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Dance into May

Posted on April 27, 2011

web robot1

web_robot1If you’re hoping to fill your May bank holiday weekend with dance, look no further than this year’s Breakin’ Convention (April 30–May 2), the hip hop dance festival at Sadler’s Wells that has everything from pioneering footwork to dancing robots.

Breakin’ Convention has a history of introducing new styles, having presented the first British krump dance performances – and the new style Chicago Footwork, known for its fast pace and unpredictable rhythm, will be performed in the UK for the very first time. 

Danish crew Big City Brains present Human Robot, in which Japanese robot Ashigaru (pictured) performs alongside poppers Mr Steen, Phax and Pandora. Ugandan crew Tabu Flo are the first central African group to perform at the festival, fusing traditional dance and music with breaking and popping. Their new work, created for the festival, is about Uganda’s mythical, flesh-eating “night dancers”. 

Japanese Kenichi Ebina performs a piece about a ninja disguised as a beautiful geisha, while Korean/UK group Breakin’ Nest dance a piece inspired by Where the Wild Things Are. British troupe Boy Blue celebrate their tenth anniversary with a revival of early work Klocks. See for the full line-up. For tickets, see or call 0844 412 4300. 

For something completely different, experience Southbank Centre’ s These Lands Are Your Lands from May 5 to 8. Inspired by Woody Guthrie’s iconic song “This Land Is Your Land”, recorded in 1944, the long-weekend celebration of British and international traditional music, dance and ceremony is part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Festival of Britain with MasterCard. 

Throughout May 7–8, the Magpie’s Nest presents Cultura Obscura, a packed free programme of ancient folk traditions and customs. Events and workshops across the weekend will include the 15-strong Minehead sailors’ horse that “comes out of the stable” once a year every May in a 1000-year-old tradition; Staffordshire-style horn-dancing – one of the oldest traditions in Europe with accompanying family workshops where audiences can learn the dance and make their own antlers; and wassailing processions led by Debs Newbold, culminating in a ceremonial beating of the bounds of the Southbank Centre site. 

There will be an old wooden bow-top gypsy “vardo” caravan on site; plus wandering minstrels, sword, clog, morris and step dancers, ceilidhs, Cornish broom dancing, a junk orchestra and lots of opportunities for audiences to join in. 

Further performance highlights include Keira Dance presenting their show Threads, a fresh and distinctive fusion of contemporary and Irish dance styles, which includes live traditional music and song. Choreographed by Keira Martin, it explores ideas about migration, including the fierce emotions experienced when longing for home (May 5).  

For more information, click here or call the ticket office on 0844 875 0073.


Photograph © Topper

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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