Apollo Theater Presents The Critically-Acclaimed Global Hip-Hop Dance Theater Festival, Breakin' Convention
The Apollo Theater presents the return of London’s Sadler’s Wells’ critically acclaimed international hip-hop dance theatre festival—Breakin’ Convention, one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip-hop culture.
The festival, a collaboration with London’s Sadler’s Wells and now in its third year at the Apollo, provides a platform for the Theater to celebrate its hip-hop legacy and to highlight the global impact of contemporary hip-hop culture through both mainstream and experimental dance.
This year’s festival will directly address several pressing issues that are part of America’s current sociopolitical landscape through performances and accompanying events, with highlights including an artist talk with dancers Jon Boogz and Lil Buck centered on dance as a tool for social justice and prison reform.
Curated and hosted by nationally recognized U.K. hip-hop emcee and theater pioneer Jonzi D, Breakin’ Convention will take over the entire Apollo building and will include performances by world renowned dance companies and local crews. In addition to the mainstage performances, this year’s Festival is expanding to a week-long series of events and activities consisting of artist talks, master classes, dance workshops, freestyle sessions, an art exhibition by Carlos “Mare139” Rodriguez, and special Breakin’ Convention-themed editions of the Theater’s signature programs, Apollo Music Café and Family Workshop.
“With this festival, we are creating a global dance experience through a series of events building on New York’s and most importantly, the Apollo’s hip-hop roots. The Apollo has always been a pioneer in the hip-hop and dance realms, and we are ecstatic to be partnering with Sadler’s Wells Theatre to bring this international movement back to New York, the birthplace of hip-hop,” said Kamilah Forbes, Apollo Theater’s Executive Producer.
Title of Piece: My Dance Life
Pioneer and popping icon Popin’ Pete is a member of the legendary dance group the Electric Boogaloos. Working with everyone from Michael Jackson to Chris Brown; appearing in everything from “Soul Train” to cult classic Breakin’, all the way to FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” Popin’ Pete continues to innovate, teaching workshops, judging, and spreading the original techniques he learned from his brother, Boogaloo Sam, who created the popping and boogaloo styles that are being done all over the world to this day.
Protocol Dance Company (UK)
Title of Piece: I Can’t Breathe
Protocol has evolved from a competitive street dance group to an established dance theatre company—but their core ethos has never changed. At the heart of Protocol is innovation and risk. The group are constantly experimenting with movement to create fresh and dynamic pieces of theatre. Protocol’s creative fluidity means that they don’t subscribe to any one traditional form of dance. The group use a fusion of techniques, including street styles such as popping, hip-hop, and krump, along with physical theatre, to create their own unique language of movement.
Title of Piece: The Sickness
A living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, this consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown, and all-round entertainer. After his award-winning performances all over the world Salah, returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after a seven-year hiatus that has seen him work with Cirque Du Soleil, Puma, and David Blaine, among others.
Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa)
Title of Piece: Seven 7
From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks that astound and amaze! In Soweto in the 1950s, commuters developed a dance style known as ‘isparapara’ inspired by their jumping on and off of moving trains. This was mixed with tap dance and later became known as Pantsula. More than a dance, Pantsula is a lifestyle. Influences can be seen in jazz, breaking, popping, house, and bone-breaking.
Yeah Yellow (France)
Title of Piece: Yeah Yellow Sunshine
Founded in 2012 by dancers Kami and Bee D, Yeah Yellow are a multidisciplinary hip-hop dance group from France. Since their inception they have performed and battled internationally, representing France with numerous titles under their belt. To them their obsession with the colour yellow represents the Sun, the Force, and the Light—a collective of dancing Jedi Knights showcasing their creativity, originality, and “joie de vivre,” whatever style they dance, whether hip-hop or breaking.
New York City Performers:
The Dynamic Rockers
Title of Piece: Generations
The Dynamic Rockers are a renowned b-boy crew established in 1979 in Queens, New York. They played an influential part in the global spread of b-boy culture, beginning in 1981 with their legendary battle against the Rock Steady Crew in front of Lincoln Center. This battle played a large role in sparking mainstream and international interest in b-boying. The Dynamic Rockers’ technique of blending acrobatics, gymnastics, and traditional b-boy moves together provided a lot of influence for modern b-boy style. Thanks to Kid Glyde, son of Glyde of the original Dynamic Rockers, the crew continues to innovate and create endless possibilities for the b-boying culture.
Rep Your Style
Title of Piece: Crash to Create
Rep Your Style explores the effect of internalizing both feminine and masculine energies on a man struggling to cope with the balance of both in his day-to-day life and situations. Led by Dynamic Rockers’ leader Kid Glyde and Melanie Aguirre, Rep Your Style was formed in 2012, consisting of members who have been dancing for as long as 16 years. As an organization, their goal is to serve the urban arts community as leaders to encourage individuality, having represented USA internationally for the opening show for international street dance battle Juste Debout in Paris.
Bwreckfast Club from Litefeet Nation
Title of Piece: Level Up Litefeet Nation
Bwreckfast Club from Litefeet Nation was formed in 2005, brought together by their love of hip hop. Litefeet is the continuation of hip hop culture, influenced by classic hip-hop dance, evolved in the streets. Made up of several technical components that require precision, technique, timing, high energy, and ability, Litefeet style lets go and has fun!At past Breakin’ Conventions Bwreckfast Club has performed under the Apollo marquee; this is their debut on the world-famous stage to showcase this upbeat, vigorous, stealthy, exciting, funny, and pleasingly entertaining genre.
Passion Fruit Dance Company
Title of Piece: Dance Within Your Dance
Passion Fruit Dance Company is a New York-based company, composed of three dancers: Mai Lê Ho, Lauriane Ogay, and Tatiana Desardouin, the founder and choreographer. Originally from Switzerland, Tatiana has been a dancer instructor for 12 years and has won many notorious street dance competitions.
Tatiana launched Passion Fruit Dance Company in 2016 at the sixth annual Clutchfest Street Dance Award event in New Jersey, going on to perform showcases across many states such as Bronx Artists Now, BAAD!Ass Women Festival in New York, Spring Up Festival Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, and at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Passion Fruit has received the Dance Your Future 2017 residency at BAAD! organized by Pepatián in collaboration with BAAD! Theater. They will premiere the full performance of Dance Within Your Dance at BAAD! Theater on November 10, 2017.
Havoc & Klassic
Title of Piece: Mixed Emotions
In a classic tale of sibling rivalry, The Breakthrough sees two brothers falling out and having to rebuild their relationship. With a collective 16 years of dance experience behind them, Joseph “Klassic” Carella and Huwer “Havoc” Marche, Jr. met at Medgar Evers College, brought together by their love of flexing, animation, and a view to change the world.
Their style is flexn—a dancehall-based style created in Brooklyn, with both Havoc & Klassic
picking up their dance vocabulary from the flexn community. Their performances have been seen
from events on the underground to fashion shows to TV screens on “So You Think You Can Dance” and "World of Dance.”
About the Apollo Theater
The legendary Apollo Theater—the soul of American culture—plays a vital role in cultivating emerging artists and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.
With music at its core, the Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more. This includes 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella blockbuster concert, the annual Africa Now! Festival, and the recent New York premiere of the opera Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD. The Apollo is a performing arts presenting organization that also produces festivals and large-scale dance and music works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens; global festivals including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival and Breakin’ Convention, international and U.S.-based artist presentations focused on a specific theme; and Special Projects, multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations.
Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms, and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, Miri Ben Ari, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy.
About Sadler’s Wells
Sadler's Wells is a world leader in contemporary dance, committed to producing, commissioning, and presenting new works and to bringing the very best international and U.K. dance to London and worldwide audiences. Under the artistic directorship of Alistair Spalding, the theatre’s acclaimed year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance, and tango to tap. Since 2005 it has helped to bring over 90 new dance works to the stage, and its international award-winning commissions and collaborative productions regularly tour internationally. Sadler’s Wells supports 16 appointed world-class Associate Artists, three Resident Companies, and an Associate Company, and nurtures the next generation of talent through hosting the National Youth Dance Company, its Summer University programme, Wild Card initiative, and its New Wave Associates.
Located in Islington in north London, the current theatre is the sixth to have stood on the site since it was first built by Richard Sadler in 1683. The venue has played an illustrious role in the history of theatre ever since, with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and English National Opera all having started at Sadler’s Wells.
Sadler’s Wells is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organization and currently receives approximately nine percent of its revenue from Arts Council England.
About Breakin’ Convention
Breakin’ Convention is committed to celebrating, elevating, and supporting hip-hop dance theatre. Spearheaded by Jonzi D, the company works with the most respected, innovative, and inspirational hip-hop artists in the industry. Through its eponymous world-renowned annual international festival, professional development, youth projects, and educational programme, Breakin’ Convention seeks to position hip-hop dance alongside more historically established art forms. Breakin’ Convention is a Sadler’s Wells Project and Jonzi D, an Associate Artist, is based at the theatre.