REVIEW: BREAKIN’ CONVENTION Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Breakin' Convention

Breakin' Convention

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Hip hop has never been my thing. For starters I don’t own a baseball cap or wear white trainers, which seems to be compulsory in the hip hop world.

I might nip out and buy a cap though, for I have to confess I enjoyed virtually every moment of Breakin’ Convention.

Billed as ‘an international festival off hip hop dance theatre’, and staged at The Grand (a venue never afraid to take risks, something for which it deserves great credit), this was a theatrical experience like no other I’ve seen.

Before the show started, there was dancing and music all around the venue, on the streets and in the studio above the main theatre. The whole place felt alive and vibrant, not something always associated with theatre.

Then the main event began. Hosted by Jonzi D – a man actively involved in the British hip hop scene since the 1980s – and Blackpool hip hop star Jay Madden, the night featured four local dance crews followed by three international acts.

Each of the local crews – Firefly Crew, FY Westcoast Blackpool, Scream Theatre School, and Urban Dance project – performed their routine with skill and confidence. The Firefly Crew were the undoubted standout, their ninja routine hugely impressive technically and also funny too – a tough trick to pull off.

ILL-Abilities, featuring dancers from America, Chile and Holland, were outstanding. Each member has a disability of some form (one dancer had a leg amputated after being diagnosed with cancer, another was born with leg, hip and arm defects) and their performance was mesmerising and inspiring. It contained an important lesson too -–whatever life throws at you, never give up. They were given a standing ovation.

After the interval the final two acts.

First the Ukwell Roach Birdgang Dance Company with Vice, a tale of a man’s struggle with addictions. It was ridiculously clever and brilliantly choreographed.

Wanted Posse, from France, and regarded as one of the best hip hop dance crews on the planet, rounded off the night with a 25-minute piece which involved, among other things, a revolution and a jail sentence. It was fast-moving, always entertaining, and contained some surreal comic moments, such as an unexpected rendition of The Darkness’s I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

Breakin’ Convention is a show which has toured the UK for the last 11 years and always involves local dancers in whichever town it plays. It is easy to see why it has been a huge hit and I daresay anyone who saw it at The Grand is already looking forward to its next visit.

STEVE CANAVAN