Hip hop dance is part of a greater culture that began in the streets rather than having been developed by dance masters of famed academies and institutions, which is how many classical forms of dance have originated. The three unique aspects of hip hop dance are freestyle movement, the involvement of battles, and the use of ciphers.
When hip hop dancers participate in freestyle routines, they do not adhere to any choreographic sequence of steps but rather improvise their own moves on the spot. There are basically no rules for freestyle dance, but hip hop dancers commonly use the beat, rhythm, melody, lyrics, and other aspects of the song or piece to help them determine their next moves.
Hip hop dance battles may be between individual dancers or crews. They originated from informal dance contests that took place in the streets and popular nighttime establishments. With battles, dancers perform routines, both freestyle and choreographed, alternately and either a panel of judges or the crowd determines the winner in the end.
Dancers form a circle. One dancer enters to perform a sequence of choreographed or freestyle moves while the remaining dancers in the circle yell out jeers or encouragements for the person performing. When the first dancer goes back to the circle, another one comes in and so forth.
Finding the Ideal Hip Hop Dance Style for You
You’ll have an easier time learning hip hop dance if you choose the form that best suits your tastes and skills.
Breaking or B-Boying
Breaking, which is also known as breakdancing and b-boying, is a dance movement that began in the early 1970’s in the streets of Bronx, one of the less privileged areas of New York. Black Americans of this era are largely credited for establishing this dance movement.
Of the many styles of hip hop dance, breaking is the most physically demanding as its more advanced routines involve intricate stunts that require incredible flexibility, strength, grace, and agility.
Also referred to as Campbell Locking, this hip hop dance style was invented by Don Campbell and his crew, The Lockers. With locking, dances have to lock into a certain position or step before moving to the next. The movement is stilted instead of flowing.
California’s Sam Solomon, whose crew is the Electric Boogaloos, is the father of popping. This particular hip hop dance style is characterized by the strong, quick, and somewhat jerky contraction and relaxation of muscles. Popping can be made using a person’s neck, chest, arms, and legs.