And most of it is due to the untiring work and dedication of one man: MC, dancer, spoken-word artist and, of course, veteran Breakin’ Convention director, Jonzi D, who’s done more than most to develop British hip-hop into the mainstream attraction it is now.
It was only fitting, therefore, that in this, Breakin’ Convention’s 20th anniversary year, Jonzi D should have been honoured with a special dedication.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. So, from the beginning: walking up Rosebery Avenue towards Sadler’s Wells in the bright sunshine of an April Saturday afternoon one could already sense the buzz emanating from the building.
Inside, front of house was out-and-out Breakin’ Convention. Assiduous stewards in bright yellow T-shirts directed the crowds; merchandise was on sale. Bearing in mind people might wish to spend their entire afternoon and evening on the premises, the bar had enhanced, deliciously aromatic catering.
On the mezzanine human beatboxer Beatfox was doing his prodigious thing to an admiring crowd.
One floor up, the bar area of the First Circle had been turned into an improvised atelier, where punters young and old, colourful crayons in hand, were being taught tagging by seasoned graffiti artists, such as Shine and Quest, and Merc.
Both Sadler’s Wells theatres had their own full programming, and although timings had been staggered to suit those wanting to see absolutely everything, you got the sense that sampling according to taste was a better option.
The main house, front stalls removed to create a promenade area, had two separate shows featuring a number of UK and international acts; in the long interval you could run across to the Lilian Baylis Studio for performances by African hip-hoppers.
The first session in the main theatre featured six acts, starting with Youth Dance Company, a group of talented young east London apprentices, and ending with the Ghetto Funk Collective, a deliriously enjoyable crew with the look of 1970s New York street, whose saxophone-heavy music and humorous, infectious dance style paid homage to the funk era.
In between the irrepressible b-boys of the South Korean crew MOVER performed breathtaking feats of floor spinning; Gully South Block, a South London Krump collective, brought some of the original street menace to a stage bathed in red light; 2019 BBC Young Dancer winner Max Revell presented a Chaplin-esque number that, intriguing and skilled as it was, didn't quite fit in the general atmosphere, and Dutch artist Justin De Jager showed how threading works with an intricate piece for three UK performers.
Halfway through, an emotional Jonzi D was presented with a special plaque by hip-hop pioneers the Legendary Twins, who came from New York specially. The dedication mentioned his ‘contribution to hip-hop and passing the torch to the next generation’ alongside his ‘commitment to community.’
Breakin’ Convention will embark on a nationwide tour from Wednesday 17 May to Wednesday 14 June. As well, a later addition to the festival’s expanding programme will be The Ruggeds – State Shift at Sadler's Wells on Friday 26 & Saturday 27 May.
|What||Sadler's Wells Breakin' Convention review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
29 Apr 23 – 30 Apr 23, 18:00 Dur.: TBC Day time events in foyer
|Price||£15-£40 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|