dancer delaney glazer teaching a hip-hop class at cli studios

6 Basic Hip-Hop Dance Moves

Looking to level up for your next hip-hop improv session? Here are some of the more popular moves. Since hip hop is itself an umbrella term, you’ll notice that many of these dance moves come from different scenes and different eras. That speaks to the versatility and eclectic roots of hip-hop dance more than anything else. It’s a truly big movement!

The Cabbage Patch

This move was a sensation in the 1980’s and remains popular today. The subject of many tracks in that formative decade for hip-hop, and named after the hit toy dolls from the same era, The Cabbage Patch is deceptively simple: With your hands in fists you make an “around the world” rotation while sidestepping. Throw in a little hip shake for flair–and a core workout!


This is another easy move that all of us have seen and most of us have pulled off…a few times. This groove move–with a hand pass over the head–was named after “the human beat box” himself, rapper Doug E. Fresh. Because of its popularity and relative ease of execution, The Dougie is a good and versatile transition move which is certain to catch some eyes.


A newer entry from the L.A. street scene, this style comes from the heyday of skinny jeans, hi-top sneakers, and brittle, loud, lo-fi 808 beats which all came together as a reinvention of the aesthetics of the mid-1980’s. With a lot of backwards leans and forward kicks, Jerkin’ is big, big, big on leg work.


This is getting into deep freestyle territory, and that’s what makes krumping such a great improvisational tool. The four major moves are chest pops, swinging your arms, jabs, and stomps, and any combination can be performed with a rapid-fire frequency which is thrilling to behold. This revolutionary style of dance began as an underground sensation in the Los Angeles street scene of the 1990’s, and has since had elements of its exhilarating theatrics incorporated into hip-hop dance as a whole.

Popping (and Locking Too)

So, first off we need to address the usual disclaimer that Popping and Locking, while often lumped together in hip-hop dance, are actually individual styles that predate hip-hop dance. Their origins are distinct and from a distant ancestor to hip-hop dance–a style and scene known as the Boogaloo. Now that that’s out of the way, popping and locking have come to be associated together in hip-hop dance because they pair so well, like strawberry and chocolate or two turntables and a microphone! Boiled down, Popping is where emphasis is put on specific flexed movements which can be both isolated or performed by multiple body areas in a highly stylized manner. And Locking–which was created by American choreographer Don Campbell– is just what it sounds like, making a freeze frame and locked moment in time when coming out of or into a dance move. Done together, and you have a genuinely beautiful and iconic performance!

The Running Man

This dance fad is everywhere, and has been since the late ‘80’s when it started appearing in the music video choreography of acts like MC Hammer and Bobby Brown. It looks exactly like what the name suggests, only instead of actually running the feet do an alternating forward step/backslide and the arms push and pull in tandem. The resulting profile is as iconic as the little man on the tongues of a pair of classic Air Jordans!

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