Breaking’ Convention @ Sadler’s Wells Review

What is meant by the term Hip Hop? I’m sure many will attribute the term to a style of music, and that in part would be correct. However, Hip Hop embodies so much more than that. Born in the late 70s in the Bronx, Hip Hop gripped the imaginations of many, spawning a culture that would initially begin underground, but would grip the world decades later. Consisting of 4 strands which are: B-boying, Dj-ing, Graffiti artistry and Mc-ing, the art form synonymous with the states has taken over the world, with Hip Hop references 2nd nature in many a music video!

Breakin' Convention

Celebrating its 13th year as the leading Hip Hop Theatre Festival, Breakin’ Convention welcomes hundreds of dance enthusiasts who have flocked to witness the freshest dancing talent the world has to offer today. What’s prevalent about the evening is a feeling of unity. Each act only builds on the energy of the previous; the dancers themselves a magnificent ensemble working as one to deliver an unforgettable evening.

To kick off the event, and compering through out, Spoken word artist, Dancer and Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention, Jonzi D powers up the evening with a charisma that couldn’t be any more inviting. Uniting all audience members, whether sitting in’The Gods’, or those situated in the standing area dancing the night away, Jonzi D reminds everyone that we are all equal, and that the aim of the evening is to have a great night out and to forget your worries.

The evening is jam packed with crowd pleasers, starting off with Boy Blue Entertainment gripping the audience with an intense, multi-layered piece of choreography occasionally unifying, and then singling out performers as they navigate their way through a harsh terrain. Daughter’s of the Dragon offer a contrast to the former, a tranquil synchronised partnership brilliantly merging the worlds of tutting and contortion to bring audiences a futuristic piece of dance to inspire. Iron Skulls Co encompass the evening with a thoughtful observation on the dark world of prison camps. Their piece fuses isolations of the body with a lyricism that opens the eyes to what Hip Hop dance can be. A screening from the Future Elements dance scheme for 13-16 year olds makes the crowd smile from beginning to end; an observation on Karma, it’s encouraging to witness a young cast realise an idea from stage to screen in a week, and this is to be applauded.

The Soweto Skeleton Movers are an absolute joy. Showcasing the dance form Kwaito (a dance style seen in the opening of Beyonce’s Run the World video), the cast of 4 effortlessly perform tricks and feats of pure magic with their trademark of making their hats levitate in the air. An unbeatable mixture of eye watering contortion and masterful footwork, the Soweto Skeleton Movers astonish. To complete the first act, Antoinette Gomis embodies the soul and spirit of Nina Simone. Channeling the elements, she expertly transforms, taking on the energies of the air and the sea with her initial sequence, to only contrast this with her vigorous fiery yet earthy stance in the second via the art form of whacking. Breaking Convention’ succeeds with a powerful first half of dance, but can this be matched with the second?

The answer is yes! Enfants Prodigies intrigue with their synchronicity. They revel in stillness and repetition at the beginning which makes for a very exciting piece as the audience are not quite sure as to what will happen next. The ensemble however get to showcase their personalities, which further adds the audience on side. Bandidas introduce the audience to a futuristic world, (think Tron the film) with a robotic inspired piece which witnesses the cast popping and locking in unison, a great example of unity. SWNSNG offers a stark look through the magnifying glass at our capitalist culture. Allegorical characters such as a pig signify the big king pins making a fortune as the poorer classes suffer, fusing dance, Mc-ing and acting, this production will be one to watch next year! Lastly, Ruggeds bring back their signature style of the reckless, the daring and the outright crazy as they showcase why they are one of the best b-boy crews in the world. Head spins, somersaults and backflips pepper the stage; they are a true nod to the authenticity of Hip Hop. Looking forward to next year’s line up of the best dance talents the world has to offer. 5/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Breakin’ Convention was on at Sadler’s from Saturday 30th April until Sunday 1st May at Sadler’s Wells. Breaking’ Convention is currently on tour, to find out more, visit here…

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