The May bank holiday weekend means heading down to Sadler’s Wells for Breakin’ Convention, the annual hip-hop dance theatre extravaganza I go to each and every year. Not once has it disappointed, curator Jonzi D always innovating with a consistently experimental and crowd-pleasing dance programme.
This year started extra specially with a Park Jam where none other than the dirty rotten scoundrel Jeru The Damaja took to the stage. There were lots of kids there, so he sensitively retitled a certain banger to ‘Da Witchez’. Monie Love, who joined him on stage but didn’t drop any of her own classics just yet, applauded his good taste.
At Sadler’s Wells a little later, Monie took to the stage again to co-host the evening with Jonzi and dropped a little ‘Jonzi in the Middle’ rhyme, which made the OGs, who’d earlier felt robbed, very happy.
Dance-wise, the programme took a little time to get into its stride and the first half culminated in a krumping fest, ‘Respect The Buck’, courtesy of Street Kingdom, out of LA. It was raw and aggressive, with a particularly impressive performance from team leader and krumping originator Tight Eyez. It provided the ideal foil to a more tenuous performance called ‘Father Father’ from ‘Don’t Hit Mama’ – a crew out of Holland – who danced beautifully but got caught up in setting an esoteric atmosphere with bongos and orbs, which really could have had a good edit. But this is the joy of Breakin’ Convention; giving dancers a space in which to experiment and to test their interpretations on a crowd that has high standards.
It was in the second half that Breakin’ Convention really settled into its groove and wowed us all with three spectacular performances. The UK did us proud with a poignant love story from Ukweli Roach of the BirdGang Dance Company. Titled ‘Vice’, it told a tale of temptation and addiction that was utterly compelling.
Then came a stunning duet from Canada’s Tentacle Tribe called ‘When They Fall’, which explored the concept of strangers crossing paths in an anonymous world. Like those sliding doors moments, when life can take you in all manner of directions depending on chance.
I always look forward to the French troupes at Breakin’ Convention and the evening culminated in a performance from Wanted Posse called ‘Revolution’, which showcased some downright ridiculous moves in a story where each dancer evolved from conforming with the crowd to growing into their own characters. It was funny, touching and awe-inspiring, not to mention a brilliant encore soundtracked by Jazztronik’s Samurai.
Massive respect to Jonzi D and his team for another excellent year.
Photos: Belinda Lawley