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Jonzi D: Lyrikal Fearta review at Lilian Baylis Studio London

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Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Jonzi D has curated and hosted the theatre’s annual hip-hop festival Breakin’ Convention for a decade, but the British dancer-choreographer also stages his own smaller-scale performances. Lyrikal Fearta is one such, with the triple bill including dance, speech and music as well as two guest performers, the poet-performer GREEdS (Yomi Sode) and the performer-choreographer Ivan Blackstock. The evening has considerable humour, but also a strong polemical tone, with all three of the works carrying robust socio-political messages.

It begins with GREEdS’ poems dealing with both the optimism of a young African living in England who returns to his Nigerian roots, alongside the very considerable disappointment of the human rights abuses he witnesses. The poem An Open Letter to Mrs Jonathan does not duck its difficult theme.

Next is Broken Lineage, a duet for Jonzi D and the talented Ivan Blackstock, who must be one of the most original hip-hop dance artists to emerge in the last few years. It is a dialogue between the two men, the older Jonzi who grew up in an era when hip-hop was disparaged, and the younger Blackstock who has reaped many of the benefits of its acceptance.

Last is Jonzi’s solo The Letter, which recounts how he came to the decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List. The piece reveals his talent as an actor and mimic, as well as his loyalty to hip-hop’s cultural and socio-political concerns rather than only its theatrical and athletic appeal – and money-making potential.

Production Information

Lilian Baylis Studio, London, December 9-11

Kwake Bass
Jonzi D, Ivan Blackstock
Sadler’s Wells
GREEdS, Jonzi D, Ivan Blackstock
Running time
1hr 45mins

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