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

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:
Alyusha Chagrin
Claudia Georgette
Johannah Jolson
Grace Savage aka Gracious B
Andy Brooks aka Testament
Robin Bailey
Matthew Featherstone
Understudies: DJ Walde and Chewy

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?

Post date: 20 December 2011

2012 is around the corner and Breakin' Convention has had quite a year! In the 12 months leading up to 2012 Breakin’ Convention has been shifting as a company, taking on new staff while seeing old friends move on to greener pastures; adopting projects from the now de-funked Jonzi D Productions and pushing the boundaries of hip hop dance theatre with plenty of exciting new projects.

There’s plenty to round up from the year that was 2011, but here’s a selection of highlights:

It was goodbye from Breakin’ Convention’s Kate who left to project manage British Dance Edition 2012 and Claire who left for the Middle East.
Meanwhile the selection process was underway for Breakin’ Convention 2011, but the office was down by two people…

A male presence balances out the Breakin’ Convention office: Peter steps into Kate’s position as project manager fresh from East London Dance, while Dave ‘the Flave’ assumes the role of the newly created digital communications officer, overseeing the website, social networks and digital content.

Breakin’ Convention gets a brand new website! The dawn of a new era for online Breakin' news, it was out with the old green and black social network and in with the slick, clean and streamlined website we have now, making it easier to navigate our artists, calendar and video sections.

Future Elements, Breakin’ Convention’s half term project where kids ‘run tings’ took over Angel town centre for a music video shoot, to the surprise of onlookers, but the result, which made its debut at the Future Elements night, was completely worth it! Watch the video below:

It’s Breakin' Convention 2011 and our eighth year in business! While the nation’s eyes were glued to their TV screen for the royal wedding, the BC festival married flesh-eating Ugandan dancers, Ashigaru, the tutting robot that starred in Big City Brains’ hour-long Human Robot piece, and had an affair with some fringe projects in form of new performances for the Lilian Baylis Studio alongside the Freestyle Funk Forum.

With the festival behind us and summer in full effect, May was to be a month where BC took over the TV schedules as auditions for One Man Walking (see August, below) took place, while BBC4 was interviewing Jonzi for Dance the Most Incredible Thing! a programme dedicated to contemporary dance, while Channel 4 puts together its plans for Street Season.

Plus our acclaimed Breakin' Convention Pioneers week took place with five people that have lived the hip hop and social dances since their early days: Alien Ness, Trac 2, Popin' Pete, Suga Pop and Shannon Whichway Sha.  In the words of Jonzi D, for one week "hip hop was officially in the house!"

While Tabu Flo was in town in for the festival May, Oxfam took aside Jonzi to interview him for Oxfam Grow, which was released in July to highlight people’s attitude to food.

Regional Conflict saw Soul Mavericks take the national title… again! A predicable win? Maybe. But once again it secured Soul Mavs as the UK's top crew and qualified them to compete at the UK B-Boy Championships World Finals in October.

One Man Walking, the ambitious dance film made for Channel 4 by acclaimed dance film director Margaret Williams hits the nation's television screens, penned by Jonzi D, choreographed by Kenrick Sandy, and score composed by Mikey J Asante.
The work was something else, daring to drop dialogue in place of 17 minutes of thumping Mikey J beats, and it paid off with critical acclaim.

Assuming the popular education project from Jonzi D Productions, we introduce Breakin’ Convention Education, committed to raising the awareness of 'real' Hip Hop. Our line up of renowned artists specialise in dance, music, aerosol art to offer classes, educational packages, professional development opportunities and youth projects.

Elsewhere Jonzi D oversees a modern adaptation of A Clockwork Orange at Theatre Royal Stratford East with Katie P and internationally in Holland Breakin’ Convention is checking out The Notorious IBE and taking notes for next year’s festival.

In an unprecedented move Breakin’ Convention partners with Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Jasmin Vardimon, conceptual choreographer and pioneering ideas explorer for Back to the Lab, a unique project that took hip hop choreographers out of their comfort zone to create brand new pieces of work to present in December and potentially in Breakin’ Convention next year.

Open Art Surgery returned at the end of the month, a project where Jonzi spends a week with artists gifted in all hip hop elements to create a piece of work within a week.

Another acclaimed Jonzi D Productions project, Hip Hop Hospital, hit up Liverpool to bring hip hop to the children’s ward at Liverpool Alder Hey hospital.

Battle of the Year took place in France seeing Vagabonds take the title for the second time, but out of the battle Breakin’ Convention was collaborating with La Villette for WIP (Work In Progress) with Tony Adigun from Avant Garde Dance.

Back to the Lab: After two months absorbing the knowledge and approaches of Jasmin Vardimon in October, the artists Ashley Jack, Botis Seva, Ivan Blackstock, Simeon Qsyea and Toby G showcased new pieces of work. Expect to see some of these works in Breakin’ Convention 2012 and on the tour!

And since going back to the lab, it’s back to the start with next year’s festival - now we have to review the Breakin’ Convention 2012 submissions in order to programme next year’s tour. It’s going to be a hype tour – have you booked your tickets yet?

Post date: 14 December 2011

Cerebro is returning to the Bernie Grant Art Centre with an extended performance of their I Just Wanna Dance set from Breakin’ Convention 2011.

Cerebro, who dazzled the Breakin’ Convention audience with their slick, in sync moves, approach their original short performance as a full-length hip hop dance theatre piece which builds upon their debut show Cerebro and Friends, following the six dancers who describe themselves as 'ordinary guys living their every day lives,' all torn between what they want to do and what they have to do. From a modest eight minute piece their performance has grown into an hour and a quarter long extravaganza.

“The message of I Just Wanna Dance is ‘don’t give up in what you believe in’ - you need to work hard to get where you want to get,” says Leon Miller, co-director of Cerebro. “For example, Jamie is a teacher: his day job is to teach, but he just wants to dance, and has bills to pay. Until dancing can pay his bills he’s always going to be a teacher.”

To celebrate their new show the group has created a series of videos introducing each of their characters through random, real-life scenarios.

“What you see in the videos is each person portraying their every day life and breaking into dance, like a short snippet of what to expect with the production,” says Leon. The vignettes will also help the production along too: “There are a few videos throughout the show which also help break down the inspiration of “I just wanna dance!”

I Just Wanna Dance comes to Bernie Grant Arts Centre on 15 December until 17 December.

“This is an ideal show for Christmas because it’s got a positive message. The way things are today a positive outlook is needed in life," says Leon. "You’ll see the ups and downs we had to go through over the last year, doing Got to Dance, Breakin’ Convention and building ourselves back up.”

“Aside from the entertainment factor I think that everyone will be able to relate to it I one way or another. You might not want to do the jobs you want to do, but if you work hard at it, in the long run you can achieve what you set out to do.”

Cerebro: I Just Wanna Dance showtimes:
Monday 12 December 1.30pm
Wednesday 14 December 10am
Wednesday 14 December 7.30pm
Thursday 15 December 10am
Thursday 15 December 7.30pm
Friday 16 December 7.30pm
Saturday 17 December 2.30pm
Saturday 17 December 7.30pm

Looking to buy tickets to see Cerebro's show? Find out how on the Breakin' Convention calendar

Post date: 06 December 2011

South London based dance collective The Movement Factory are back for another year to kick off the Christmas holidays with their latest instalment of Keep It Moving, the dance event that showcases a range of some of London’s finest dancers.

This competition is now closed!

Keep It Moving is the only London show to bring together some of the UK’s most popular dance groups under one roof to truly celebrate the diversity of dance as a whole art form. Alongside a collection of street dancers, breakers, poppers, lockers, expect to see classical ballet and contemporary inspired pieces too.

Performers include Unity Youth and Abyss who are fast becoming household names after appearances on popular television series Britain’s Got Talent and Sky 1’s Got To Dance, plus X Factor finalist Duane Lamonte will be popping in to perform his new single with more special guest performers to be announced.

To win a pair of tickets for Keep It Moving just answer this question: Who is the host for Keep It Moving?

Email your answer and telephone number (so we can contact the winner) to by 6pm Monday 12 December

Can't wait to see the show? Find out how to by tickets for Keep It Moving in our calendar section.

We will add you to the Breakin' Convention email list, from which you can unsubscribe from at any time. Breakin' Convention will not pass on your personal details and will only use your phone number to contact the winners. Breakin' Convention operates and is registered in accordance with current data protection legislation, as per our terms of use.

Post date: 28 November 2011

Breakin’ Convention is delighted to be premiering five new works from five of the UK’s most exciting Hip Hop dance theatre choreographers. Open Art Surgery goes Back To The Lab presents work from Ashley Jack, Botis Seva, Ivan Blackstock, Simeon Qsyea and Toby G on Saturday 10 December 2011.

Under the mentorship of internationally renowned contemporary choreographer Jasmin Vardimon as well as Breakin’ Convention’s Artistic Director Jonzi D, the inaugural Back To The Lab course puts participants through their paces and dares them to try something different, whilst staying true to their Hip Hop roots.

Jasmin’s theatrical and physical approach to her work definitely lends itself to Hip Hop. With her reputation as one of the leading names in contemporary dance she brings a vast amount of knowledge and expertise to the course.

Jonzi’s roots in both dance and spoken word, as well as his ability to intelligently tackle social and political issues, provides another layer of experience that participants can learn and draw from.

Culminating at the Open Art Surgery performance, Jonzi invites you, the audience, to ask the choreographers questions and give feedback directly to them. Conversation then spills out into the bar as the audience, choreographers and performers converge with DJ Billy Biznizz of The En4cers spinning soulful classics.

Meet the five choreographers who will present work and have been going Back To The Lab:

Hailing from Edinburgh, Ashley Jack is regarded as one of the leading Hip Hop dance practitioners in Scotland. Her company Jackin’ The Box regularly wins competitions North of the border and work closely with Dance Base, The National Centre of Dance for Scotland. Known for their sense of humour and high energy shows, Ashley is seeking to challenge her company to go in a different direction for Back To The Lab.

Aged just 20, Botis Seva from Dagenham displays an incredible maturity in his work. Distancing himself from the explosion of ‘street dance’ his approach is abstract, dark and experimental. His companies Far From The Norm and Enigma have been making waves and winning fans in the dance scene over the last year. Expect the unexpected from one of the new breed in young Hip Hop choreographers.

Ivan Blackstock of BirdGang is well respected within Hip Hop dance theatre, the commercial world as well as the battle circuit. His intelligent and analytical approach leads to impressive results. Ivan will be working with a range of specialists in various Hip Hop styles. Keen to absorb as much knowledge from both Jonzi and Jasmin, Ivan will definitely be serving up something worth the wait.

As one of BirdGang’s co-founders Simeon Qsyea’s reputation speaks for itself. With an impressive record of choreographic credits he is perhaps most passionate about Hip Hop dance theatre. Simeon plans to work with poetry/spoken word and with Jonzi D’s experience in this medium you can expect to see a show with something to say.  

Toby G has been responsible for developing the Hip Hop dance scene in Plymouth and the South West. His company Street Factory has their own studios and work extensively with the community. At Back To The Lab he will use breaking, popping and locking and hopes to challenge himself and his dancers to create something different.

Open Art Surgery goes Back To The Lab is on Saturday 10 December, 7.45pm at Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN,

Tickets are now on sale priced £5 (plus booking fee).  For booking details see our events page.