Sunday, October 18, 2015

Breakin' Convention Redefines Power Moves

Photo Courtesy Apollo Theater
What is remembered as a New York-centric dance from a certain decade, reemerged as an art form that’s evolved internationally through the years.

Held at the Apollo Theater Thursday Oct. 13 - Sunday Oct. 18, Breakin’ Convention was a present-day response to the worldwide hip-hop phenomenon. Master classes and MainStage performances displayed the heart, raw motion, and story that defined true hip-hop.

“There’s no top best, or any of that - they are all phenomenal,” said Grandmaster Caz, co-curator of the international dance festival.

Attracting talented dance crews from all reaches of the globe, Breakin’ Convention brought the audience to their feet as iconic legends and legends-to-be-made filled the stage.

The MainStage event on Saturday was co-curated and co-hosted by Jonzi D and Grandmaster Caz, as they took the audience on a historical walk down hip-hop’s memory lane.

“Legendary… you’re not ready, because this is hip hop, this is hip hop,
The four elements are all relevant
from the residents of an enforced settlement
a sociopolitical movement for self improvement
the funky music, spiritual wealth included
as the Bronx was burning, up rose a phoenix
the charismatic Black leader, needed a remix
resurrected lead kids from savage crews
connected on Sedgewick Avenue
Cindy Campbell the first lady
In 1973 she saved the babies from the Hades
It was a state of emergency
but the Koolest Herc[ules] balanced the speakers perfectly.”
live freestyle from Jonzi D.

The Legendary Twins, the pioneers of breakin’, came before well known legends such as the NYC Rocksteady Crew and other crews known during it’s peak.

This Saturday, they were asked if they were interested in being international ambassadors for breaking convention to which they humbly accepted it as an honor.

“When we danced we pretty much set up various moves until we got into the break part of the record, the B part, we would do our best moves during that time of the record, so we just started calling us the B-boys for the break,” said Keith Smith, brother of Kevin.

Hip-hop lore and global styles of breaking were combined with modern dance, classical to reflect the world takeover that is hip-hop. It focused on it’s original purpose of spirited expression and cultural effects it’s had in areas far reaching from Harlem and the Bronx.

Les Twins, a newer set of twins from France known for their work with Beyonce and extensive career in dance, performed throughout the festival and spoke on the perseverance required to keep on dancing when they themselves experienced rejection earlier in their career.

“I may cry with my French accent,” said dancer Antoinette Gomis. “You make my dreams come true, because I dance where James Brown sang and I just have to say “I’ve got to feel it!”

Born and raised in France, Gomis performed to Nina Simone’s "Images." She articulated with motion the complexities of race relations, issues facing identity and notions of self-worth. She danced for the day, for her family and for all those who came before her.

The styles of music were rooted in hip-hop, but touched upon salsa - from the Tito Lockers from Soulsations! - and a combination sounds that reflected the cultures of a bustling and diverse city.

The BirdGang Dance Company from the UK brought the audience to their feet with a theatrical performance, The Rugged’s choreographed scenes developed in Holland and the Street Justice Crew represented goings-on of the city where it all began.

Breakin’ Convention has been produced annually at the Wells Theatre in London since 2004.

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