Hip Hop

Hip hop is distinctly American.  Similar to jazz, the roots of hip hop trace back to African dance.  There are many different styles of hip hop, and more are being developed by dancers today.  Some styles include:

  • Krumping: Encourages energy and freedom in the movement.  The four basic moves of krumping are jabs, arm swings, chest pops, and stomps.  It’s very improvisational and expressive, even violent at times.
  • Harlem Shake: While it gained popularity from the YouTube video “Harlem Shake,” it originated in the 80s.  It has no strict code of moves as it involves creative convulsions of the body.
  • Jerkin’: This is composed of twitching movements or “jerks.”  The trend goes along with colorful skinny jeans and Chuck Taylors.
  • Robot: This is simply the imitation of a robot, with stiff arm and head movements to contrast the smooth music.
  • Turfing: This style comes directly from Oakland, CA.  Turfing is very improvisational and free-form, having dance moves that come from different traditions in order to fully express or narrate a particular life story.
  • Floating: Its three basic moves are ‘the float,’ ‘gliding,’ and ‘sliding.’ All three moves are focused on creating the illusion that there is no friction between the dancer’s shoes and the floor.
  • Popping: The body is twitched or jerked in a way that goes with the beat. These twitches are called “pops” or “hits.” Many moves are related to popping, one popular example is the moonwalk as popularized in the 80s by Michael Jackson. Popping involves a great deal of motion manipulation such as animatronic moves, miming to the beat, and isolation.
  • Locking: Locking is characterized by sudden pauses or freezes, often in rhythm with the beat.
  • B-boying or Breaking: It is traditionally done within a circle or cypher where b-boys will execute their dances moves, often competing with other b-boys. It remains to be the one of the most popular dance styles affiliated to hip hop.

Elements of Hip Hop:

  • Competitive nature: Hip hop dancers often challenge each other with dancing.
  • Isolations: Dancers can control and move specific body parts.
  • Popping: Quick contractions and release of a dancer’s muscles to the beat of the music.
  • Locking: Series of movements to “lock” parts of the body in different positions.
  • Isolations: Freestyle movements improvised to go along with music – typically contains flips and tricks.

Hip hop dancers often wear baggy clothing such as sweatpants.  Female dancers wear crop tops, t-shirts, sports bras, or tank tops; they also typically wear their hair down or in a ponytail.  Men usually wear baggy t-shirts.  Hip hop dancers also wear tennis shoes, and often times accessorize with jewelry or hats.  Since hip hop is more of a street style of dance, dancers are typically free to wear what they want.

Hip hop is danced to rap or hip hop music that is usually upbeat.  Some dancers take their artistry to a new level of creativity and make their moves flow with slower songs, often times to tell a story.  Les Twins, a famous brother hip hop duo, performed at the Red Bull BC One World Final in 2015.  They incorporate many different styles of hip hop into their routine.