Afridiziak interview with Jonzi D

Interview by: Sophia A Jackson 
Published: Tuesday 30 April 2024, 10:00am

This is part of Afridiziak Theatre News’ series of interviews with Artistic Directors. 

An MC, dancer, spoken word artist and director, he is the foremost advocate for hip hop who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades. Since founding Breakin’ Convention in 2004 Jonzi has triumphed in raising the profile and giving a platform to hip hop disciplines, which has gained worldwide recognition as being at the vanguard of the development of the art form.

Through professional development projects Open Art Surgery and Back to the Lab, Jonzi has supported hundreds of hip hop dance and rap/poetry artists on their journey to creating theatre. His critically acclaimed works include 1995‘s Lyrikal Fearta, 1999’s Aeroplane Man, 2006’s TAG… Just Writing My Name, 2009’s Markus the Sadist and 2013’s The Letter: To Be Or To MBE? about his choice to decline an MBE from the Queen.

Jonzi’s has been featured in HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, had his short films Silence da Bitchin’ & Aeroplane Man screened on Channel 4, toured his work extensively all over the world and delivered his own TED Talk about the influence and evolution of hip hop culture.

In 2020 Jonzi directed Our Bodies Back which won ‘Best Artistic Film’ as part of the Detroit Black film festival, followed up by the sequel, AUTOCORRECT in 2022. He also wrote Here/Not Here, a short film directed by Bim Ajadi which won the ‘Best Film’ category in Deaffest 2022.

In 2023, Jonzi D was awarded a citation from Al Taylor of the 71st District – New York State Assembly in recognition of his efforts for advancing and advocating hip hop culture in the UK and abroad, and the De Valois Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Dancing Times Critic’s Circle.

In 2024, Jonzi D was nominated for his artistic direction of Breakin’ Convention, cementing the festival’s two decades as a mainstay in the world of theatre and beyond.

Breakin’ Convention 2024
International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre
3 – 6 May
Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Lilian Baylis Studio in Angel

 Fuel your soul this spring with Breakin’ Convention, the world’s biggest festival of hip hop dance theatre. Hosted and curated by Jonzi D, the festival features the freshest works from your favourite artists. Get bank holiday ready for jaw-dropping performances, live DJ’s, dance workshops, graffiti, emcees, and spontaneous cyphers all over Sadler’s Wells in an unforgettable experience. Welcoming all hip hop heads from the old school to the new school.

Performing this year:
Boy Blue (UK)| Cie Kilaï (France) | Company DHW (UK) | CREATE4 (Netherlands)| Ekleido (UK) | Femme Fatale (USA) | GSB (UK) | Jamal Sterrett (UK) | Jinjo Crew (South Korea) | Sasha Mahfouz Shadid (UK)| ShaolinOrShao (UK) | Sons of Wind (France) | TRAPLORD (UK)| When Time Was New (UK)

NEED TO KNOW:  Breakin’ Convention takes place 3 -5 May 2024 at Sadler’s Wells, Park Jam takes place on  Bank Holiday Monday, 6 May, Spa Fields | Please, visit Breakin’ Convention for more information on the schedule for the weekend and Sadler’s Wells to book tickets.        
#AfridiziakTheatreNews #BreakinConvention #JonziD