Hip hop dance

Hip hop dance

Hip hop dance refers to dance styles, mainly street dance styles, primarily danced to hip hop music, or that have evolved as a part of the hip hop culture.

By its widest definition, it can include a wide range of styles such as breaking, popping, locking and krumping, and even house dance. It can also include the many styles simply labelled as "hip hop", "old school hip hop" (or "hype"), "hip hop new style" and "freestyle".

History and classification

The dance style primarily associated with hip hop is breaking, which appeared in New York City during the early 1970s and truly became a cornerstone (or "element") of hip hop as a culture. Funk styles, such as popping and locking, evolved separately in California in the 1960-70s, but were also integrated into hip hop when the culture reached the West Coast of the United States.

Though breaking and the original funk styles look quite different stylistically, they share many surrounding elements, such as their improvisational nature, the music they're danced to and the way they originated from the streets, mainly within black and Hispanic communities. These similarities helped bring them, and other street dance styles, together under the same sub-culture, and help to keep them alive and evolving today. Yet, this has not been without problems, often involving the media, such as when the movie "Breakin'" put all various styles under the label "breakdance", causing a great naming confusion that spawned many heated debates.

In the late 1980s, as hip hop music took new forms and the hip hop subculture established further, new dance styles began appearing. Most of them were danced in an upright manner in contrast to breaking with its many ground moves, and were in the beginning light-feeted with lots of jumping. Some moves hit the mainstream and became fad dances, such as The Running Man, but overall they contributed a lot to later hip hop styles, and heavily influenced the development of house dancing.

During the 1990s and 2000s, parallel with the evolution of hip hop music, hip hop dancing evolved into heavier and more aggressive forms. While breaking continued to be popular on its own, these newer styles were danced upright, and draw much inspiration from earlier upright styles. Classifying these newer hip hop styles as a unique dance style of its own has grown common with larger street dance competitions such as Juste Debout, which includes "hip hop new style" as a separate category for people to compete in. Today, we see many specific styles that first appeared on their own, such as krumping and clown walking, now being danced and accepted within hip hop new style contexts.

All hip hop styles from the 1980s and beyond are sometimes collectively called "new school" while the distinct styles from the 1960-70s, such as breaking, uprocking, locking and popping, are considered "old school". However, this classification is controversial, and often "old school hip hop" (or, in some areas, "hype") is used solely for the late 1980s upright and jumpy hip hop styles, excluding locking, popping and breaking, and "new style hip hop" for the heavier hip hop styles of today.


There are many hip hop dance competitions around the world today, some allowing all styles to enter while others focus on more specific styles.

The World Hip Hop Championships in America is currently the largest and arguably most respected of the International competitions for Hip Hop Dance featuring the worlds most recognised dance crews and nations. (Battle of the Year, the uk Bboy Championships and Juste Deboute remain the choice for specific forms)

Hoopdreamz Enterprises also holds many dance competitions throughout the southern hemisphere. Groove, the Australian state level Urban Dance Championships, is held in most state-capital cities since 2001. As recently as 2004, the competition was expanded to a national level including dance crews from New Zealand. The national level competition is known as Battlegrounds.

Juste Debout is a large, international and annual street dance competition held in Paris, which includes "hip hop new style," Popping, Locking, House, and Experimental as a competition categories. Bboy (Breakdance) is not included to give more focus to the upright hip hop and street dance styles.

I DO, The International Dance Organization holds many competitions every year. The most important of them are the European Street dance Championships (which were held in Espoo, Finland this year and which will be held in Graz, Austria in 2007) and the World Championships which are held in Bremen, Germany each year.

In the UK Hip Hop Crew Championships is a recognised event however other organization such as Gforce Productions StreetDance Weekend and JumpOff are recognized as well.by oriel

There are pleny of hip of things to do.


Today, many dance studios offer hip hop classes of some sort. They might focus on a specific style such as breakdancing or combine elements of various street dance styles. As hip hop dancing is such a broad genre, the teacher has much freedom and room for personal interpretation, and often mixes various styles freely, even mixing them with other dance forms such as jazz dance.

Some criticize this type of teaching as being too strict and too choreographed, losing important elements such as improvisation and personal interpretation on the students' side. Because of this, some dislike labeling these dance classes as "hip hop" as it might not actually include all aspects of the traditional hip hop dances, especially when the teacher mixes it with dance styles not originally related to hip hop.

Despite the controversy, studio-choreographed hip hop is still widely accepted today by many.

External links

* [http://www2.colum.edu/center_for_arts_policy/documents/rennie_harrris.pdf "Dancing on the Through-Line: Rennie Harris and the Past and Future of Hip-Hop Dance"] by Jeff Chang; from the series Democratic Vistas Profiles: Essays in the Arts and Democracy

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