In Review

Breakin’ Convention – reviews of hip hop dance festival

Exhilarating, disciplined urban dance festival has critics shouting ‘Hip Hop Hooray!’

Hip hop dance festival Breakin’ Convention

What you need to knowHip hop dance festival Breakin’ Convention has opened its 2014 season at Sadler’s Wells, London before embarking on a UK tour. Curated by artistic director Jonzi D the event presents UK and international hip hop dance artists.

The event features live performances from hip hop acts including British actor/dancer Ukweli Roach’s study of addiction, Vice, ‘disabled’ international troupe Ill-Abilities, and French group Wanted Posse. The UK tour will also feature local dance groups from each city. Tour dates across the UK until 7 June. 

What the critics likeThis indoor hip-hop block party is “so disciplined, so exhilarating it could stand comparison to any classical corps de ballet”, says dance critic Judith Mackrell in The Guardian. This is a work of leaping energy and ferociously drilled formations.

The festival provides “a snapshot of young people’s engagement, identity and aspiration”, says Clement Crisp in the Financial Times. In the grand dance tradition, it presents performers with not a foot or a head or a shoulder out of place - Hip Hop Hurray!

“This is anything but a strictly testosterone-fuelled festival,” says Donald Hutera in The Times. The creative female is being heard, but it’s even more gratifying to see how much psychological depth and emotional maturity today’s artists are finding in hip-hop’s multifarious movement vocabularies. 

What they don’t like“For all the performers' prowess, what sometimes seems to be missing is the urban context itself,” says The Guardian’s architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright. For a dance form that is so closely tied to the street, it can be strange to see it insulated from the city by the black-box of a contemporary dance studio.

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