By Bernie Petit
You may already know that the London-based Breakin’ Convention is coming to Charlotte for the first time in October.
However you might not know why it matters.
Yes, it will be another in a long list of acclaimed performances to come through the city, and one that should fill the seats at Knight Theater at Levine Center of the Arts.
It will also be the second time the international hip-hop festival, created by London’s Sadler’s Wells, has come to the United States (the first being 2013 at Harlem’s Apollo Theater) – another feather in the city’s cap.
But the two-day event, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, is another example that cultural organizations are continuing to embrace, create, seek out and provide programming that is relevant and innovative – one of the pillars of the community’s Cultural Vision Plan.
It’s been a longtime focus for Blumenthal, said Tom Gabbard, president of Blumenthal Performing Arts.
“I think for us, we first and foremost want to see an audience come here over the course of the year that looks like Charlotte, and I mean that in its broadest sense,” said Gabbard, who has been unabashed in stating his desire to see Breakin’ Convention attract audiences that have never stepped through the doors of a Blumenthal venue.
“One of the attractive things about this festival, and it defies people’s perspective of hip hop in the U.S. a bit, is it’s a very family-friendly event, the kind of thing multiple generations can enjoy together.”
The event connects to the roots of hip-hop, said Jonzi D, creator and artistic director of the festival.
“It’s about peace, love, unity and having fun, things hip-hop was founded on 40 years ago – not the images we see today,” Jonzi said at an introductory luncheon for the convention back in May.
As such, the festival will celebrate hip-hop culture with live DJs, graffiti, dance workshops, free outdoor performances at Levine Center for the Arts and accomplished hip-hop dance stars from around the world inside Knight Theater.
Breakin’ Convention will also tap into the underground talent in the Charlotte region by including local BBoy, BGirl and other dance crews and artists in the festivities.
“There’s an opportunity to recapture that tradition that wasn’t a mega-music tradition,” Gabbard said. “When it started, it was on the street, it was in community centers. It was a grassroots activity.”
Want to Go?
Breakin’ Convention, the renowned international festival of hip-hop dance, invades the Queen City this October. Direct from London’s Sadler’s Wells theatre, the festival will feature performances by hip-hop stars from around the globe and from the neighborhoods of Charlotte at Levine Center for the Arts Oct. 9-10. Tickets for the Friday and Saturday night shows at the Knight Theater are $19.50-$59.50. Click here to purchase tickets or for more information.