Among the dance acts performing at Sunday’s Colour of Hip Hop event at Summer in Southside is Jigsaw Collective, whose young performers are aged between 12 and 18. Having formed the company with a very different line-up for last year’s Breakin’ Convention, director Nathan Lafayette spoke to our Hippodrome Ambassadors Heather and Sipho about how the collective came to be and what their Summer in Southside performance will entail.
“Jigsaw Collective started off with me and Rebecca Namgauds who is away in London now, and was previously in Italy for a good while. When she went off to Italy after Breakin’ Convention, I was left with no one to dance with, as sad as that sounds. I knew Jigsaw should continue, I just wasn’t sure what our direction would be, so I reached out to a few people for advice, people in London who had already set up something like this.”
Following a suggestion that he apply for Birmingham Fest, Nathan quickly assembled a team of seven other dancers and put together a show over a three-month period. Some members of the company are a little older and more contemporary trained than those set to perform at Summer in Southside, but in its various forms, the collective has continued to grow ever since.
“The name Jigsaw Collective plays with the ethos of it, because it’s hard to have core members when you’re starting out. Everyone everyone works and you can’t ask too much of them, but I know a lot of dancers who I can just ask to join in.”
They’re not, of course, to be confused with the Australian soul, jazz and blues band of the same name: Nathan explains that you’ll recognise the right Jigsaw Collective by their logo, which features the letters JGSW between the arms of a cross. No hint yet of any collaborations between the two, although Nathan suggests that maybe he ought to reach out to them…
Jigsaw’s Colour of Hip Hop performance will see the dancers freestyling to a single song.
“It’s quite straightforward,” Nathan explained. “It gives the kids a chance to show off what they can do and it’s good performance experience for them too. I see it almost as a form of training.”
Nathan is also looking forward to seeing how the rest of the Hip Hop event comes together, as certain aspects of it are a little unconventional.
“There’s often a big divide between people who do more choreography and people who do more freestyle, whereas here, there will be people doing choreography for performances as well as battles, so those two different groups will be coming together. I know some people who usually do choreographed shows will enter the battles alongside others who are battle-born, and for me, it’s really interesting to see how they’ll work with each other. I think it’s really good that this is happening because we can learn a lot from each other. Personally, I’ve always been a drifter between social groups…when people ask what I do, I always say my base is hip hop but I don’t know how to answer that question.”
More generally, he’s excited to see local artists and large audiences coming together for the festival as a whole.
“It’s always nice to see the city really alive. When we had City of Colours it was great because there was just so much stuff happening and so many people around. When you’ve put events and workshops together yourself, you know how hard it is to promote it and get the numbers in, so it’s crazy to so many people flooding in for something like this. People seem to just gravitate towards it, and it’s great to see that kind of support.”
Jigsaw Collective will be performing at The Colour of Hip Hop, taking place from 2.30pm on Sunday 30th August. To find out more about the company, you can check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, or visit Nathan’s YouTube channel here.