dancer and styles. Each captain needed to be a different style to answer to the true nature of an all style battle. So once west was chosen and that person was a breaker, although I know awesome breakers in every area, there can’t be another captain that breaks and so on and so on. Finding the captains is hard. It’s a massive chicken and egg puzzle!
With the 50th anniversary of hip hop culture in mind, what unique elements can attendees expect from this event?
DJs spinning decks, rap music will defo feature, graffiti painting sessions to open the festival and lots of dance performances, the main battle event and lots of free family friendly classes that everyone can participate in. I still think it’s important that we do all of this with a bit of a UK flare. So really excited to hear music that was born here. Drum and bass, dub, garage, grime, drill and potentially a little bit of lovers rock for the after party too for all the mature attendees. Hip hop culture has come a long way and this festival is hopefully a slice of the UK contribution to that history.
How do you envision the role of the audience in judging and deciding which part of London brings the best dance flavor?
I think the audience will get to participate in their own battles and the crowd reactions will defo let you know who’s their favourite. I think it’s a really great way of introducing battle culture to those that may have never seen a battle in their life. No better way to learn than to do it yourself.
“London Battle” includes workshops, showcases, and cyphers. Which aspect are you most excited about, and why?
All of it!! They are each a bit of a bigger jigsaw puzzle for an entire event. The festival has a heartbeat that is building towards our main event and I’m gonna enjoy watching how it all unfolds. The most exciting thing about it is that the event is free. This means that the class barrier is broken and all families can come out and enjoy the day together.
Can you tell us more about the workshops and what participants can gain from them?
We have incredible teachers that are super fun and engaging. Olu Alatise, a female powerhouse that really needs no introduction teaching Afro will bring the pepper, spice and oil up those waistlines. Issac Baptiste, incredible soulful house dancer, will have head bopping and jiving whilst feet moving and body jackin’. Kloe Dean, hip hop choreographer to the stars, will be giving you the star treatment having choreographed for artists like lil Simz, Ghetts, Anne-Marie and much more. Tiago Santos will be bringing the disco vibes and awesome wackin’ to the festival to let loose and bring the drama! All in all, gonna be heaps of fun.
What are your expectations for the showcase performances from London’s most exciting talent?
Gravity defying, technique precision, energy filled performances. The Queens, an all female Shway waackin’ style inspired crew will bring the fire. Gully South Block (GSB) will keep it 100 percent buck demonstration Krump culture at a high level. An incredible solo by Lauren Scott who will blow your mind with her poppin control and musicality and finishing it off with the hip hop titans, BoyBlue Entertainment. The performances will be something definitely not to miss.
The event features a diverse range of dance styles. How do you see this diversity contributing to the overall experience?
That IS the beauty of hip hop culture and its dance. There are so many dance styles under its umbrella for the very fact that it caters to diversity. To all shapes and sizes, genders, class, age. No matter how you identify, this is an open accepting space for all.
What message or feeling do you hope attendees will take away from “London Battle”?
That this city holds some of the world’s most awesome talent in movement artistry.
This multicultural city is beautiful and we can come together and celebrate this together.
Could you share some highlights or surprises that attendees can look forward to during the Hip Hop celebration at the end of the event?
Let’s finish it with a bang and have the party of all parties. Officially saying goodbye to an awesome summer with vibes and wheel ups from our dj’s.
How does “London Battle” at Somerset House fit into the larger mission and legacy of Dance Umbrella as a London festival with a rich history spanning 45 years?
All I personally know is Somerset House, originally built in the 16th century, was built for the aristocracy. Centuries later, Dance Umbrella and Somerset House are now hosting an underground hip hop festival in this palace and fill it with all the people that this space wasn’t built and intended for. That’s poetry to me. Dance Umbrella’s larger mission is societal poetry thus adding to its rich history that will span over the next 45 years.
Could you elaborate on the ways in which Dance Umbrella serves as a platform for emerging and diverse talent, and how this philosophy is reflected in the curation of “London Battle” and other festival activities?
This event is also helping to raise funds for Maryland studios. A space that was the hub of our community that sadly got taken down. Recently, dancers have managed to acquire the space back and need support to get it up and running again. Dance Umbrella’s efforts to acknowledge the importance of the space is incredible. Bringing back this space, will mean a lot to generations of emerging dancers from all different backgrounds, who will be able to train in a place that made so many great dancers previously.
Dance Umbrella & Somerset House present
Curated by Jade Hackett
Saturday 7 October 1 — 6.30pm
Somerset House’s Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court
1 — 3.30 — Workshops
3.30 — 4.30 — Showcases
4.30 — 5.30 — Battle
5.30 — 6.30 — Party
Dance Umbrella Festival 2023 takes place 6–31 October, across London and online.
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