Cred­it Pierre Gros­bois

Break­ing con­ven­tion presents Pierre Rigal’s Scandale

Septem­ber brings the begin­ning of a beau­ti­ful quest for Breakin’ Con­ven­tion, to reg­u­larly pro­gramme longer Hip Hop theatre pieces. BC artist­ic dir­ect­or and founder, Jonzi D, talks to us about French cho­reo­graph­er Pierre Rigal’s Scandale, which is the first of many hour long Hip Hop theatre shows storm­ing the main stage of Sadler’s Wells. Invest­ig­at­ing the begin­nings of cho­reo­graphy, Breakin’ Con­ven­tion marks the UK première for Pierre Rigal sham­an­ic work Scandale, at Sadler’s Wells on Wed­nes­day 5 and Thursday 6 Septem­berScandale com­bines six agile Hip Hop dan­cers and a musi­cian to allow rhythm, sound and music to come togeth­er as one and to ask ‘is music or move­ment the moth­er of dance?’

How is Peter Rigal con­nec­ted to BC?

I am really inter­ested in Pierre Rigal as an artist. His pre­vi­ous work at BC was indic­at­ive of his dynam­ic use of light­ing and his strong under­stand­ing of the sceno­graphy of space. He has worked with a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent com­pan­ies; from clas­sic­al bal­let to con­tem­por­ary dance. In terms of his visu­al aes­thet­ic, he has incred­ible idiocrasies to his work. I’m inter­ested in him for Breakin Con­ven­tion Presents… (a new ini­ti­at­ive present­ing fea­ture-length Hip Hop theatre works at Sadler’s Wells) because he is work­ing with a break­dance crew by the name of Yeah Yel­low. He pulls out from them some­thing that they don’t nor­mally do. You can see that Yeah Yel­low trust and believe in his vis­ion. It’s really good because it can be a chal­lenge for a break­dance crew to work with a con­tem­por­ary dance vis­ion. Some­times it’s a bit like oil and water but I think that Pierre Rigal works with these dan­cers in par­tic­u­lar, really well. I also love the fact that there’s live music for this piece. Just recently we did a col­lab­or­a­tion with Jazz re:freshed. So, for me, there’s a con­nec­tion with the idea of live music being part of a Hip Hop dance per­form­ance, which I would like to con­tin­ue to involve in the work that I pro­gramme.

 How did you meet Pierre Rigal and why did you chose Scandale for BC presents?

 I went to see a show in France and I saw his work there. I imme­di­ately booked it for Breakin Con­ven­tion.

Scandale feels timely. It has a lot to do with the live music and this approach to pro­du­cing Hip Hop theatre. It’s import­ant for BC to present this work because I feel Hip Hop theatre’s artistry can be restric­ted by recor­ded music. I think that some inter­est­ing work is emer­ging via exper­i­ment­ing in the space and the music at the same time. The music is bespoke, rather than the track impos­ing itself on the vis­ion. Hip Hop theatre has used the recor­ded music format for a while and it’s been suc­cess­ful, but I think we would be lim­it­ing our vis­ion if were to con­tin­ue to not push the bound­ar­ies and move into oth­er realms of exper­i­ment­a­tion.

Is Breakin’ Con­ven­tion Presents… a one off or is this some­thing you wish to con­tin­ue?

 This is the first of many … I haven’t neces­sar­ily cleared it with Alistair Spald­ing (artist­ic dir­ect­or of Sadler’s wells) yet but yes this is the first of many! I was get­ting fed up of telling people to cut their work in order for it to fit the cri­ter­ia of Breakin’ Con­ven­tion fest­iv­al, which pre­dom­in­antly sup­por­ted short length pieces. This way of present­ing fea­ture-length work seems to be the nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion for Hip Hop Theatre. I felt that the fest­iv­al wasn’t big enough for the vis­ion of the cho­reo­graph­ers that are work­ing on longer bod­ies of work, there­fore, with Breakin’ Con­ven­tion presents it seemed like a neces­sary devel­op­ment to accom­mod­ate this. I think the format of Breakin’ Con­ven­tion presents will def­in­itely have a long leg­acy, not only because of this pro­gres­sion but, because of what it means for the audi­ence. As well as push­ing fur­ther the pos­sib­il­it­ies for how Hip Hop theatre is presen­ted in Sadler’s Wells, it opens up oppor­tun­it­ies for the audi­ence, as it allows for more space to enjoy a lar­ger vis­ion.

Which audi­ence do you think this show is for, Hip Hop or Con­tem­por­ary dance?

 I used to think there were two dif­fer­ent audi­ences. I think there’s a third audi­ence and I think that audi­ence is quite savvy with theatre, Con­tem­por­ary Dance and Hip Hop. Fif­teen years ago, when we first star­ted Breakin Con­ven­tion, I wouldn’t have said that.  Now we’ve man­aged to cul­tiv­ate this audi­ence. I think Hip Hop has split up. Rap is polar­ised from dance and graf­fiti and djing even. I think Hip Hop theatre, is anoth­er option to get into Hip Hop or theatre as it allows space for the ele­ments to unite. Fif­teen years down the line there is kids that under­stand that Hip Hop is theatre because that’s their exper­i­ence. Sadler’s Wells already has a con­tem­por­ary dance audi­ence that is used to this cho­reo­graph­ic set up but not the move­ment lan­guage. I think this will bring a new audi­ence for BC.

What do you want people to leave with?

I want people to leave with ques­tions, as the piece pro­poses them rather than an obvi­ous nar­rat­ive struc­ture. It’s a piece that’s look­ing to explore the ‘begin­nings of cho­reo­graphy’, which I think is crazy. Pierre is ques­tion­ing wheth­er music at inspires the cho­reo­graphy or does the move­ment inspire the cho­reo­graphy and the music come after. My upbring­ing, as a res­ult of study­ing at Lon­don Con­tem­por­ary Dance School has made my approach to cho­reo­graphy about the trans­la­tion of inform­a­tion and identi­fy­ing the best way to present it. I think that some­times no music is the best way of trans­lat­ing the idea, so I am inter­ested in Pierre’s work as it deals with these ques­tions. It’s some­thing that the Hip Hop com­munity can learn from, as, if I were to gen­er­al­ise, most people would con­test that it’s the music that inspires the move­ment. Is music the way to cre­ate move­ment? I don’t think so. We’re in a dif­fer­ent space now. There are dif­fer­ent motiv­a­tions and it’s great that this par­tic­u­lar piece is look­ing at that. To what extent people will pick that up I don’t know but I’m inter­ested to find out.

Break­ing Con­ven­tion Presents…Pierre Rigal’s Scandale is on 5th & 6th Septem­ber 2018

Sadler’s Wells, EC1R 4TN

Per­form­ances at 8pm

Tick­ets: £20

Tick­et Office: 020 7863 8000 or

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Valerie Ebuwa

Valer­ie “wing girl” Ebuwa is a freel­ance dance artist and yoga teach­er from East Lon­don. She is cur­rently dan­cing for 3 con­tem­por­ary dance com­pan­ies and is one of the found­ing mem­bers of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.

About Valerie Ebuwa

Valerie "wing girl" Ebuwa is a freelance dance artist and yoga teacher from East London. She is currently dancing for 3 contemporary dance companies and is one of the founding members of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.