Sadler’s Wells’ critically acclaimed international festival of hip hop dance theatre, Breakin’Convention, is back, with performances from UK and international companies and crews. Now in its 14th year, this hugely popular Sadler’s Wells Production is once again hosted and curated by Associate Artist Jonzi D. Following the annual festival at Sadler’s Wells over the May bank holiday – Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May, Breakin’ Convention will then tour for a second consecutive year, to nine venues across the UK until early June 2017 marking Breakin’ Convention’s seventh UK tour.
Breakin’ Convention has firmly established itself as one of the major highlights on the British dance calendar and one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip hop culture. The London festival on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April sees Sadler’s Wells’ foyer transformed with DJs, freestyle dance jams, graffiti exhibitions, workshops from top international artists and live aerosol art. The participatory activities take place pre-show and during the interval.
Following performances at Sadler’s Wells, Breakin’ Convention tours to Edinburgh, Nottingham, Norwich, Southampton, Salford, Leicester, Blackpool, Brighton and Birmingham. The UK tour offers local dance companies the opportunity to perform alongside international acts.
The tour line-up includes Soweto Skeleton Movers, a highlight of last year’s festival. Mixing comedic contortionism with the Pantsula dance style native to the townships of South Africa and performing to Kwaito music, a form of Afro house and the soundtrack of the liberation struggle, the group returns by popular demand.
Joining them on tour is Canadian group Tentacle Tribe. Founded in 2012, the Montreal-based dance company creates uncommon dance works with a contemporary twist using conceptual hip hop and influences from all types of earthly creatures. The duo’s work experiments with intricate partnering, refined musicality and physical choreography. Tentacle Tribe recently performed at Breakin’ Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
Completing the international line up are Just Dance from South Korea. Under the artistic direction of B-Boy Ducky of the Drifterz Crew, Just Dance presents an updated vision of Korean shamanistic mask performance. Live Korean drumming accompanies a crew of poppers and b-boys, many of whom have world titles to their name. Earlier in 2016 the group performed at Breakin’ Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. The London dates mark their Breakin’ Convention UK premiere.
The festival also features work from artists who have taken part in Open Art Surgery and Back To The Lab, Breakin’ Convention’s professional development platforms. For the fifth consecutive year Breakin’ Convention takes it back to the roots of hip hop on bank holiday Monday 1 May with Park Jam, an outdoor party suitable for all the family in Spa Fields Park.
UK acts in this year’s Sadler’s Wells Stage line-up:
- Boy Blue Entertainment – Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy’s next generation of dancers will showcase why Boy Blue Entertainment is consistently one of London’s leading dance companies. Accompanied to a thumping set from Boy Blue co-founder Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante. Their work Blak, Whyte and Gray was recently nominated for Best New Dance Production in the 2017 Olivier Awards. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Dani & Sia – Black Love Matters in this sensual duet between Dani and Sia. This couple have previously performed at Breakin’ Convention with a variety of different companies, including Avant Garde, #PPL, and Josephine ‘Realitie’ Rollings. (Saturday 29 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Emma Houston – Choreographer Emma Houston seamlessly brings together breaking and vogue dancing in a unique celebration of progressive gender politics. Developed at Open Art Surgery, Breakin’ Convention’s professional development course for hip hop artists. (Saturday 29 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Freefly Crew – Blackpool’s finest b-boy crew performs at Breakin’ Convention London for the first time. Freefly Crew’s crazy slapstick approach makes them stand out in the hip hop theatre scene. Also performing at Breakin’ Convention at Blackpool. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Natalie James – Natalie James, a regular performer at Breakin’ Convention, brings her aerial skills to our mainstage for the first time. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Old Men Grooving – Finalists on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, Old Men Grooving consist of some of the UK’s funkiest old skool poppers and lockers. (Saturday 29 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- The Locksmiths – After opening the festival with a bang last year, the UK’s top locking crew return with a visionary piece by choreographer Ben Ajose-Cutting, aka Mr Ben. Unlock The Funk explores how to free ourselves from the restrictions that block our soul. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- The Rebirth Network – Choreographer Daniel 7, with a committed ensemble of street dancers, present a hard-hitting piece of protest dance theatre influenced by images of a world in conflict. Theo ‘Godson’ Oloyade – Witness the explosive movement krump in this group performance choreographed by Boy Blue Entertainment’s Theo ‘Godson’ Oloyade. As seen on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. (Saturday 29 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- XXV (UK) – A passionate piece filled with shadows and urgent movement choreographed by L’Atisse Rhoden in memory of Hannah Defoe, celebrating her life in what would have been her 25th year.
International acts in this year’s Sadler’s Wells Stage line-up:
- Cheerito (Russia) – Straight out of the Siberian underground comes B-Boy Cheerito, Idiosyncratic, surprising, with a funny freakish flexibility. Balance is the first theatrical solo by this unique dancer, with dramaturgy by Drosha Grekhov. The work receives its world premiere at Breakin’ Convention 2017. Cheerito is a major force on the b-boy battle scene winning many international titles. (Saturday 29 & Sunday 30th April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- DC Vortex (France) – Based in Paris, DC Vortex is a versatile collective adept in a variety of styles including house dance, popping and breaking. Choreographed by house dance legend Yugson of Wanted Posse fame, INSTINCT is performed to an original music score made up of drum solos, beatbox and sampled sounds. (Saturday 29 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Geni Lou & Pax (Canada) – Out of the darkness emerges a mesmerising popping duet from Montreal, addressing the erasure of women in history. Developed at Back to the Lab, Breakin’ Convention’s two-week professional development intensive for hip hop choreographers. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Hungry Sharks (Austria) – #FOMO explores our incessant desire to be connected via social media, while detaching ourselves from the real world. Hungry Sharks consist of b-boys from all over the Austrian battle scene. (Saturday 29 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Just Dance (South Korea) – B-Boy Ducky leads this squad of b-boys from Korea’s most infamous crews, known for winning world titles over the last 15 years. The 7 Human Emotions features live drumming and traditional Korean masks in a presentation of ancient culture with a hip hop remix. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) – From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. The audience highlight of Breakin’ Convention 2016 returns with a brand new performance. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks. (Sunday 30 April – Sadler’s Wells Main Stage)
- Tentacle Tribe (Canada) – Having previously performed at Breakin’ Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina last year, conceptual hip hop group Tentacle Tribe bring two performances to the stage for 2017. Nobody Likes A Pixelated Squid is a fusion of contemporary and breakdance with luxurious movement phrases. Three women shape and reshape the space around them with intimate, interconnected movement gestures in their second work Oragami Mami.
Acts in this year’s Lilian Baylis Studio line-up:
- Tom Tsai (USA) – After successfully wowing audiences at Breakin’ Convention in 2014 with his incredible ability to combine spoken word with virtuoso power moves Tom Tsai performs A Calm Place At Sea. A sensitively constructed piece, showcasing his proficient b-boy technique and clever wordplay, with a disarming twist in the tale. (Saturday 29 April -Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells)
- Chey Jurado (Spain) – Chey performs Agua, a sensitive piece filled with gestural droplets that develop into a waterfall of b-boy fluidity. This talented mover won the solo section of Festival HOP in Barcelona 2016. A Breakin’ Convention premiere. (Saturday 29 April -Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells)
- Sample Culture (Netherlands) – Known for his hyperflexible style of b-boying with his crew, Roy of The Ruggeds appears in Boredom 2.0, an apathetic duet set to a jazz soundtrack. (Sunday 30 April – Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells)
- Wayward Thread (UK) – Si Rawlinson bravely questions history’s attitude to civil rights, exploring the discussion about racism, as a ‘white’ man? Featuring a mix of breaking and verbatim spoken word. Developed at Back to the Lab, Breakin’ Convention’s professional development intensive for hip hop choreographers, Si previously performed at Breakin’ Convention in 2016. A Sadler’s Wells Production. (Sunday 30 April – Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells)
Breakin’ Convention ’17 embarks on its eighth National tour in 2017, taking in nine venues across the UK. Venues include newcomers Norwich Theatre Royal, Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre, Leicester Curve and Birmingham Rep. This has been made possible following a grant from Arts Council England.
Breakin’ Convention 2017 National Tour dates
Friday 5 & Saturday 6 May Edinburgh Festival Theatre | Tuesday 9 & Wednesday 10 May Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham | Saturday 13 May Norwich Theatre Royal | Tuesday 16 & Wednesday 17 May Southampton Mayflower | Friday 19 & Saturday 20 May The Lowry, Salford | Tuesday 23 & Wednesday 24 May Leicester Curve | Saturday 27 May Grand Theatre Blackpool | Tuesday 30 & Wednesdays 31 May Brighton Dome | Friday 2 & Saturday 3 June Birmingham Rep
Breakin’ Convention ’17 runs at Sadler’s Wells & Lilian Baylis Studio – Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May 2017. Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 | www.sadlerswells.com
Further details of the Breakin’ Convention 2017 tour can be found here.
Read TBB’s last interview with Breakin’ Convention founder Jonzi D here.