Support comes from Act on words, a four piece freestyling crew who are joined by Tom Hines from Slip Jam, Brighton’s long running Hip Hop open mic night. They take suggestions from the audience and freestyle different characters in different situations. Amusing freestyle fun.
Jonzi D has been a part of the UK Hip Hop scene pretty much since it took root over here in the early 80’s. He graduated from the London Contemporary Dance School so can also draw on that background in creating his shows. His annual dance show “Breakin’ Convention” attracts artists from all over the world and is worth checking out if you’ve never attended and want to see the best dancers around who know the history and lineage of street dance culture.
Tonight we get to see two pieces. The first, “Broken Lineage” examines the disconnect between a young man and his older dance teacher. This schism is intended to portray the disconnect between younger and older Hip Hop fans as well as that of a father and son. Ivan Blackstock portrays the younger dancer and co-choregraphed the piece. He’s an energetic dancer and conveys the arrogance and anger of the new dancer as he asserts himself in front of his mentor. It’s a good piece well executed.
After a short interval, his second piece “The Letter” shows his reaction to being offered an MBE in 2011 for services to British dance. The story involves Jonzi D acting out the responses he received from various friends and family. So we get the real life reaction of Benjamin Zephaniah via an answer phone message as well as the voice of the liberal dance establishment telling him why this would be a good thing. For this character, Jonzi dons white gloves and does a neat mime of a middle-class man articulating his liberal argument for accepting the award.
We also get to see the responses from female friends, his buddies in the street and his family over Christmas dinner, in particular his big sister Ruth who loves the Queen. Jonzi D didn’t accept the MBE, sticking to his principles and rejecting the idea of colonialism and Empire, basically consigning it to the past where it belongs. It’s a clever, thought provoking piece on race and identity from the Black British perspective.