A Joseph Toonga premiere

New hip-hop contemporary dance work is based on first-person accounts from young black men across England's capital city

London premiere of Joseph Toonga’s Born To Manifest set for the Robin Howard Dance Theatre

JOSEPH TOONGA’S new hip-hop contemporary dance work Born To Manifest is a stirring powerful double bill which puts cultural identity, the challenging of racial stigmas and the mental health agenda firmly centre stage.

Using the first-person accounts from black men across London aged 17 to 45, Born To Manifest glimpses into the complexity and beauty of their journeys and contests the power and privilege that continue to oppress and dictate.

Toonga’s muscular twisting choreography is shown to powerful effect in solos and duets for him and Theophillus ‘Godson’ Oloyade. They tell real life stories, including Toonga and Oloyade’s own, which emerged during the research period and make physical the experiences of many young under-represented men in the UK today.

He mixes elements from hip-hop form and culture such as krump and popping with the long lines of contemporary dance and the grounded qualities of martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to form a visceral hybrid language that pushes the boundaries of hip-hop dance theatre.

Renowned producer, composer and DJ Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, co-artistic director of Boy Blue Entertainment and a fixture of the UK urban music industry, has created an original score for Born To Manifest. Asante’s music – including Toonga’s voice, and sounds from his home and his culture – is used to set the various scenes which run throughout the piece.

Toonga has worked with two notable associates on the creation of Born To Manifest – Dutch dance dramaturge Peggy Olislaegers and the co-artistic director of Blue Boy Entertainment Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy.

Toonga set up Just Us Dance Theatre, based in east London, in 2007 with Ricardo Da Silva and Rudeen February. A major part of the company’s ethos is to inspire, support and nurture others and it has established two mentoring programmes, Lets Shine and New&Notable, to provide tools and opportunities for young emerging hip-hop dance theatre artists.

Saturday November 16, at 7.30pm
Robin Howard Dance Theatre, The Place
17 Duke’s Road, London WC1H 9Y
Booking: 020 7121 1100 /
Tickets: £17 (£13 concessions)
Length: approx. 60 minutes

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