Review: Breakin' Convention 2017

Reviewed by Carole Edrich - Friday 5 May 2017

Carole Edrich reports on her experience of Breakin’ Convention 2017

Breakin’ Convention is an ambitious and diverse combination of top-flight performances, intriguing workshops, fun learning and sharing spaces.

My own overwhelming impression on the festival this year was mixed. I’ve attended this festival for years and the 2017 vibe was really different and difficult to interpret. Jonzi D’s pro-diversity message was both rhythmic and entertainingly on-point. The UK contingents I was able to see did themselves proud, the graffiti and rapping was both skilled and thought-provoking and the diversity of artists enthralling.

It’s the first time in 14 years I’ve noticed passers-by stop, look in and comment favourably, which has to be a good thing. However, the fact that I could differentiate passers-by from the crowds of people who have attended the festival in the past is a message in itself.

Maybe it’s a reflection of our current economy, maybe other events (such as Scanners’ outdoor hip hop jam, The Bridge) are diverting peoples’ attentions. Maybe the event is now seen more as evening performances with add-ons rather than an all-day festival or maybe on this, its 14th anniversary, it has become an accepted part of ‘the establishment’. Whatever the reason, there were no crowds to fight through to get where I wanted, which leaves me with a wistful sense of loss.

Here are some quotes from a few of the people I respect on the bits of the festival I couldn’t get to:

Nefeli Tsiouti; Dance battler, dance scientist performer and progenitor of Project Breakalign (Cyprus and London)

‘Breakin’ Convention has always been a ‘festive’ festival of people getting together, celebrating community, skills, new ideas and an opening of the spectrum of hip-hop. I’ve followed it for years, sometimes as an active participant and other times not. I really appreciate that, through the continuous inclusion of Breakalign, that Breakin’ Convention facilitates the discussion and demonstration of ways to improve and maintain health and wellbeing in this international gathering. I’d be intrigued to see some dance theatre pieces that celebrate the body from within, especially in relation to health and what goes on inside us.’

AJ Crazybeat Glasco; performer, creative artist and founder of CrayzeeBeat Dance (Maryland, USA)

‘I took the Breakalign workshop with Nefeli and the Experimental with Tentacle Tribe while at the convention. They helped me learn much more about my body in so many ways, both in terms of conditioning and in creativity. In terms of performances, I really enjoyed Boy Blue and my Tentacle Tribe family on both nights, but the entire convention was such a wonderful and inspiring experience and I am super excited to be back in Charlotte, NC to get to work on our new piece with this newly found inspiration and knowledge!’

DeNeer Sneaker Freak Davis; dancer, creator and graffiti artist (Charlotte NC, USA)

‘I was most drawn to the graffiti, but the workshop I enjoyed most was Spoken Word. The way we used our personal words and thoughts to create a variety of dance movements had a great structure and made me think and develop myself. It was also fun. In all the whole experience was phenomenal, and I enjoyed the intermission as much as the stage shows.’

Kloe Dean; dance battler, founder of MyselfUK and emerging choreographer (London)

‘My favourite part of Breakin’ Convention was Boy Blue. It was a strong and powerful piece with consistency, deep feeling and undeniably effective musicality. I also really enjoyed The Locksmiths. I think it was well put together and also great to watch a style that I feel isn’t represented as regularly as it could be. The Canadian group Tentacle Tribe were amazing. Their partner work and connection was really fluid and refreshing, and Si Rawlinson’s piece in the Lilian Baylis theatre used breaking in an intriguingly unique way to express political issues. Finally I loved the amazing hat tricks and footwork from the Soweto crew.’

Carole Edrich is a publisher, photographer and writer specialising in dance, extreme and adventure sports and travel. Find her on Twitter @C_E

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