Words: Bianca Mitchell
This May bank holiday weekend sees the international festival of hip-hop dance theatre popping and locking its way back to London town. Breakin’ Convention returns for its seventh year from Saturday 1st – Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May and features performers from Japan, the USA, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, plus one of the strongest UK lineups the festival has ever seen. With award-winning En4Cers in the foyer delivering mad skills on the decks (DJ Pogo, Cutmaster, Swift and DJ Biznizz), the event is set to be a raw music and dance extravaganza.
Having seen a soar in applications from the UK since last year, the event line-up includes Bad Taste Cru, who recently represented the UK at Battle of the Year, Unity & Unity Youth and Cambridge-based Dance Offensive, all of whom are set to bring some explosive breaking and locking to the stage.
The Status performers show their high energy, punchy style in the Alice in Wonderland-themed piece that took them to the semi-finals of Sky 1’s Got to Dance earlier this year. A performance by Interlude completes the UK line up, the youngest of whom is just a wee 7 years old.
Alongside the lineup of artists the Breakin’ Convention weekend includes the fifth Film Night; the latest Future Elements video screening event, created entirely by young people representing the future of hip-hop dance; live aerosol jams; workshop programmes taught by international artists; DJ demos, aerosol art and freestyle circles all taking place in the Sadler’s Wells foyer to guarantee an array of awesome activities for maximum entertainment.
DJ Mag caught up with Billy Biznizz of En4Cers ahead of the big show to find out his thoughts on the changing times in hip-hop and his secret breaking and popping talents…
For those who haven’t been, can you describe Breakin’ Convention?
The Breakin’ Convention is a mixture of hip-hop, theatre on stage, live music and dance in the theatre foyer for all to enjoy. The performers all have an association with hip-hop. Most were either b-boys, poppers, lockers, DJs, MCs or graffiti artist who have now taken their art form out of the streets and onto the stage giving hip-hop an opportunity to be experienced by a whole new audience.
Breaking has always been synonymous with hip-hop and graffiti. Did you ever do any popping or breaking yourself?
Most definitely. Even though I’m a DJ I started off breaking and popping and I still do till this everyday. People used to jokingly call me Mr Hip-Hop as I DJ, MC, b-boy and pop - the only thing I'm not too good at is graffiti.
What’s your view on the current state of hip-hop?
Well, due to the commercialization of the culture, hip-hop has had over 10 years of abuse and due to this has been looked at as a destructive element in society. For me, hip-hop has always been about the positive, a way for the misunderstood youth to express themselves.
But I now see light at the end of the tunnel with events such as the Breakin’ Convention and the resurgence of b-boying, popping and locking which seem to be capturing the youth’s imagination. I believe hip-hop is now coming full circle for a new generation.
As a turntablist, is digital technology something you’ve embraced?
Yes I have embraced digital technology but I always strive to keep within the confines of the art of DJing. Some people still say 'vinyl only', but we’ve got to remember what makes a good DJ. Is it the tools or the individual using them?
What else are the En4orcers up to right now?
At the moment we're working on our next b-boy and popping mix tape and music for our EP, possibly an album for September release, as well as doing DJ workshops, theatre collaborations and DJ club gigs.
For a video taster of the Breakin’ Convention experience click here
Visit the Breakin' Convention website for all the most up-to-date info.
Saturday 1 – Bank Holiday Monday 3 May 2010
1 day seated ticket: £20 Standing ticket: £15
Ticket office: 0844 412 4300 or the Sadler's Wells website
Breakin’ Convention now offers reserved seating so early booking is strongly advised
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