THERE'S something about Breakin' Convention that frees up the vocal chords. Ordinarily, British audiences make do with polite clapping, but when hosts Jonzi D and Tony Thrills ask you to "make some noise", somehow that doesn't quite cut it. The result is an entire theatre whooping and hollering – and an atmosphere second to none.
Back in Edinburgh for the third time, Breakin' Convention captures all that's great about hip hop: the energy, the mutual support, the increasingly diverse styles and, best of all, the cross-generational appeal. All are made to feel welcome here, from primary school kids to pensioners.
The event also generates a real sense of community, both local and international. Whether it's good old Scotmid in the foyer with its smoothie-making bicycle, have-a-go audience members throwing down some shapes pre-show, or the local crews giving their all on stage, Scotland is very much represented.
For the six local crews who made it through auditions, being part of Breakin' Convention is clearly a big deal. Split over two nights, the three crews performing on Monday took the genre down vastly different routes. Zee DC's sprightly mix of streetdance and cheerleading had the crowd in raptures, while Heavy Smokers' interesting take on origami and Xena Productions' witty look at office life proved just how versatile hip hop dance theatre can be. Next up were Phase T and Sebastien & Raphael, two European acts clearly at the top of their game, entertaining those of us who couldn't even contemplate an L Kick – and inspiring those who could.
With their slick, synchronised moves and gravity-defying flips and headspins, France's Phase T are a true force to be reckoned with. Sebastien & Raphael's Together Alone would benefit from trimming, but the French/German duo's blend of film, breakdance and optical illusion was still a remarkable achievement.