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Benedict Lombe (Photo credit: Latoya Fits Okuneye)

London Theatre News Today: Thursday 27 May

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 27 May 2021, Last Updated 27 May 2021

Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention: line-up announced

Jonzi D & jessica Care moore – Our Bodies Back

Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention, the influential festival of hip hop dance theatre returns for its 18th year and announces its eclectic line-up for this year’s socially distanced programme, curated by hip hop theatre pioneer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Jonzi D.

Breakin’ Convention Presents showcases the UK Premiere of Compagnie Niya’s Gueules Noires on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 July. On Saturday 3 and Sunday 4, Breakout Convention features eight different performances from exceptional hip hop companies.

This year’s event follows Breakin’ Convention’s mini festival Social DisDancing in December 2020. Presenting its first live event since lockdown, Breakout Convention includes performances from:

Made up of young dancers with different special needs and disabilities is AWA (Atypical with Attitude), making its Breakin’ Convention debut with a piece acknowledging the power of unity. Blindfolded dancers express feelings of loss and isolation whilst finding companionship and commonality through their hip hop dance vocabulary. The company featured as part of BBC talent show The Greatest Dancer in 2019.

Bagsy (UK)
Waacking artist Bagsy asks what it means to be a man, in new work Surrender. Taking inspiration from his own identity, examining masculinity, expectations and Yoruba’s god of thunder Shango, Bagsy creates an intimate exploration of his journey through the form of waacking. The work was developed as part of Breakin’ Convention’s artistic development programme Back to the Lab (2021).

Compagnie Niya (France)
Alongside their full-length piece Gueules Noires on Thursday and Friday, Compagnie Niya also presents the UK premiere of an excerpt of Resurgence, a game between movement and sound.

Dey Dey & Manuela (France/Germany)
Presenting the world premiere of Force D’Âme is Dey Dey and Manuela from the acclaimed Zamounda Crew (France). B-girl Manuela recently featured in Jonzi D & jessica Care Moore’s short film Our Bodies Back. Together, breaking and popping combines, contrasts and connects to reveal the inner journeys of two women.

Gemma Hoddy (UK)
Veteran of the award-winning Boy Blue, Gemma Hoddy presents Vintage. A quartet of women perform a sassy blend of iconic jazz dance shapes, punctuated by a furious popping technique. Paying homage to the classic generation of musical theatre, jazz samples and thumping hip hop beats are brought by producer and co-founder of Boy Blue, Mikey J Asante.

Patience J (UK)
Last seen at Breakin’ Convention in 2015 with Girlz On Point (GOP)Patience J brings energy and attitude with Colours, a celebratory work exploring modern Afro dance forms from the African diaspora including n’dombolo and azonto. An established performer and choreographer, Patience J has collaborated with an assortment of world-famous brands and vocal artists.

Spoken Movement (UK)
Returning to Sadler’s Wells with Family Honour is Spoken Movement led by artistic director Kwame Asafo-Adjei. The work uses popping and tutting to illustrate a psychologically potent duet between Asafo-Adjei himself and dancer Catrina Nisbett which explores the religious and cultural taboos in a Ghanaian family. It has won multiple awards worldwide including Paris’ Danse Élargie in 2018.

W.A.R (UK)
W.A.R (We Ain’t Regular) brings the raw to the Sadler’s Wells stage with a world premiere performance. The company appeared alongside rap artist Stormzy for his performance of Shut Up at Glastonbury 2020.

As well as world-class dance crews and soloists, the 2021 programme features films from Breakin’ Convention’s latest initiatives Power to the Pixel and Next Day Delivery – a collaboration between choreographers and writers. Next Day Delivery films come from winners Sun Kim and Surid – (Gas) LightingAnthony and Kel Matsena – Too Much, Too LittleKen Masters and Rob Anderson; and Berkavitch and Si Rawlinson – Eat The Rich.

2021 marks Breakin’ Convention’s 18th anniversary. Best known for its flagship annual festival, its year-round programme aims to grow the UK’s development of hip hop theatre. It encompasses professional development initiatives such as Back to the Lab, a two-week training and mentorship initiative leading to performance; a broad education programme; and alternative performance platforms such as Breakin’ Convention Presents.



Gecko announces new show commissioned by the National Theatre 

(Photo credit: John Ferguson)

Award-winning and internationally-acclaimed physical theatre company Gecko has announced it is developing its eighth show, commissioned by the National Theatre.

The show, which is currently in development, will premiere and tour from autumn 2022 before performing at the National Theatre in 2023. The show is supported by Lighthouse, Poole and London International Mime Festival, with other partners to be confirmed soon.

Gecko creates physical theatre of artistic excellence, endeavouring to deepen human connection through visual, visceral and ambitious performance. As the Gecko ensemble enter a second phase of research and development, Artistic Director Amit Lahav and the devising performers bring their own experiences of migration, family, home and racism to the show’s creation.

Gecko’s Artistic Director, Amit Lahav, said:

“I am thrilled to be developing this new show commissioned by the National Theatre and can’t wait for the company to perform there for the first time in 2023. This is the perfect start to the next chapter for the company and my own artistic journey.

It feels right to be making a piece that explores migration, racism and family, particularly when reflecting on the events of the last 18 months. It is a theme that is incredibly important for our audience, Gecko and the National Theatre and we’re excited to be continuing and deepening our relationships together as we enter our next phase of research and development.”

Amit spends at least three years creating a new production which sees him go through periods of highly intensive experimentation in a rehearsal studio, to periods of solitary research and reflection. The eighth show, the title of which is to be confirmed, is currently in the writing phase, involving storyboarding, experimentation with design and movement ideas, and rehearsals with the company’s creative team and international ensemble of devising performers.

Following a reunion in Israel with his grandmother Leah in 2017, Amit began imagining the 2,000km journey her family embarked upon to escape persecution. It is nearly 90 years since Leah made her walk from Yemen to Palestine at the age of four in 1932. Through breath-taking design and expressive physical performance, Gecko’s new show asks how compassion and empathy can be cultivated at a time when the re-birth of community and acceptance seem vital to society’s survival.

The National Theatre’s Director, Rufus Norris, said:

“I’ve been following Gecko’s work for a number of years and have a growing admiration for their dynamic and fearless approach to story in motion. Allied to this their commitment to internationalism, with completely integrated educational work, as well as their deeply embedded UK wide touring ethos, is hugely impressive. Their presence at the National Theatre is overdue, and we look forward very much to them being with us.”


World premiere of Lava opens at the Bush Theatre from 9 July

Benedict Lombe (Photo credit: Latoya Fits Okuneye)

The world premiere of Lava by Congolese-British writer Benedict Lombe opens at the Bush Theatre on 9 July (press night 14 July).  It will also be available for viewing online 16 – 21 August.  To mark the first day of public booking a photograph of Benedict Lombe by Latoya Fits Okuneye with clothes provided by Tina Lobondi has been released.

Congolese-born designer Tina Lobondi established her fashion label in Notting Hill, London in 2011. Combining African heritage with delicate French couture, the label focuses on chic and classic looks producing exclusive collections which unveil limited availability and creates an emotional connection to the brand. Tina Lobondi forges a dynamic synthesis of elegance and edginess to shape a striking silhouette with infinite attention to detail and finish, producing classic and chic ready-to-wear.

Lava started life in 2020 as part of the Bush Theatre’s The Protest Series: a digital artistic response to the murder of George Floyd. It has now been re-imagined as a full-length play for the stage, which ‘Could become our era’s equivalent of Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead’ – The Independent.

This is nice, init?  I like it. Good little set-up to tell you the story of my name. The story of my true name.

When a woman receives an unexpected letter from the British Passport Office, she is forced to confront an old mystery: why does her South African passport not carry her first name? Armed with the wisdom of favourite 90s TV shows, she sets out on a journey that will take her back to the turmoil of Mobutu’s Congo, growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, moving to Ireland, and finding love in a hostile England.

As her journey becomes inextricably linked with the tides of global history, how far will she go to unravel the truth? By turns wickedly funny and strikingly lyrical, Benedict Lombe’s Lava is an explosive debut that will turn the way you see the world on its axis.


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