Breakin’ Convention’s two-day festival of international hip-hop dance theatre pulls in Sadler’s Wells’s youngest and most diverse audience who, true to the its spirit, move around constantly, record everything on smartphones and, encouraged by genial host Jonzi D, give it some noise.
“Hip-hop dance theatre” can be a tricky combination. On opening night, Gianna Gi and Gator produced convincing puppet-like portraits – hers a creepy Sleeping Beauty awakening into a disjointed doll, his a broken-limbed music-box marionette, hanging from imaginary wires. Less successful were Unity’s interesting but underdeveloped experiment with composition and a number of pieces that simply pegged style to scenario: Flockey’s locking alcoholic, recovering through music; Antoinette Gomis’s schematic discovery of her inner black beauty; Jade and Shango, lindy-hopping in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King. Works that mobilised style for theatrical effect fared much better: The Company’s tautly choreographed quartet of rolls, throws and dives; the virtuosic visual drama of Iron Skulls Co, who invaded the stage with searchlights to turn it into a no-man’s-land of snipers and fugitives.
Sometimes, all you need is style.
Sometimes, though, all you need is style. GOP Dancerspretty much just bounded around a handbag, but with such booty-shaking, hair-tossing and drop-kicking verve you felt you’d been living it up all night. The Ruggeds, meanwhile, threw out breathtaking stunts and tricks at breakneck speed and in tight formation; it was quite a rush.
The evening closed with three twin sets. The Legendary Twins (Keith and Kevin Smith) spoke about dancing as B-boys back in 1972 (“first generation!” said an awestruck Jonzi D). The mirror routine by Twin Peak (Jay and Jerry Howell) was scuppered by one of them losing a shoe. Still, they couldn’t match the fluidity and panache of Les Twins (Larry and Laurent Bourgeois), who raised the game on some of hip-hop’s inherent features – synchronicity, one-upmanship, solo spots – by topping them with twin-hood. Unbeatable.