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Press Release: Academy Breakin’ Convention announces Head of School and callout for applications

Jan McNulty

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17 October 2023 




Academy Breakin’ Convention announces Head of School and callout for applications 


In hip hop’s 50th anniversary year and ahead of the first Olympics to feature breaking as a sport, a new pathway for talented performers has been announced by Sadler’s Wells. Applications open today for Academy Breakin’ Convention, the new hip hop theatre school that’s one of the major initiatives at Sadler’s Wells’ fourth London venue, Sadler’s Wells East, due to open next year as part of the East Bank development in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  


Heading up the groundbreaking project is artist-educator Niquelle LaTouche who has been appointed Head of School. The Artistic Director is Jonzi D, founder and Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention and a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist. 


Young people are invited to apply for Academy Breakin’ Convention’s two-year course for 16 – 19 year olds, based at the state-of-the-art dance facilities of Sadler’s Wells East. With intensive, practical training in hip hop performing arts and a focus on live performance and theatre production at an international standard, the academy aims to develop the next generation of hip hop theatre artists. 


Students will achieve a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performance and Production Arts, specific to hip hop theatre. The course will cover all the artistic elements of hip hop theatre, including classes in breaking, DJing, emceeing, graffiti, hip hop social dance, music production and popping. 


Niquelle LaTouche is an artist-educator invested in creating spaces of creative collaboration and togetherness. She is the founder of Niquelle LaTouche Arts (2014) and It Takes a Village Collective (2020) which are hubs for empathy building, challenging normative ideas and encouraging proactive social change. Niquelle is a trained fine artist, experienced poet and choreographer and an English specialist spanning supplementary, language schools and mainstream secondary education. She is an advocate for cross-disciplinary practice and champions the development of pedagogy, curriculum and more inclusive and equitable resources which empower, raise attainment and shift cultures.  


She performed at Breakin’ Convention’s 15th anniversary in 2018 with Boy Blue Entertainment and has participated in Breakin’ Convention’s artist development projects Open Art Surgery and Higher Learning. 


Niquelle LaTouche said: As the Head of Academy Breakin’ Convention, I am excited to guide a new generation of polymaths to understand the importance of care, equip them with skills to make undeniable art and raise awareness of their responsibility as future leaders.” 


Jonzi D said: " I dreamt of this when I was 15. I imagined a theatre school like Fame the TV show, but set in east London! Featuring talented young people of a variety of ethnicities and social backgrounds, all with a shared passion and desire to achieve excellence in hip hop culture. In the same year that breaking is represented in the Olympic Games, Academy Breakin’ Convention will nurture the next generation of hip hop theatre artists, leaders and game changers! I’m especially excited and proud to welcome Niquelle LaTouche as Head of Academy Breakin Convention. With her experience as an English teacher, poet, dancer and artistic leader, she is very well equipped to lead this organisation to greatness.” 


Academy Breakin’ Convention will offer outstanding free training courses delivered in partnership with and funded by Big Creative Training, part of London’s largest creative college.



Notes to editors: 


About Sadler’s Wells    
Sadler's Wells is a world-leading dance organisation. We strive to make and share dance that inspires us all. Our acclaimed year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance and tango to tap.   


We commission, produce and present more dance than any other organisation in the world. Since 2005, we have helped to bring more than 200 new dance works to the stage, embracing both the popular and the unknown. Our acclaimed productions tour the world. Since 2005 we’ve produced 64 new full-length works and performed to audiences of more than two million, touring to 51 countries.   

Each year, over half a million people visit our three London theatres - Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis Studio and Peacock Theatre. Millions more attend our touring productions nationally and internationally or explore our digital platforms, including Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage.  


Sadler’s Wells East  

In 2024 we’re opening a fourth London venue in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sadler’s Wells East will house a 550-seat mid-scale theatre, as well as facilities for the new Rose Choreographic School and the hip hop theatre training centre, Academy Breakin’ Convention.  

Sadler’s Wells East joins the rich cultural heritage of Stratford, opening in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the East Bank development alongside the BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A. Sadler’s Wells East will support artist development and training, and the creation of new work. It will build the infrastructure for dance and make it accessible to more people. Sadler’s Wells East will house a flexible theatre presenting a wide variety of dance performances. Community will be at the heart of Sadler’s Wells East with a large open foyer that can be used by everyone as a meeting or performance space. There will also be dance studios and world-class dance facilities for dancemakers to train, create and rehearse productions. 


Supporting artists 

Supporting artists is at the heart of our work. We have associate artists and companies, which nurture some of the most exciting talent working in dance today. We host the National Youth Dance Company, which draws together some of the brightest young dancers from across the country. Sadler’s Wells Breakin' Convention runs professional development programmes to champion and develop the world’s best hip hop artists, as well as producing, programming and touring groundbreaking hip hop performances.   


Learning and community links 

Around 30,000 people take part in our learning and engagement programmes every year. We support schools local to our theatres in Islington and Stratford, designing experiences for children and young people to watch, explore and critically engage with the arts. We also run Company of Elders, a resident performance company of dancers aged over 60 who rehearse with renowned artists to make new work for public performances locally, nationally and internationally.   


Sadler’s Wells is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.   



Stay up to date with everything Sadler’s Wells on social media    
Facebook: @SadlersWells    
Twitter: @Sadlers_Wells    
Instagram: @sadlers_wells    
YouTube: Sadler’s Wells Theatre    

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About East Bank 

East Bank is the UK’s newest cultural quarter at the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The place where everything happens – entertainment, inspiration and discovery – and open to everyone who visits, lives and works in East London. It is a unique collaboration between cultural institutions, world-leading universities and the people of the Olympic boroughs. Comprising V&A East, Sadler’s Wells East, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL East (University College London) and the new BBC Music studios, East Bank will begin to open up from autumn 2023, with UCL’s Marshgate campus and UAL’s London College of Fashion opening their doors to students. The scheme, driven with significant backing and funding from the Mayor of London and support from HM Government and the four Olympic boroughs, will provide skills and jobs for local people, bring over 10,000 students to the site, and attract thousands of visitors from London and beyond. East Bank will help cement the capital’s reputation as a world leader in culture, education and innovation creating 2,500 jobs, £1.5 billion of economic benefit and 600 new homes. East Bank is rooted in the diverse communities of East London and is a reflection of the creative spirit of the Olympic boroughs and the legacy of the 2012 Games. For over a decade, East Bank institutions have worked with communities across East London to ensure they benefit from the £1.1bn investment. East Bank will build on the area’s existing creative and innovation credentials, and East Bank partners have been building relationships and delivering projects with the thriving arts, fashion, education and community organisations based in the area, including the artistic community in Hackney Wick, East London Dance, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Studio Wayne McGregor and many more. 



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


Supporting the artistic vision, hip hop theatre pioneer Jonzi D founded Breakin’ Convention, supported by Sadler’s Wells in 2004Breakin’ Convention is now part of Sadler’s Wells and produces its annual festival there. Since its inception, Breakin’ Convention has been pivotal to the development of the global hip hop theatre scene, touring nationally since 2007 and internationally since 2013. Breakin’ Convention has now 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. 

Breakin’ Convention social media handles:  
Facebook: @breakinconvention 
Twitter: @BConvention 
Instagram: @breakinconvention 
YouTube: Breakin’ Convention BCTV 



About Jonzi D 

An MC, dancer, spoken word artist and director, Jonzi D is the foremost advocate for hip hop who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades. 


Since founding Breakin’ Convention in 2004 Jonzi has triumphed in raising the profile and giving a platform to hip hop disciplines, which has gained worldwide recognition as being at the vanguard of the development of the art form. Through professional development projects 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 1995‘s Lyrikal Fearta, 1999’s Aeroplane Man, 2006’s TAG… Just Writing My Name, 2009’s Markus the Sadist and 2013’s The Letter: To Be Or To MBE? 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. 



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