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.

Post date: 12 July 2011

Soul Mavericks are three time national b-boy champions as of Saturday when they won the Regional Conflict qualifiers for the UK B-Boy Championships.

It means they’ll go on to battle against the world’s best b-boy crews and at the UK B-Boy Championships 2011 at the Brixton Academy in October in an attempt to topple current champions Vagabonds from France.

Regional Conflict took place at O2 Islington Academy, London, with qualifiers in popping, crew and solo b-boy battles – the same place the Breakin' Convention after party took place.

It was Soul Mavericks who took the crew title, while Dizzy took solo b-boy and Mechanikool P took popping.

“I’m feeling really good man, overwhelmed after winning for the third time,” said Mid Air of Soul Mavericks reacting to the Mavericks’ victory. “The anxiety was on us but we did it again, so I’m so happy!”

Regional Conflict 2011 marks the third time in a row Soul Mavericks has qualified for the world championships, competing again head to head with last years national finalists La Familia in the finals.

“It was great to see Mavericks win man. I do honestly think there was a massive difference between Mavericks and others this year. A massive difference,” said DJ Renegade, who trains and mentors the group. “Some of the other crews are good: Bad Taste Cru are good; Trinity Warriors are good; La Familia are good. But I think Mavericks edged ahead a little more.”

So what’s next for the Soul Mavericks?

“Time to get ready for the world finals,” said Renegade. “The UK regionals is a step that you have to do, but our main focus is on the world final. I think we’ve proved that we’ve got that level now for international competitions. I think we’ve proved that for a while now.”

This year's competing b-boys and b-girls are no strangers to Breakin' Convention either.

Last year Spin emerged as national champion. Pipped to first place by Dizzy, Spin still qualifies for the UK B-Boy Championships in October, and he’s the face of Breakin’ Convention 2011 merchandise.

People may recognise Sunni, right, member of the Soul Mavericks, performed at Breakin' Convention 2011 with Breakin' Nest.

Bad Taste Cru, who performed Council of the Ordinary at Breakin' Convention 2010, a piece that they later developed and toured the UK, graduated to the semi finals where Soul Mavericks defeated them.

And Roxy of Soul Mavericks, who watched proceedings from the wings of the stage was one of the iconic Breakin' Convention cutouts on our 2010 programme.

Breakin' Convention would also like to give props to the dancers from Plague and Flawless who despite their success still took time to enter a national competition.

Regional Conflict 2011 results

Crew champions
Soul Mavericks

Runners up
La Familia

Solo b-boy champion

Runner up

Solo popping champion
Mechanikool P

Runner up

Post date: 11 July 2011

Live Vibe, the original dance showcase concept created by Hakeem Onibudo, is to travel to the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford on 16 July 2011. The event, Live Vibe East, will form part of the Redbridge Dance Festival and is the first occasion that Live Vibe has been held in a UK venue outside its Sadler’s Wells residency since it moved there in 2007.

Live Vibe offers a rare opportunity for young artistes from the worlds of dance, music, spoken word and beyond, to present work in a professional environment. Live Vibe East’s line up will include performances from a selection of UK dance talent including the recent Sky 1 Got to Dance finalist Turbo, as well as the renowned heavyweights of East London, Boy Blue Entertainment.

Joining them will be C-12 Dance Theatre, D7 World Entertainment, Daniel Lambaya and Chi-Lin Nim, Enigma Dance and Impact Dance’s very own flagship company, Fully Functioning Individuals. Along side these professional and semi-professional acts two local school groups will perform: ElectricK, winners of the Mayfield inter school dance competition and Fresh Beatz.

Hakeem Onibudo, curator of Live Vibe and founder of Impact Dance commented, "Having run for 15 years in London, it’s really exciting to bring Live Vibe to the East of England. We can’t wait to introduce the concept to a new audience and see what kind of talent we can unearth in the East – bring it on!"

Bonita Cattle, arts development officer at the London Borough of Redbridge said, "We are delighted to include Live Vibe East in the Redbridge Dance Festival. This show will bring a whole new dimension to the Festival by introducing and exploring new styles of dance that enable The Kenneth More Theatre to reach out to new audiences."

In his inimitable style, Hakeem and his regular co-host Annaliese Dayes will also introduce a number of interactive concepts which break down the “fourth wall” between performers and spectators, encouraging audience participation.

Find out what else is happening in hip hop dance theatre - check out the Breakin' Convention calendar.

Post date: 06 July 2011

Breakin’ Convention regulars Plague have been nominated for a London Award for Art and Performance following their performance at Breakin’ Convention 2011.

The London Festival Fringe, organisers of the ceremony, longlisted Plague after reading a review of their Breakin’ Convention 2011 set, Fire of London, in the Guardian.

“I’m glad that people are acknowledging what we do,” said Brooke Milliner, choreographer of Plague. “There aren’t that many hip hop acts that have been nominated within that category. It feels good.”

Commenting on Breakin’ Convention’s role to play in Plague’s nomination, he continued: “For me Breakin’ Convention is one of, if not the best UK dance show with lots of international acts that inspire us to dance. So to get a critical review from there (the Guardian) to stand out above other people is quite a big thing for us.”

The London Awards for Art and Performance are the city's most expansive awards recognising passion and excellence in artists and performers across many art forms, from photography to poetry. The short list for each category is compiled from critical reviews in the press.

He continued: “Normally if we want to win something or get noticed we have to go out and do the work. People recognising our work that we’ve done before is a new thing.”

Flawless, who have also appeared at Breakin’ Convention in the past, have been nominated in the same category for their Chase the Dream tour which concluded at the Peacock Theatre last month.

Votes for the London Festival Fringe Award shortlist are cast with the highest number of Facebook ‘Like’ clicks next to the reviews throughout July. Judges in each category will then help decide the winner from the shortlist.

Breakin’ Convention wishes the best of luck to both of our past performing groups in the awards.

Update: Flawless and Plague has made the shortlist next to Balletboyz.

The three acts will be judged by dance critics Clement Crisp, Louise Levene,Judith Mackrell and choreographer Maddy Wynne-Jones

Post date: 29 June 2011

Breakin’ Convention is proud to announce that it will be coming to your television sets for a summer of hip hop.

The action kicks off this week starting with award winning conductor Charles Hazlewood investigating modern dance in Dance! The Most Incredible Thing about Contemporary Dance on BBC 4.

Breakin’ Convention curator and host Jonzi D features as one of the interviewees talking about the emergence of hip hop dance with footage of Hilty and Bosch, Radical, Electric Boogaloos and Myo Sung.

Dance! The Most Incredible Thing about Contemporary Dance on BBC 4 at 8pm on Thursday 30 June.

One Man Walking on Channel 4

Recently Breakin’ Convention auditioned for a dance film, which is now in development. One Man Walking, a dance film short directed by Margaret Williams, will be aired on Channel 4 as part of its Street Season throughout August.

Scripted by Jonzi D with choreography by Kenrick Sandy and a soundtrack by Mikey J from Boy Blue Entertainment, One Man Walking is a dance film made for TV on a massive scale, produced by MJW Productions.

Also expect Jonzi's input on How Hip Hop Changed the World with Idris Elba, star of TV's Luther.

The broadcast dates for both Channel 4' Street Season shows has yet to be announced.

Meanwhile Breakin’ Convention Edinburgh crew Heavy Smokers are appearing on TV across Scotland on BBC Alba (you’ll need an understanding of Gaelic or subtitles enabled and a Scottish Freeview box or catch it on iPlayer).

Presenters Anne Morrison and Kevin Walker are hosting Dannsa (Scotland is Dancing), a series following around six dance groups in Scotland, from ballet to breaking.

Dannsa (Scotland is Dancing) is on BBC Alba every Monday until 18 July.

Finally, from 22 August Kenrick Sandy, Turbo and Lizzie Gough will be judging young street dance crews on Alesha's Street Dance Stars on the CBBC.

The show will feature 24 street dance crews aged between 10 and 16 that have been selected to perform in the first round of qualifiers after auditions took place across the UK.

Did we miss anyone? Have you performed at Breakin' Convention in the past and appearing on TV this summer? Let us know by leaving a comment below or posting on our Facebook wall.

Post date: 28 June 2011

Coming to Rotherham in August is an opportunity for hip hop heads to represent on stage in a performance competition where the audience will play the role of the fifth judge – and they’re looking for entrants. Think Breakin’ Convention with Ask the Audience from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

“The Hip Hop Experiment is a platform for young and aspiring artists who will be performing alongside several special guest commissions,” explains organiser, Ryan ‘Logistic’ Harston. “Plus the competition element of it is to win and be in that number one spot.”

Now in its second year, Hip Hop Experiment aims to celebrate hip hop theatre by showcasing individual artists and companies outside of London. Following the success of its debut last year, the show is returning for more.

“The feedback and response from the artists was amazing – it’d be crazy not to do it again,” Ryan continued.

Four judges will decide the winners based on specific criteria: originality, technique and skill, use of stage, performance and imagination – but the audience has the ability to swing the vote, influencing in the outcome of the results using electronic voting machines.

“We want to keep it in the theatre but also bring some electricity and get the audience involved and break the fourth wall, to be a part of it,” said Ryan. “They’re paying to be there and watch some amazing acts – there’s no reason why they can’t be in on it.”

Eight companies will be commissioned to perform against special guest performers. All elements of hip hop are being accepted, from dancing to beatboxing, spoken word, rapping or even film. Anyone who can tell a story through the means of theatre will be considered.

Performers can enter Hip Hop Experiment via Deadline for entries is Monday 1 August.

The Hip Hop Experiment takes place on Sunday 14th August 2011. See the Breakin' Convention events calendar for tickets, times and prices.

Post date: 17 June 2011

Sadler's Wells Theatre, the world's leading venue for international dance and where the Breakin’ Convention festival is held, is searching for new talent to perform on stage in front of a live audience.

The winners 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.

To enter all you need to do is choreograph, perform and film an original piece of dance and enter it on the Global Dance Contest 2011 website. You can dance on your own, perform a duet, or be group, it’s up to you.

Any kind of dance style can enter, although shortlisted entries representing hip hop in the past have included Bad Taste Cru and Goodfoot, who both progressed to have their pieces performed at Breakin’ Convention 2010.

The winner of the contest will be invited to perform live at Sadler's Wells in January 2012 at Sadler's Wells Sampled, our yearly showcase of the best in dance from around the world.

Hip hop dancers that have performed at Sadler's Wells Sampled over the years have included Franck II Louise, ZooNation and Salah.

For full details see the Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest website.

Voting will begin on 26 July 2011

Post date: 06 June 2011

From Faith Drama Productions and Spread Expression comes a new hip hop theatre production, Voices in the Alleyway.

Choreographed by Cindy Claes, who readers may remember from the acclaimed Freestyle Funk Forum at Breakin’ Convention 2011, Voices in the Alleyway follows three friends haunted by a dark and foreboding past.

“The story focuses on the idea of finding our purpose of what we do, or what we want to do with our lives,” said Cindy. “We live in an era where a lot of people question their lifestyle, and the purpose [of Voices in the Alleyway] is unlocking that uniqueness that we have inside us.”

Describing herself as a ‘dance backpacker,’ for her interest in finding out about the roots, culture and history behind all forms of vernacular dance, Cindy has been travelling the world bringing this production together.

An invitation for Cindy’s group, Spread Expression (who performed at Breakin’ Convention 2010) to the San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Festival in 2008 on an exchange programme led her to meet and train with Christopher ‘Worm’ Lewis of LA’s krumping Demolition Crew.

It was with perseverance and fundraising that Cindy was able to bring Worm over as part of their Spread Expression and Faith Drama Productions’ first feature length piece, which also boasts the talents of Breakin’ Convention alumni such as Sannchia Gaston as TJ (Radical) and Kendra J Horsburgh as an Apparition (BirdGang), plus Namibian born Tuli Melila as Beyanda, with Daniel Limbaya (D-Youngaz), and Rod Pandinuela (Faith Drama) as Apparitions.

“Before I choreographed 20 minute pieces, but the scale of the production is different to what I’ve done before because I’ve been collaborating with Faith Drama Productions, a not-for-profit arts based organisation in Newham, with whom we’ve been working for three years.”

Breakin’ Convention saw a teaser of the piece at Collabo 2011 at Stratford Circus in April, which was enough to spark an interest in Faith Drama and Spread Expression’s approach to hip hop theatre.

Voices in the Alleyway will take place at the Cochrane Theatre, London from 8 – 12 June.

Post date: 31 May 2011

Breakin' Convention is proud to announce that its Pioneers course is back again, offering the very best of dancers from back in the day teaching masterclasses of the original hip hop dance styles, right here at Sadler's Wells.

Now in its fifth year we're pleased to have Suga Pop, Popin' Pete, Alien Ness, Trac 2 and Shannon Whichway Sha over to teach classes in breaking, locking, popping and house.  

Book online now - or call 0844 412 4300

Breakin Convention has been listening to what people have to say about the Pioneers course. We've noticed that there are a few common misconceptions about the course, so we came up with the top myths we'd like to break down...

Do I have to audition?
No. This year anyone is free to take a Pioneers masterclass so long as they have some professional experience.
In previous years the Pioneers week required an audition process - this is no longer the case.

Do I have to book the entire week?
No. Pioneers is now a pay as you go format, with 20% off if you choose to book four or more classes online (or by calling 0844 412 4300). This is a more flexible option for people wanting to pick and choose which styles they wish to excel in. You can also see the Pioneers timetable here.

I'm already a hip hip dance teacher. What more do I need to know?
The concept of the Pioneers course isn't to teach dance practitioners how to dance if they already can, but to enable them to learn from the pioneers the original true styles of hip hop dancing through our course leaders teaching the history of the dances which can be passed on through your students.

Do I have to pay for open sessions?
No. If you do a class on any day you can do the open sessions on that day for free. So if you take a popping class in the morning you can practice in open sessions for the rest of the day.
You only pay for open sessions if you haven't taken a class on that day, which cost £2 each.

What makes Pioneers week so different?
We'll allow Popin' Pete to explain...

Where can I stay?
Understandably some people travel a long way to get to Pioneers Week and might need accomodation. There are a number of hostels and hotels situated near Sadler's Wells Theatre offering reasonable prices for accomodation:
Rosebery Avenue Hall, 90 Rosebery Avenue (2 minute walk)
Clink Hostel, 78 King's Cross Road (10 minute walk)
City YMCA, 2 Fann Street, City of London (19 minute walk)