Hip hop dance is a style of improvised street dancing that first emerged in NYC neighborhoods, such as the West Bronx in the 1970s. Individuals without formal dance training brought their natural instinct for movement and music to the streets, forming a culture that is both artistic and political in nature.
Dancers who practice hip hop have a deep understanding of the beat, rhythm and lyrics in their songs. They are able to translate their interpretation of the music into a fluid freestyle sequence that is uniquely their own. They are able to sculpt their movements into the shapes and lines of the musical piece they are dancing to, using body awareness techniques, such as the ice box, that help them to keep the movement as authentic as possible.
The dance steps that are commonly associated with hip hop are popping, locking and krumping. Popping is done by contracting muscles rapidly in a quick jerking motion. It is very important for dancers to know the difference between this technique and the famous moonwalk that Michael Jackson performed, as the two have very different meanings.
The dancers who have been able to take hip hop dance beyond the streets and into the studio have developed styles that are unique to the form, such as the top rocks and headspins. These moves are very difficult to do and require a lot of skill, but they add an additional layer of flair and authenticity that is often missing from more mainstream dance forms.