Image: Com­pany Nic­olas Huchard by Belinda Law­ley

Cel­eb­rat­ing 20 years of excel­lence on the 50th year of the incep­tion of Hip Hop is a huge mile­stone for Breakin’ Con­ven­tion and UK Hip Hop. It goes without say­ing that this fest­iv­al has shaped a gen­er­a­tion that will nev­er doubt that their tal­ents and cul­ture can exist with­in theatre.

We star­ted jump­ing with Jonzi and Jac­qui as they intro­duced Breakin Convention’s inaug­ur­al youth com­pany. Here a star was born as a white spot­light centre stage illu­min­ated a young per­son fero­ciously krump­ing to a bassy track, embody­ing every sound and anchor­ing the cohort.  As I have been say­ing for the past 4 years, the most excit­ing thing in theatre is the emer­gence and devel­op­ment of Krump theatre. It was glor­i­ous to see these young artists car­ry­ing the torch.

South Korea is home to some of the greatest dan­cers on the Hip Hop scene and Movers cer­tainly proved that. From bril­liant mov­ing tablos and archi­tec­tures to live beat­box­ing and bboy battles, they left no coin unturned. Effort­less pre­ci­sion and cre­ativ­ity left us deeply sat­is­fied.

Lauren Scott was a work of art in every sense as she stood posed on a plinth, cloaked under a red fab­ric. As she popped punc­tili­ously to every note played live by her pian­ist, she dazzled the audi­ence with her style and pre­ci­sion    

Justin De Jäger’s Thread­ing Theatre; a col­lab­or­a­tion between the Dutch cho­reo­graph­er and UK dan­cers cre­ated a new piece of theatre cent­ring thread­ing rather than it being a tech­nique in break­dance. The flex­ible trio emerged, hands attached to their feet then when finally released, kept their fin­gers inter­laced for the entirety of the piece. The dan­cers cre­ated holes and path­ways for each oth­er to pass through but also to get stuck in. They ran, danced and weaved  seam­lessly with and around each oth­er leav­ing the audi­ence in a dreamy, med­it­at­ive state. We were invited to wit­ness their detailed weav­ing world. The piece ended with the trio finally set­ting them­selves free.

Rubix presen­ted a heart­felt chair solo to excerpt of United in Grief and Moth­er I Sober by Kendrick Lemar con­tinu­ing the con­ver­sa­tion Lemar high­lights through­out the Mr. Mor­al and The Big Step­pers album about Black men and men­tal health.

Danny Fran­cis gave a short and sweet insight to the incep­tion of London’s Hip Hop scene in Cov­ent Garden, 1982. 

Kloe Dean ended the first half with an all female trib­ute to long time col­lab­or­at­or Little Simz. A bril­liant piece of theatre with each song led by dif­fer­ent soloists high­lighted through wear­ing sunglasses. Per­son­al favour­ites were Dead Body for the use of red umbrel­las and beau­ti­ful rain light­ing, the recre­ation of the Woman video with glor­i­ous poses around a table and the heart pound­ing heavy hit­ting Intro­vert. The cast was elec­tric and embod­ied the music and the pas­sion of both Simz and Dean vali­antly.  

The second half con­tin­ued with woman­hood at the centre. Com­pany Nic­olas Huchard fea­tured The Bare­foot Divas, an all female force that blew us away with their hyp­not­ic and con­ta­gious per­form­ances and uni­sons that can only be described as ances­tral. A sec­tion of the piece was a voi­ceover of Maya Angelou’s Phe­nom­en­al Woman, high­light­ing each dan­cer­’s beauty, grace and fir­e­ce­ness. This is a sis­ter­hood that I want to join.

ILL-Abil­it­ies quite lit­er­ally defied grav­ity and logic. See­ing two (Redo and Samuka) of the eight mem­bers per­form the most com­plex cho­reo­graphy on one leg (Samuka) or with one arm (Redo) blew every single audi­ence mem­ber away without ques­tion. It was incred­ibly lyr­ic­al and exhil­ar­at­ing and I felt hon­oured and priv­ileged to be a spec­tat­or. 

Far From The Norm returned, this time with Bot­is with ham­mer in hand skip­ping and parad­ing with his ensemble to a infec­tious remix to fela kuti’s zom­bie. Here after a night of touch­ing moments saw Bot­is’ son take to the stage after a voice over about his thoughts on the police. Far from the Norm con­tin­ue to ask the audi­ence to con­sider the ever present real­it­ies faced by Black people. 

The night ended with the per­fec­tion that is Ghetto funk col­lect­ive. The Dutch col­lect­ive locked with the energy and pazaz of James Brown and the syn­chron­icity and ease of the Nich­olas broth­ers. Every solo was dynam­ic and power­ful and even in silence, no beat was missed. They even man­aged to cre­ate a 70’s chic liv­ing room as a set change. The Dutch col­lect­ive left us with a joy­ous piece of beau­ti­fully craf­ted cho­reo­graphy.  

Breakin Con­ven­tion has a 20 year leg­acy that will only con­tin­ue to innov­ate and inspire the Hip Hop com­munity to achieve its true place as the king of cul­ture. 

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.

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.