P H O T O :


Tony Mills

Phase T Breakin’ Convention is returning to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, and organiser Jonzi D and local rep Tony Mills enlisted the help of some of Scotland’s best crews to put on a showcase of hip hop dancing and culture. Kelly Apter meets some of those taking part

Sébastien Ramirez and Raphael Hillebrand

O nce upon a time, the hip hop dancers of Scotland could only look longingly down to London at the range of opportunities that the form’s annual festival, Breakin’ Convention, had to offer. So, too, the fans of this increasingly popular dance style. But all that changed in 2007, when the event spread its wings and headed out on tour. Back in Scotland for the third time, Breakin’ Convention 10 promises to be another exciting cocktail of poppin’, lockin’, breaking and all the other sub-sections that make up modern- day hip hop. As usual, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage will be filled with a mix of international acts and local crews, while DJs, graffiti artists and more performers will take over the foyer. Then, at the Bongo Club’s epic after party, there’s a unique chance to see the dancers rub shoulders on the dancefloor in a freestyle format.

Following in the wake of previous guests the Electric Boogaloos and Ken Swift, this year’s international acts are French/German duo Sébastien Ramirez and Raphael Hillebrand with their groundbreaking work Seuls Ensemble (‘Together Alone’), inspired by life in the city. While award- winning French troupe Phase T present Trop Tard!, a piece for eight performers that ploughs an explosive path through a range of dance styles. Breakin’ Convention is also giving local talent a chance to shine. Six groups hailing from Edinburgh, Glasgow, West Lothian and Fife have been cherry picked to showcase the best in Scottish talent. Breakin’ Convention co-host Tony Mills tells us what lies behind his choices. ‘I’m looking for people who come with fresh ideas,’ he says. ‘So if a group wants to explore something new and they’ve got good technique and personality, and a willingness and potential to develop that idea, then I tend to favour that.’ As they prepare for this year’s event, we catch up with the crews who passed the test.

Breakin’ Convention, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Mon 8 & Tue 9 Nov.



As a Breakin’ Convention old hand (this is his third appearance) Flyin’ Jalapeno Chris Maule knows the buzz associated with sharing the bill with his heroes. ‘To perform alongside international acts, people I’ve looked up to for many years is quite mind-blowing,’ he says. ‘And Breakin’ Convention is always a good way to challenge ourselves as dancers, to come up with actual theatre pieces and ideas, rather than just a straight-up breaking show.’ The Jalapeno’s piece, See the Music, Hear the Dance fuses breaking, poppin’ and lockin’, and shows how different sounds relate to parts of the body. Tony Mills says: ‘Flyin’ Jalapenos are from Glasgow and have been around for about eight years. There are only three of them in See the Music, Hear the Dance, so it’s quite intimate. They’ve been collaborating with a musician who made up a specific piece of music for them, so that’s one of the reasons they’re in the mix.’

With nine female performers, this recently formed crew was put together by Ashley Jack (formerly of Rhythm Inc) from girls attending her Dance Base hip hop classes. They’ll be exploring ideas around gender and identity with their piece, What’s a Girl to Do, and according to co-choreographer Claricia Kruithof it should raise a smile or two among the show’s audiences. ‘We always like to keep things light-hearted,’ she

says, ‘so it’s simple and funny and uses lots of different styles - some of which people might not expect from us. We’ve been thinking about the 1950s housewife and ideas that we had while we were growing up of the ideal man and woman.’

Tony Mills says: Jackin’ The Box are good dancers who mix streetdance, lockin’, poppin’, house and new jack. They’re also willing to go down a more creative route rather than just presenting nice routines.’

The brainchild of Peter Maniam, Moving in Circles is the crew behind Scotland’s largest breakdance competition, Castle Rocks. Their Breakin’ Convention piece, HipHopScotch brings together an unlikely alliance of two breakdancers and two Highland dancers who, in the show, meet at a ceilidh, and is billed as ‘Strip The Willow with back flips and head spins’. Choreographed by the ubiquitous and talented Matt Foster, the work was performed in full at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and has been whittled down to four minutes for the occasion.

Tony Mills says: ‘Peter Maniam is partly responsible for guys like Heavy Smokers and Psycho Stylez because he used to teach a lot around Edinburgh, getting young guys into breaking. With HipHopScotch they wanted to produce a hybrid with breaking and traditional Scottish dancing, to see how those elements complement each other.’ 4–18 Nov 2010 THE LIST 15