This weekend saw the return of this popular international festival of hip hop dance theatre. The entertainment started before the curtain had even gone up with various groups performing in the foyer areas. Kimmy Beatbox was there to warm up the crowds and entice various dancers out of the crowd.

The main show was hosted by Jonzi D, the founder and Artistic Director of Jonzi D Projects and Breakin’ Convention. He was supported throughout the evening by the incredible sign language interpreter Jacqui Bedford. Jonzi D engaged the audience from the first moment and had us all cheering and shouting in anticipation of the dance acts from all around the world.

The Locksmiths (UK) opened the first half brilliantly with their cheeky take on musical chairs. The music was provided by the multi-tasking Adam Liston, who was the master of the loopstation. The dancers brought a happy energy to the theatre and set a joyful mood. Gulf Dance Company’s (UK) ‘Human’ was an exploration of impossible seeming physical movements with razor sharp timing. Logistx is a 15 year old dancer from the LA dance scene and part of San Diego’s Underground Flow. Her moves were quick and fluid. She brought real drama to the stage with the dramatic lighting and her pained movements.

Agnes Salas and Hector Plaza (Spain) and Fiya House (UK) all danced brilliantly and showed how well hip hop can explore some of the darker elements of human relationships. The Fiya House piece (Prana) was at times terrifying.

Geometrie Variable (France) finished the first half with minutely choreographed, clockwork movements. At times you forgot you were watching people dancing. The movements were so mechanical, precise and mesmerising.

The extended interval was packed with things to do: learning to tag in the Graff Zone with Mr Dane, brushing up on dance skills with Rowdy and Mid-Air and getting away from it all in the chill-out zone with some classic hip hop films. We spent most of our time listening to the Resident DJs Tha En4cerz in the mezzanine.

The atmosphere in the second half was electric, opened by Junior Bosila and Kalli Tarasidou, with their piece ‘Addiction.’ Exploring a dark subject didn’t take away any of the joy in watching their unique style. From a European collaboration to a South Korean showcase. The Jinjo Crew, led by B-Boy Wing, flipped and popped their way across the stage. Angyil McNeal’s solo piece ‘Finding Me’ provided a real change of mood and held the audience’s attention completely.

Boy Blue from the UK finished the show in style. They had a huge amount of support from the audience and the huge crew filled the stage with an infectious energy. The piece ‘Because we can’ exemplified the dance company’s motto and left no one in any doubt that indeed, they can.

In this moment when division and separation is being courted by politicians, Jonzi D’s spirit of inclusion and belief that the hip hop community can teach us all so much left us both with a spring in our step. It was a brilliant evening and a great experience to see dancers from all nations joining together.