Hip-hop dance has a young five-decades-old history. However, in such a short period of time hip-hop has conquered the whole dance world and managed to become one of the most popular dance directions. We want to tell you hip hop dance history and interesting facts about its development. You’ll find here inspiring videos and photos from 70-80th years and you’ll feel an old school hip hop atmosphere.
Hip-hop is not just a dance, but a whole subculture. It is based on music (rap, beatbox), dance (breakdance, popping, locking, hip-hop dance, krump), and fine arts (graffiti).
Origin – Kool Herc
The history of hip-hop dance dates back to 1967 in the South Bronx, New York’s most disadvantaged and poorest district. That’s when a Jamaican DJ nicknamed Kool Herc came here. He’d organize parties and read recitative at the same time as he played the records, which then gave rise to rap. He also occasionally used musical breaks in his music so that dancers entering the circle could demonstrate their dance skills. That’s when the first movements and forms to the characteristic rhythm of music, in the future called hip-hop.
70’s – Afrika Bambaataa
The word hip-hop wasn’t there yet. It was invented a few years later in 1974 by DJ Africa Bambaataa when an adult culture already needed a common name. The word “hip” came from the African American dialect and was used to refer to the moving parts of the human body – legs, and arms. Besides, the word “hip” was used in the meaning of “acquisition of knowledge, improvement.” The word “hop” means “jump”. Thus, united, two words express the idea of the whole hip-hop trend – moving forward, developing, understanding modern life.
That same year, 1974, the Bambaataa formed the five pillars of hip-hop:
- MCing – is a combination of words and music, when a performer starts improvised or pre-conceived words to the rhythms.
- DJing – is music control. DJ turns on any record and changes its sound with the help of technique, hands, or other things.
- Breaking or break-dance – is the street dance that has accompanied hip-hop culture. It’s the foundation of all other street dancing.
- Graffiti writing – is street art.
- Knowledge – is a philosophy of culture that constantly tries to describe street life, even though it’s sometimes a dead end.
“Prescription” hip-hop culture existed covertly even before Bambaataa, but he was the one who officially voiced it in one of the interviews.
Talking about the history of hip-hop dance is hardly detached from the history of the emergence of the culture itself. To understand the prerequisites for the emergence of dance, you need to understand the principles of the entire culture of the time. It is a time when poor neighborhoods of New York were overflowing with drugs and crime when young people from an early age were on the path of criminal activity. Gangs and groups were organized on the streets. One of these street gangs was Black Spades, of which Bambaataa was a member before he became a popular musician. Such gangs have also become centers for the development of hip-hop culture. Their activity peaked in 1973. The reason for the decline in their activity is also the popularization and flourishing of hip-hop dance and culture. After all, it was precisely this trend that first touched upon acute social, political, and racial problems.
By the mid-1970s, there were several hundred breaker teams in the Bronx and Harlem that shared the city – each team danced at its own intersection. Teams such as the Rock Steady Crew and the New York City Breakers had what they called “ritual battles”. Later on, they became very popular after one of the battles was filmed. The videos became widespread and generated a wave of imitations among teenagers.
September 21, 1982 – the date of the first mention of hip hop in the press, namely in the article “Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip Hop” in the magazine Village Voice.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, the popularity of Hip-Hop dance grew with great speed. The success was overwhelming! Also, in the 1980s, social hip-hop dance (party dance) began to develop. Social dances were not created for competitions and displays of athleticism. These dances were for people to share with each other and create a sense of unity, so it spread at great speed.
More and more dancing teams were created. In 1984, the United Street Force was established. They, by the way, performed at the invitation of the White House for President Ronald Reagan.
Hip-hop dancers and breakers were invited to star in advertising campaigns for such brands as Burger King, Pepsi, Coke, Panasonic, MacDonalds and others.
At the end of the twentieth century, hip-hop continued to gain popularity, changed, and even lost the meaning of protest. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, hip-hop had become fashionable and mainstream. The first teachers of hip-hop appeared. One of the first of this business is considered the legendary Buddha Stretch, he began teaching in 1889.
Beginning of the 21st century
The beginning of the 21st century was in a way a new page in the history of Hip-Hop. In addition to movies and clips, popular TV shows about dancing appear, which further promote and spread such dancing as hip hop. Dancing hip-hop is becoming fashionable and cool, and more and more dance schools are opening, which teach hip-hop dancing, as well as other street dance styles.
Hip hop is commercializing. There is a division of this dance into two directions: Old School and New School. Old school is the base of hip-hop, all that danced in the period of its origin and development. Old school is free, improvised, relaxed but energetic.
Basic dance moves:
- сabbage patch;
- the wop;
- the fila (rembo);
- happy feet.
The new school came to hip-hop culture with the beginning of the commercialization of dance. It absorbed all that is in the old school but became more technically complex. If earlier, when dancing hip-hop it was almost always freestyle, that is, improvisation, the New School is characterized by choreography. Although the audience still has the impression of an improvisational manner of performing, thanks to the relaxation and freedom of movement.
An important stage in the formation of hip-hop as a dance genre – the emergence of international competitions, in the form of both battles and the stage art. Now dance teams not only compete in battles but also perform on great stages with many spectators. Such teams as Jabbawockeez, Quick Crew, Mos Wanted Crew, AOV become popular not only in the dance world.
Despite the great popularity of hip-hop continues to be an integral part of the urban areas of the U.S., where it came from at one time. The history of hip-hop dance is the history of struggle and victory, the desire for independence, and the love of freedom. Emerged as a means of expression, it continues to touch upon important political, social, and even racial issues. It is an intellectual and emotional dance at the same time. And only those who really understand it 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 confront the world. Perhaps that’s the main reason why this kind of choreography is so popular. Hip-hop dance is more than just a set of movements to music. It’s a dance call full of boldness and passion. A dance with a story that’s worth knowing.
Additional literature about hip hop dance history:
- Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation – Jeff Chang
- Hip-Hop and Urban Dance – Tamsin Fitzgerald
- B-Boy Championships: From Bronx to Brixton – D. J. Hooch