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time to break and a time to chill

HNY world. Today 5th January 1980, Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang is the first hip hop single to reach the Billboard Top 40. This nugget of seminal information is one over 1000 historic Hip Hop facts in Mark 563 and Dokument press’s Hip Hop Journal. A wonderful Christmas present from SIN Cru Director, Ben Swift. Now is the perfect time to gift yourself a New Year’s sumthin sumthin, or to encourage your tribe to get fresh. And we have the perfect gift that keeps on giving, Participate Digital‘s ‘a time to break and a time to chill’ January programme starting on ZOOM TODAY:

Tuesdays 5:00pm – 6:00pm Cease and Settle; relax, stretch out and open yourselves up to 2021

Wednesdays 5:00pm – 6:00pm Breakin’; classic styles and classic fun learning the art of Bboyin’

If 2020 has taught us anything, its the importance of balance, indisputably summed up by Big Bank Hank RIP, verse 9 of the 12″, ‘there’s a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to live, and a time to die. A time to break, and a time to chill, to act civilised, or to act real ill.’ Invest in your time this year, and own your choices.

for the Creative in your life

searching for a very special limited edition gift for the Creative in your life? Head over to FullyDipped on Etsy to get your hands on the brand spanking new notebook. With a mix of lined and blank pages, this 50 page A5 landscape notebook is perfect as a set book for dancers; a black book for graffiti artists; somewhere to collect your doodles, your bars, your thoughts, and sketches. The full colour laminated cover features Hip Hop characters and designs by Nonsinthetik, the inner cover and lined pages show a yellow graphic with various illustrations and text. Supported by Arts Council England‘s Culture Recovery Fund, this practical piece of art is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

the olympics

It first started with discussions about breakin’s place in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics. Older heads in the scene said it was a complicated process, the World Dance Sports Federation would have to have a clear plan and a lot of paperwork to be able to accept it as a category that they represented. Breakin’ was included in the Youth Olympics, and further proposed by the 2024 Paris Olympic Games organising committee as an additional sport, alongside skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced yesterday, Tuesday 8th December 2020, that Breakin’ is confirmed as a sport in the 2024 programme.

Check out https://www.breakingforgold.com/ for info on upcoming events and competitors. 

The main and most discussed anxiety for any Head who’s been in this scene for a while, is that the culture will be misrepresented, poorly explained, or showcased to the masses with no cultural context. This is our job moving forward. We all have to let people know as this path unfolds onto what is quite literally, the world’s largest stage, the best way to represent us as a culture. This dance is called breakin’ or Bboyin’ not breakdance; it is part of a wider cultural movement including graffiti, DJing, beatboxing and MCing, and it can’t be divorced from the personality of the individual without losing its essence and what makes it special.

Another well fleshed out worry is that the music and judging systems will have to become standardised in order to formalise such a large and all encompassing competition. Heads will know that over the years, Bboy anthems have already been lost from big competitions due to international music rights, and the need to share content across online platforms such as Youtube, without getting censored or sued. Judging is also a hot topic – how does style and individual personality translate in a worldwide judging system, but how does it ever in any competition? Judging events has always set people off, from unconscious bias, to plain ignorance, differing opinions, to personal justification to the world and their B-mum post event from mid-battle scribbles; you will never please everyone. 

Concerns over corruption within the Olympics and partnering with big corporations aren’t new either. The scene has been vocal over culture vultures and people capitalising on the assets of breakin’ for many years. Energy drink sponsored super crews have been the talk of the town for a moment, but we have to check our hypocrisy. We buy petrol and diesel at the expense of the environment, fill our houses with plastic waste and eat factory farmed meat, all supporting capitalist systems that keep an imbalanced global status quo. Maybe we need to check our standards if they’re not aligned. As Poe One says, ‘we live on stolen land.’

The benefits for the scene could be big, a larger platform, better supported upper tier of competing professionals, more research into training, diet, injury prevention and so on. More money. But the down side is the reclassification in many people’s eyes, of dance to sport. The concern that arts organisations such as ourselves will be supported less by third sector public funding is a real one, and one that we will have to learn to navigate in the inevitable future of dance meets sport. 

Two other points to note, one good and one bad: The Olympic selection is making sure that there is an equal amount of male and female competitors, promoting gender equality across the event, in what is traditionally a chauvinistic, male dominated culture. The second point is that the Olympics are by nature Nationalistic, something that runs in antithesis to Hip Hop’s purpose of bringing people together and breaking down barriers. Nationalism can be a dangerous subject, especially in countries where it’s often hijacked by the far right and used as a vehicle for xenophobia and hate.

The message being broadcast by most futurists in the scene seems to be to ‘get with the programme, or get left behind.’ For everyone who is feeling left behind, I think it’s important to remember that change will always feel strange, and that this culture is robust enough to look after many camps and viewpoints. SIN Cru will always be a champion of the style, music, character, and culture that created the dance. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. 

festive frivolities THIS friday

Whether you are weathering the storm or shedding a little tear for those of us still chillin’ in tier 3 lockdown, the inevitability of Christmas is upon us. Put up your tree, hang the tinsel, get out the mince pies, and book on to our festive Participate Digital pop up classes this Friday.

4.30pm – 5.30pm (GMT) Breakin’ for 7yrs +, with fancy dress and games

5.45pm – 6.45pm (GMT) candle light Cease and Settle for 14yrs + for a super relaxing wind down before the holidays.

Beat those seasonal blues and come join us. £6 for one class or £10 for both. Buying for someone else? Why not give one of these classes as an early Christmas present? Click here for easy purchase online.

#HereForCulture

We are ecstatic to announce we have been awarded the Culture Recovery Fund from Arts Council England and the UK Government. Culture creates jobs, supports livelihoods, and brings much needed joy to people, and the UK is a world leader across the creative industries. With an unprecedented investment through the £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund, coming through on top of the furlough scheme, bounce-back loans and emergency grants; the government is #HereForCulture so we can all weather the storm of coronavirus and come back stronger.

Arts Council England have been working with the government to deliver emergency funding for organisations and venues across the sector in a strategic bid to support and resuscitate the arts. We are full of gratitude for the recognition of being a valuable asset to the UK’s cultural map with funding to help us continue to share our vision and onward journey. This is a huge step for SIN Cru in establishing our future as a robust and independent arts organisation, and cementing our goals to bring high quality, contextualised Hip Hop culture and arts to the dance community and UK public through our programmes.

#HereForCulture is a movement that unites the public, government and cultural organisations in support of the UK’s fantastic cinemas, theatres, music venues, museums, galleries and heritage. Through an ongoing digital programme alongside re-formed physical practise that keeps our community’s safety in mind, we are creating publicly accessible environments for a new climate of art.

This is just the beginning of the next 25 years. Thank you to everyone who has supported us through the tough and interesting times of National lockdown and global pandemic.

Emblazon your socials with #StrengthInNumbers to join our adventure.

ancestral trauma and me

So pleased to announce the must read article published today in Black Ballad by Dr Michelle Nyangereka. Dr Nyangereka is a mother, a counselling psychologist, filmmaker, SIN Cru collaborator, and bestie. She was lead consultant on Fly No Filter’s Only When Its Feathers are Grown, and instrumental in helping Artistic Director Lucy retrace the steps of her descent. This article is an excellent launchpad from which to start a personal investigation into what the descent means to you, how far you are prepared to look, and in turn, the unrushed beginning of healing.

Dr Nyangereka is making a documentary about other black women’s experiences of the descent. If you would like to contribute, please email contact@drmichelle.co.uk

‘we have art in order not to die of the truth,’ Nietzsche

‘All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.’ James Baldwin.

Ashley Banjo, Artistic Director of Diversity has been accused of telling a story with bias, of inciting violence against the police, using mainstream TV for his own agenda, of glamourising without empathy the death of a man. A black man, George Floyd.

Diversity are arguably the UKs most successful commercial street dance entity and became household names since winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. They returned to the show at the start of September to present their Black Lives Matter piece. The performance was an emotional and provocative commentary on current affairs, opening with COVID and transitioning to, in Ashley’s voice, “something more sinister. Another disease deep rooted in our system. Fear, hate, ignorance, but racism was the symptom.” Ashley has been bludgeoned across social media by racist complaints, scrutiny over the intentions of his choreography, and protests to ITV about what should be allowed prime time slots. Exactly the reason why work like the Diversity Black Lives Matter piece is a necessary addition to peak time viewings.

SIN Cru are joining the reams of praise and support that has also inundated Diversity amongst the negativity, and in the words of Pablo Picasso, would like to ask, ‘what do you think an artist is? He is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.’

stuntgal for superstardom

we are so tremendously proud and excited to be sharing the news that JNR Sinstar alumni, Lara Stuntgal Ciulli has been offered a place to study at Philippe Gaulier‘s prestigious theatre clowning school in Étampes, Paris. In Lara’s own words, ‘this is a truly once in a lifetime opportunity’ and she will be heading out to Paris to start this very big next stage of her life in October.

Lara explains what brought her to L’école Philippe Gaulier.

Having spent this last year reading, and watching more theatre than ever before, and having a lot of time to reflect on the future of the industry and how I want to create within that, I began looking into the teaching of Philippe Gaulier, French master clown, pedagogue, professor of theatre, a man described as ‘one of today’s most influential and revolutionary theatre masters’. His teaching method seems extreme and unique – this idea of revelling in the joy of being on stage, uncomfortable, ridiculous, finding the game – le jeu, in everything you do and allowing that to be the door into any emotion you play. I’ve realised that this is exactly what I want to be doing.

Lara has spent the last two years working to save money for this move and with support left to her by her grandad, she is able to pay the course fees. Her main concern now is to cover her rent and living expenses in the first term whilst she looks for a part time job. And this readers, is where we can get involved – donate donate donate and lets help turn dreams into reality. SIN Cru are a million percent behind Lara’s campaign and cannot think of a more deserving or suitable young artist to join Philippe Gaulier. Please click here for the gofundme link. Lara thanks you in advance, from the heart and will keep donors updated with performances and news of her studies.

welcome to the new world

wg people. As much as I am hoping for an Indian summer, autumn is nudging the periphery. Schools are opening and the start of the new academic year is upon us, masked and two metres apart. Drawing from the success of our Participate Digital pilot, next week sees the launch of our autumn programme. We are running two of our most popular courses in short four week blocks: Tuesday 8th sees the return of Cease and Settle, Wednesday 9th welcomes back Breakin’. Both courses take place over ZOOM so you can access us on the move, in the garden, from your living rooms, wherever you and wifi are in the world. Check our education page for more info and click here to book.

SIN Cru’s 7 Tips to Learn Smarter

  1. Find the right teachers for you
  2. Create a strong foundation
  3. Gain first hand, real life experience
  4. Be OK with making mistakes
  5. Ask questions
  6. Learn your subject history and context
  7. Remember why you started

experiments in time and space

Khagen is an emerging dance artist from Manchester. As a new generation Bboy from the north of England, he brought a variety of different perspectives and reference points to the company. This year is all about drawing back to history and tradition, and taking those lessons and inspirations into blue sky thinking to create new work which is responsive to now, to propel us with glamour at a jaunty angle, into the next quarter of a century.

From Khagen mad-fer-it Big Dawg:

Having recently completed all aspects of the Back to the Future #SINCru25 project, I’m pleased with the outcome. Overall I enjoyed taking part in the project in the role of ‘Big Dawg’, which included rehearsing for battles and for the video, Back to the Future – an experiment in time and space.

The #SINCru25 project was demanding as it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was expected to create and set routines and movements for performing, which was different for me as I freestyle a lot in all of my performances. However I enjoyed the challenge of devising and choreographing material as it allowed me to develop more consistency when planning and executing my rounds.

During this project I learned various new footwork steps and variations that I could develop in my space. As I was limited to my living room, it was not appropriate for me to perform big power moves, which consequently forced me to develop more floorwork patterns and transitions, with the help of SIN Cru.

I enjoyed the experience of entering online battles, which otherwise I would not have done if it wasn’t for this project. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of working in a 2v2 with a battle partner who was in a different location, which allowed us to consider ways to exceed in the battle by using the online platform to our advantage when making routines and commandos.

The least enjoyable part of the project was due to the limitations in place because of COVID-19. This meant I was unable to meet the rest of the company until very late on in the project, and it was particularly difficult trying to battle to my strengths whilst also bound by the impracticalities of my living room.

Ultimately I very much enjoyed the project and I am grateful to SIN Cru for allowing me to be a part of it. I look forward to future plans ✌🏾🤟🏾