Review: Jonzi D - The Letter and Other Works at Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells

15:42 01 November 2012

Jonzi D. Picture: Paul Hampartsoumian

Jonzi D. Picture: Paul Hampartsoumian


Hip hop maestro Jonzi D explores his rejection of MBE in first work in decade

Hip hop maestro Jonzi D returned to his creative roots with this performance of his first new work in 10 years.

For many years Jonzi has been the face of the hip hop dance revolution in the UK, primarily for his work in Sadler’s Wells festival Breakin’ Convention, where he is an associate artist.

Now he has returned as a creator of some sharp, relevant and poetic new dance theatre.

Working with a small team of performers, and a live band lead by Kwake Bass, the evening encompassed music, poetry, movement, politics and wit; offering a rare insight into this pillar of UK hip hop dance.

The first half included an introduction by Jonzi, followed by some work by performance poet OneNess Sankara (who has been nominated for a BEFFTA award for Best Spoken Word Artist and Best Female Act).

She delivered a bleak piece on gang rape, followed by a light, uplifting song Orange Wednesdays. The highlight of the first half had to be energetic Ugandan dance troupe Tabu Flo.

The second half focused on a solo piece performed by Jonzi: The Letter. It’s an exploration of the responses Jonzi encountered when offered an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list. The Letter is an eloquent and touching story as he agonises over the various comments colleagues, friends and family gave to him, acting out all the characters himself, before he can make his final decision – should he embrace the proposed MBE that would recognise his life work, or reject it on its implications and roots in the colonial past? The Letter comes to a head as the family come together at Christmas Day and Jonzi is nervously awaiting their reaction to his decision.

* The Letter and Other Works was at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1


Latest Islington Entertainment Stories


As exclusively reported in the Gazette, Rotunda in King’s Cross won the “best dressed pub garden” gong in this year’s Islington in Bloom awards. So it was only right to check out the venue itself.


With one in 10 gay men now living with HIV, Zoe Paskett explores how chemsex has become an NHS public health crisis. Peter Darney, writer of play 5 Guys Chillin’, and sexual health nurse Hannah McCall offer insight.

Yesterday, 18:09

Photographs from Dave Brown (Bollo) and Noel Fielding’s drawings feature in the exhibition that opens October 20 at The Book Club

Yesterday, 17:00

Ella Hickson’s long-gestating play tackles the question of dwindling oil resources in a sprawling, magic-realist epic, stretching from 19th century Cornwall to a dystopian future

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read entertainment


Show Job Lists


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now