The pop dance phenomenon that is BTS has captivated audiences worldwide. From their first single to the release of their most recent album, their songs are being played everywhere from school cafeterias to the most prestigious stages in music. Their choreography is also a mainstay of viral dance videos that dominate social media. It is no wonder, then, that the Recording Academy created a new category to celebrate these artists and their work.
The new best pop dance recording award recognizes up-tempo, danceable music with a pop arrangement. It’s a win for dance artists and the wider electronic world, which has long been underrepresented at the Grammys. The addition of this category, along with the best dance/electronic album, marks a significant shift in the Academy’s approach to these sprawling genres.
Popping is a fluid style of dance that is characterized by sudden tensing and releasing (“hitting”) to the rhythm of beats in music. It developed in the late 1960’s and 70’s among working class youth of color in deindustrializing parts of cities like Fresno, California. It adapted from earlier Boogaloo cultural movements and helped to influence the tradition of Hip Hop styles of dance. Its earliest national exposure came from a series of mid-1980s Hollywood breakdancing films known as “Breaksploitation.”
While there is some confusion about the origins of popping, pioneering dancer Timothy Solomon aka Poppin’ Pete offers a simple definition: “hittin’ your joints, hittin’ your neck, your head” (1). Popping is distinguished from other street dance styles, including breaking and locking, with which it is often confused. It also differs from tutting and waving, which are both forms of illusionary dance incorporating popping’s fundamentals.