Compared to many other dance forms, hip hop has a relatively short history. The beginnings of this dance form date back to the 1960s and 70s, but of course the movements and the music have roots dating back much further in time.
Hip-Hop Dance Steps
Hip-hop dance steps require skill and experience to perfect. Hip-hop dancers practice a lot in order to master basic steps and movements that appear simple when performed. Dancers with a good sense of rhythm find it easier to learn hip-hop steps.
Early History of Hip Hop Dance
Hip hop dancing is thought to have officially begun in New York City during the late 1960s and early 70s. During this time, individuals without professional dance training but with a natural instinct for movement, brought dancing to the streets. A dance form meant to be popular in the original sense of the word, meaning that it was for the people and not for the academy, hip hop moves were inspired by complex rhythms and the down-to-earth movement style of African dancing. Music and movement came together to form a new art. While vestiges of modern, tap, swing, and African dancing can all be found in hip hop, this dance style is really in a class of its own when it comes to improvisation and an edge of competition.
The roots of hip hop on the East Coast are widely known, but there is also a West Coast hip hop history from which many of the most well-known hip hop moves originated.
The commercialization of hip-hop dance continued into the 1990s and 2000s with the production of several television shows and movies such as The Grind, Planet B-Boy, Rize, StreetDance 3D, America’s Best Dance Crew, Saigon Electric, the Step Up film series, and The LXD, a web series. Though the dance is established in entertainment, including mild representation in theater, it maintains a strong presence in urban neighborhoods which has led to the creation of street dance derivatives Memphis jookin, turfing, jerkin’, and krumping.
1980s films, television shows, and the Internet have contributed to introducing hip-hop dance outside of the United States. Since being exposed, educational opportunities and dance competitions have helped maintain its presence worldwide. Europe hosts several international hip-hop competitions such as the UK B-Boy Championships, Juste Debout, and EuroBattle. Australia hosts a team-based competition called World Supremacy Battlegrounds and Japan hosts a two-on-two competition called World Dance Colosseum.
What distinguishes hip-hop from other forms of dance is that it is often “freestyle” (improvisational) in nature and hip-hop dance crews often engage in freestyle dance competitions—colloquially referred to as “battles”. Crews, freestyling, and battles are identifiers of this style. Hip-hop dance can be a form of entertainment or a hobby. It can also be a way to stay active in competitive dance and a way to make a living by dancing professionally.