Hip Hop is a significant music trend that has quickly grown into an art movement and culture. It has swiftly evolved since it first originated from the Bronx, New York City, into a distinct art form, characterized by five elements: rapping, rhythmic vocal style, Djing, graffiti, and breakdancing (Hip Hop Dance). In this post, we are going to discuss hip-hop dance moves and terms.
Hip-hop dance is distinguished from other dance forms by its freestyle and improvisation. You will often see hip-hop dance crews engaged in freestyle competitions, called “battles,” which serve as hobbies and entertainment for them. Moreover, professional hip-hop dancers make a living out of hip-hop dancing, while others engage in hip-hop dance to remain active in competitive dancing.
Hip Hop Dance Moves & Terms List
Hip-hop dance features a broad category of styles and influences that include the uprock, breaking, and funk styles. At present, however, hip-hop dance is characterized by the abovementioned five essential dancing moves. Thus, if you want to learn hip-hop dancing, you should know these five essential hip-hop dancing moves:
Popping is culturally rooted in Boogaloo—a freestyle street dance movement characterized by robotic movements and soulful steps. It serves as the very foundation of popping dance. It includes restrictions of muscles, illusions, stops, robot/wiggling, and foundational popping techniques.
Popping is already a well-established dance move even before the onset of hip-hop cultural movement. Thus, it was influential in the evolution of hip-hop dancing. You will see popping in battles, in which dancers endeavor to outperform each other in front of onlookers. These battles engender freestyle moves and improvisations that you would seldom see in highly choreographed dance moves of shows.
As an overarching term, popping includes gliding, which is typified by lower body dance, sans movements, or little movements in the arms and chest. Dancers would appear like they are drifting over ice or across the floor when they engage in gliding.
Tutting is the opposite of gliding, and it is characterized by upper body dance, typified by hands, arms, and wrists movement, forming right angles to create geometric and box-like shapes. You can also use your fingers to engage in finger tutting instead of using your arms. However, both variations showcase intricate and linear movements and form 45° angles or 90° angles.
The popping terms and moves you should be familiar with include puppeting, waving, tutting, the creep, robotting, ticking, dynorama, strobing, and vibrating.
Timothy Pete Solomon (Electric Boogaloos), however, has a divergent view of the word “popping.” Paraphrasing what he said, he quipped that “popping” as an umbrella word used by hip-hop dancers in competitive hip-hop dancing may not be exactly mean as used in hip-hop.
He said that animation, liquid, tutting, and many other related styles are not solely traceable to a particular group or person. People can wave or turf, but they aren’t popping. As such, they are engendering new styles, and they deserve recognition for engendering new types of dancing.
Locking is another style or influence created by Don Campbell and popularized by his crew. It entails a sequence of quick movements; each series of moves is followed by locking onto another dancer’s position and then freezing in that position for several seconds.
The term itself signifies a sense of freezing after some fast movements. After locking, you can continue with the same speedy actions before transitioning into the locking position again. This dancing style depends more on distinct and quick hand and arm movements, complemented by relaxed legs and hips.
You need to make large and exaggerated movements while you dance, and your movements need to be tightly in sync with the song or music. This style is a performance-oriented style of dancing. Moreover, it entails interaction with your audience as you smile at them and give them a high five. Additionally, some locking moves are exaggeratedly comical.
Locking may also include physically demanding moves and acrobatics. It may involve split and landing on your knees. So, more often, you will see lockers who wear knee protection gear. The legs and hips, however, stay relaxed while the focus remains on hands and arm movements.
Dancers perform this dance style along with soul or funk music. The Locking terms and moves include the following:
- Alpha entails kicking with one leg forward while you are in a bended knee position, and your body is leaning backward. You can support your upper body with your hands or without support.
- Break Down is done while in a squatting position. You can shift your pelvis to the left and then return it to the middle. Afterward, you stand up and go back to your primary position (squatting). You can shift your pelvis to the right.
- Semi Split (Jazz) is achieved with a bent leg. It lets the dancers stand up quickly using a quick swift action.
- Whichaway involves twirl kicks (alternating) toward left and right. Kick with one leg first to the left, and then leverage the other leg for another kick to the right.
- Kick involves a karate kick while leveraging your body with your other leg.
- Knee drop involves dropping to your knees and let your knees point inward, forming a W shape with your leg.
- Leo’s walk is a lion-like two steps. You, then, exaggerate your primary step while you slide your other foot towards the other foot.
- Lock entails a small bend forward. Then you move your arms around downward, pretending to raise a load.
- Muscle Man entails a macho pose in which you draw your arms above your shoulder. You hold this pose for a while.
- Pacing entails a quick hand thrust to your left. It will help to let loose your wrist while you hold your arm tight. Your arm should drop every time you thrust it.
- Pimp Walk entails dual steps that include a small one leg kick. Then, moving the other foot beside the kicking leg. As your other foot moves near the kicking foot, you bend your knees away from each other to form a victory sign.
- Stop and Go was originated by Jim Foster. It begins with the macho pose. Afterward, you step back along with a jab. Then, you should do a 45-degree turn. Then, spring back to the original position. Then, spring back to the original position.
- Cockroach Stomping is a technique that entails falling on one knee while you smack the floor with your hand. Smacking your hand indicates smashing something on the ground.
- Another move created by foster is the Scoo B Doo, which entails a macho pose. Then, you do two separate kicks while following those kicks up with your hands.
- Foster likewise created the Scoo B Doo walk. It includes walking forward while you lift your leg and bend your back in the direction of your knee.
- Scoobot involves imitating Scoo B Doo. If you remember Scoo B Doo when he is afraid, you will understand how this move is wrought.
- Scoobot Hop is a slight variation of the scoobot.
- Floor Swift involves utilizing your hand to sweep the floor from one side to the other.
- Skeeter Rabbit Higgins originates the Skeeter rabbit. It involves a kick following by a shuffling move.
- Funky guitar entails positioning your hand as if you hold a guitar. Then, move backward.
- Point is an abrupt and extenuated pointing gesture from the shoulder opposite the pointing finger. You keep this gesture for several seconds to make an emphasis.
- Wrist entails twirling wrist movements while you raise your arms.
- The seek involves engaging in a breakdown while you roll your arms forward. Then, lifting your hand toward your eyes as if you are searching for something.
- Hitchhike entails raising your arms and crossing them at your front. Then, imitate the thumbs up of hitchhikers from side to side.
Another well-known element of Hip-hop dance is breaking. It is an unstructured improvisation. It originated from a dance style called “uprock.”
Breaking entails movements that are performed at various levels like toprock (standing), downrock (close to the floor), power moves (acrobatics), and freeze moves. Those who do breakdancing are referred to as b-boys and b-girls or simply breakers.
Breakers undulate within the Apache Line or cypher. Apache Line entails challenging each other. In the challenge, they execute their moves or burns to humiliate their opponents. The Apache Line is between two crews. Cypher, on the other hand, entails a circular dance space which the spectators form. Within this space, the battle begins. The actions happen one-on-one.
The breaking terms include the following: Rock Steady Crew, Zulu Kings, Crazy Commandos, Sal Soul, Dynamic Rockers, New York City Breakers, Full Circle, Air Force Crew, The Bronx Boys, and Seven Gems.
Boogaloo involves loose movements using legs and hips movements. It makes the illusion that you have no bones. It is quite related to popping because it also consists of rolling the hips, head, knees, and legs.
Boogaloo, as a freestyle dance, is a dance movement that entails improvisations. It also involves soulful steps as well as robotic actions, which are the very foundations of turfing and popping dance. It may also incorporate restrictions of muscles, illusions, robot/wiggling, and stops. Boogaloo also includes foundational popping moves, known before as posing hard. Moreover, it is somewhat related to the subsequent electric boogaloo dance.
Boogaloo terms and moves include Twist-o-flex, walk-out, neck-o-Flex, fakey, cobra, snakin’, slides, glides, old man, and Egyptian.
5) Social Dances
Another significant influence of Hip-hop is the social dances or the party dances of the ’80s. These popular dances were readily adapted by Hip hops and enhanced by club dancers. Social dance is a freestyle dance and has become an integral element of hip-hop. This influence becomes part of many hip-hop music videos, likewise.
The social moves and dance terms include the Wop, cabbage patch, roger rabbit, running man, Humpty hump, rooftop, worm, Charlie Brown, and Kriss-cross.
The commercial version of hip-hop dance made hip-hop a mainstream type of dance. This commercial version, referred to as a new style, is often seen in R&B, rap, and pop music videos. However, to hardcore hip-hoppers, anything that did not originate from the streets lacks improvisations and is not real hip-hop dance. Such a dance is choreographed and veers away from the central hip-hop dance concepts of freestyle and improvisation.
Hip-hop dance will continue to evolve, just like any other art form. It will soon diversify into different dance styles, which will become distinct from hip-hop dance’s original concept. Whether it diversifies to something or not, it will still retain its improvisation and freestyling dance characteristics.