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Hip Hop Dance is a style of dance with deeply rooted historical, social, cultural contexts.

Hip Hop culture started among the youth in the Bronx, New York in the 1970’s as a way to escape inner-city gang violence. They embodied Hip Hop in the way they dressed, talked, danced, and expressed themselves. Hip Hop was a way of life that revolved around creativity, identity, and respect.

KRS-One defines the etymology of “Hip Hop” in this lecture below.

Basically, “Hip” = present “Hop”= action.

It is a movement that represents the youth and the freedom to learn, grow, and evolve. But for you to be Hip Hop you must actively participate in the culture.

The four main elements of Hip Hop culture are Deejaying (music), emceeing (rapping), graffiti (writing / art), and breaking (dance).

Hip Hop Music and Hip Hop Dance

Wanna know how Hip Hop Dance started… in two words?

Dance parties!

Hip Hop DJs

what is hip hop dancePhoto by The Guardian

DJ Kool Herc, AKA the “Father of Hip Hop,” would start block parties at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the West Bronx, AKA the “birthplace of Hip Hop.” Kool Herc would simply play music and invite the community to come out.

During these get-togethers, he noticed that people got the most hype during the breakbeat of a song. The breakbeat is the instrumental, percussive section in funk and R&B records.

To extend the breakbeat for a longer time, Kool Herc isolated the section and used two turntables to replay them continuously on a loop. (Price 165) Longer breakbeats = more time to go off!

Grandmaster Flash further innovated the art of DJing by using his headphones to pinpoint exactly where the beats started and ended. This allowed him to “precue” the beats and make seamless transitions between the breaks. (Price 156)

Afrika Bambaataa also expanded turntabling techniques. By the late 1970s, they and other DJs were regularly partying it up on the streets – spinning, scratching, cutting, mixing for the partiers.

what is hop hop dancePhoto by Voices of East Anglia

Hip Hop Dancers

Breaking, later known as breakdancing, was born through these parties.

“The intertwined nature of the DJs and MCs trying to keep the dancers moving on the dance floor with innovations in music as well as the efforts of the dancers to “one up’ each other contributed to flexible and organic creativity.” (Dimitriadis 181)

Herc called these dancers break boys (b-boys) and (to continue ready please visit Steezy here…)

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