A little while ago I did a post on the different styles of belly dance. Since I enjoy incorporating a little hip hop into my dance style and I used to be way into hip hop, I thought I would talk about the different styles of hip hop as well. Like belly dance, hip hop covers a wide variety of dances, none of which are very rule heavy. In many ways, both categories of dance are ‘street dances’ in that they are created by individuals and often have a flavor to them specific to their geography or point of origin.
Unlike belly dance though, hip hop is a much more recent style. Belly dance has been around for (very likely) thousands of years. Hip hop doesn’t extend back before the 1970’s. (A caveat to this is that hip hop has been co-opted by other styles of dance. For example, I’ve seen a lot of hip hop routines cross over into jazz, and jazz has been around a lot longer than hip hop).
Break dancing is so well-known now that it would shock me if a mental image of someone spinning on their back or their head didn’t immediately jump into your mind, but it’s one of the most important dances that’s ever been created. Think about it this way, nothing in the world looks like break dancing. To the untrained eye jazz and modern look pretty similar. I could technically tell you the difference between a Samba and a Rumba and the Cha Cha – but only because someone told me the difference. I can’t tell ballroom from other ballroom, tap from clogging (other than the outfits) and a myriad of hip hop styles (popping and hitting for example) still look interchangeable to me.
But I know what break dancing is. You know what break dancing is. If you’ve ever seen break dancing, chances are you’ll never be confused as to whether or not you’re watching it. It was one of the first (if not the first) styles of hip hop and in many ways, break dancing is the parent of all hip hop. For a comparison; if the point of ballet is to show off the beauty and grace of the human body, the point of tap is to show rhythm, the point of modern is to tell a story through dance, and the point of belly dance is to show off control of the body through isolated movement, the point of break dance is to show off balance and strength. Much of hip hop has followed suit.
My favorite break dancer is Cico. (I know. How pedestrian of me…). He’s my fave because, well, frankly, nobody power moves like Cico. He’s not one for a lot of footwork, but I dare say his balance is unmatched. And he was the first break dancer I ever saw where my reaction was “holy crap!” for a solid 5 minutes. There wasn’t a moment where I wanted to blink. Fortunately, he’s all over YouTube.
Some break dancers don’t do nearly as many power moves in their routines, but focus instead on footwork or top rocking or freezes. For a good demonstration on what top rocking looks like, check out the video below (but skip to 2:10):
Also, I just want to take a moment and note that while there are still not nearly as many female break dancers as male break dancers, women can totally break dance. Even power moves are doable (although they can require some serious upper body strength):
Popping, Locking, and Hitting
Popping, locking, and hitting are so similar I frankly am not aware of a good difference in definition, but essentially they include fast stops in the body, mostly at the joints.
Waving is very close to popping, but smooths everything out at the joints. Although this is a combination routine, there is quite a bit of waving in it:
The point of tutting is to create a flow of movement by keeping the hands mostly together and to make primarily straight lines.
And of course this guy, who you’ve probably seen (doing commercials for smart phones and all…)
Just like tutting, but instead of using the hands and arms, it’s mostly in the fingers.
The point of gliding is to make it look like you’re gliding over the floor, really without touching it. There’s a whole slew of gliding moves out there, but the most famous one is the Moonwalk, popularized by Michael Jackson. Although there is quite a bit of footwork in this routine, this guy’s glides are impressive, so I’m linking it.
C-walking is awesome. Much of the footwork is centered in transfer movements from the heel to the toe before transferring to the opposite foot. A quick note: Apparently (from what the Internet tells me) ‘C-walking’ can either refer to the ‘crip walk’ or ‘clown walking’ which are similar. The problem with ‘crip walking’ is of course it’s offensive because… gangs. I don’t really know why that’s such a problem with this style (probably because I grew up mostly in areas where “gangs” were one step above just being really emo) but I’ve never run into anyone who had a problem with the crip walk – but I’ve never played at Wimbledon either. Apparently some people don’t like it. Ultimately, ‘C-walking’ might be a safer name to use and if anyone has an issue with the dance itself, tell them the ‘C’ stands for ‘clown’ because they probably won’t know the difference.
Here’s where I get into stuff I’m only peripherally aware of. Dubstep, House Dance, and Jumpstyle are all styles that I never practiced or had even heard about when I was younger – so everything below this point is pretty much new to me.
Chicago Footwork, (sometimes shortened to just ‘footwork’) looks to me like if C-walking and top rocking had a love child together. It’s pretty cool.
Dubstep dancing is, from what I can tell, a pretty new style that incorporates gliding, locking, hitting, and waving. It looks awesome if done correctly.
To me, house dance looks like a smoother, more leggy version of footwork.
I am in LOVE with this style. I never saw this when I was younger, and apparently it’s pretty new, gaining popularity mostly in the last decade, but wow. Just wow. Kids these days.
So that’s it for this article. I hope it was useful to someone somewhere. There are a lot of other styles of hip hop out there, but these are the ones that I know and love (or am peripherally aware of in the case of the last three styles). Hope everyone has a great 2014!