How to dance ghetto style
How To Find Your Own Flavor In Hip Hop Dance | Style Tips for Beginners
Discovering a unique, personal style is a journey that every Hip Hop dancer goes through.
And no matter who you are or how long you’ve been dancing, finding your own flavor can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding parts of the process!
Read on for 5 tips to help you on your journey.1. Start with foundational training
The first step toward finding your style is to master the basics in a dance style that inspires you.
There are plenty of choices, as Hip Hop dance refers to a variety of disciplines ranging from classic party dances and Breaking, to newer styles like Lite Feet. Learning other street dance and studio dance styles can also improve your overall foundation, which in turn will help you become a more unique dancer.
It’s like learning a language: you start by learning the individual words and grammar, then you piece them together to form sentences. After enough practice, you’ll be able to tell stories in your own words.
For example, let’s say you master some moves or “words” from Hip Hop social dances. If you pick up some House footwork, you can combine these phrases with what you already know to create more interesting and nuanced sentences. This is how learning the foundations of multiple styles gives you more movement vocabulary to express yourself with.2. Study your favorite dancers
Especially when you’re starting out as a Hip Hop dancer, you can learn a lot by studying the dancers you like and why you like them.
Take their classes, watch videos of them dancing, watch interviews, or even chat with them if you can. Look for the techniques and textures that they tend to use, the energy that they exude, and how these things resonate with you. Bit by bit, you’ll learn how these smaller pieces come together to form a personal style.
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Once you know what you like about those dancers, don’t be afraid to try copying them! It’s totally fine to copy someone else’s moves and approach for the purpose of learning and becoming a better dancer yourself.
You’ll find that your favorite dancers do some things that work for you and other things that you don’t really click with. With experience, you’ll start growing into a style that’s distinct from everyone else’s.
At some point, you might get tired of practicing the same groove for the hundredth time or run out of competition footage to watch.
It’s all too common to burn out on dance if you’re immersed in it. That’s why it’s important to incorporate other aspects of life into your self-expression.
Hip Hop dancers often draw on other physical disciplines to add to their repertoire.
For example, many dancers draw on other sports like gymnastics and tumbling for inspiration.
And martial arts has also had a huge influence on Hip Hop dance since the days of Bruce Lee and kung fu movies.
Music, film, TV, literature, and visual arts can also be valuable sources of inspiration. Listening to a particular song might prompt you to move in new ways, a scene from a movie could spark an idea, and so on.
After all, Hip Hop has always been more than just dance: MCing, DJing, graffiti, and Breaking have all mutually influenced each other as pillars of Hip Hop.
Wanna learn more about the pillars of Hip Hop? Read: What is Hip Hop?4. Dance, dance, and dance some more
After learning the foundations, studying your favorite dancers, and connecting with your personal influences, it’s time to put it all together and just dance.
Dancing regularly is the most reliable way to find your own style, and it’s often the most important part of the process. Each time you move your body with the intent to express, you’re either exploring new techniques and feelings or becoming more familiar with what you’ve explored before.
Take it to the next level and boost your development by reviewing and evaluating yourself in between practice sessions. Think about what you want more of, what you want to keep, and what you want less of.
Recording videos of yourself is a small but effective habit that complements dance practice and self-evaluation. Video recordings are great for reviewing yourself because you might look different from how you feel in the moment. Keeping an archive allows you to look back when you forget something or need some inspiration.
Training with other people or attending freestyle cyphers can also help take your style to the next level. Dance buddies can and will let you know when you do something dope, which should point you towards what’s working or making you unique. You can also give mutual feedback, bounce ideas back and forth, and encourage each other when the going gets tough.5. Enjoy the process
All of this might seem like a lot… and it’s true. Trying to find your own style can be overwhelming at first!
It can be frustrating when your thoughts don’t translate into your dance, but when it works, the results can be incredibly fulfilling.
If you’re feeling discouraged, try putting on one of your favorite songs and move however you want to. Don’t worry about how you look or whether your technique is correct – let it all go and just move. You can keep a playlist of songs that always get you moving for moments like these.
No matter what, enjoy the process and keep on dancing.
Why You Shouldn't Call Urban Dance "Hip Hop"
What’s the difference between Urban Dance and Hip Hop? Are they the same thing? How do they relate??
Our inbox is full of questions asking about the differences between certain styles, why this style is called this, if one style is in another style’s “umbrella,” and so on.
To answer these questions, we compiled tons of information on these styles:
Waacking and Voguing
There’s lots of interesting dialogue surrounding each of these dance styles.
(Which we’re always open to hearing! Email [email protected] if you wanna chat.)
But in this article, we’re gonna focus on the fact that many dance styles that are not Hip Hop are often incorrectly labeled so.
NOTE: Since the initial release of this article, we're no longer using the term "Urban Dance" at all! Read about why here.
Hip Hop is a culture
In "What Is Hip Hop Dance" we talked about Hip Hop dance having 2 forms: Breaking and Party Dancing.
While this is a simple way to think about it, a deeper (and probably less convoluted) way of understanding Hip Hop dance, can be found in the understanding Hip Hop culture as a whole.
Hip Hop was born in the 70’s in the Bronx, New York. It was a way for the oppressed, underserved youth to express and empower themselves, feel validated, gain respect, connect with each other, and have fun.
Hip Hop is a culture, a mindset, a way of life. The forms associated with it – dance (Breakdance, Freestyle Hip Hop, and Litefeet), art (graffiti), spoken word (emcee/rap), and music (DJ, production), fashion, and so on… They are ways that the culture of Hip Hop manifests.
– Buddha Stretch
So Breaking and Social / Party Dancing were the forms of dance that came out of this setting.
And when you call a style of dance “Hip Hop,” you’re alluding to a whole culture, one that has deep socio-political and personal roots of those that created it.
Hip Hop is a living, breathing organism, one that grows and moves with the times and its people. Hip Hop music has changed, the dancing has changed, but it always roots back to the Black and Latino communities that created Hip Hop culture.
– Buddha Stretch
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What’snot Hip Hop
The word started to be recognized by mainstream media, and pretty soon dance studios were labeling their classes “Hip Hop.”
Though these studios were probably well-intentioned, the majority of them did not have qualified teachers who knew, understood, and lived a Hip Hop experience.
Someone can tell me what to say in a different language, and I can copy them. Mimic the sounds, tonalities. But if they asked me what I just said, I’d have no idea. That’s what was happening.These studios didn’t teach authentic Hip Hop classes that paid due tribute to its roots and culture, but used the hype surrounding the label, more or less, as a marketing strategy.
– Moncell Durden
If a studio is teaching Hip Hop “moves” that have nothing to do with Hip Hop music or culture, they’re removing the very essence of what makes the style.
– Buddha Stretch
The Source Magazine started out as a record pool for DJ’s, and rap artist’s records. The tagline on the magazine was “The voice of the rap music industry”.
Later the Source changed that to The Magazine of Hip-Hop music, culture and politics.
The Source was influential in the Music industry’s change of categorizing rap music to Hip-Hop music as it was considered the “voice of the Hip-Hop nation”.
What has since transpired is the term Hip-Hop is basically used to define anything Black and Brown youth/young adults are doing, whether its music, fashion, gang activity, etc.
– Bgirl Asia One
Popular TV shows and movies also contributed to the faulty understanding of Hip Hop as well.
The Step Up Franchise, Stomp The Yard… they displayed Hip Hop in a way to make it feel cool, but safe. The more mainstream Hip Hop became, the more money they made. But at whose expense?
– Moncell Durden
The true meaning of “Hip Hop” was, essentially, plucked out of its home and disseminated to the public as a blanket label.
When I think Hip Hop, I don’t think of studio choreography. I think of jams, clubs, circles, people freestyling and doing their own thing, their own way. It’s great that Hip Hop styles got featured a lot more in the media; this created jobs and opportunities. But it’s also why everything is labeled Hip Hop now.
– Bgirl Asia One
Why you shouldn’t call Urban Dance "Hip Hop"
One word? Appropriation.
The movements in Hip Hop all have socio-cultural significance. They signify real, lived experiences. So if you do them by taking or borrowing the moves without understanding these things, you’re dismissing the deeper value of Hip Hop.
– Moncell Durden
Urban Dance and Hip Hop are different, not just in how they manifest, but in the culture that they come from.
So… What is Urban Dance, then?
What we understand as “Urban Dance” – the world of teams, rehearsals, competitions, and concept videos… it’s not exactly Hip Hop.
Because the common thread of Urban Dance isn’t even a style of dance, but an act.
It’s choreography. Choreography that is more or less completely up to the individual choreographer.
They draw from whatever style(s) that they trained in or were influenced by, or come up with random moves with no stylistic origin – to interpret the music in their own way.
For example, Franklin Yu’s Popping background led to the isolations and hits in his choreography.
And Chris Martin used to be a b-boy, which you can see in all his crazy footwork and athletic floorwork.
They both do “Urban Dance” and teach at “Urban Dance” workshops in “Urban Dance” styles – but their actual dance styles are totally different, because they have different dance backgrounds, as well as different personalities, life experiences, tastes in music – all the things that contribute to the choreography process.
Many Urban dancers do draw from freestyle Hip Hop, Breaking, and street / funk styles to influence their choreography, which is one reason people associate “Urban” with Hip Hop.
And that’s also why it gets so confusing trying to explain what style “Urban Dance” is, and why it’s not really Hip Hop.
But sigh, “Urban” isn’t a perfect label, either
“Urban Dance" is, whether it's "right" or not, what we came to call this choreography scene.
It sounds and feels nice, and it is a few degrees better than calling it “Hip Hop,” but it’s not as accurate in its literal sense, either.
"Urban Dance” is more of a mindset, because the choreography can be made up of anything and everything you want. It’s like freestyle Hip Hop – you can pull from multiple dance forms to create something new.But the literal word “Urban” denotes black origin. It’s another way of saying “ghetto” but without the negative connotation. That’s where the misinformation becomes a problem – Hip Hop IS ghetto; it’s always been the voice of ghetto oppression. To use “Urban” is to allude to that, without actually being ghetto.
– Buddha Stretch
THEN WHAT THE HECK DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
When I talked to Stretch, I kept asking questions regarding the differences between dance styles. But he challenged me think differently, to look at the similarities and connections, instead.
The lineage of dances is so interesting…If you explore humanity and DNA, you start to understand that ethnicity and race are just labels we made up to try to understand things we don’t understand. Japanese, African, European… Underneath those words, we’re basically the same – same tools, same DNA.If you look at dance from that standpoint, you stop thinking about it as Popping, Locking, Ballet, Jazz. You just see it as dance. And that’s a hell of a lot more interesting for everybody.
– Buddha Stretch
I like it. Movement is movement, whether you freestyle or do choreography, in whatever style.
Because the important part isn’t so much the moves, but the people who made them.
In order to understand, over-stand, or inner-stand the dance you have to understand the people, and to understand the people you have to appreciate culture.
– Moncell Durden
What Moncell said spoke volumes to me as well; the Urban Dance scene is its own culture with its own events, nuances, inside jokes, rituals, personalities, and values.
Urban Dance and Hip Hop may not be the same – heck, it’s arguable that it should even be called Urban Dance.
But whatever you call it, it’s a pretty cool thing in itself.
Dance Crip-Walk (C-Walk). Type of modern dance.
Crip Walk can be described as a street culture dance, modern and spontaneous. The creep walk pays primary attention to the movements of the legs: as in a twist the dancer “presses the cigarette butt with his toes”, so in the creep walk different possible signs or words are written out with his feet. Sometimes, therefore, the creep walk is referred to as a "graphic dance".
In the late 60s in Los Angeles ghettoes were formed - special areas with a low level of development, inhabited by African Americans who defended their rights after the complete abolition of slavery in the territory US .
In these areas, various bandit groups had a huge influence, they were practically the only force influencing social change. The levers of influence and the main profit of the gangs were drugs, weapons, murders, robbery, blackmail ...
, which later became known as Crips .
Raymond's main ideas were to seize a leading position in the social influence of his society, protect his neighborhoods, "have weight on the scales" ...
In the early 80s, Crip Walking began to develop as symbolic dance of the Crips gang, which is why it got its name.
Crip Walk or C-Walk is a contemporary street dance style focused on virtuoso improvised footwork. It appeared in the late 60s of the 20th century in Compton, a poor suburb of Los Angeles, and was performed to rappers' chants.
Members of the gang used dexterous footwork to display their name or give bandit signs, to initiate new members into the gang.
In the early 70s, with the development of the Crips gang, they had special movements that only they understood, at first they were used as visual signals, passwords, warnings.
Developing this idea, Crips began to use these movements for initiation into gang members, and if you were not a member of their group, but copied their movements, you could be shot right on the street.
These movements were first called Crip walk .
Then it grew not just into movements, it became their style, their lifestyle, to leave the house and perform a crip walk, it was as natural as washing in the morning, moreover, all the members of the gang “cooked in it” .
With their crip walk , the creeps wrote the name of the main rival gang Bloods , and then crossed it out, thereby "omitting" them. The answer followed in the form of Blood walk - a set of moves similar to Crip walk.
At this time, clowns appeared in the same areas of the ghetto, in which people, living on welfare, were either members of gangs or those who hid from them. Yes, clowns.
They hosted parties for ordinary African-American families while dancing to the local music of hip-hop. The first was Thomas Johnson , later he turned into Tommy the Clown for everyone ( Clown Tommy ) - a cheerful guy with a painted face and hair of all colors of the rainbow at once.
His style was called clowning. He found himself in various types of hip-hop culture, and became the progenitor of such a style as Krump . But Tommy had many followers who developed separately from him, and one of them, seeing the movements of the Crips gang - crip walk, which was then forbidden in America, added clown, comic movements and his own tricks to the dance ...
This is how Clown walk was born, thus, using their great popularity, clowns diverted popularity away from gangs in a more peaceful direction.
Young people have received a way of self-expression in dance, saturated with culture. Subsequently, the prohibition by the US authorities of crip walka, style Crown walk was based, as a synthesis of two names (crip and clown), this dance became a synthesis of clown movements clown walka and style, and the presentation of crip walka.
Crip Walking has many motion variations. However, there are several major versions of the C-Walk that have always been part of the Crips culture:
• The "V" : This is one of the most important variations of the Crip Walk. In this variation, you need to move your body so that you "draw" the letter "V" with your feet. Creeps usually "write" words or their names with this move. Usually the word "Bloods" is written and then crossed out or "erased".
- • The Heel-Toe : Also one of the most popular C-Walk variations. In this variation, you need to do half-turns with your heels and toes. The tricky part here is doing the "angles" with your feet, for example: your right foot needs to be at a 90 degree angle behind your left foot in order to do a half turn.
- • The Heel-Hop : Another popular version of the Crip Walk. This variation is similar to the Heel-Toe, but it does not require any turns. You simply transfer the support from one foot to the other.
- • The Shuffle : This movement involves shuffling your feet back and forth.
Crips walk became popular after rap artist Ice-T showed up in front of the cameras in the 1990s. Clown wlak is just a hip-hop dance.
- Clown walk is usually faster
- Elements in clow walk are more spectacular and less traditional
- Clow walk is a dance, not a ritual
- This is freestyle without the required elements
- During the dance, a person does not perform actions related to gangster chips
Currently, the dance C-walk is developing, implying a way of expressing one's feelings, emotions, state, but not forgetting the history and soul of the dance. And gangs Crips and Bloods , having many years of development and bloody war among themselves, dividing spheres of influence, signed an unspoken “peace treaty” in 2006.
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types of street dances and clothing style
A dance direction that involves not just a set of movements to music, but a whole way of life. Very young, but full of difficult stories - hip-hop style. His path - from disadvantaged areas of New York to the top stages of the planet - is a model for thousands of followers.
The difficult path of this style began in the 60s of the last century in the South Bronx, which is considered the most disadvantaged area of New York. Parties were regularly held there, at which the man who later became recognized as the creator of rap, Kul Gerk, read recitatives to the music. During the breaks, a circle was improvised, in the center of which, one by one, young people showed their dancing skills. This is how breakdance appeared, and after it - other types of street dances. 1974 is considered the official date for the emergence of hip-hop as a culture. Five of its components were identified by DJ Afrika Bambaataa: these are “emsiing”, “DJing”, breaking, graffiti and a special worldview, including a certain language and the corresponding fashion. In general, in the last century, hip-hop dances were nothing more than a challenge to society, a protest against inequality and the unfair treatment of the government towards people. Now the hip-hop style is usually divided into old and new schools.
Old school hip hop
This is breakdance, locking and popping combined into a group of funk directions. An interesting dance with “locks”, that is, locking, was accidentally invented by Don Campbell, who wanted to impress his friends at a disco, but thought about the movements for too long, which is why he often froze in different poses for several seconds. Shortly thereafter, a strange dance with jerky movements, spreading arms, loops and jumps began to dance all over the United States of America. Do not forget about this style today.
Another old-school hip hop dance - popping - is based on the rapid contraction and relaxation of muscles, which from the side look like sharp jerks on the performer's torso. Dancers of this style skillfully combine the control of even the smallest muscles of their body with dance movements of other directions.
As for the main dance in the style of hip-hop - break dancing, it originated in the early 70s in the western parts of New York. It all started with the so-called Uprock - a manner of performance similar to a dance battle. So street gangs sorted out their relationship and decided who was cooler. For some time, breakdancing was underground, the dancers were not recognized and taken for ordinary rebels, but the children from the ghetto managed to get the public to accept them. The main credit for this goes to the Rock Steady Crew, who invented many of the style's key moves.
Later, the school was replenished with such original dance styles as robot, animation, king-tat and Electric Boogaloo. Interestingly, the latter was accidentally invented by guys who really wanted to dance popping, but did not know how.
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New School Hip Hop
While the old school places a lot of emphasis on acrobatic elements, new school hip hop dance styles rely on active footwork. The new school of hip-hop includes one of the key areas - freestyle or otherwise New Style. It was formed along with changes in attitudes towards blacks in America. The good old basic hip-hop has absorbed elements of ragga, modern and even Latin and turned into an improvisational dance: the performer moves very dynamically and at the same time relaxed, so the audience gets the impression that the number is invented on the go. No wonder hip-hop is called the philosophy of freedom.
Freestyle is also distinguished by its content: this style includes movements from a wide variety of dance styles, without focusing on whether it is hip-hop or not. In fact, the improviser has the widest range of elements, he can only fantasize and listen to his body. This is what hip-hop dance is in a new performance.
LA Style is often confused with New Style, but this is a completely different direction. It is easy to guess that the style originated in Los Angeles. The difference between this kind of hip-hop is that it is show-oriented. It was in New Style that pure choreography began to appear, and not the individual fantasy of the performer. This style looks very impressive on video, so it began to be used in music videos and when staging major shows. Here, the accuracy of movements, a clear set choreography, often synchronism, but not improvisation, are important.
Crump is another part of the new school of hip-hop. His manner of performance is based on very energetic movements with all parts of the body. The style looks spectacular, but very aggressive. The abbreviation KRUMP stands for "Empire of the Absolute Power of Spiritual Praise", if translated into Russian. That is, the direction is aimed at expressing the individual essence of the dancers. It seems to burst outward, causing the performer to "convulse". Today krump is one of the top destinations in Europe.
C-Walk is a hip-hop style with a very unusual history. In the 80s of the last century, it was a symbolic dance of the infamous rapper gang Crips (hence the Crip Walk). These guys used the foot dance as their language: with sharp movements of their legs they depicted their name, crossed out the names of rivals and even gave signals to the "chosen ones", mostly bandits. In response to such a provocation, the Bloods gang invented their B-Walk, which consisted only of the work of the hands, but they were no longer the pioneers, so this style clearly lost to the Crips in popularity. But C-Walk has firmly entered the hip-hop direction, today it is divided into Crown Walk and Clown Walk and remains very spectacular and popular.
Hip-hop today: clothes and schools of hip-hop
And, of course, what a trend that claims to be a whole philosophy, without appropriate clothing. Ever since the 70s, the appearance of fans of this culture, like the hip-hop movement, is complete freedom in everything. Hip-hop clothing for girls is a T-shirt, a men's hoodie, a cap and loose sweatpants or trumpet jeans. The beautiful half of the party demonstrates its femininity unobtrusively - by accidentally looking out underwear or bra straps. Men, on the other hand, boldly combine sports T-shirts with office shirts, wear the same sweatshirts, sweatpants and spacious T-shirts.
Hip-hop style is definitely worthy of respect. One need only imagine the conditions under which it originated: teenagers grew up in conditions of aggression and persecution of blacks, society despised the ghetto pupils, dancers were driven off the streets, and their styles were forbidden.