Post date: 28 February 2012

Time Gentleman Please, the daring theatre production that combined clog, sword and Morris dancing with b-boying, popping, krumping and beatboxing is to become a documentary, produced by Safecracker Pictures which will chart the history of The Demon Barbers.

Damien Barber, who is behind award-winning folk band The Demon Barbers and Time Gentlemen Please said: "The response to our show has been phenomenal from both folk and street dance fans. All our dancers have taken the opportunity to learn from each other and have been amazed by the similarities and shared experiences they found in the two - seemingly very different - dance styles."

Time Gentlemen Please has seen several runs in theatres, touring last autumn and will be embarking on another one this spring.

The show, the brainchild of award-winning folk band The Demon Barbers, in collaboration with Yorkshire Dance and developed thanks to funding from Arts Council England, sees a group of street dancers arrive at an apparently deserted pub. As the regulars arrive, however, a clash of cultures turns into a dance floor stand-off.

It was the breaking convention of Time Gentlemen Please (and possibly a recent appearance on BBC’s Room 101 as well, we could suggest) that first attracted the attention of Nigel Horne, managing director of Safecracker Pictures.

In the past Safecracker films has made documentaries on Morris dancing, so are the right people for the job.

"The dancing [in Time Gentlemen Please] is extraordinary. This is every bit as dynamic and ground-breaking as Stomp was a decade ago. Folk is having a massive resurgence and Time Gentlemen Please is at the cutting edge of this revival.”

He continued: “Putting traditional and modern dance together on stage shows that there is a genuine connection between them. This is something the documentary will aim to explore with the aid of some well respected Folk enthusiasts such as the comedian Stewart Lee and Horace Panter, Bass Player from The Specials.”

Horne concludes his feelings about the project: “We are tremendously excited about being involved with Damien Barber and The Demon Barbers and bringing the show to the wider audience it deserves."

Find out the dates of the forthcoming Time Gentlemen Please spring tour on our calendar.

Post date: 30 January 2012

2012 is starting to heat up right now – the Breakin’ Convention Calendar is squeezing in more dates into it with every passing day and new shows are being announced left, right and centre – artistically this year is one to very much one to look forward to.

2011 was another great year for hip hop theatre – just have a look at our year in review feature. We could of course blow our own horn and boast about how good Open Art Surgery and Back to the Lab was, but what you might have seen at those two boundary-pushing shows was works in progress – so our own shows don’t qualify.

With a finite amount of tickets on sale for any show of any size, not everyone can always catch a show when it comes to town. So instead we’ve come up with 5 shows we would love to see recommissioned for the theatre in 2012, chosen for their entertainment, originality and the fact that many of these shows only got a short run the first time round.

Here we are in no particular order…

In My Shoes

Rationale Productions In My Shoes

Rationale Productions' feature length production sold out the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, last year with its show telling the story of a father and son attending an extreme hip hop therapy session in a desperate bid to save their relationship.

Rationale Productions features the brilliant Nathan Geering aka Diggity, who has performed at numerous Breakin’ Conventions in the past and is a Breakin’ Convention rep.

Likeliness of In My Shoes returning: Very! A sold out show at the Crucible justifies a return with the production doing a regional tour this autumn.

Country Boy's Struggle

Country Boys Struggle

Maxwell Golden is an Alumni of Jonzi D's Open Art Surgery and had sold out runs of the show for its comic use of 30 different characters, all played by himself. 

Directed by Baba Israel, Country Boy's Struggle is a semi-autobiographical one man play telling the hilarious story of Maxwell's dreams as a rapper moving from Cornwall to the city. It’s a classic story of one man chasing his dream in the face of adversity, which many of your favourite rappers might have done, but Breakin’ Convention bets that none of your favourite rappers hail from Cornwall. They will after this.

Likeliness of Country Boy's Struggle returning: No word on the circuit at the moment, but that doesn't mean it wont - it's a laugh-a-minute show that's guaranteed to pack out the place!

Sleight of Dance

Sleight of Dance

Richard Essien, or B-Boy Bones aka the b-boy from Mint Royale’s Singing In The Rain video has another trick up his sleeve - literally. While his main talent is dancing, you may not know Bones is also a professional magician who successfully sold out his own stand up shows last winter. 

It’s possible to imagine Bones’ show suiting a cabaret venue as the show features card tricks, illusions and beautiful magician’s assistants, and escaping from a straight jacket while doing windmills is the ultimate in magician-cum-b-boy braggadocio.

Chances of it returning: Bones has showcased at Throwdown recently and will be performing extracts of his show at Serious About Street Dance 2012

The Bunker Thing

The Bunker Thing

The Bunker Thing was an installation experience commission by East London Dance for Big Dance 2010 and took over a disused war bunker in Dalston, East London.

Always one to play with unique ideas for locations, Tony Adigun’s piece included projection and sound with a storyline and unexpected surprises around each corner. For a minute you'll forget you're in the city and believe you're in a dystopian underworld...

Chances of it returning: The bunker is coming back soon! Be afraid! Dates TBA.

BBE Touch

Boy Blue: BBE Touch

Kenrick Sandy and Mikey J Asante, the founding components to Boy Blue Entertainment have schedules so packed it’s virtually impossible to pin them down. Whether choreographing for movie or television, or producing music for the urban music scene’s biggest artists, finding a gap in their diary is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

But last year they managed to find enough time to put together a short run of shows featuring the two in a completely different light altogether: Producing and mixing live, reciting poetry, and reversing each other’s roles.

Chances of it returning: Don’t hedge your bets, at least not yet.

Bad Taste Cru - Tribal Assembly

Bad Taste Cru Tribal Assembly

Bad Taste Cru’s Tribal Assembly was a specially commissioned piece by outdoor events consortium Without Walls which extended their piece Council of the Ordinary, performed at Breakin’ Convention 2008.

So strong was the piece that it was toured across the UK last summer, featured as part of Bad Taste Cru's Just Jam weekender and was shortlisted for the Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest.

Chances of Tribal Assembly returning: No word on it yet, although crew member Robby Graham (Raw B) recently became an associate artist at Dance City, Newcastle. Even if Tribal Assembly doesn't come back expect exciting new work and commissions in the future.

Do you agree with our choice of exceptional Hip Hop theatre work? Leave a comment in the box below!

Post date: 27 January 2012

Juste Debout Steez, France’s biggest annual upright dance competition is returning to the UK for its second year for qualifier preliminaries in locking, popping, house, hip hop and experimental, organised by Vicki Igbokwe of Uchenna Dance Company and Clara Bajado of InDaHouse - plus Breakin' Convention will be there with our own table!

This year it comes the title of Juste Debout Steez, Steez being the name of Pioneer's latest range of boomboxes, and for those of the Gang-Starr generation, an old school word for 'style.'

You know our steez, but why is Juste Debout the biggest competition this side of spring time?

“Juste Debout Steez UK is important because it gives opportunities to dancers based in the UK to compete in and spectate an international high profile event,” says Vicki Igbokwe, co-producer of Juste Debout Steez UK. “It allows talented dancers to take part on home soil, who would otherwise have to travel outside of the UK. This is especially helpful to those dancers who simply can't afford to do this.”

Last year Turbo and Kashmir became UK champions in the house category and went to Paris to represent UK after defeating Botis and Ricardo; Brooke and Dickson qualified in popping and Spin in toprocking.

The other qualifying styles were won by French dancers who entered the UK preliminaries, and with Eurostar’s international terminal just across the road from the venue at Euston you can understand why they chanced it: This event is career making. Last year Les Twins became world champions in the hip hop category. Now they’re dancing for Beyonce.

Entrants must register themselves for Juste Debout UK online.

“Juste Debout Steez has been running for 11 years and the UK event will be two years old in 2012. This alone puts the UK in a stronger position to stand next to the dance community world wide,” Vicki continues. “It networks the UK and its dance community internationally and creates a competitive yet friendly and creative environment for dancers to connect with their international peers.”

We showed you when Breakin’ Convention went to Montpellier for Battle of the Year that Juste Debout organiser Bruce Ykanji is a big deal, sat on the judging panel on Dance Street, France's street dance battle TV show.

Yet he still makes time to battle at the UK B-Boy Championships last year, making it to the final stages against Kite and look after the Juste Debout School to teach the next generation of dancers in France.

As part of the Juste Debout Steez UK competition, workshops with the judges, Kei, P.Lock, Niako and Caleaf will be available.

Tickets for Juste Debout Steez UK can be bought at www.justedebout.co.uk

Juste Debout Steez UK takes place at Camden Centre, Euston on Saturday 25 February. For more details see our calendar listing and check out the Juste Debout UK workshops.

Post date: 23 January 2012

Presented by Sadler's Wells, Breakin' Convention showcased itself in front of thousands of busy shoppers at Westfield Stratford City as part of My 2012.

Throughout the day East London's Rain Crew and Unity UK performed on a specially constructed stage in the middle of the foodcourt hosted by Hakeem Onibudo of Impact Dance, while Mr Dane of the Breakin' Convention Education team offered demonstrations of aerosol art for people that wanted to try their hand at graffiti.

Unity UK at Westfield Stratford City

Shoppers were able to design and write their own tags If you missed us at Westfield Stratford City then fear not - Breakin' Convention will be at Westfield London (Shepherd's Bush) on Saturday 28 January where Unity and Rain Crew will be performing again.

Rain Crew at Westfield Stratford City

From East London to West London and Inverness to Plymouth, the Breakin' Convention 2012 festival and UK tour of hip hop dance theatre will take place at Sadler's Wells befor heading around nine different venues across the UK, supported by Dance Consortium.

Find out more about the Breakin' Convention tour

Post date: 17 January 2012

Jimmy Castor, the titular entity behind the Jimmy Castor Bunch passed away age 64 yesterday, also known as Martin Luther King Day in America.

Describing himself as The Everything Man Jimmy was a songwriter, singer, saxophonist, percussionist, as well as a music producer and arranger.

While Jimmy may not have the godfather status as James Brown has for b-boys and b-girls, it was his influence on Hip Hop that many will remember him for. DJs loved to sample from Troglodyte (Cave Man): “What we’re going to do here is go back. Way back. Back into time…” from NWA to… Christina Aguilera.

But the song many will remember Jimmy Castor is It’s Just Begun, a funky saxophone and percussion track with the same anthemic status as Babe Ruth’s The Mexican, The Incredible Bongo Band’s Apache or James Brown’s Turn It Loose.

The saxophone lick that leads into the energetic bass line and one of funk’s most recognised double high hat loops interspersed with horn breaks has long been a get off for b-boys with a saxophone solo made especially for intricate toprock solos.

While it’s early days yet, already a few tributes have appeared online, with indie film maker and dancer Mooncricket uploading his own video to YouTube

Says Mooncricket about his video dedication: “You will be missed Jimmy Castor. God bless you in heaven. Keep it funky up there. Thank you for giving us the funky music and blessing Hip-Hop. You were a blessing to all of us. RIP Jimmy.”

“I thought since everyone seemed to have done tribute dances for Michael Jackson after he passed I wanted to make sure that Jimmy Castor gets the same kind of tribute.”

Poignantly put.

Who knows, maybe people will start to rock RIP Jimmy Castor slogan t-shirts at jams? We've already put our requests in for the Breakin' Convention after party.

Post date: 13 January 2012

Robby Graham, who some may know better as B-Boy Raw B of Bad Taste Crew, is now an associate artist of Dance City, Newcastle.

Bad Taste Cru have been around since 1998 and Breakin’ Convention regulars may recognise their name from previous festivals, and from entering Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest last year, besides being beasts in the cypher.

Robby has won numerous artistic accolades, recently choreographing the hugely successful work Aftermath for the Place Prize, exploring the effects of the bombing in Omagh, where the majority of Bad Taste Cru are from, and the outdoor commission Tribal Assembly taking a reworked piece performed at Breakin’ Convention 2008 and making it into a full length show.

“I'm thankful, honoured, and excited to have this opportunity to develop and explore my style of hip hop theatre alongside Dance City. This appointment represents a progression of the support myself and my crew have always enjoyed from Dance City,” said Robby, speaking of his appointment. “I’m looking forward to producing fresh work in the New Year and pushing the boundaries of our art form. Ni heolas go hantios (‘no knowledge without unity’)”

Bad Taste Cru, who are responsible for the acclaimed annual Just Jam b-boy battle (read our report) event and hip hop theatre night were previously an associate company at Dance City and Robby’s appointment is a fantastic development for him, giving him the time and facilities to explore his own choreographic voice and practice.

As part of his appointment he will be given free use of Dance City’s studios and theatre, backed up with marketing support and artistic mentoring from the artistic director, Anthony Baker.

“I am so pleased to be able to offer Robby this opportunity. His creative work and dedication to his craft is incredible, and over the past few years his exploration of contemporary dance has shaped his work, creating an amazing fusion of dance styles which audiences and critics alike have enthused over,” said Anthony. “Robby will be developing his choreographic practice and his contemporary dance skills, alongside further breakdance work.”

Congratulations Robby!

Visit Bad Taste Cru's artist profile

Post date: 10 January 2012

The Jump Off, London’s most notorious hip hop battle event, made its return to London yesterday after a three year hiatus since Astoria was closed down for demolishment.

It’s been quiet for a while with few events meeting the same level of excitement and action that combines emceeing, dancing, music producing, comedy and booty shaking all squeezed into one night (and into a model’s G-string!).

While the physical presence of The Jump Off events disappeared for a while it’s continued as an entity online, setting offices up in London and New York and producing original hip hop video content for thousands of subscribers on YouTube.

Jump Off is recognised as the event where many of today’s grime and hip hop scene including Labrinth, Professor Green and DJ Charlie Sloth emerged, and especially for dancers, where Plague, Boy Blue Entertainment and Diversity all threw down ahead of making it big on television and in film.

Team Beast Mode and the seasoned Prototype, a fusion of the original Kruel Intentions (KI Crew) with members of Plague and Smash Bro’z battled in the street dance battles.

After only ten minutes it was over with Prototype the undisputed winners taking all the judge’s votes and the cash prize home and stay on until they meet defeat or win five consecutive battles in a row.

Jonzi D is on the dance judging panel, with Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen of Flawless and Kenrick Sandy of Boy Blue, who sit with two other judges on rotation.

“The last Jump Offs were launch pads for a lot of people’s careers" said Jonzi. "I hope that the technical level remains high for 2012”

Is he worried about any tough calls? He explains: “No, I have a responsibility towards excellence not favouritism.”

As Jump Off continues its return it will be interesting to see whether the scene has changed. Now that so many of the events' alumni are signed, on the radio or in movies, what has will the next wave of new talent bring?

The money at stake is as big as ever, but how about the newer generations that has never been to a Jump Off? Time will tell.

Jump Off takes place at Fabric London every second and fourth Monday of the month.

For more hip hop events like Jump Off, see the Breakin' Convention Calendar

Post date: 03 January 2012

Welcome to 2012! We can hardly get our heads around the fact another year has gone by and we're preparing for our ninth Breakin' Convention festival!

While there's still five months to go until the festival and UK tour, there's plenty of events taking place to keep yourselves occupied and get in the mood with all things hip hop.

Resolution 2012

6 January – 17 February
The Place's annual festival of contemporary dance is to feature works of hip hop including work in it's seasonal line up, including performances by Scope Dance Theatre in Velocity (Nefeli Tsiouti - Open Art Surgery), Enigma Dance Company in The World In Which We Exist (Botis Seva - Back to the Lab) and Dirty Feet Dance Company in Out of Nowhere
View listings!

Jump Off returns to London!

Every second and fourth Monday of the month until August
London's notorious hip hop battles return to London after a long hiatus.
This event has been the battle ground for successful crews such as Flawless, Plague and Boy Blue Entertainment back before they were famous. While those groups have all gone on to find success, we expect Jump Off's revival will find the next big battling dance company.
Expect to see a familiar Breakin' Convention face on the judging panel...
View listing or read about the Jump Off!

Eastpak Throwdown

Every second Thursday of the month (ongoing)
As ever the monthly Throwdown battle events are always hype, and January’s features a special appearance from the b-boy magician Magical Bones who amazed us with Sleight of Dance last year, plus their popular 'track from the hat' and a popping battle featuring props - everything but the kitchen sink!
View listing!

Breakin’ Brass returns to Rich Mix London

20 January
London's b-boy battle night set to live funk music from Brassroots returns to Rich Mix organised by Attention to Detail who have been making waves with their battle events, taking them on tour around the UK and to Belgium. Eight invitees will battle 16 qualifiers in a mix of funk and freestyle that is always fresh, and an atmosphere that vibes to non-stop funk.
View listing!

Serious About Street Dance: The Battles

Every first Thursday of the month until March
In the run up to the main Serious About Street Dance 2012 (see March, below) Kymberlee Jay has been warming up for the event with a series of battle events to get everybody in the mood. The last SAS Battles in March will decide who competes for a £1,000 prize in the finals at Indigo2.
View listings!

Elektro Kif UK tour

10 February – 31 March
Hot off the streets of Paris, Elektro Kif is a mix of breaking, disco, vogue, popping and locking from choreographer Blanca Li. We don’t know a lot about her over in the UK, but we will soon – her resume includes the incredible Around the World video by Daft Punk.
View listings!

Juste Debout UK 2012

25 February
Following the success of the first ever Juste Debout UK last year the French standing styles hip hop dance competition returns to London in February to find poppers, lockers, house dancers, hip hoppers and experimental dancers that will represent the UK in the finals in Paris.
View listing!

Serious About Street Dance 2012

16 March
Plague, Boy Blue and Flawless headline! Kymberlee Jay knows how to throw a party and the annual celebration of UK street dance will display some of the UK's best dance companies with international guests Beat Riderz, So United and Ghetto Fabulous.
View listing!

Breakin' Convention 2012 UK tour!

5 May – 2 June
Who would we be if we didn't plug our own festival? Breakin' Convention 2012 is coming to your city in association with Dance Consortium this year and we've some surprises in store for you! So why is Breakin' Convention in a list of things to do before Breakin' Convention? Because ahead of the festival you should get involved with us online - on Twitter, on FourSquare, on Facebook and on YouTube!

We've even made it easier for you - subscribe to all our social networks using the buttons below!

And if you can't wait to find out the line up then subscribe to our mailing list!

Find out more about Breakin' Convention 2012 UK tour!

Post date: 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas from Breakin' Convention! With turkey remains to pick at, mountains of mince pies left over and cold Christmas pudding, there's nothing left to do now and put our feet up and relax.

As it's 26 December, Boxing Day, we thought we'd put a festive freestyle on the occasion and present you with 'Beatboxing Day' and a feature length video of Boxed: A Beatboxing Adventure, the beatboxing theatre production from Shlomo and The Vocal Orchestra, for your viewing pleasure.

The entire Boxed show is available to watch below for free, plus we have a short Q&A with Shlomo himself as a Boxing Day bonus.

Don't forget: Breakin' Convention Education offers beatboxing lessons - if you want to learn how to beatbox like Shlomo with our resident beatboxer, Marv-ill Superlungs, check out our Education section and get in touch!

Watch out for future runs of Boxed and other Shlomo shows at www.shlo.co.uk

Shlomo and the Vocal Orchestra - Boxed: A Beatboxing Adventure

What's the story/concept behind Boxed?
Boxed is beatbox theatre. It follows the story of Lonely Joe, a boy who can't speak. One day he meets a crazy beatboxer called Afro who takes him into the beatbox underworld where all the beatboxers hang out. They build this human time machine and go back to the 90s and sing an amazing medley of awful 90s tunes. It's basically a mad musical adventure and a big old excuse to have a load of fun onstage!

Who makes up the cast?
There's 9 of us in the cast (see credits, below), all beatboxers, vocalists and some incredible singers. I wanted to create beatboxing's answer to Stomp or Into the Hoods and this is what we created.

Simeon Qsyea from Birdgang was involved. How was he involved?
Simeon is our choreographer and movement director. It's been great to work with him - we aren't all dancers (especially me!) so we've had a lot of fun adding movement into the routines.

Boxed credits

Recorded live at Bristol Old Vic, November 2010
The Vocal Orchestra are:
Shlomo
Alyusha Chagrin
Claudia Georgette
Johannah Jolson
Grace Savage aka Gracious B
Andy Brooks aka Testament
Robin Bailey
Matthew Featherstone
Understudies: DJ Walde and Chewy

Credits
Written and directed by Shlomo
Sound – Speth Hughes
Lighting Design – Tom Richmond
Stage Manager – Surenee Chan Somchit
Assistant Creative Director – DJ Walde
Movement Director – Simeon Qsyea
AV Design – Chris McGill and Tim Baxter at Dusthouse
Costume Supervisor – Nadia Malik
Filmed and edited by Roswitha Chesher
Produced by Bristol Old Vic, Southbank Centre and Shlomo

Special thanks to
PRS Foundation, Tom Morris, Daffyd Launder, Emma Stenning, Jude Kelly, Simon Godwin, Irit Kahn

Post date: 21 December 2011

Flawless, the stars of StreetDance 3D, and of course, Breakin’ Convention over numerous years, are to collaborate with the English National Ballet in a new production and UK tour next year.

Comparisons to the storyline of StreetDance 3D have been pointed out already: Street dancers meet ballerinas; sparks collide; everyone gets on in the end, however, no further details about the production has been announced. All we know is all 10 of Flawless’ dancers will partner with 10 English National Ballet ballerinas ‘to celebrate all that is great about dance.’

It’s not the first time that street dance and ballet has happened though. Flawless and the English National Ballet first collaborated during the Peace One Day concert in September were first introduced to each other at the Buckingham Palace event, Young people and the performing Arts in May 2011.

The new show will be created by Flawless artistic director and lead choreographer Marlon “Swoosh” Wallen and Jenna Lee, soloist and choreographer at English National Ballet.

“Collaborations like this are vital for English National Ballet to keep the Company fresh and modern and for dancer development,” said Wayne Eagling, Artistic Director at the English National Ballet. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Jenna to showcase her skills which have been nurtured by the Company. I personally can’t wait to see the show unfold and to see a whole new audience introduced to the world of ballet.”

In 2011 Flawless completed an 110 date nationwide tour of Chase the Dream, which passed through Breakin’ Convention’s way at the Peacock Theatre before heading up to Edinburgh Festival by way of filming for StreetDance 2 3D to reappear as The Surge.

Flawless will star in StreetDance 2 3D in March 2012; Flawless and English National Ballet perform 2 June - 8 July 2011

Flawless and English National Ballet tour

HMV Apollo Hammersmith
1 - 2 June 2012
Nottingham Concert Hall
9 - 10 June
Oxford New Theatre
14 - 15 June 2012
Torquay Princess Theatre
16 - 17 June
Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre
21 - 22 June 2012
New Wimbledon Theatre
23 - 24 June 2012
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
28 - 29 June 2012
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
30 June - 1 July 2012
Manchester Palace Theatre
Friday 6 - 8 July

Meanwhile, determined to show their main strength isn’t just dancing, Flawless uploaded a music track to YouTube titled Hustle Hard (Refix), a take on Ace Hood’s song but with a dance twist. It doesn’t look like the song is available to buy, but it’s another string to their creative bow.

What do you think?

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