Hip hop dance is an energetic style of dance that requires a high level of physical fitness, complex footwork and an ability to follow the beat of the music. It is a versatile style that can take many forms, from breakdancing to social dancing. The heavy beats of hip hop music provide an ideal foundation for quick, acrobatic moves that demand stamina and strength. In addition, hip hop requires its dancers to express themselves through the use of a variety of hand gestures and body postures. The style is also known for its use of graffiti, a form of street art that incorporates drawing with words and symbols.
The origins of hip hop are closely linked to urban life in the early 1970s. During this time, poor neighborhoods in New York were overflowing with drug and gang activity. These conditions were not only a major obstacle for young people but they also created an environment where a culture of competition was born. Hip hop began as a way of honoring the best and brightest in the community by outdoing one another in everything from a dance battle to the quality of a graffiti piece.
Throughout the years, hip hop has become synonymous with freestyle movement and a style that blends breaking, popping and locking. The emergence of clubs in the late 1980s helped to popularize these dance styles and paved the way for the evolution of hip hop into a more formalized art form with both formal and informal competitions, called cyphers or battles.