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Breakin' Convention 19': A day for the Female Soloists

Logistx by Belinda Lawley

Logistx: Belinda Lawley

Here I am again. A South West London girl who was fed hip-hop via the medium of the music video, an older brother and the tunes from the boot of the early 2000's Vauxhall Corsa. For all of these mediums I owe most grateful exposure to everything from Lauryn Hill to Lucy Pearl, from T.I. to Ludacris, from Nas to Oxide and Nutrino and from 'Making the Band' to 'The Wade Robson Project'. Mix this in with a splash of a brief dancing phase in my 20's and you have a girl who is a super fan, plugged into it all but still learning a lot along the way. I am also now a performer myself, and have come to understand what stagecraft is through comedy. I have also come to understand what it is to be a female 'product' in the performance world, what it means to be a woman of colour, of mixed identities and in need of communicating this through spoken word and music. So the levels I felt when the soloists this year (note SUNDAY'S performance) served it up was stronger than usual.

I normally do a rundown of all the acts and offer my take on each one. This year I am going to highlight what spoke to me (also echoing the thoughts of my bud Cathy who let me tell you is a metal and rock fan so the fact that she loves this event speaks volumes...her third year accompanying me!)

Starting with Logistx (Logan Edra) who performed 'Pain is Reality'. I was contented during this routine and I felt she struck a perfect balance. Her use of space, clean lines, fluid movements and balletic nature communicated with us perfectly. A touch of teenage angst came through and I appreciated the contrast between her two pieces of music. Not just showing versatility but a need to express through different forms which I totally get.

Over at the Lilian Bayliss in the interval show I was moved to shaky lip by Kloé Dean's piece 'Man Up (What's left)' about dealing with the loss of a Father and the pressures men feel to keep it all inside resulting in the ending of their own lives. She combined spoken word with high impact, detailed yet large illustrative choreography to bring this moving performance together and I think the themes are more than relevant to be reflected upon this year. I have a lot of admiration for how Kloé did that and the piece shifted something inside me.

Angyil McNeal by Belinda Lawley

Angyil McNeal: Belinda Lawley

Angyil McNeal from the US performed a piece called 'Finding Me'. She used voiceover to explain her troubled upbringing and her expression of herself and ability to cope through different identities. She moved through this onstage by literally journeying across to different corners, transforming her attire and breaking it down through movement. A dancer like that doesn't get that kind fo expression from having an easy life and this is where dance wins it for me. Often the pain body we carry is what comes out and makes us better dancers, especially in hip-hop. I loved this piece and the skill and maturity she demonstrated was off the charts. I knew at this moment I'd be writing about these three performances.

Gulf Dance Company and Jinjo Crew were also absolute highlights and I was certainly the most vocal in terms of 'gasp' level during these performances.

I can never find the words to express how much I j'adore Boy Blue Entertainment. I'm almost inclined to call myself a 'basic' for stating the obvious about their brilliance but they closed the show and I will yet again remember their performance for weeks to come. Have you recently had the experience of trying to explain to people how good 'Homecoming' is on Netflix knowing that the other person has forgotten how good Beyonce is and that they will never watch it and your words will never convey the greatness? That is how I am feeling right now, but map that onto this years Boy Blue Entertainment piece. It was glorious, joyous, slick. An army of ridiculously talented young dancers (think SoSolid x2) flooded the stage utilising that incredible Sadler's lighting to full effect. The ending was much needed as I felt there needed to be something that, as Marie Kondo says 'sparks joy'. Cue a finale dance to Stromae's international hit 'Papaoutai' which was a staunch favourite song of mine during the summer of 2014 (the video has had over 623M views on YouTube). The costumes were very 'un-Boy Blue' this year but having rewatched the video I feel like I got the inspiration behind them.

I ate up all of the performances in different ways and thank Jonzi-D and the Breakin' Convention crew for yet another amazing and magical year.

Until next time.

Stromae- Papaoutai


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