What is Breakin' Convention?

Marta Portocarrero, Mars El Brogy

Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s critically acclaimed international festival of hip hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, is back in London, with performances from UK and international companies and crews.

Now in its 14th year, the popular Sadler’s Wells Production is once again hosted and curated by Associate Artist Jonzi D.

Sadler's Wells Associate Artist Jonzi D (Photo by Dave Barros)

Breakin’ Convention will then tour for a second consecutive year, to nine venues across the UK until early June 2017, following the annual festival this weekend. These venues are: Edinburgh, Nottingham, Norwich, Southampton, Salford, Leicester, Blackpool, Brighton and Birmingham.

This marks Breakin’ Convention’s seventh UK tour, which offers local dance companies the opportunity to perform alongside international acts.

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.

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 with new work Seven 7.

Soweto Skeleton Movers (Belinda Lawley)

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.

Montreal-based Tentacle Tribe (Belinda Lawley)

The duo’s work experiments with intricate partnering, refined musicality and physical choreography. Tentacle Tribe recently performed at Breakin’ Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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.

Just Dance South Korea (Ryo)

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.

For the first year, there is also a pre-show site specific performance in The Kahn by Michaela Cisarikova, founder and artistic director of MCDC.

Since 2014, the group has curated and produced their own evening MCDC Night and MCDC Triple Bill in London, which then went on tour to Slovakia and Czech Republic.

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.

The UK acts in this year’s Sadler’s Wells Stage line-up:

  • Boy Blue Entertainment
  • Dani & Sia
  • Freefly Crew
  • Houston Dance Collective
  • Natalie James
  • Old Men Grooving
  • The Locksmiths
  • The Rebirth Network
  • Theo ‘Godson’ Oloyade
  • XXV
Old Men Grooving are part of Saturday's line-up (James Watkins)

And the international acts in this year's Sadler's Wells Stage line-up are:

  • Black Sheep (France)
  • Cheerito (Russia)
  • DC Vortex (France)
  • Geni Lou & Pax (Canada)
  • Hungry Sharks (Austria)
  • Just Dance (South Korea)
  • Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa)
  • Tentacle Tribe (Canada)

There is also a line-up of acts performing at the Lilian Baylis Studio featuring artists from the UK, Netherlands and the USA.

Breakin’ Convention runs this May Bank Holiday weekend (April 29 – May 1).