The Grand Theatre Breaks Convention

Soweto Skeleton Movers at Breakin' Convention

On Saturday night I headed to the Grand Theatre to enjoy the UK’s biggest touring festival of hip hop dance, Breakin Convention’. As I arrived outside of the theatre there was a hustle of live music, DJ’s and the general public breakin’ their moves to the “mixed up” sounds of James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

The first act of the night was Blackpool crew FY Wingz with a take on The Netflix series “The Get Down”. If you missed the series it explores the origins of the culture of Hip Hop and how it is characterised from four to nine distinct elements, of which hip hop music is just one. MCing (or emceeing), a rhythmic vocal rhyming style (orality); DJ’ing or turntablisim, b-boying/b-girling/breakdancing; and graffiti.  FY Wingz’s energy was infectious and you could tell how much the performers were enjoying themselves.

I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, perhaps because of the music or the dance but the energy that the show brought to the theatre was amazing. Hosted by Jonzi D and Blackpool’s Jay Madden the charismatic twosome took the audience on a energetic journey.

Generation Movement, made up of Ryan Fenton and Sam Wise, hit the stage next battling it out through a series of pop influenced hip hop tracks reminding us how music can bring people, specifically siblings together when that one track comes on.

Next up we witnessed Soweto Skeleton Movers who explored a form of Pantsula dance, it was unique, hypnotic and amazing. Using comedy, contortion and a little bit of magic – it was the jaw dropping highlight of the show. The Pantsula form of dance was developed in the 50’s and inspired by jumping on and off moving trains. If you get a chance to see these dancers I’d highly recommend them.

Blackpool’s Urban Dance Project hypnotised the audience with disguise, wearing black and skeleton masks, they melted into the background. Moving around the stage to beak out impressive flips from a variety of age groups. UDP was founded in 2010 my Mimi Ramsey sharing her passion for dance with her extended family of dancers.

Tentacle Time took on the contemporary element of the show using a modern take on movement and shape through their piece: “Nobody Likes a Pixelated Squid”. Their dance mimicked fluid and dream like qualities as two dancers joined together to make a series of liquidated movement nodding towards nature as a human relationship, perhaps?

Blackpool favourites The Free Fly Crew had apparently had a run in with the law following last years show: they staged what happened after they attended last years convention, “framed” for something that wasn’t their fault? Intertwined with comedy, film and gags using hip hop as theatre, this was an opportunity for the young ladies in the audience to witness the astounding foursome in their “all together”. But honestly these guys have skills and Blackpool is lucky to have them as they continue their hip hop journey, touring nationally and internationally.

As the show was drawing to a close and the excitement was peaking the final act “Just Dance”, a South Korean act hit the stage and when I say hit, think of the word boom. The emotions explored happiness, sadness, joy, hate, desire and love, all led by a Buddhist monk and accompanied by a traditional instrument. Their technique and skills was so impressive there were audible sighs from the auditorium as the dancers demonstrated technically astounding and sometimes inhuman moves. Think of a head spin that seems to last indefinitely.

There were a number of Blackpool dedicated hip hoppers in the audience including a sighting of local Grime artist Little T, who did a “big shush” collaboration with FY Wings and features in a recent article in Mix Mag.

Blackpool has never looked more exciting over the weekend with so much happening in our town. Remember to keep saying #blackpoolneedshiphop

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