Lecture on Hip Hop Dance

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Lecture on Hip Hop Dance

A. Hip-hop dance refers to social or choreographed dance which is primarily danced to hip-hop music.
1. Hip-hop dance includes a variety of styles ranging from breaking, locking, and popping which evolved in the 1970's by Black Americans.
2. The distinguishing characteristic of hip-hop is improvisation and battles and dance competitions. These are usually performed in a cipher, which is a circular dance.

a. Freestyling, battles and ciphers are the key components of hip-hop.

3. The most influential groups are The Lockers, the Rock Steady Crew and the Electric Boogaloos who are credited for the spread of locking, breaking and popping respectively.
4.The dances, The Running Man, and The Cabbage Patch became main stream and were fad dances with funk style influences.

5. The dance industry responded with studio/commercial hip-hop which is sometimes called new style or L.A. style and jazz funk. Classically trained dancers developed these styles to create choreography to hip-hop music and because of this development, hip-hop is now practiced at both studios and outside spaces.
B. Internationally, hip-hop dance has had a strong influence in France and South Korea.
1. France is the birthplace of Techtonik a style of house dance from Paris similar to popping and breaking.
a. France is also the home of Juste Debout, an international hip-hop dance competition.

b. South Korea is home to the international breaking competition R-16 which is sponsored by the government and broadcast every year on Korean television.

1. Korean hip-hop dancers have been designated official ambassadors of Korean culture.

C. Hip-hop ranges from professional dance to make a living to competitive dance as well as a way to keep physically fit or for a hobby.

D. The birth of breaking began in the early 1970s as people mimicked the way that James Brown danced on T.V.
1. Clive Campbell, known as DJ Kool Herc was a Jamaican American DJ who spun records at neighborhood teen age parties in the Bronx.
a. While waiting for records to finish, DJ Kool Herc noticed people waiting for certain parts of the record where there was an instrumental break in the songs and the people would get wild dancing. He zeroed in on the break of the record dropping out the melody and chorus and just playing the instrumental break. People wanted to hear break after break for dancing.
1. Herc developed the Merry-Go-Round technique to extend the breaks of percussion or instrumental solos within a longer work of music. His technique was to play the break on one turntable and then repeat the break on a second turntable and he could extend this for as long as he wanted by looping the records.


a. During this time, dancers became known as the break-boys or b-boys and would perform what is known as breaking.
1. Breaking started out as toprock, which is footwork dance movements performed while standing up. Toprock is usually performed before a breakers performance that transitions into other dance moves performed on the floor.

2. Uprock dance style has its roots in gangs and comes from Brooklyn, New York and is more aggressive than toprock and has movements that imitate fighting.

a. When there was an issue over territory, two warlords of the feuding gangs would uprock and whoever won the dance battle would decide where the real fight would be held.

b. Uprocks purpose was to moderate gang violence and because of this never made its way into mainstream except for very specific moves used by breakers as a variation for their toprock.

3. From toprock, breaking progresses with the formations of new moves and then the formation of crews which were groups of street dancers who would get together and create dance routines.


a. Crews are composed of friends and families and no one auditions. Rehearsals are generally in the home or on the streets.
E. Rock Steady Crew (RSC) is the most famous breaking crew in the world and one of the oldest along with Afrika Bambaataas Might Zulu Kings.
1. Richard Crazy Legs Colón opened a Manhattan chapter of the crew and later made his friends co vice-presidents.

a. Rock Steady appeared in the movies Wild Style and Beat Street which are 80s films about hip-hop culture. They have also performed at the Ritz, the Kennedy Center and appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon. RSC is now worldwide with member units in Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy.

2. Although there appear to be similarities between Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art form which is a form of self defense disguised as dance, there are major differences between Capoeira and breaking and uprock. The marital arts is performed to music but in Capoeira, a competitors back can never touch the ground and a breakers back is continually on the ground. There is also no

evidence to trace that there was an influence of this martial art form in the South Bronx.
F. Funk Styles and the California Renaissance
1. Funk originated in the 70s in California and was danced to funk music rather than hip-hop and funk is slightly older than hip-hop and came about with the formation of crews.

a. The Lockers were founded in Los Angeles by Don Campbellock Campbell who created locking. The Lockers began as al black males but later women and Latinos were added because of complaints of the lack of racial diversity. Toni Basil belonged and was both choreographer and manager.

b. The Electric Boogaloos are another funk style crew founded in Fresno by Sam Boogaloo Solomon. He is credited with developing popping and electric boogaloo.

1. Popping got its name from Boogaloo Sam because when he was performing it, he would say, pop, pop, pop as he was popping his muscles to the music.


2. The bugalù was created in New York by Cubans and Puerto Ricans and danced to mambo, soul and Rhythm and Blues music.

3. Electric boogaloo is a dance characterized by rolling hip, knee and head movements and popping. It lost its popularity in the 70s but is still a respected dance form.

4. In Oakland, California, there was a style known as struttin. This style became a fad and then faded away and never became mainstream.
a. After the year 2000, Oakland dance style was called turfing a fusion of mimin and gliding with emphasis on story telling.
5. In L.A. there is a style called jerkin.

6. Krumping came about in the late 90s within the African American communities of Compton, Ca. It was only seen and practiced in the Los Angeles Metro area until it gained mainstream exposure in several music videos.

7. Clowning less aggressive than krumping and is not to be confused with the clown walk. Clowning was created in 1992 by Tommy the Clown and Tommy and his dancers would paint their faces and perform clowning for children at birthday parties and other functions as a form of entertainment. The difference between


clowning and krumping is that krumping focuses on highly energetic battles

and movements which are sharp, intense and fast-paced.

8. The cultural similarities of street dancing, funk styles and breaking have brought them together under the subculture of hip-hop and this has kept them alive and evolving today.

G. Breaking is considered the purest form of hip-hop and although created by Black Americans, the Latinos have kept the momentum going.

1.Breaking includes four foundational dances

a. Toprock which is footwork oriented steps performed while standing up.

b. Downrock which is footwork performed on the floor using the hands to support the body weight.

c. Freezes which are stylish poses done on your hands.

d. Power moves which are difficult and impressive acrobatic moves.

e. In breaking, the traditional cipher is the Apache line where opposing crews can face each other in the line formation and execute their burns.

H. Locking was created in Los Angeles by Don Campbell and introduced to the


country by his crew The Lockers. Modern locking looks similar to popping and gets confused with popping, but in locking the dancer holds the position longer.
1. The movement lock is similar to a freeze or a sudden pause. A locking dancers consistently locks in one place and after a quick pause moves again. It is incorrect to call it pop-locking because locking and popping are two distinct funk styles.
I. Popping was created by Sam Solomon in Fresno, California and performed by his crew the Electric Boogaloos. It is based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing the muscles to cause a jerk in the dancers body referred to as a pop or a hit and each hit is synchronized to the rhythm and the beats of the music.

1. Popping is also used as an umbrella term to include a wide range of closely related dances to add a varied performance. Some of these sub varieties are strobing, liquid, animation and waving distinguished by the time of the pause used for the movement or as in liquid, the body is smooth and fluid and does not appear to look like popping at all.

2. Before the term hip-hop, each style of dancing created by a group had a name for their movements and was specific to a region and a group and sometimes


called jazz and sometimes given a name based on the movement like slithering and writhing or waving and sliding.
J. International competitions
1. Battle of the year started in Germany in 1990 and is exclusively a breaking competition for crews.

2. B-Boy Summit is an international four dance conference created in 1994 in San Diego California. The conference includes a breaking competition, panels, workshops and a marketplace and emphasis on the history of hip-hop culture and its roots.

3. There is also UK B-Boy Championships in London, Freestyle Session in United States, The Notorious IBE in Holland, United Dance Organization in the UK, Juste Debout in Paris, France, Hip Hop International in the United States, Red Bull BC One held in a different country every year and R16 Korea held in South Korea.
K. The impact of hip-hop

1. Hip hop novelty and fad dance are popularized dance moves rather than


dance styles. Many types of dances which are popularized by musical artists and performed in nightclubs are categorized in the house dance category rather that hip-hop.
J. Crews are still formed based on friendships and neighborhoods as well as theme, gender, ethnicity and dance styles. It is not unusual for dancers to belong to different crews in order to stay well rounded in technique and conditioning.
K. The dance industry responded to hip-hop dance by creating a more commercial version of it.

1. Studio hip-hop is sometimes called new style or L.A. style.

2. For a hip-hop purist, anything that does not originate from the streets but might look like hip-hop is not true hip-hop because the genesis for it is not from the streets.

a. Many hip-hop dancers see jazz dancers copying the moves of hip-hop without knowledge of the meaning or the culture and only doing the steps.

3. From a technical standpoint, hip-hop dance (new style) is characterized as hard-hitting with flexibility and isolations of a certain body part independently from others. The feet are grounded, the chest is down and the body is kept loose so that a dance can easily alternate between hitting the beat or riding through the beat. New style hip-hop is rhythmic and emphasis is placed on musicality and being able to freestyle.
4. Jazz funk is another style created by the dance industry which is also called street jazz and is a blending of hip-hop and jazz dance. In jazz funk, there are no dance reference to ballet whereas classical jazz relies heavily upon ballet movements.

5. Hip-hop classes and dancer wear is now offered on the traveling circuit that used to only feature ballet, tap and jazz.

6. Lyrical hip-hop is unique in that the movements have to tell a story and is fluid and uses inspired turns as well as popping but not the hard-hitting kind. Some hip-hop dancers feel that the interpretive softer style is not hip-hop at all but others feel that it is hip-hop but not different enough to be in its own category.

7. Hip-hop is now recognized by dancers and trainers as a form of exercise and conditioning and is an excellent workout.


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