Breakin Convention by Joanna Gurr

Breakin Convention at Brighton Dome – international festival of hip hop dance theatre (supported by Sadler’s Wells) - Wednesday 31 May 2017  Joanna Gurr

Initially I regretted my choice of a matinee performance as a large number of children were out in force as it was half term, but I soon came to realise that if anything they added to it because they were all so enthusiastic both as performers and audience.  I really enjoyed seeing them in the same event as adults but really holding their own.  Pre-performance and during the interval there was a DJ (RudeBen), MCs and break dancers performing in the Café-Bar and this included a very excited and appreciative gaggle of children watching and waiting to be given a chance to be part of their set.

I recognised J P Omari who was hosting alongside Jonzi D to introduce each of the eight performances.  I learnt from the programme that Jonzi D has been the Artistic Director of Breakin Convention since 2004 and later in the show he was acknowledged as being the driving force behind an adult performer’s chosen career when he met him as a child.  J P Omari is a well-known Brighton personality as Founder and Director of Streetfunk and having seen him some years back leading a Parkour demonstration, was happy to see that he seems just as enthusiastic at encouraging young people to perform.  

First out was the youngest street crew Killerbeez (choreographed by Omari) in very stylish gold and black outfits with a high energy and exciting routine.  Steroshok and Defiance were two more under 14 crews in vivid black and red who gave short 3 minute very lively sets.   Then we were treated to a local Brighton crew called BN1, an impressive under-18 group whose coordination and slickness were spot on.   All danced to very loud hiphop tracks that maintained a high level of excitement.

The next lineup had a whole different look and feel using a loud repetitive beat throughout – the 4 South African Soweto Skeleton Movers who are experts in pantsula dance.  Its origins lie in jumping off and on moving trains and mixing it with tapdance and developed into a syncopated quickstepping low to the ground dance.  Their footwork was exceptionally frenzied with lots of routines interacting with each other and combining expert hat tricks and amazing contortionism. 

The second half started with the What is written Dance Company.  They cleverly put across the concept of being a slave to work and oppression and this was compelling theatrical dance and staging.  Next were Tentacle Tribe (a Canadian-Swedish duet) described as deconstructed street dance performing a surreal ‘Nobody likes a pixelated squid’ inspired by sea creatures.  Their slow modern dance of 15 minutes seemed much longer to me though and I could see some of the audience finding the slower pace less engrossing.  The final 9 dancers Just Dance from South Korea were led by a Buddhist monk using traditional instruments providing an exciting and diverse musical experience too which looked to be a favourite for many and was a great finale performance.  

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