Learning hip-hop dance can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences in your life! The deceptively casual and stylish aesthetics of the genre has more to it than meets the eye.
Hip-hop is a highly stylized and developed discipline that can require a rigorous work ethic and years of physical training to achieve the smooth end result.
Hip-hop dance, like hip-hop music, exists as a developing art form. It’s in a uniquely pioneering position in culture, relying on certain bedrock traditions as well as dizzying innovations. Hip-hop can push the envelope while at the same time paying homage and respect to its rich traditions. And with that comes the secret to its near-universal appeal: It’s always expanding artistically while maintaining its core history.
No wonder hip-hop dance is such a popular genre for students of all ages. Whether you are interested in learning hip-hop online or with in-person instruction, here are a few of the many benefits it offers.
The Cool Factor
Hip-hop dancing is cool, has always been cool, and will always be cool. Why? First off, it’s not just a dance form. Hip-hop is a music genre with just as much, if not more culture and history than rock n’ roll. Both styles of music embody the rebellious spirit of counterculture. But, hip-hop culture exploded into a dance form and swagger that is well known today for looking smooth and exciting.
Hip-hop dance moves often accentuate the beats and lyrics in songs. When a hip-hop dancer has that cool and smooth almost arrogant-like quality that the style is known for, it’s called being “in the pocket.” Dancers that can dance in the pocket look cool. Every. Single. Time. Achieving this cool quality is a factor of the types of beats hip-hop songs typically have, the influences that have made hip-hop dance classes what they are today, and the number of hip-hop dancers that teach this style today!
And on the other end of the spectrum: imagine krumping, breaking, popping, locking, and any hip-hop choreography that puts the human body to the ultimate test. Some hip-hop dance is meant to be in your face and physically powerful, and it can be really fun to exert yourself this way, especially if it’s a side of you that you don’t often access!
From the quick muscle engagement involved in popping and locking, to the full-body strength needed to hit the stronger moves, and the cardio needed for house dancing— hip-hop can be one of the more physically demanding dance styles!
Hip-hop is historically influenced by African dancing, too. This is where some of the repeated grooves, low to the ground movement, and cardiovascular components of the dance style come from. Whether you’re looking for strength training, a cardio workout, or simply to make your brain and muscles work together in new ways, hip-hop has something for you!
Learn to Groove
At its core, hip-hop has always been a social dance. Not even counting the recent rise in hip-hop dance videos on TikTok, it has always celebrated the sharing and proliferation of specific grooves. Many of them have names, so you can learn them piece by piece!
There’s the Cabbage Patch, the Running Man, the Butterfly, the Shamrock, the Dougie, the Reebok…. Notice any familiar names? If you know them, then you’re already a hip-hop dancer yourself! If you don’t, try them out by taking a CLI Grooves Series with tWitch!
Need we say more about just how versatile this style of dance is? If you’re taking a general hip-hop dance class, you’ll get to work specifically on the dynamics of your movement. Since hip-hop inhabits the music it is choreographed to, you’ll often have moments of quiet cool where you get to choose your own pose, and then moments of full-out make-it-your-own dancing for a whole eight count. This can be a great way to work on your range of movement, and how to make choreography pop with your personal energy.
More so than other dance styles, hip-hop encourages individual expression. Some styles are more specific like tutting and locking, but overall, the genre thrives on individual energy and expression. As long as you’re sticking to the rhythm of the song, you can play around with energy, expressions, and even the placement of your body. Especially when the move is a lower-body step (which a lot of hip-hop is!), you might have the freedom to play in the upper body. You might notice that this is a similar idea to tap dancing: tap dancing is a major influence of hip-hop dance too!
Confidence can arrive in the nonchalant, casual, and crisp aesthetic of being in the pocket like we discussed earlier, or it can arrive in the shameless execution of your favorite move on the hardest-hitting lyric of the song. Hip-hop does not shy away from individual freedom and expression! Taking hip-hop classes is a great way to naturally improve your personal confidence.
Show it Off
With high confidence comes new social opportunities. One thing that separates hip-hop dance from other styles is its relationship with current culture. Ballet is a truly wonderful artform and worth the time of every student who chooses to reach for its dizzying heights of achievement, but let’s face it: They aren’t playing Prokofiev at the club or on the wedding reception dance floor. The DJ will, however, be playing hip-hop. Lots and lots of hip-hop. And as you develop as a student you will also be developing as a casual hip-hop dancer. After all the hard work you put in learning new skills, why not have fun letting it out on the dance floor?!
While it is traced back to New York in the ’60s and ’70s, nowadays, hip-hop is worldwide, and hip-hop dance is right there next to it, spanning the globe. Nowadays you can learn hip-hop dance anywhere, and the exciting and cutting edge world of virtual online instruction is more accessible and interactive than ever before. Take advantage of the new world of technology to get the most out of your experience as a student of hip-hop dance.
Live and Learn
One aspect of hip-hop dance that we mentioned before is its dual relationship to its own history as well as an obsession with innovation. This duality allows students of all ages to occupy an exciting place between timelessness and the “right here, right now,” which is an appealing place to be as an artist. As you learn from the greats, you’ll learn about the history of different techniques and you’ll start noticing it in the choreography you see and learn today.
Hip-hop has slowly worked its way from the streets into the top fashion houses of the world, while still maintaining and actively cultivating a cool, outsider status. This area that’s been staked out is an excellent breeding ground for style, both old and new, and the hip-hop dancer is therefore a natural candidate to be the avatar of those styles!
Hip-hop culture is sometimes said to be composed of six different parts: DJing, MCing, beatboxing, B-boys and B-girls, graffiti artwork, and fashion. If you’re listening to the music, dancing hip-hop choreography, and wearing hip-hop-inspired fashion, you’re already engaging with half of the creative outlets of hip-hop culture!
Strangely enough, this makes hip-hop dance similar to the opera! In previous eras, operas were an exciting event because every aspect of the production was tied to music and design. Hip-hop is similar in that way, and both are true art forms that have earned their place in pop culture history.