Breakin’ America: bringing hip hop dance theatre to the US

Breakin’ Convention brought its trademark hip hop dance theatre spectacular stateside in October with a successful tour to New York and North Carolina.  The line-up presented by the renowned Sadler’s Wells festival included breakdance crew The Ruggeds, dancer and choreographer Antoinette Gomis, hip hop duo Compagnie Phorm and dance company BirdGang.

The first stop was Blumenthal Performing Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. The arts centre embraced the project wholeheartedly, working closely with the Breakin’ Convention team and truly making the festival their own.

“Breakin’ Convention has been this unifying event in the community that brought together people from all walks of life,” said Tom Gabbard, President of Blumenthal Performing Arts. “That’s probably always an important thing, but at this unique moment in time, in our country, I think those kind of unifying activities are more important than ever.”

Breakin’ Convention will return to Charlotte for the next two years, building of this success and acting as catalyst for the continued development of hip hop theatre in the region.

The team then went to Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York – where it had toured for the first time in June 2013 to great acclaim. It was a second opportunity for Breakin’ Convention to take hip hop theatre to the birthplace of hip hop and promote the development of the art form in the US. The atmosphere in the Apollo Theater was electric and the festival was not only loved by the audience, but also an emotional experience for the dance artists, who felt humbled by the chance to follow in the footsteps of so much African-American jazz, soul, funk and hip hop talent by performing on stage.

In his review of the event in The New York Times, Alastair Macaulay wrote: “It’s to be hoped that Breakin’ Convention — first and last seen here two years ago — becomes as established in New York as it is in London.”


Image: Jonzi D and Boris ‘Bluz’ Rogers host Breakin’ Convention at the Levine Center for the Arts’ Knight Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Daniel Coston