Boy Blue Photo: Belinda Lawley
Here's a quick breakdown of Breakin' Convention for those that haven't been. The premiere in 2004 brought some OG's from the dance world such as The Vagabonds, Electric Boogaloos and Tommy the Clown. When the reviews came in, audiences grew bigger each year and now in it's 15th year, B-Convention is a pioneer in the world of hip-hop theatre. It has since paved the way for other artists to bring hip-hop to the theatre world, and now in 2018 we see an even wider audience rapping along to the songs from the musical Hamilton. Never was there a time of year when I've been happier to see the seats removed from Sadler's Wells to allow for a standing section. It shouldn't be any other way.
The Rundown Saturday 5th May 2018:
Fuse 596 brought a refreshing and effervescent display of house dance form Misa, George and Tomo. This was a fun opener to the show and had my feet busting out of the stalls, it's been a while since funky house beats have been in my life. The energy was fun and it was great to pay homage to this discipline. The piece was occasionally imprecise on the syncing of choreo, but what this group brought in energy made up for it.
Next, House of Absolute. I interviewed these ladies a couple of years ago, and I was intrigued to see what they would offer up. Aesthetically, it was a treat. Their look reminded me of the styling for the movie 'The Help', and this spoken word, music and dance ensemble reached into my heart a little. A dedication to Dizzy Gillespie, an iconic composer and trumpeter, I can see where they pulled inspiration, from their acapella sequence to the 'swing low' rendition, and a shout out goes to the krumping section which was perfectly placed in the rhythm of the piece.
House of Absolute Photo: Belinda Lawley
Bonetics delivered his muscle-sculpting, bone bending routine to many amazed and twisted faces as his piece unravelled. I have ridiculous respect for anyone who is self-taught and makes a main stage like that, but this was more of spectacle for me!
FAVOURITES OF THIS YEAR:
Femme Fatale swooping in from LA were officially this years new favourite. I love how B-Convention brings new artists to the fore and into my life, and Jonzi did mention that they were big on the gram. It made total sense, as they were fashioned perfectly in one pieces and looked incredibly insta-ready. This however created a brilliant underdog element to these women. Specialising in locking and popping this routine was one of the neatest, leanest shape-making, beat hitting and impressive routines I have seen. I wanted to re-watch it constantly. The second section to the routine saw these women return in neat outfits and their lean-ness didn't prevent their personalities shining through. The aesthetics of Tom Dixon and the sharpness of Janet Jackson, I'm a complete convert to the church of femme fatale.
Femme Fatale Photo: Belinda Lawley
Amala Dianor mixed elegance and b-boying, negotiating space cleverly and playing with the audience. At times, lack of music challenged my understanding of this piece. We get very used to a banging beat showing the precision of a move, and it is of course satisfying to watch and part of the discipline. However I felt like I had watched something quite beautiful afterwards and dancer Mufasa was a mega highlight of this crew. It certainly worked to make my taste more sophisticated.
Mufasa Photo: Belinda Lawley
The crowd-pleasing Extreme Pushers from Jamaica had so much cheeky energy and delivered a piece of Jamaica to the main stage. This was entertaining and fun, and we all wanted to dance with brimming nostalgia to the Funkstar De Luxe & Bob Marley remix of 'sun is shining.' A dancer said Jonzi bringing them to B-Convention had allowed him to travel out of Jamaica for the first time. His dance skill had bought him a ticket to travel and that is an amazing thing! Truly heartwarming.
The end to the first half with beatboxer Hobbit, and MC freestyler Supernatural was an absolute HOOT! Being immersed in the comedy world, I had seen Abandoman do 'what's in your pocket?' a similar (maybe inspired?) act to Supernatural's freestyling whilst Jonzi provided audience members objects from the frow. Hobbit's beatboxing was off the CHARTS!
Now...introducing..the Sonic ORCHESTRA!
You know when you upgrade to business class? That's what happened in my whole body but in hip-hop theatre terms. The Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra (led by Jason Yarde for B-Convention) have been showing off their jazz sensibilities for years and whoever decided to make this second act collaboration is a genius.
With Hobbit as a beatboxing addition, The Locksmiths,Mufasa,The Ruggeds and Boy Blue Entertainment exploded onto the stage with various beats and melodies being played by the orchestra.
True to form, UK favourites The Locksmiths had their class and style evade the stage with a pleasing routine. The Ruggeds added layer upon layer of their confidence in an AMAZING extended routine that provided so many jaw dropping moments. Any shape making or canon was commended with a gesture by a member of Femme Fatale who were sitting in from of me.
Boy Blue Photo: Belinda Lawley
Boy Blue. BOY BLUE. Who run the world? Boy Blue. Who filled the stage? Boy Blue. Who became a huge dance family with the highest energy, tribal performance, group showdown, worthy of a world tour, flag waving, my vocabulary cannot extend to express my feelings about this piece. Boy Blue.
I must give a shout out to my UNDERDOG CHOICE KR Flow. Annoyingly for them, the programming meant that a large chunk of audience left the Lilian Baylis interval show early as they came on last. Boy did they miss out. KR Flow had a simple format. Two Asian professionals. One interviewee at surgery wanting a job, one interviewer. Simple asides to the audiences allowed for dialogue about whether or not they should reveal they were B-Boy's in their spare time. After a mutual revelation and a B-Boy showcase (albeit in a shirt and tie get up), the dancers make their final point. Never assume. Whilst unravelling their shirts and putting on a prayer cap to reveal islamic clothing, you can't help but be impressed by the way they used a ten-minute routine to deliver multiple messages. They fully deserved a large audience and I hope they do more extended work.
So thank you once again B-Convention. I always write, not to necessarily review, but to spread the word. This event inspires me in so much of my work, as a teacher, a writer, a comic, an artist and most importantly, as an activist.