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Jonzi D

Black and white headshot of Jonzi D

Jonzi D has been actively involved in British hip hop culture, rapping and b-boying in clubs and on the street since the early 1980s. Since graduating from London Contemporary Dance School, Jonzi has been committed to the development of hip hop theatre. He was an Associate Artist at The Place and has performed and created dance theatre pieces worldwide.

Jonzi D is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and is based at the theatre. Jonzi devised and directed TAG… just writing name in 2006, IVAN in 2006 and Markus the Sadist, a rap theatre piece in 2009. All pieces have successfully toured the UK to critical acclaim. He has also devised, choreographed and featured in various hip hop inspired fashion shows. Jonzi D is the curator and host of the acclaimed Breakin’ Convention, the international hip hop dance theatre festival, nominated for a South Bank Show award and now in its seventeenth year.

As an MC/poet, Jonzi D has worked with The Roots, Steve Williamson, Mannafest, Lenny Henry, MC Mell ‘O’ and toured with Gangstarr. He appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Channel 4’s Faking It, and his short films Silence da bitchin and Aeroplane Man were also screened on Channel 4. He is creator and host of the successful Apricot Jam and Vertika Cypher infamous hip hop music and open mic sessions. He presented the 2005 4Dance for Channel 4 and was recently the performance mentor for Urban Classic at Hackney Empire in February 2006. In 2007, he was listed as one of the top ten positive Black musical role models by MOBO and directed a new piece, Hectic Dialectic, as part of the Rozamira Festival in Moscow.

breakinconvention.com/jonzi-d

Photographer:

Irven Lewis

Why did you choose the photographer you worked with?

Irven has been developing his style working with dancers from a variety of technical backgrounds. He puts a lot of his work online and has become the photographer of choice for many upcoming dancers. It was an easy decision.

How did you come across him/her?

I first saw Irven dance in 1980-something when he used to come down to London from Leeds to battle against Jazz fusion dancers at Dingwalls in Camden. I started noticing him carrying a camera to gigs about six years ago, he was always so low-key about it. He asked me if I wanted to take some pics just for the sake of it, I agreed. That shoot produced images I still use today.

Why this photograph, this composition?

I smile a lot. But I tend to look goofy in photos so I often resort to the typical ‘ice-grill’ hardcore rapper pose. Fortunately, Irven found a smile I was proud of! Also, I have so many Breakin’ Convention T-shirts…

Black and white headshot of Jonzi D
Jonzi D © Irven Lewis