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PRESS RELEASE: Breakin' Convention Festival Goes Online

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24 April 2020

LOCKDOWN LOCK-IN: Breakin’ Convention Goes Online


Following the cancellation of all performances at Sadler’s Wells in support of the global effort to stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), Breakin’ Convention presents its 17th edition online for the first time, with a series of digital events across the next 10 days culminating in a ‘virtual festival’, Lockdown Lock-in. 


The annual international hip-hop festival will be presented digitally on Saturday 2 May, from 12 - 9pm, on the weekend the live festival would have been taken place at Sadler’s Wells, featuring recorded performance highlights from past festivals, with hosting from Breakin’ Convention Artistic Director and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, Jonzi D. 


Featuring a line-up of Breakin’ Convention highlights from over the years, international and UK acts include Bonetics, Godson, Pfect, SalesPlazaSocietas, Soweto Skeleton Movers, Geni Lou & PAX, Just Dance and Unity. The line-up also features a special collaboration with Jazz re:freshed, with a performance from The Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra, presenting a special commission from the 2018 festival. Lockdown Lock-in is available to watch live via the Breakin’ Convention Facebook Page. 


Dance sector support organisation One Dance UK will also host a series of workshops throughout the afternoon from 12 - 4pm, inspired by the inclusive and interactive feel that the live festival offers, and the workshop sessions that would usually be available across the weekend. 


The night before the virtual festival, Sadler’s Wells Facebook Premieres will also share highlights from Breakin’ Convention and Jazz re:freshed’s memorable collaboration from the 2018 festival, screened live for audiences on the Sadler’s Wells Facebook page on Friday 1 May at 7.30pm. 


Two further online events warm up audiences before the festival weekend. On Sunday 26 April, Breakin’ Convention’s annual Park Jam, a day of outdoor hip-hop fun for all ages normally taking place in Islington’s Spa Fields Park, can be enjoyed online. Breakin’ Convention will share content from previous Park Jams across its social media platforms and is conducting a callout for previous attendees to contribute filmed clips, creating a collage of collaboration and bringing this welcoming day into audiences’ homes. And on Wednesday 29 April, International Dance Day, Breakin’ Convention partners with One Dance UK to offer a Hip hop Conditioning & Safe


Practice workshop for dancers, led by Nefeli Tsiouti of Project Breakalign. 

Jonzi D says: “Isolating but not isolated! We still connect, and we’re still creative. Social ‘diss’ dancing will attract attention. So let’s start Breakin’ Convention.”


Yvette Griffith Executive Director of Jazz re:Freshed added: “Our landmark collaboration with Breakin’ Convention back in 2015 to celebrate our 15 years by pulling together a 15-piece live band with some of the cream of the UK Jazz scene, was a special moment for us.   It’s great to see it getting another outing as part of BC’s 2020 virtual festival.  We’re very proud of the project and during these challenging and unpredictable times, we hope the energy and quality of the show will provide online audiences with 60 minutes of joy and distraction” 


Further details about each online event, and the artists taking part are available below, or visit the Breakin’ Convention website for more information.




Wednesday 29 April 6pm 
Conditioning & Safe Practice Workshop for Lockdown 
This recorded session is open to all freelance creatives and will include do’s and don'ts for hip-hop dancers, talking about safe practice during lockdown home training sessions. Hosted by Nefeli Tsiouti from Project Breakalign. The workshop can be accessed via the Breakin’ Convention Facebook page.


Friday 1 May 7.30pm 
Sadler's Wells Facebook Premiere 

On Friday, 1 May, Breakin’ Convention, take over Sadler’s Wells Facebook Premieres on the same weekend that this year’s festival was due to take place, with highlights from The Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra performance at the 2018 festival. Supported by Jazz re:freshed and supported by Red 1 Arts. The Facebook Premiere screening can be watched live at https://www.facebook.com/SadlersWells


Saturday 2 May 12 – 9pm 
Lockdown Lock-in - Breakin’ Convention Virtual Festival

12 – 4pm: Workshop sessions for dancers hosted with One Dance UK
Live Q&A with Nefeli Tsiouti of Project Breakalign (12noon – 1pm) 
In this live Q&A session, Nefeli Tsiouti will offer advice about safe practice for dancers during lockdown home training sessions, and reflect on her recorded training session, hosted earlier in the week. 


3 – 4pm: Mental Health workshop with Psychotherapist Steve Peck
When a person has their needs met then they will thrive. For good mental health, people have emotional needs which need to be maintained. During this interactive workshop, Psychotherapist Steve Peck will explore what these needs are, with a particular focus on how the current coronavirus lockdown is affecting our mental health. 

Both of the above sessions will take place via Zoom and booking is required. To sign up for the session, email hdp@onedanceuk.org. Details about how to access the Zoom session will then be shared with participants.


6 – 9pm*: Lockdown Lock-in 
A collection of performance highlights from past festivals, hosted by founder and hip hop pioneer, Jonzi D. 

First Half: 


Bonetics (UK) - Charge

Watch a twisted, muscle sculpture in a flexible premiere from this talented contortionist. Bonetics is a self-taught dancer from Essex with a flexin’ style that is weird, humorous, artistic and shocking. So far, his appearances on TV, film and online have exposed him to an audience worldwide, including appearing in Britain's Got Talent and in ASOS's fashion campaigns. 


Geni Lou & PAX (Canada) - Hannah
Choreographers and performers: Geni Lou & Pax
Music: Max Cyrus Music


The role and presence of women in historic narratives has often been reduced to unidimensional characters: The virgin, the whore or the witch. What about the female creator, destructor, warrior, queen, fighter, the politically incorrect, challenging, revolutionary, courageous women? Hannah explores these questions in a homage to all the women who have been erased or who have erased themselves. Created by choreographers and performers Geni Lou – who has developed her style which allows her to embrace both “feminine” and “masculine” power - and Frederique ‘PAX’ Dumas a dancer, performer and teacher with a passion for street dance, back home and on the international scene. Hannah was developed at Breakin’ Convention’s Back to the Lab professional development course.


Godson (UK) - Free Every Man

Eminent UK krumper and member of acclaimed dance company Boy Blue, Theo “Godson” Oloyade ventures deeper into theatre work, where stage presence meets intense chest pops and arm jabs. A powerful krump piece from East London set to break boundaries and challenge thoughts and perceptions. 

Just Dance (South Korea) The Seven Human Emotions
Happiness, anger, sadness, joy, hate, desire, and love make up the theme of this piece set to live Korean music and inspired by the frailty of human life. Led by a Bhuddist monk and orchestrated with traditional instruments, the philosophy of inner peace over excessive emotion is shared through some of the most technically astounding power moves ever seen. Just Dance is a global dance and culture performance group made up of some of South Korea’s foremost b-boys from the country’s leading crews. Through dance, media and cultural representation, they wish to stir your emotions with their performances.


P*Fect (Sweden) - Imprint

P*Fect’s piece Imprint is inspired by Vogue, ballroom culture and the quote, "we're all born naked, the rest is drag." P*fect has performed at Juste Debout Paris and been the opening act for Lady Gaga in Stockholm. This act is the Swedish chapter of the legendary dance troupe, House of Ninja.


Agnes Sales & Hector Plaza aka SalesPlazaSocietas (Spain) - Blue Monday

First seen dancing with the Catalan crew Iron Skulls, duo Agnes and Hector use powerful breakin’ and gestural detail to explore conflicts between two people. Blue Monday explores human relationships, the urgency to sustain others without just sustaining ourselves. The piece was created as part of Back to the Lab, Breakin’ Convention’s professional development course.


Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) - Children at Playground

An audience favourite of Breakin’ Convention 2016.  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. Experts in a form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks.


Unity (UK) - When Boundaries Push Back

Created as part of Breakin’ Convention’s Back To The Lab programme in 2015, When Boundaries Push Back is a work in progress exploring different struggles and situations people face when trying to push forward and ‘push boundaries’ both physically and mentally. Unity UK is known for high-energy, fast-paced, high-flying and tightly choreographed performances. Using an all-male cast, this piece is a glimpse of another side of the east London-based company.


Second Half: 


JRFSO: The Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra (UK)

Live music meets hip hop theatre, as this awe-inspiring collaboration sees a big band performance with a specially commissioned score by Jason Yarde performed to by artists representing highlights of Breakin’ Convention’s long illustrious history. An incredible ensemble of 15 leading jazz musicians collaborating and celebrating the 15th anniversary of both Breakin’ Convention and Jazz re:freshed. 


Companies appearing alongside Jazz re:freshed are The Locksmiths (UK), Jonzi D & Tanaya ‘Ice’ Martin (UK), The Ruggeds (Netherlands), Mufasa & Ayanna (France/UK) and Boy Blue (UK).

The Jazz re:freshed Sonic Orchestra features: 

Saxophone/Composer/Band Leader: Jason Yarde
Drums: Saleem Raman 
Percussion/Vibes/Marimba: Orphy Robinson 
Bass (Double & Electric): Inga Elchier 
Guitar: Shirley Tetteh 
Tuba/Bass: Trombone Nathaniel Cross 
Trombone: Rosie Turton 
Saxophone/Bass Clarinet: Wayne Francis 
Saxophone + Flute: Nubya Garcia 
Trumpet (lead): Sheila Maurice-Grey 
Trumpet: Jay Phelps 
Voice + Cello: Ayanna Witter-Johnson 
Turntablist: DJ Pogo 
Beatboxer: Beatbox Hobbit/ABH

Created with Jazz re:freshed and supported by Red 1 Arts.

*6-9pm GMT, 3am-6am (3 May) Tokyo/ Seoul, 4am-7am (3 May) Sydney, 2pm-5pm Eastern Standard Time, 11am-2pm Pacific Standard Time, 7-10pm West Africa Time,9pm -12am East Africa Time Africa, 8pm-11pm Central Africa Time. 

Check out www.breakinconvention.com – we will be posting the live Facebook Premiere link for this event here.

Spoken word sections are subtitled & Line-up correct at time of release.

A Sadler’s Wells Production / Jonzi D is a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist.




About Sadler’s Wells
Sadler’s Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. With a rich theatrical heritage of over three centuries, it offers a year-round programme of performances and learning activities. Our mission is to make and share dance that inspires us all. Our vision is to create, through dance, a depth of connection beyond borders, cultures and languages, so we see ourselves in each other. 


Audiences of over half a million come to Sadler’s Wells’ three London theatres each year, with many more enjoying our touring productions at venues across the UK and around the world and accessing our content through digital channels. Sadler's Wells commissions, produces and presents more dance than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, we have helped to bring over 170 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving our 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today. Sadler’s Wells nurtures the next generation of talent through a range of artist development initiatives and reaches over 30,000 annually through our learning and engagement programmes.


Located in Islington, north London, Sadler’s Wells’ current building is the sixth to have stood on site since entrepreneur Richard Sadler first established the theatre 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 having all started at Sadler's Wells.

Sadler’s Wells is to open an additional mid-scale venue in east London in 2022. The new space will be at the heart of the East Bank project, a new cultural and education district in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, which will also include BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. As well as a 550-seat auditorium, our new venue will include a choreographic centre and a hip hop theatre academy, the first of their kind in the world to be run by a theatre.


About Breakin’ Convention 
Breakin' Convention represents the origins and evolution of hip hop culture from around the world and around the corner. It is world-renowned for hip hop dance theatre. Through its international festivals and professional development programme, Breakin' Convention is at the vanguard of the global development of hip hop theatre artists. 


Supporting the artistic vison of hip hop theatre pioneer Jonzi D, Breakin’ Convention is part of Sadler’s Wells and produces its flagship annual festival there. It is one of the most prestigious platforms for dance theatre in the world. Since its inception in 2003, the festival has been pivotal to the development of the global hip hop theatre scene; touring nationally since 2007 and internationally since 2013, Breakin’ Convention has reached live audiences of over 100,000.


Breakin’ Convention is committed to the development of hip hop theatre artists by providing a variety of participatory opportunities. These include professional development programmes for choreographers, dancers and emcees, projects for young people and educational activities in schools as well as bespoke special events.


In the next five years, these projects will culminate in the opening of a new hip hop theatre academy, within the new Sadler's Wells venue in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. As well as a mid-scale auditorium, this new Sadler’s Wells venue will also include a new choreographic centre and will be part of the East Bank project alongside UAL’s London College of Fashion, BBC, UCL and the V&A in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.  


In July 2020, Breakin’ Convention Presents - the programme’s full-length performance platform for the most innovative hip hop artists working today - makes its first visit to Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue, The Peacock this year, with b-boy company The Ruggeds’ Between Us.



About Jonzi D
Jonzi D is the foremost advocate for hip hop theatre, changing the profile and heavily influencing the development of Britain’s hip hop dance and theatre scene over the past two decades. He’s an MC, dancer, spoken word artist and an established performer in his own right. Jonzi is a graduate from the London Contemporary Dance School and an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells. He has toured his own work internationally and is regularly invited to judge international dance competitions. 


Since founding Breakin’ Convention in 2004 Jonzi has triumphed in both raising the profile and giving a platform to hip hop disciplines; Breakin’ Convention has gained worldwide recognition as being at the vanguard of the art form’s development. Through professional development projects including Open Art Surgery and Back to the Lab, Jonzi has supported hundreds of hip hop dance and rap/poetry artists on their journey to creating theatre. His critically acclaimed works include Lyrikal Fearta (1995), Aeroplane Man (1999), TAG… Just Writing My Name (2006), Markus the Sadist (2009) and The Letter: To Be, Or To MBE (2013). Jonzi has been featured in HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, had his short films Silence da Bitchin’ & Aeroplane Man screened on Channel 4, toured his work extensively all over the world and delivered his own TED talk about the influence and evolution of hip hop culture.


About Jazz re:freshed
A small but relentlessly determined organization, Jazz re:freshed’s mission over the last 17 years is to raise the profile of UK Jazz globally, through a variety of curated initiatives, including hosting a weekly live residency, annual festival, band development, operating its own record label and ongoing international work which has changed the face of UK Jazz. www.jazzrefreshed.com


About Red 1 Arts 
Red 1 Arts is a new music development organisation and music producer that provides stronger development pathways and visible platforms for emerging and mid-level artists and delivers unique live music experiences for audiences. Founded in 2017 by cultural entrepreneur and established music professional Victor Redwood-Sawyerr, the company delivers activity through four activity strands; artist development, live events, consultancy and advocacy. Red 1 Arts is a strong voice for the sector, engaging creative industry bodies, government agencies and public funders to highlight the value that music provides and lobby for further support. We also serve as a trusted filter, signposting peers to new opportunities within the arts and funding sector. Red 1 Arts supported the Breakin’ Convention and Jazz re:freshed collaboration through co-commissioning, project management and technical assistance and is supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund.


About One Dance UK
One Dance UK is the sector support organisation leading the way to a stronger, more vibrant and diverse dance sector. 

We provide one clear voice to: 

  • Support all those working in the sector to achieve excellence in dance performance, education and management
  • Advocate for the increased profile and importance of dance in all its diverse forms and settings 
  • Enhance dancers’ health, well-being and performance 
  • Identify gaps, provide opportunities and improve conditions for dance to be learnt, discussed and seen 


We provide membership packages for a range of individuals and organisations to support, advise and connect people across the dance sector. Our aim is to create a workforce that is well-equipped to secure dance's prominence in the cultural landscape of the future. We do this by providing services, information and opportunities for Dance organisations, dance professionals including dance artists and choreographers, dance teachers, educators and practitioners, dance managers and producers, dance medicine and science/research professionals and of course, all children and young people.


The Healthier Dancer Programme promotes dancers’ mental and physical health and fitness. One Dance UK also manages the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS). We offer support and information about


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