Whether it’s a dance battle, a choreographed music video or an improvised cypher, hip hop dance is a powerful expression of energy, emotion and freedom. It’s also a genre of dance that’s often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media.
This article takes a look at what hip hop dance is all about, from the fads that make it popular to the elements that define its style and culture. It’s a dance that’s constantly evolving, just like the music and artists it’s inspired by.
The roots of hip hop dance can be traced to the 1970s Bronx when crews like Kool Herc started incorporating breakbeat music and freestyle movements into their dance routines. From there, the movement grew as it drew in other art forms such as graffiti writing, MCing and DJing.
Breaking focuses on turning, spins, foot shuffles and freestyle movements called burns and jerks. It’s a competitive style that involves lots of power, speed and agility.
Popping is a more fluid version of breaking that’s created by quick contraction of muscles to create a “jerking” effect in the body. It’s a form of hip hop that’s highly stylized and requires a lot of practice.
Locking is another stylized hip hop dance that’s characterized by quick movements that freeze the body in place to create an illusion of robotic movement. It’s a form of hip pop dance that’s based on isolations and fluid waves. Hip hop dancers can “lock” their hands, feet, neck, back and even their face.