Post date: 21 September 2011

Imagine a holiday resort for breakers in the middle of a small Dutch city where b-boys and b-girls turn up in scores. Or Breakin’ Convention taking over a quiet country village. The Notorious IBE took place in Heerlen, Netherlands, last weekend and is a pilgrimage of breaking culture for dancers and spectators alike.

BBoy Lilou at IBE 2011Now in its 11th sell out year and with ten different cyphers over three days, the Notorious IBE was a weekend of making choices between catching a battle from beginning to end, taking a masterclass with a superstar breaker or choosing to sit and listen to the many talk shows like The Story of Lilou (picture, right)

What looks like an average European high street in a former mining town in the Netherlands had its quiet atmosphere interrupted by the squeaking of sneakers upon cobblestone, enterprising hip hop clothing companies selling their wares in the town square market, and curious breakers getting ‘smoked’ in conspicuous looking coffee shops.

Breakin’ Convention's action is packed into the space of Sadler’s Wells Theatre; controlled chaos. At IBE, with cyphers spread across the town of Heerlen within five minutes of each other the action spilled out onto the streets with spontaneous throw downs popping up in car parks. Come midnight the town square was transformed into a massive public party as tourists mixed in with the locals enjoying their night out.

We even caught up briefly with Soul Lo who we met at Red Bull BC One Ireland and part of Floor B, who had brought over the winner of the Soul Sessions cypher in Belfast. She wasn’t the only BC One entrant around. El Nino, Kid Glyde, Morris, Ducky, if they had done a big competition then the world of b-boy was there to strike up a conversation on a plate. Heerlen was a breaking resort, and if you wanted to tell your b-boying idol how much you admire them over a Bavarian ale, you could.

Battle, battle, battle!

IBE plays host to some amazing high profile battles and international qualifiers. We B*Girlz, the annual battle only for female breakers curated by photographers Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer, was the first major battle on Friday night which will culminate at the next We B*Girlz festival in Berlin. The seven to smoke, Octogon, and let's not forget the kids battles, showcased the high standards and abilities dancers can reach when pushing themselves to the limit.

The UK B-Boy Championships European qualifier was also the last chance for lockers, poppers and crews to make the final line up for the finals at Brixton Academy in October. While they had already qualified in the nationals, Soul Mavericks still entered the crew battles and made the finals.

Storm at IBE 2011

Although the emphasis of IBE was on the battles, one showcase performance that stood out for everyone we spoke to was ILL-Abilities, an international crew of breakers with physical limitations to their bodies, uniting to show off the illest ability to represent as b-boys - could this be possible BC material...?

Meanwhile, Storm was awarded European Appreciation Award after the Rock Ya Soul Cypher Session (pictured, above right) for his contribution to b-boying culture, something a long time coming considering how he spread the word in Europe while the media focused on the US.

Overall, IBE was an experience. Be that through losing feeling in your legs from sitting and watching an entire qualifier, learning from a legend or coming home deaf from the booming break beats playing all weekend, everyone took something home with them.

IBE is me: IBE is BC.

IBE 2011 highlights

The seven to smoke on the opening night: The energy jumped to a whole new level, the breaking was energetic and aggressive and some incredible power was pulled off in a battle format that tests even the best b-boy’s stamina.

All Battles All battles: This really was the cream of the world’s best b-boying crop. In these battles no crews won, but the sheer might of some of the moves was incredible

The Octogon: Alien Ness’ infamous battle within a confined space saw many a b-boy get to big for their Puma suedes, and for the cypher. By the top 16 the judges only had to call a couple of rounds, the rest of the b-boys fell victim to the Octogon.

Longest b-boy move: Air flares are impressive power moves in themselves, but doing 59 in a row is taking a holiday.

IBE battle and qualifier results:
Seven2Smoke: Niek - Rugged Solutions (Netherlands)
We B*Girlz Battle: Rose and Pauline - Styles Confidential (Netherlands)
3on3 Generations Battle: Momemtum Crew (Portugal)

UK BBoy Championships qualifying crews:
Rugged Solutions - Netherlands
La Smala - France
Illusion of Exist - Russia

Post date: 18 September 2011

Bad Taste Cru of Omagh and Lithuania and based in Newcastle has been shortlisted for the Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest again – their second time since they made the final ten in 2009.

Their piece, Tribal Assembly, is competing against nine other shortlisted submissions from around the world to perform at Sadler’s Wells next January.

Bad Taste Cru are Breakin’ Convention regulars having performed at Breakin’ Convention in 2008 with Council of the Ordinary and has since reworked and expanded their performance into a full length piece.

Tribal Assembly is an extended version of our piece Council of the Ordinary which we’ve performed at Breakin’ Convention and travelled around the UK and America,” said Paul Martin, aka P, member of Bad Taste Cru. “[The piece had] been commissioned for a consortium Without Walls who wanted us to create a piece that we could perform at street art festivals up and down the UK, so we took four characters from Council of the Ordinary to help the story a bit more so we’ve expanded to a 45 minute piece from a 15 minute piece.”

Tribal Assembly, featuring characters representing a homeless person, a business man, a chav, and a rocker, has since performed at festivals from Brighton to Bristol and back home in Omagh, putting considerable artistic weight behind their nomination.

If Bad Taste Cru win the Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest they will receive a £2,000 cash prize and an expenses paid trip to London to perform in January 2012 at the annual Sadler’s Wells Sampled showcase.

“If we won it would be amazing. The last time we got shortlisted was when [other crew members] Robbie, Jelly and Rukus were working with another choreographer, Simon Williams, on IMREADYWHENUR. That piece did really well, so that nomination was really good for us,” said Paul. “But for this piece, because we’ve had such a hand in choreographing and we did the whole thing ourselves from start to finish, our idea has evolved so much and we really care about it.”

“The whole show has come from a strange source, I think with all the work we’ve put into it, we’ve travelled with it, we feel like we know the characters,” he reflects. “B-boying can again be taken to a different level.”

To vote for Tribal Assembly visit the Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest website and click 'vote' under Paul Martin.

The deadline for votes is 2 November 2011.

Post date: 14 September 2011

Theatre Royal Stratford East has produced a contemporary version of A Clockwork Orange to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Anthony Burgess’ controversial novel.

In this new adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, New York University graduate Ed DuRanté captures Burgess' unique use of the English slanguage with a contemporary score composed by Stratford East associate artist Fred Carl, bringing whole new meaning to this modern classic.

The stage adaptation retains the gratuitous violence and cursing of the Stanley Kubrick movie, replaced with an all-black cast, and importantly includes the final chapter, notoriously dropped from American versions of the book, where protagonist Alex, realises his wrongdoings.

Breakin' Convention artistic director Jonzi D and Katie P has overseen movement direction for the production, set to Fred Carl's jazz-infused soundtrack.

A Clockwork Orange is now showing at Theatre Royal Stratford East from now until 1 October

Tickets are £10-22 and available online or by calling 020 8534 0310

Post date: 22 August 2011

Breakin’ Convention artists Jonzi D and Nathan Geering are involved in Kathakbox, an innovative new stage production from one of the UK’s most exciting and dynamic dance companies at The Public, West Bromwich.

Sonia Sabri Company, recently nominated for a London Dance Award, has combined the Indian classical dance form Kathak with street dance, beatboxing, spoken word and tabla vox rhythms (a traditional Kathak drum) for its new production of Kathakbox.

Kathakbox will see individual stories told through rhythm, movement, poetry and Kathak rap, known as Kavitt, in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.

Breakin’ Convention heads will recognise Nathan Geering from his performance in The Last Dance in the Lilian Baylis Studio at Breakin’ Convention 2011.

He will be performing with internationally recognised tabla expert Sarvar Sabri, acclaimed spoken word artist and vocalist Marcina Arnold, and beatboxer Shan Bansil, with Jonzi D, artistic director at Breakin’ Convention in the role of artistic consultant, bringing a hip hop edge to the production and overseeing the renowned poet Zena Edwards as guest composer.

“Sonia Sabri Company is one of the most innovative dance companies in the UK so we are delighted that they will be performing at The Public,” said Linda Saunders, managing director of The Public. “Kathakbox has received exceptional reviews across the county so visitors can expect to be entertained with an inspirational and exciting performance.”

Kathakbox takes place at The Public on Friday 16 September at 7.45pm. Tickets are £10 and are available from www.thepublic.com or by calling 0121 533 7161.

Find Kathakbox in the Breakin' Convention calendar

Kathakbox UK tour is supported by Arts Council, England. Kathakbox is a co-production with mac and has also been commissioned by The Place, PRS Foundation, The Drum and Birmingham City Council. International residency is presented in partnership with ADACH, Abu Dhabi, and the British Council.

Post date: 09 August 2011

DanceXchange, in partnership with Dancefest, Dancescape and Dudley Performing Arts, has collaborated with Breakin’ Convention favourite Salah for a new online dance concept called Breathe the Beat.

Salah has recorded five video tutorials in his style of PABE (Popping, Animation, Boogaloo, Effect) being released every three weeks on the Breathe the Beat website.

Breakin’ Convention regulars need no introduction to Salah. Quite possibly the most entertaining individual to perform, tour, and reappear during the Breakin’ Convention tour, Salah has made a name for himself both as a world class popper, breaker and artist.

The Breathe the Beat project was launched last weekend as part of the Cultural Olympiad to mark the one year countdown to the London 2012 Olympics. On board with the project are Plague’s Brooke and Roxy who will be performing at Breathe the Beat Roadshows throughout the West Midlands from April 2012.

Once the first tutorial has been released, Breathe the Beat will be launching a competition allowing anyone to upload a video to the website. The winner will get the chance to perform at one of the roadshows, and will get the chance to meet Salah.

Designed to demonstrate how he take his inspiration from the world around him, Salah has been planning this project for a while. The project will provide Salah with an online presence while he tours the world in the latest Cirque de Soleil show.

Breathe the Beat is led by DanceXchange, in partnership with regional dance agencies Dancefest, Dancescape and Dudley Performing Arts, the Outdoor Dance Programme is a substantial new project for the West Midlands. It forms a major strand of the Dancing for the Games programme, connecting people with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games through dance.

Post date: 05 August 2011

One Man Walking, part of Channel 4's Street Summer season finally has a transmission date - Monday 15 August at 10:30pm.

Weeks in development in a partnership between Jonzi D of Breakin’ Convention, Mikey J and Kenrick Sandy of Boy Blue Entertainment, and under the acclaimed direction of Margaret Williams at MJW Productions, One Man Walking will be a dance film made for TV on a massive scale.

One Man Walking will be a powerful collision of Krump, hip hop and parkour set in the streets of London and features scores of London's best dancers from Boy Blue Entertainment, Animaineax, Myself, Spread Expression and Alias.

One Man Walking

"We're in London and this is one of the most expressive cities in the world. When you walk down the street everyone is different, everyone has a chance to be themselves,” said Kenrick Sandy. “One Man Walking is a chance to showcase what London is about. As much as it is sometimes hard to live in London, there is that revolution that pushes us through, expressing ourselves through movement and through dance, through music."

Throughout August Channel 4 takes to the streets to celebrate street dance, urban sport, street art and graffiti to rap/spoken word and hip hop, and featuring an all-star cast, Street Summer explores the influences that have shaped contemporary urban culture and showcases some of the most exciting British talent on the block.

Will you be tuning in? If you need a reminder, click attending on the One Man Walking event page on Facebook, and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #OneManWalking

One Man Walking slideshow

Post date: 03 August 2011

Avante Garde Dance co-founder and choreographer Tony Adigun has been selected to join the artistic collective at The Place in Euston with 10 other artists, selected to reflect the diversity of the UK independent dance scene.

Announced last month, The Place, the UK’s premier centre for contemporary dance in the heart of London, will guide and mentor the Work Place artists through creative processes to producing original pieces of work.

Recently Tony “Touch” Adigun has been killing it creatively with the location-based production of Taxi returning to tour the UK this summer, acclaim for the immersive production Illegal Dance and the annual Collabo at Stratford Circus.

Tony’s induction in to The Place on top of his company Avant Garde already being an associate company at East London Dance, will include tailored individual mentorship and guidance from The Place’s artist manager, coaching and vocational training.

"Work Place formalises the relationship that The Place has with some of the country’s most exciting choreographers,” said Eddie Nixon, director of theatre and artist development at The Place. “I hope that this programme will help them to achieve even more in the years to come.”

Considering critical acclaim for Tony already, and some cracking Breakin’ Convention sets under his belt - see Avant Garde Youth's performance, below - we look forward to results under the Work Place guidance.

The other Work Place artists are: Rosemary Butcher, Ben Duke, Simon Ellis, Rosemary Lee, Eva Recacha, Frauke Requardt, Luca Silvestrini, Moreno Solinas, Vera Tussing and Igor Urzelai.

Tony will debut his work as a Work Place artist this week at Touch Wood 2 this Friday, one of ten nights showcasing work in progress from their choreographers where they will perform in front of an intimate audience before asking the audience to discuss their thoughts.

Post date: 26 July 2011

Oxfam recently caught up with Jonzi D to promote its GROW campaign, a series of conversations with high profile personalities about tackling the injustices in ways we produce and consume food around the world.

Oxfam surveyed over 16,000 people across the world about their attitudes towards the food they eat, one of whom was Jonzi D when Tabu Flo was in town ahead of Breakin’ Convention 2011.

“I love the fact that my craft as an MC and Tabu Flo’s skills as dancers can be used to promote Oxfam’s objectives in relation to the distribution of food and general wealth around the world today,” said Jonzi D. “I hope that the little that I can contribute will make a difference.”

New research published in a report by Oxfam, Growing a Better Future, predicts that average international prices of key staple ingredients such as maize, rice and corn will increase by between 120 and 180 per cent by 2030 thanks to a growing world population, lack of investment in small scale agriculture and the impact of climate change.

Decades of steady progress in the fight against hunger is now being reversed as demand outpaces food production. Natural resources are being depleted, fertile land and water is being distributed unfairly, and the gathering pace of climate change is already making the situation worse.

"It's a scandal that in a world that produces enough food, 1 in 7 people currently goes hungry every day,” said Claire Lewis, global ambassador programme manager at Oxfam. “It doesn't have to be like this - the broken global food system must be fixed so that everyone, always, has enough to eat.”

Oxfam estimates the world’s poorest people spend up to 80 percent of their income on food and producing the food we eat.

“The urgency and scale of the problem is clear and we welcome the creative ingenuity of Jonzi D who we met through Tabu Flo, a dance group from Uganda,” she continued. “Jonzi D's inspired call to action was unprompted and unscripted - he's a great man and a brilliant rapper too!"

To find out more about Oxfam’s GROW campaign and to join the conversation about food, visit: http://www.oxfam.org/food-survey

Post date: 19 July 2011

Co-produced by Jay Z and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Broadway hit FELA! comes to Sadler’s Wells after sold-out performances at the National Theatre last winter.

The show tells the life of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose blend of jazz, funk and African rhythms ignited a generation and had a massive impact on hip hop artists from Mos Def to Macy Gray and Questlove of The Roots.

Celebrating Kuti's revolutionary life as a political maverick, it's easy to compare the parallels between him and the early, socially-aware messages of a Public Enemy or KRS-One record.

Breakin’ Convention may be Sadler’s Wells’ flagship hip hop event, but FELA! takes hip hop music back it to the origins from the man credited with establishing the Afrobeat sound.

Bursting with colour, infectious live music and energetic dance, FELA! has seen audiences up on their feet and dancing in the aisles wherever it has been performed – fans include John Legend, Alicia Keys and Sting.

If you want to see a great show that’s got the vibe of a concert and a dance party, then check out FELA! Think the Breakin’ Convention main show and after party in one.

FELA! runs from 20 July - 28 August at Sadler's Wells Tickets start at £15 and can be bought online or by calling 0844 412 4300

Post date: 15 July 2011

The iDance Hip Hop Championships organised by Hip Hop International take place in Las Vegas at the end of this month. With less than a fortnight to go, some dancers and crews are going to extreme yet innovative lengths to raise the funds needed to get their crews to the finals…

The groups from the UK that made it to the internationals, some of whom have performed at Breakin’ Convention in the past include G25, Lil Diamonds, Funk Force, Shockarellas, Ruff Diamonds, D*Fy, Plague, UMA and Myself.

Since the results for the iDance qualifiers were announced in June, groups had less than two months to raise money through showcasing, fundraising, and even busking in the streets in order to pay for their flights and accommodation. At around £1,500 per person for a return flight to Las Vegas plus hotel and food, getting to America requires a team effort from all the groups that entered, especially the larger ones.

Myself, who performed at Breakin’ Convention 2009, has done everything from busking at Trocadero near Piccadilly Circus to carrying tins with them to their classes, performances and workplaces.

They are the only all-female group from the UK in the championships and are proud of their accomplishment on an international level.

“Myself placed 3rd place and will represent the UK at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas,” said Olu Alatise, one of the dancers with Myself. “We worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this stage and we are striving for nothing less than to be the best. Why come this far to not want to reach the finish line?”

She continued: “It's about time women in hip hop get recognised for their strength and ability in dance.”

Besides an ability in dance, an ability to bake a good cupcake is to be expected as the girls will tempt supporters to part with cash for at their fundraiser, plus with their online fundraising campaign the crew will dance at your event if you meet a certain donation threshold.

Busking has no limits either when it comes to raising cash: Dancers from Shockarellas and G25 in Manchester have busked outside concerts in Manchester to raise money, being moved on by everyone from the council to the police. Both the groups qualified first place in junior and varsity categories.

Shockarellas are also the first group we’ve come across to use text message donations using Vodaphone's Just Text Giving service.

“Every weekend since we won it felt like we were on a conveyer belt,” said Sue of Studio 25 in Manchester where both Shockarellas and G25 train. “Some [dancers] would be busking, others bag packing and some doing events. We have had lot of support from our parents, fellow students and teachers when we could not cover all the places we needed to be at.”

Multiply the rough £1,500 fair to Las Vegas by seven dancers plus minders and you have an idea of the money the groups need to raise.

And what if you’re a solo artist?

Rowdy (Yami Lofvenberg) flew to Las Vegas last year after self funding herself and intends to go over again this year to compete in the popping category. If no one can fund the journey it may have to be the same story where a dancer has to dig deep into their pockets.

Yet despite the looming deadline it hasn’t put any of the crews off, determined to make it to Vegas. Coming up in the next ten days the Breakin’ Convention Calendar has dates for events under iDance Fundraisers.

All of the groups that qualified need the final push to send them on your way, so we've included details of upcoming last-minute fundraisers below.

Ways to sponsor qualifying groups:
Sponsor MySelf with Sponsume

Donate to Shockarellas and G25 by texting “JustTextGiving Shoc04 £5” to the number 70070, replacing the £ denomination with the value of your donation.

Upcoming iDance fundraiser events
Myself’s I’m Buff R U event

Myself Showcase

Shockarellas and G25 Footsteps to the World Hip Hop Championships event

Did we miss your fundraiser? Contact us here.

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