A world of Spoken Movement

All roads lead to Breakin’ Convention 2020 as Artistic Director Kwame Asafo-Adjei's UK-based act takes to the stage

Spoken Movement in action

KWAME ASAFO-Adjei along with Catrina Nisbett will be performing ‘Family Honour’ at Breakin’ Convention in London and on tour across the UK.

An unmissable date in the annual hip hop calendar, Breakin’ Convention returns to its Sadler’s Wells home for its seventeenth anniversary on May 2 and 3, before embarking on a national tour until June 6.

‘We ask the audience to abandon the analytical perspective, in order for them to digest the work with a guttural response’

Kwame Asafo-Adjei

The influential festival of hip hop dance theatre features unparalleled line-ups of both local and international performances, curated by UK hip hop theatre legend, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and Breakin’ Convention Artistic Director, Jonzi D.

Looking forward to working alongside Spoken Movementm Jonzi D said: “Spoken Movement’s Kwame Asafo-Adjei uses popping and krump vocabulary in narratives that trace his Ghanaian roots, exploring environmental issues, and themes of family and race. His choreography has developed into something potent and unflinching.”

Lifestyle caught up with the creative to talk about what it meant to him to be working with the Festival at such close quarters throughout 2020.

L: Kwame, Spoken Movement have performed at Breakin’ Convention in London many times. How does it feel to be chosen to tour the UK?

KAA: It feels really exciting, a crucial part of my journey is taking part in their artistic development program “back to the lab”. Through this I worked my way up to Breakin’ Convention mainstage and performed consecutively over the years, Now being here is another check point for the company to really spread awareness for the work

L: For background, tell us how, when and where Spoken Movement formed. How did you meet Jonzi D and become part of the Breakin’ Convention family? 

KAA: Prior to all this, I spent two years isolating myself with training using the knowledge I had acquired over the years. I had just left the Far From The Norm company, and was able to find my voice in these two years, having danced for some years prior to this. It was this particular process that really allowed me to speak volumes within the movement. Luckily I was facilitated by Southbank Centre, located in Waterloo. Spoken Movement was then formed alongside two dancers I was working with at the time, Shanika Wallace and Shakeera Patterson. This was the foundation Spoken Movement was built off in 2010.

L: Family Honour, the piece you’ve created and are performing with Catrina Nisbett is a powerful work. Can you tell us more about it?

KAA: Family Honour derived from a heated discussion between my father and sister. it was just a memory until I made it physical. Although I had to alter the storyline in order to make it more interesting and theatrical so I made my father a priest when in actual fact he works with a bank. The last conversation between a father and daughter, before the daughter is abandoned due to a taboo that she committed. This format allows the company to explore the religious aspects and domestics that take place in this space. Creating an inception for the audience to quarrel between reality and a mental state was definitely a key point of transition between memories. This would solidify the thread through the story, looking at corruption, race, gender, mental health, domestics, and tradition.

L: What might audiences take home with them after experiencing this piece? 

KAA: We ask the audience to abandon the analytical perspective, in order for them to digest the work with a guttural response. Taking home a sense of self-reflection and opening the question of where I stand in all of this? I want the audience to take whatever they want from the piece but to leave with a sense of compassion and understanding.

L: Spoken Movement have won some awards, I’m sure Voice readers would like to hear about how well one of our finest UK Hip Hop dance crews is doing, both here and abroad, over to you:

KAA: Last year Spoken Movement accomplished the goals that were set for the company. Not to sound overconfident in any way but I told my company members we would win Rotterdam International Dance Choreographic Competition, Copenhagen International Choreographic Competition,  Dans Elargie, Paris competition and many more.

We accumulated quite a bit of financial support and continue to grow in that aspect as well as through the artistry. Winning these competitions was an eye-opener of what the company was capable of, what our audience is for this work and that anything is possible with hard work and a good team. I realised how hard it was to break boundaries in the UK , due to them not willing to take risky work but once I achieved success abroad, suddenly the door began to open, which I found quite interesting. Moving forward, we have a new production out this year in Rotterdam theatre in conjunction with RIDCC, which will tour next year.

Tour dates

Sat       02-May         6pm                          LONDON Sadler’s Wells

Sun      03-May         6pm                          LONDON Sadler’s Wells

Wed     06-May         7:30pm                     DONCASTER Cast

Sat       09-May         7:45pm                     POOLE Lighthouse

Tue       12-May         7:30pm                     PLYMOUTH Theatre Royal

Wed     13-May         7:30pm                     PLYMOUTH Theatre Royal

Sat       16-May         7:30pm                     BLACKPOOL Grand

Tue       19-May         7:30pm                     SOUTH SHIELDS Customs House

Fri         22-May         7:30pm                     NOTTINGHAM Royal Concert Hall

Sat       23-May         7:30pm                     NOTTINGHAM Royal Concert Hall

Wed     27-May         2:30pm / 7:30pm      BRIGHTON Dome

Fri         29-May         7:30pm                     NORWICH Theatre Royal

Sat       30-May         7:30pm                     NORWICH Theatre Royal

Tue       02-Jun          7:30pm                     BIRMINGHAM Repertory Theatre

Wed     03-Jun          7:30pm                     BIRMINGHAM Repertory Theatre

Sat       06-Jun          2:30pm / 7:30pm      CANTERBURY Marlowe Theatre

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