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The Evolution Of Hip Hop Dance Styles

Taking a trip down memory lane from Beat Street (1984), Boys N Hood (1991) Save the Last Dance (2001), Stomp the yard(2007), to Step Up High Water (2018), we have seen an evolution of the hip hop culture and its dance moves.

Hip hop dance refers to street dance styles primarily performed to hip hop music, and it gets its origin from the 1970s where break boys and girls exhibited their skills, showed prowess and battled within a cypher (for one – on – one battles) or an apache line (for battles against crews), on the streets of both the  Black and Latino communities of California and New York cities.

Over the years, Hip hop (Urban) dance has transcended from street dancing, television shows to dominating the internet. Dancers and choreographers, using dance videos, have been able to utilise this platform to gain a wider audience.

Hip hop possesses a variety of dancing styles created over the years.
The breakdance is the first hip hop dance style ever created. It has its origins in the South Bronx, New York City during the 1970s. Being the only hip hop dance style at that time, it was regarded as one of the five pillars of the Hip Hop Culture.

There are four basic dances in breaking. These include top rock, footwork –oriented steps performed while standing up; down rock, footwork performed with both hands and feet on the floor; freezes, stylish poses done on our hands; and power moves, complex and impressive acrobatic moves. A transition from a top rock to a down rock is called a drop.

In 1969, locking emerged in Los Angeles, California. This dance style owes its name to Don Campbell and his crew “The Lockers”. This funk style is characterized by quick arm movements, kicks and leg jumps, and occasional freezes or locks into different poses while dancing upright, jumping and colorful clothing.

The Isolation dance move is simply the movement of one part of the body independently of the rest. Most jazz, modern, hip hop dance classes include rib, shoulder and hip isolation moves in their warm-up.

New York Style is the more modern and commercialized version of hip hop. Here, you find a mix of isolation dance moves and the footwork.
Talking hip dance moves will not be complete, without mentioning some legends that have contributed to the growth of the hip hop culture.

Micheal Jackson (King of Pop) successfully synchronized hip hop dance styles with funk, soul, and boogaloo.

Run-DMC was an American hip hop group, which made waves in the ’80s. They are widely acknowledged as one of the most influential acts in the history of hip hop culture.

Aaliyah, ranked by BET (Black Entertainment Television) as one of the top 25 dancers of all time, was a hip hop and pop singer.

Ciara is an American singer, dancer, and model. She came into limelight in 2004 with her debut ‘Oh Goodies. Ciara won the Best Dance Performance at the 2010 Soul Train Music Awards.

MC Hammer and The Running Man dance are synonymous. He is the first hip hop artist to achieve diamond status for an album.

Shane Sparks, best recognized for his work on America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance is a world-class hip hop dancer and choreographer. He is regarded as the best dancer in the world.

These are the dance we could remember. Let us know If you have additional name to be included in the list.


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