What is Hip Hop Dance?

Hip hop as a recognized dance form has only been around for 50 years. It has its roots in the 1960s in New York City where uprock and breaking dance styles evolved alongside a culture that also included hip hop music and rap, fashion and graffiti street art. “Breaking, or breakdancing, is composed of movements performed at different levels: toprock (performed while standing), downrock (performed close to the floor), power moves (acrobatics) and freeze moves (poses). Dancers who perform breakdancing are often called b-boys, b-girls or breakers.” https://www.liveabout.com/elements-of-hip-hop-1007133

Around the same time in California, dancers inspired by Hollywood robots developed a style to replicate these jerky movements that came to be known as popping (which consists of quickly contracting and relaxing your muscles, causing a jerk in your body synched to the beats in the music) and locking (which involves a series of quick movements, each followed by "locking" into another position, and then holding the last position for a few seconds while hips and legs usually remain relaxed).

By the 1970s, dance crews were inspired by these various kinds of “street dancing” moves, eventually blending both east and west coast styles into one genre of dance that is now recognized as hip hop. In the 1980s, hip hop dance came to the club scene, where popular “social dances” like the Running Man, Cabbage Patch and others where taken to new levels.

Hip hop dance also comes from a long history of battles and competitions where groups faced off against each other in displays of skill and athleticism. This has become even more formalized over the years where professional and international competitions feature dance crews who perform highly synchronized and technically challenging moves to the delight of audiences everywhere.

Like most of dance today, the hip hop dance style continues to evolve and change and borrow from other styles to challenge the definition of what it was in the past as it moves into the future.