Breakin' Convention: local hip hop crews hold their own on the world stage

Breakin' Convention

Urban Moves Dance Co

Scotland's hip-hop scene shows itself to be thriving and versatile in Breakin' Convention's celebration of local companies

Breakin' Convention founder and artistic director, Jonzi D sums it up when he says that this weekend of hip hop is about 'the best work from around the world, and around the corner.' Over the course of two nights, companies from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, spanning age ranges, shared the stage with internationally renowned crews from South Africa, Canada and South Korea.

Jonzi D and Tony Thrills are gold-hearted hosts who make the Festival Theatre feel both raucous and cosy – each evening defies you not to leave on a high after soaking up the energy, attitude, teamwork and style on stage. It's also a window into the versatility of hip hop dance in exploring different themes, and it's fascinating to see how different Scottish companies are using and fusing it.

There are the traditional crews giving us crowd-pleasing formations and blasts of showy solos – YoungBlud Crew, a five-strong team of stylish movers led by choreographer Rudy Mbunzama, and Dundee's B-Bairns, a crew made up of children and parents, whose aim is to boost self-esteem and family bonding. In both groups, the flair is fabulous and they know how to play to their strengths and show an audience a grand time.

Then there are companies using hip hop to create narrative or emotional experiences. Ashley Jack's MiniJackers Youth Company has developed a fizzing, flickering piece about the overuse of technology, that buzzes with an unnerving spark.

Glasgow collective The Dimestop specialises in popping – the silky, isolated shots of energy up and down the body that create uncanny or robotic movements. Their conjuring of a smoky narcotic dream doesn't quite get to the heart of the drug-abuse issues they aim to address but is hypnotising and skilful.

AKO, also from Glasgow, led by the outstanding Divine Tasinda, present Monkey De Work, Baboon De Chop, a work about slavery in its explicit and insidious forms, using harrowing, jerking shapes, bodies invading another's space, and movements that overcome the body with their strength and force.

Scottish hip-hop veteran ShelltoeMel and visual artist Pearl Kinnear have collaborated with band Hector Bizerk to create a soulful piece about suffering, while Clydebank-based BKS Academy explores anxiety and isolation with an ensemble work that fractures one solo dancer away into her own turbulent world.

In the latter piece, and in Dundonian Urban Move's fantastically fierce Empowering Femme, what comes across is the eloquence with which the young dancers transmit their feelings – be they of angst or joy. It's a dance language that clearly resonates with them and with which in turn they have found a powerful voice.

Seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Breakin' Convention

  • Written by: Jonzi D

An annual festival of hip hop, urban and breakdancing, presenting acts from both the UK and abroad, plus dance workshops, graffiti, film screenings and more.

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