How did hip hop dance originated

A History Of Hip Hop Dance

Hip-hop dance is a unique and exciting style of street dance that is most commonly performed to hip-hop music. Hip-hop dance is a vibrant form of dance that combines a variety of freestyle movements to create a cultural piece of art. Through its three main styles of popping, locking, and breaking, hip-hop dance has evolved into one of the most popular and influential styles of dance.

Greeley dance studio, A Dance Place, enjoys teaching hip-hop dance because of its more laid back style that allows dancers to let loose and worry less about technique and more about expressing themselves through their movement and their music. With more upbeat music, hip-hop dance creates a different level of fun and creativity.

Where It All Began


Hip-hop dance began during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, originally inspired by the movements of African dancing, and flourished as a new style of dance performed on the street for the people. Hip-hop incorporates aspects of modern dance, tap, and swing, integrating music and complex movements to form artistry.

The early history and roots of hip-hop dance are most often associated with its beginning on the East Coast, specifically New York City. But the West Coast also formed its own style of the East Coast hip-hop dance around the same time.

East Coast hip-hop began with the unique rhythmic combinations created by Kool DJ Herc, a Jamaican DJ who moved to Brooklyn at the age of 12 and quickly became one of the most popular DJ’s of New York City. DJ Herc ingeniously thought to extend dance sections of songs to create better opportunities to showcase the breaking movements of dancers.

West Coast hip-hop took the dance style from the East Coast and made it its own, transforming some of the frozen moves and making them more robotic. The West Coast was also where two of modern hip-hop’s most iconic styles, popping and locking, were born.

Check out the video below to learn some basic pop and lock moves:

Evolution Of Hip Hop

East Coast and West Coast hip-hop dance styles were originally meant to be two distinct forms of dance. However, as hip-hop grew in popularity, the two styles began to merge together into a unique street dance culture. Over time, hip-hop expanded from the street scene, and its choreography became a sought-after style in dance studios, clubs, and other venues.

During the 80’s and 90’s, hip-hop dance competitions became increasingly popular with the emergence of “battles,” one-on-one freestyle competition on the dance floors of clubs surrounded by a circle of fans. Improvised battles soon led to advertised battles and a higher level of competition.

Modern Hip-Hop Dance


While hip-hop originated as informal street dance meant for the people present, it has further evolved onto the stage and screen and into an audience favorite. Hip-hop now is a highly sought-after and dominant style of dance. It is among the most common styles of dance for music videos, concerts, and dance competitions. It can be found in dance studios of all kinds, teaching its unique and energetic compilation of movements to young and old.

Hip-hop dance has transformed the world of dance and has taken the dance culture by storm. Many of its distinctive moves are often integrated into the choreography of more traditional styles of dance and it has even worked its way into major theatrical and cinematic productions.

Hip-hop dance provides a vibrant means for exercise, art, and movement, creating a platform for individual expression and undeniable talent.


Sign Up For Hip Hop Dance Classes in Greeley

A Dance Place offers exciting hip-hop dance classes in Greeley that incorporate body control, improvisation, and the high-energy movements that have shaped hip-hop dance for decades.

Our talented hip-hop dance instructors have a desire to make sure that students understand and experience that hip-hop class is a fun and safe place for them to be who they really are. At our Greeley hip-hop dance classes, students do not worry about how they look or dress; they simply come to let loose and have fun. For more information about our classes or to register, call today at (970) 590-9530.

What Is Hip Hop Dance? Learn the History & Moves at Home

The moves, the style, the music…

From where it all started until now, Hip Hop dance & culture has made, and is still making, a huge impact on our world.

And if you’re a dancer, studying Hip Hop’s undeniably raw and fascinating background should be considered a core part of your education!

To get you started, we’ve put together a Hip Hop dance crash course for you below. 

In this article we’ll cover:

  1. The definition of Hip Hop dance
  2. The 5 elements of Hip Hop
  3. The history of Hip Hop Culture
  4. Types of Hip Hop dance
  5. Mainstream media’s effect on Hip Hop
  6. Everything you need to know about Hip Hop dance classes

But first… if you’re looking to do more than read about Hip Hop dance, here’s a shortcut to our online Beginner Hip Hop dance program!

There, your instructor Buddha Stretch will teach you about Hip Hop history in real time, while also showing you the basic moves and foundations of the style, step-by-step.

All right, let’s dive into all things Hip Hop.

What Is Hip Hop Dance?

Hip Hop Dance is a style of movement characterized by bounces and rocks, executed to Hip Hop music. It has deep historical and social roots in African American culture, having emerged in Black communities living in 1970s New York. While frequently referred to as a singular dance style, Hip Hop dance is part of a whole culture of Hip Hop, that includes Deejaying, Graffiti, Emceeing, and Breaking.

The 5 Elements of Hip Hop


Also known as turntabling, this is an art form in which music is made in real time using record players and DJ mixers. DJs in the Hip Hop community are responsible for creating/curating the music that gets people on the dance floor at parties.


MC stands for “Master of Ceremonies” and they’re basically the hype-man of the DJ! The MC gets the crowd going and will sometimes freestyle rap over the music.


This is the art of expressing oneself about everyday life using spray paint on walls/outdoor spaces.


Breaking (often called breakdancing by popular media) is the original dance style that came out of the Hip Hop community. It started out with these 5 core movements: Top Rocks, Fast Footwork, Back Rocks, Freezes, and Power Moves. 


This element is the thread that weaves all the other elements together. “Knowledge of self” refers to the Afro-diasporic mix of spiritual and political consciousness designed to empower members of oppressed groups by portraying social change and giving back to the minority communities.

While some OG members of the Hip Hop community consider other elements to be part of Hip Hop’s core (such as Beatboxing) all agree – you must participate in the 5 elements above to be considered a member of authentic Hip Hop culture.

The History of Hip Hop Culture

The Bronx in the 70's was a rough, dangerous place to grow up. The youth were surrounded by drugs, crime, poverty, gang violence, and overall struggle.

Yet they, particularly the African American and Latino youth (minority groups), were neglected by mainstream institutions.

Desperate for a way to escape their everyday struggles, they invented their own art forms.

These art forms, which the youth embodied in the way they dressed, talked, moved, and expressed themselves, soon became a lifestyle. A way to live.

This lifestyle and culture became known as Hip Hop.

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

"Hip" = present, "Hop"= action.

So, Hip Hop is a movement that represents the freedom to learn, grow, and evolve.

Despite the negativity and tumult in the South Bronx, Hip Hop heads were able to rise above their environment and create a positive form of release.

Instead of substances and violence, their energy was redirected to values like originality, creativity, identity, respect, and community.

The same way that our religious, ethnic, and familial backgrounds inform our way of being in the world, Hip Hop was the way that people could be in a way that felt right to them.

Deejaying, Emceeing, Breaking and Dancing, and Graffiti weren't just hobbies – they were sanctuaries.

Photo by The Guardian

DJ Kool Herc (AKA the “Father of Hip Hop”) used to start block parties in the West Bronx (AKA the “birthplace of Hip Hop").

He played music on his turntables and the community would come out to mingle and dance.

If you've ever heard of "1520 Sedgwick Avenue" that's the address of the iconic building where many of these first parties took place.

As Kool Herc watched the people party, he noticed that they got the most hype during the breakbeat of a song.

(The breakbeat is the instrumental, percussive section in funk and R&B records. )

And since his job as a DJ was to keep the energy of the party up, he found a way to extend the breakbeat by isolating it, then using two turntables to play it back to back on a loop.

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)

As this happened, the Master of Ceremonies, or MC, or Emcee, would hype up the DJ and the crowd, keeping the energy going.

By the late 1970s, DJs and Emcees were getting together regularly to spin, scratch, cut, and mix for the community.

Photo by Voices of East Anglia

As much as the art forms within Hip Hop have evolved over the decades, the core tenants of the culture remain.

Now that we’re familiar with the history of Hip Hop culture, let’s take a closer look at the two major Hip Hop dance styles – Breaking and Party Dances.

Types of Hip Hop dances


Breaking (often referred to by mainstream media as "breakdancing”)" is a style of dance that was born through Hip Hop block parties. It’s an athletic dance style that allows skilled dancers to engage in good-natured battles and displays of one-upmanship.

DJ Kool Herc originally called these dancers break boys (b-boys) and break girls (b-girls) – because they danced to his breakbeats that he looped.

“Standard” techniques include fast footwork, freezes, powermoves, downrocks and toprocks.

Footwork and toprock both require being able to think in three dimensions, the ability to create your own moves, and the originality to imbue every individual movement with style, flavor, and originality. (Rajakumar 19)

The early b-boys and b-girls came from all kinds of backgrounds of movement.

They brought salsa, Cuban mambo and rumba, Brazilian samba, Jazz dance, as well as martial arts like Kung-Fu and Capoeira to influence Breaking.

Breaking battles became tests of athleticism, attitude, originality, and dominance.

Through these battles, dancers earned pride, respect, and a sense of identity and purpose.  And instead of asserting themselves with weapons or violence, they did so through dance.

Hip Hop Party Dances

But not everybody could do the athletically demanding moves of Breaking, nor were they interested in competition.

And different types of Hip Hop music prompted people to move a different way – a way that is social, light-hearted, and fun.

With the advent of dancers like Buddha Stretch, Hip Hop party dances were born!

Some examples of these social or party dance moves include the Snake, Chicken-head, Cabbage Patch, Harlem Shake, and Running Man.

As the dance scene expanded, multiple Hip Hop clubs sprang up all over New York. Two popular ones were Latin Quarters and Union Square.

The dances that emerged during this era are usually what people think of when you say “old school Hip Hop” dances.

Then, as we entered the late 90s and early 2000s, Hip Hop music evolved to include different instruments and rap flows, which led to new dances.

The Whip, Nae Nae, Dougie, Cat Daddy are examples of new school party dances that came from recent songs. (Brandon Allen Juezan)

P.S. You can learn all these Hip Hop party dance moves on STEEZY Studio too! Learning single moves can be a great way to delve into Hip Hop in a short amount of time.

Click here to take the classes for free.

Other “Hip Hop” styles?

Styles like Popping/Boogaloo, House, Locking, and Whacking are often incorrectly grouped under the Hip Hop “umbrella.

However, these are not Hip Hop styles, but their own individual styles of dance with their own techniques, vocabulary, and origin.

The social dances that developed in the 1980's like Locking and Popping are more accurately described as "West Coast Funk" styles.

Hip Hop dance in the media

Hip Hop started being noticed by the media in the early 1980's.

Films like Wild Style, Style Wars, Beat Street, and Breakin’ were significant in introducing Breaking and street dance culture to a wider audience.

In 1981, a battle between Rock Steady Crew and the Dynamic Rockers at the Lincoln Center gained national exposure.

It was covered by several New York Publications, and even National Geographic.

In 1983, the movie Flashdance featured dancers from Rock Steady Crew (Crazy Legs, Ken Swift, Frosty Freeze, and Mr. Freeze) in a cameo performance.

Graffiti Rock, though short-lived, was a show that bridged all the foundational elements of Hip Hop together.

"[Graffiti Rock] is still “remembered as one of the pioneers of hip hop culture.” (Rajakumar, 35)

Soul Train, created in the 70s by Don Cornelius, also popularized Hip Hop social dancing along with Popping, Locking, and other styles.

Breakers went on to be featured in commercials for major brands such as Burger King, Pepsi, Coke, and Panasonic, as well as talk shows, news shows, and even the 1984 summer Olympics.

‍Charles “Cholly” Atkins and James Brown popularized several dance moves that would later influence the future Hip Hop generation (Durden).

Elite Force, a dance crew from the 90s, was made of Hip Hop heads that also worked as professional dancers.

Elite Force, a dance crew from the 90s, was made of Hip Hop heads that also worked as professional dancers.

All of these Hip Hop dancers were getting more exposure and opportunities, but the style and culture were depicted in a watered-down and commercialized manner when it was performed for the masses.

“Critics now find flaws in the films as examples of the early commercialization of breakdancing diluting the intensity of the socioeconomic roots of the origins of breakdancing and hip hop culture – part athletic creativity and part struggle for meaning in the midst of poverty and social alienation.” (Rajakumar, 38)

After all, it’s difficult to make anything appeal to a mass market while fully preserving its authenticity.

Many dance and fitness studios use the term “Hip Hop” to describe their classes, despite the fact that the movements are not based on Hip Hop’s foundational grooves or culture.

And all of these misuses of the term “Hip Hop” have led people to believe that any choreography danced to Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B music is considered Hip Hop dance, which 

Modern shows like America’s Best Dance Crew, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and movies like Save The Last Dance, You Got Served, and the Step Up series further popularized street style movement to younger dancers, but depicted underground Hip Hop culture in a way that was packaged to be palatable for the screen.

Today, dance organizations and community groups around the world are working to reverse this appropriation by practicing, teaching, and living all things Hip Hop as authentically and preserving the culture in its purest form.

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Hip Hop Dance Classes

As we previously mentioned, coming across an authentically taught Hip Hop dance class can be tough – especially if you live in smaller cities where that culture never had the chance to take root.

However, while you search for a class, you can always start your training by building your knowledge – it’s one of the 5 elements of Hip Hop after all!

We recommend that you train all of the background dance skills that’ll aid you in an in-person Hip Hop class by reading this article: How To Dance Hip Hop For Beginners

And for a deeper dive on all the things you might wanna know before taking any street style class, our post How To Start Dancing will give you info on everything from freestyling to getting involved in your local dance community.

Now, let’s talk about how to actually find a good Hip Hop class in your area.

  1. Start simple by Googling. Look up “Hip Hop dance classes near me” and check out dance studios or events that have great reviews.
  2. Once you find a few solid-looking studios, check out their social media (Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook tend to be best) to get a sense of what the classes actually look like.
  3. Check out the studio websites.

As you’re doing all of this digging, you should be looking for a couple of things!

First, you should be making sure that the classes are truly Hip Hop, not a mix of styles that has been artificially labeled. 

To do this, look for classic moves listed in their website descriptions/executed in their videos. Also look for language about “bounces and rocks,” “old school,” or “new school” dance moves.

Lastly, research the instructor! Does it seem like they’re a member of the wider Hip Hop community? Do they talk about the culture and history like we’ve done in this article? Or do they talk mostly about superficial, commercialized things?

Use your best judgement!

And if you can't find Hip Hop dance classes near you, or you just wanna learn in the comfort of home,  we have plenty of authentically taught classes and programs for you on STEEZY Studio.

Our Beginner Hip Hop program is taught by OG Hip Hop dancer Buddha Stretch. Step-by-step, he’ll guide you through the basics of rhythm, technique, performance skills, and more.

Click here to start the Beginner Hip Hop Program on STEEZY.

If you’re looking for something a little more bite-sized, check out our FREE classes with Brandon Beastboi Juezan! Each class covers a classic Hip Hop move or one of the more recent viral moves of the 2000s. 

Lastly, if you’re an intermediate/advanced dancer, you might be ready to explore Hip Hop in a more personal way. 

Check out these 5 tips on how to find your own flavor in Hip Hop dance.  

And as for choreography?  

Though Open Style Choreography (once referred to as Urban Dance) is not Hip Hop dance, we can trace some of its movements and techniques to Hip Hop and street styles.

If choreography is what you’re actually looking for, STEEZY made it a priority to give that style of movement its own category! 

You can check out our Open Style Choreography classes here, and you can find out more about the differences between "Urban Dance" and Hip Hop here.

What Hip Hop dance means to us

‍As a part of our jobs as dance educators and because of our personal understanding of how deep dance cultures root back, STEEZY does everything we can to preserve and share the right information – especially with the younger generation of dancers.

In all of our styles programs on STEEZY Studio, whether it's:

Slim Boogie’s Beginner  Popping Program

‍Jojo Diggs' Beginner House Program 

‍Lorena Valenzuela's Beginner Whacking Program

‍Tango Leadaz' Beginner Dancehall Program

Mr. YouTube’s Beginner Lite Feet Program 

Bboy Machine’s Beginner Breaking Program 

we make sure to

  1. Work with dope dancers/teachers who are also respected ambassadors of each dance culture
  2. Include History as a part of teaching the dance moves (because the moves came from the history)

‍Head over to STEEZY now to try our Hip Hop classes from home, and learn about the style from authentic educators in the Hip Hop community.

This article about Hip Hop Dance is far from perfect, and I fantasize of one day writing one all-inclusive piece that accurately, thoroughly covers every little thing about Hip Hop.

But Hip Hop's story contains so many moving parts (some of which conflict), stories of several people's personal lives, and so many details that are still being uncovered to this day...

It's nearly impossible to capture all of that in one package...

Unless it's a package of Encyclopedias?

Alas, I accepted that I can't write the perfect story, and instead embraced the opportunity to simply create dialogue.

If you disagree with something, then write to me ([email protected]) and let me know.

Or if you have something to add, can connect me with people to interview, have any questions to ask, please don't hesitate to reach out.

We're all learning together. That's what this is really about.


‍Hip Hop, by Christopher A. Miller and Rebecca A Ferrell  

Hip Hop Culture, Emmett G. Price III, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO 2006

Hip Hop Dance, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Underground Dance Masters: Final History Of A Forgotten Era, Thomas Guzman-Sanchez

Hip-Hop Dance in Context Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches E. Moncell Durden

The history of the origin of Hip-Hop dance, the origin of Hip-Hop dance

Category: Blog

Hip-hop is one of the most popular trends in youth dance culture. It combines rhythmic and melodic bases, includes jumps, tricks and at the same time smooth, well-coordinated movements. This dynamic dance is now taught in many dance schools around the world. But what is the history of hip-hop?

Origin of hip-hop dance

The place and time of birth of this trend in choreography are known for sure. The history of hip-hop dance originates in 1967 in the South Bronx, the most disadvantaged area of ​​New York. Just at this time, a Jamaican DJ, nicknamed Kool Gerk, arrived here. He organized parties, and they read recitative at the same time as playing records, which then gave impetus to the development of rap.
Kul Gerk also introduced the concept of breaks - musical breaks, during which the dancers went into a circle and showed their skills. Their dance was a sharp movement with elements of acrobatics. It is noteworthy that even then it was not meaningless. The dancers tried to tell them their story, show their understanding of life and even criticize its negative aspects. This is how hip-hop was born.
But this dance got its name in 1974 thanks to DJ Africa Bambaatteya. For the dance, he took words from the African American dialect, where "hip" is used to refer to arms and legs, and "hop" means "to jump."
Hip-hop has steadily grown in popularity over the following decades. The dance developed and changed, acquired new elements and acquired new techniques. Over time, such well-known styles as breakdancing, popping and locking emerged from hip-hop. And the dance itself was practiced not only on the streets, but also in choreographic schools. Even choreographers working in the classical style began to invite hip-hop dancers to participate in their dance numbers.
Over time, hip-hop has gone beyond the US and spread throughout the world. Dance competitions and competitions of hip-hop dancers today take place in various countries. And everyone who wants to learn this dance will find a school of choreography to their liking without any problems.

Hip-hop today

Despite the great popularity of hip-hop continues to be an integral part of urban areas in the United States, where he once came from. The history of hip-hop dance is a story of struggle and victory, the desire for independence and the love of freedom. Originating as a way of self-expression, it continues to touch upon important political, social and even racial issues. This dance is intellectual and emotional at the same time. And only those who really understand this can reach certain heights in it.
Hip-hop is a unique culture with its own philosophy. And it was created by people who were not afraid to oppose themselves to the world. Perhaps this is the main reason for the popularity of this type of choreography. Hip-hop is more than just a set of movements to music. It is a challenge dance full of courage and passion. A dance with a story worth telling.

emergence, development and features of hip-hop


Hip-hop is one of the few directions that has managed to literally drive the world crazy for some half a century. Its development continues today, and the story of the transformation of recitative to the beat into a full-fledged subculture is told on the streets around the world.

Information about the development and origin of dance

The history of hip-hop is unique, unique, and therefore so interesting. It is believed that hip-hop appeared in the 60s of the 20th century in the sleeping areas of New York, more precisely, in the poorest of them all, the South Bronx. In the United States, where there is a ghetto, street culture is usually especially isolated from society, and the fact that hip-hop has broken out into the white masses from remote neighborhoods is a surprising phenomenon for the middle of the last century. By the way, for a long time the direction did not even have a separate name. It was invented in the late 60s by DJ Africa Bambaataa, when the growing culture could no longer be left anonymous.

Hip-hop in the 70s

Hip-hop gained international recognition in the 70s. The subculture developed in several directions at once: rap, breakdance, street sports and graffiti. Disc jockeys at parties read texts to the music, while recording the performance on a tape recorder. For the first time such tracks began to create DJ Kool Herc. In 1970, his followers united in the first hip-hop label - The Sugar Hill.

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However, 19 is considered the official year of hip-hop79 when the first full-fledged composition in this style was released - Rapper's Delight. The track was then called "the new school of funk", but it became the basis of the so-called "old school of hip-hop". Old schoolers overlay recitative on funk or disco, but the followers of the "new school of hip-hop" used samples. New school became especially popular in the mid-80s.

Mid 80's to mid 90's

The "golden era of hip hop" refers to the mid 80's to mid 90s0-s. At this time, the direction literally flourishes and replenishes with many new genres. Musicians use electronic sampling, adding elements of a variety of styles to hip-hop - from hardcore to jazz. Hip-hop is becoming commercially oriented, it is rapidly merging into the mainstream.

At the same time, the subculture is saturated with aggression. The so-called "beefs" - confrontations between different teams - are becoming more popular than ever. The most famous militant parties are Juice Crew and Boogie Down Production. The "golden era of hip-hop" is also associated with the war between the two coasts, which were represented by two warring labels: Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records.

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