Instead, we had a 75-minute show (no interval) with the participation of only three live acts, all British, and two films, each shown while the stage was fully cleaned and disinfected between live acts.
Full marks for perseverance in the face of all odds; to quote Jonzi D again: ‘we have the agency to respond amazingly’.
The overwhelming themes of the strange year we’re living through – the Covid pandemic, social isolation and consequent mental health problems, and the globalisation of the Black Lives Matter movement – have inevitably seeped into the work presented by Breakin’ Convention – Social DisDancing.
First on stage was the all-female collective of poppers AIM with Suspended. The five young women, all excellent dancers, riffed on the theme of waking up to a world changed beyond all recognition, their jerky, robotic movements conveying the unsettling menace of the unknown; but ending on a positive note, their dark tops replaced by bright pea-green T-shirts in a final section imbued with the joy of overcoming.
The first film was next. Created by hip-hop choreographer Botis Seva and his Far From the Norm company, in collaboration with film-maker Ben Williams and composer Torben Lars Sylvest, Can't Kill Us All was filmed entirely in lockdown, and follows one Black man as he contends with the growing pressures of lockdown and racism.
It’s a simultaneously harrowing and beautiful eight-minute work, still available on BBC iPlayer until mid-January.
The O’Driscoll collective then took to the stage with One%, described by Jonzi D as ‘breakdancing as catharsis’. It was a work for two young men, but really exploring the duality inside one person, as he attempts to deal with mental pressures. On a darkly lit stage, breaking denoted fear, discord and panic, before, balance restored, the two men came together as one.
The second film of the evening was Our Bodies Back, a powerful anthem to indomitable Black womanhood. The voice of poet and performance artist jessica Care more echoed defiantly as Jonzi D’s film intercut images of three dancers: Axelle ‘Ebony’ Munezero in Montreal, Bolegue Manuela (b-girl Manuela) in Hanover and Nafisah Baba in London.
Filmed entirely in lockdown, this is an intense, haunting work, which more than earned its place at Breakin’ Convention – Social DisDancing.
Convention veterans Boy Blue brought the show to a suitably energetic and vibrant ending, even though only seven of its numerous crew were present.
In short, it was Breakin’ Convention as the art of the possible, and very enjoyable it was, too.
|What||Review: Breakin' Convention – Social DisDancing|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
11 Dec 20 – 12 Dec 20, 19:30 Sat Mat 14:30 Dur.: 1 hour 10 mins no interval
|Price||£15-£40 (+ booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|