Theo ‘Godson’ Oloyade – interview
Afridiziak caught up with Theo Oloyade ahead of this weekend’s, annual Breakin’ Convention at Sadler’s Wells. He will be producing his own show on the main stage for the first time.
Breakin’ Convention brings knowledge and a history of hip hop to people who aren’t aware. It is also a different experience away from the mainstream stereotypes of gold teeth and bling.
Really great to meet you, obviously I’ve seen you on TV in Got to Dance and Britain’s Got Talent and what has always struck me is your name, where does the name ‘Godson’ come from?
I dance for Boy Blue Entertainment and I am heavily involved with them and a lot of my training comes from this group. The choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy gave me the name as we had a crew called ‘Krump Fortunate’ within the BBE group, it was a sort of training camp focused mainly on the dance form ‘Krump’ (Krumping is a street dance popularized in the United States, characterized by free, expressive, exaggerated, and highly energetic movement). In this camp everyone had family orientated names, ‘uncle’ something or ‘aunt’ someone. ‘Godson’ was the only name left as I joined quite late but it fit with me, actually my name is Theophilus which means friend of God so the nickname is a perfect fit.
In your early stages how did you know that you could dance? Some people think that they can dance and they can’t, how did you know you had something special?
It was something that I always enjoyed doing and as I got older, into my late teens people started to give me compliments on my dancing and that’s when it started to resonate with me that I could be alright at this. When I was 18 and I decided not to go to university to pursue a dance career and give it my full attention. I’ve now gone back to university and have been studying brand marketing and events management for the last two years. It’s a hard road to sustain a career in dance, it’s tough so now that I’m older and wiser I felt it was good to have a backup plan.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I’ve experienced so many different things as I started out so young in the industry. I think one of the biggest challenges is when I was a dance captain and performer for the Olympic opening ceremony. At the time I was young in the game and had to teach a large number of people, about 1200 dancers. I had to make sure I was delivering correct choreography whilst simultaneously ensuring that my moves were on point as I was also performing. The Olympics is huge and there were millions of people around the world watching from all backgrounds. I didn’t want to let anybody down or disappoint people watching and my dancers.
How did you stay motivated?
I stayed motivated by focusing on what I had to do and not getting carried away with family and friends’ compliments as that could make me complacent. I knew I needed to work hard and focus on where I wanted to be and what I wanted to achieve. We were working on the opening ceremony for eight months, working six days a week for 12 hour shifts. It was intense, difficult, draining and all that but at the end it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
How do you unwind after something so intense like that? For me I unwind by dancing but this is your job, how do you enjoy yourself, how do you turn up?
Laughs. It’s funny but it’s the same for me, I still dance to unwind and enjoy myself. I always love to dance and especially I enjoy Soca and bashment music so I always go to carnival, that’s where I GO IN. I still love to go to parties and enjoy myself, it’s good to stay young and keep enjoying life.
You’ve had success on TV with Got to Dance and Britain’s Got Talent. What sort of experience was that like for you?
I have always been a fearless performer and have always trusted my instinct. It was a great experience taking part in these shows. Initially I wanted to bring more exposure to the dance movement ‘Krump’ in the UK; I felt it was my duty as one of the pioneers here in the UK to bring this dance form to everyone. I needed to share it and make the scene grow. That was my ultimate goal at the beginning, but it all grew and became bigger than I anticipated. I reached a lot of people which I’m still proud about.
I think one of the biggest challenges is when I was a dance captain and performer for the Olympic opening ceremony. I was young in the game and had to teach about 1200 dancers and make sure I was delivering correct choreography whilst ensuring that my moves were on point as I was also performing.
How did you find out about Krump, as it’s mainly known in the US?
I first saw it on TV on Channel 4. I was young at the time, real young like 13. It was in a film called Rize (2005), I saw that and then when I started dancing and got more exposure to the scene and saw a dance group called Wet Wipes Squad and they were doing it. Some of my friends and I decided to band together as a group and from there it grew. I was reaching out to people and training via YouTube clips, then people from LA started to come over and do workshops as the buzz grew here in the UK. One of the founding creators of the dance, Mijo came over and he saw what we were doing in our group and was like you guys need to be in my group.
You obviously have a talent for teaching. Do you feel inspired when you see the next generation coming up and how much you are impacting them?
Definitely, it puts me back to when I was training and learning and starting out. It gives me that fire to keep pushing, the kids now inspire me to carry on. I see myself in a lot of them at their age.
So let’s talk about your involvement in this weekend’s annual Breakin’ Convention. How did you get involved?
Breakin Convention is something I have been a part of for years through Boy Blue Entertainment (BBE) and initially I performed on the main stage with them and then auditioned to do a solo in 2011. From there it developed into an ongoing relationship. I did another solo and also was part of the Funk Style forum and performed with BBE at other events. This year will be the first time I’m producing one of my own pieces on the main stage. It has been a long journey. The main stage is amazing.
How would you describe Breakin’ Convention for someone who doesn’t know about it?
This show brings knowledge and a history on hip hop to people who aren’t aware. It is also a different experience of hip hop away from the mainstream stereotypes of gold teeth and bling. A lot of stuff in the mainstream has been manufactured and taken away from its roots. It is going to be a lot of energy and fun for those who are into hip hop and for those who aren’t. The show brings hip hop back to where it started and I think will influence the opinions and knowledge of people on this art form through dance, music and theatre.
What’s your goal, how do you want your dance to make an impact?
In May I’m launching my professional dance company called Company Theophilus and that will be primarily based on hip-hop and krump dance. Through that, I also launched a kid’s dance company in March called Urban Dance Company and it is in Redbridge. We are also looking to launch one in Stratford in the future.