Breakin’ Convention (Saturday evening)
The Empire Theatre
HOST and festival mastermind Jonzi D made a bold boast when he claimed that one of the acts appearing at Breakin’ Convention was "one of the most inspiring things you will ever see in your life."
It was a claim that was absolutely justified. In this celebration of "hip hop dance theatre", the only Scottish stop on Breakin’ Convention’s annual UK tour, the promise was for talent from "around the world and around the corner", but the ones most likely to stick in the memory are those international visitors.
This was despite a thrillingly entertaining opening from Kilmarnock’s Centrestage Music Theatre as the Braveheart channelling boys’ troupe Fearless proved you can breakdance to bagpipes and Andy Stewart – in kilts, of course – while female counterparts Hiplash put some life into the old moving statue trick.
Local lads MC Butterscotch and Robbie Synge took rather too long to get to the point with their gimmicky tape recorded introduction and if the self-consciously arty solo piece from Edinburgh’s Ashley Jack was designed to prompt questions, the main one was: how long to the next act?
All was redeemed by that inspirational act, the international collective known as ILL-Abilities.
First up was Kujo, a dancer who cannot hear music, but helped along by the audience whose clapping provided a visual queue.
Then came fellow Californian Tommy "Guns" Ly, who began a similarly thrilling break-dance display — before removing his prosthetic leg and continuing with a display of athleticism that was all the more breathtaking for being one limb short.
So it continued with the other members of the company proving that foreshortened limbs or being on crutches is no impediment to dancing and the feeling of freedom that brings as exemplified by Kujo’s statement that dancing makes him feel like a superhero.
To suggest that these dancers are disabled is a misnomer. True, their bodies might lack some of the functions we take for granted, but they compensate by using their bodies and their skills, including some mighty feats of arm strength, to approach dance in different ways.
As the man said, inspiring.
The second half of the event was left to the professionals.
Ukweli Roach’s Vice was a powerful piece of street dance/modern dance crossover dealing with addiction. Slow to start, once it bust into life the moves and clever choreography were hard to take your eyes off.
The evening closed with another high point in French group Wanted Posse. Their offering was a French crime movie in dance form, La Haine meets A Prophet perhaps as rioters end up behind bars and use dance rather than fists or blades to raise their status in the prison pecking order.
It was top quality stuff, but of all the acts on the night, ILL-Abilities will be the one that resonates the longest and for good reason.