By Precious Ndumanya
On 14th of May 2022, Benneth Nwankwo’s directed TV series, Breakout season 1 was premiered in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State.
Breakout, created by Benneth Nwankwo and written by Maryann Ilebaye Matthew, Breakout – what you would say a mini 6 episode Nigerian version of American Step Up – starred Nigerian Actor Abayomi Alvin and a host of Nigerian dancers such as Melvin Dafatone, Smasha Fierce, Badgirl Ella, Mas Lucado, Oma Mibel, Annabel Chigbo, Dancephilus and others.
Despite some initial skepticism going in, given Nollywood’s up and down content quality I came away from Breakout’s official premiere pretty satisfied with what I have seen.
I found Breakout engaging enough to have me sit for nearly 2 hours at Annabel Cinemas Awka and watch the 6 episodes without getting bored. But it is not so special that I am going to run around shouting from the rooftops that everyone needs to watch it.
But best believe, It is a solid college dance drama. And like I have said before, it reminds me of something you might find in Hollywood’s dance drama TV series, Step up.
Breakout, in my observation does not have a central character. Rather, it focuses on almost all the casts but as the story leads, it tends to follow more on Olive played by Anabel Chigbo , Zuri played by Smasha Fierce and Alex played by Dancephilus and then unexpectedly drags the entire crew back to the story.
I know I have said before that I am not going to run around shouting from the rooftops that everyone needs to watch it but best believe, Breakout is worth watching because of its twists and turns never seem entirely implausible. You know like we say in Nigeria, you would always figure out the end of every Nollywood film from the beginning. That’s not the case for Breakout.
Let’s look at some of the casts.
Smasha Fierce deserves a special mention here for her understated portrayal of Zuri, a bisexual young dancer who is in love with Alex (a male played by Dancephilus) the leader of a rival dance crew and Olive (a female, played by Anabel Chigbo) a member of same rival dance crew. This is not what you will find in “a regular Nollywood films”.
Knowing the situation with NFVCB and the Nigerian society’s opinion on LGBT matters, it is important to commend the producers of this series as this was a “ great risk”. I will leave this subject for now or maybe forever.
Other casts, Dancephilus, Melvin Dafatone , Jiggy Rickky, Irene Nwosu also deserves special mention for the energy they brought to the dance floor through dance battles and studio rehearsals. And thanks to, Peculiar, for bringing the twerk vibes.
If you are a lover of Amapiano dance like myself, you would appreciate these lads. There is something about Amapianos; along with the abundant log drums, and staple keys, Amapiano stirs up this strong sense of anticipation. It feels good. It fires the soul.
For other casts like Abayomi Alvin, I did not quite figure out his character’s energy level. Femi (his character) was somewhat out of the vibes or maybe that is entirely his character – snobbish and less concern. I expected more from him in interpreting his role. Maybe he felt the rest of the casts are not in his ranks, having featured in numerous award winning films including recently, Netflix’s A Naija Christmas. I would be wrong, maybe, but I expected more from him. But to be fair, he was not that bad. He had great time on the show. His little face off at a club with Lara played by Oma Mibel and Tami played by Vanisha is the B-plot that led to loggerheads between the two rival dance groups; Dreams Dance Crew and Motions Dance Crew.
Hopefully, we will see more of Femi and I am guessing it is what the producers will be dealt with in future seasons (which I expect this show will get).
Generally, the sets of the good are good and I will also commend the cinematography. Give or take, 6/10.
I think Breakout will be as much of a breakout as the title says. It is good enough, and when finally released to the public will probably end up being watched enough to get another season.
If the concept of the show is enough to intrigue you in Episode 1, you will probably appreciate the series by the end.