History of Hip Hop Dancing
What Do You Know About Hip Hop Dance?
If you don’t know anything else, you probably already know that hip hop has the beat that makes you want to get up and dance. But what do you really know about hip hop dance?
Did you know that this energetic dancing evolved with hip hop music and street jazz? It’s true. Today, hip hop has taken its place alongside ballet, tap, jazz and ballroom dancing; to name a few. The first mention of hip hop dance dates back to the 70’s when some new moves were introduced to the dance world to accompany the funky sounds of hip hop music that was also being discovered. Most popular among African Americans and Latin Americans at first, there are many races who now lay claim to defining this diverse dance phenomenon.
Across the United States from the ‘Boogie Down’ Bronx, New York to the ‘Beat Street’ corners of Compton, California, young people everywhere took to this new style of dancing that included such feats as breaking, popping, locking, gliding, ticking, vibrating and krumping. In the earlier days, some hip hop dance moves such as the Humpty Dance were made popular by hip hop artists who had created the songs from which these dances were derived.
Early on, dance competitions on sidewalks included beat boxing, a form of music-making that included raps and special sound effects made with the hands and mouth. Artists like The Fat Boys rose to fame and fortune with Buffy’s beat boxing talents. After the outbreak of interest in hip hop dance, there were even several movies highlighting this new form of dancing that combined beats, sounds, and gravity-defying moves. Crush Groove and other movies saw their day in the spotlight as hip hop dance continued to expand to different cultures and races and locations around the globe.
From freestyle forms that were often the spotlight of informal battles both indoors and outdoors to formally trained dancers who began to incorporate hip hop dance as a means of dance and physical exercise, hip hop dance has continued to evolve. Today, hip hop dance has earned a recognized place in dance studios and is practiced as regularly as other styles.
Whether hip hop dance was the brain child of some who were simply looking for another form of expression or the intentional genius of creative souls who were looking to put another dance expression into the mix of music is not clear. What is clear is that hip hop music has survived challenge and change and fought its way into the dance scene around the world. in 2005, the popular television show “So You Think You Can Dance” presented yet another platform for hip hop dance artists to display their talents while competing for fame and fortune against other recognized dance forms such as ballet, tap, jazz and ballroom.
History of Jazz Dance
World War I had ended and a social revolution was under way! Customs and values of previous generations were rejected. Life was to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest. This was the era of the "lost generation", and the "flapper" with her rolled stockings, short skirts, and straight up-and-down look. They scandalized their elders in the cabarets, night clubs, and speakeasies that replaced the ballrooms of pre-war days. Dancing became more informal - close embraces and frequent changes of partners were now socially acceptable.
Only one kind of music suited this generation - jazz, the vehicle for dancing the fox-trot, shimmy, rag, Charleston, black bottom, and various other steps of the period. Jazz originated at the close of the nineteenth century in the seamy dance halls and brothels of the South and Midwest where the word Jazz commonly referred to sexual intercourse. Southern blacks, delivered from slavery a few decades before, started playing European music with Afro modifications.
The birthplace of jazz has many origins: New Orleans, St. Louis, Memphis and Kansas City are just a few. But New Orleans was and still remains an important jazz center. The ethnic rainbow of people who gravitated to the bars and brothels were a major factor in the development of jazz. The city had been under Spanish and French rule prior to the Louisiana purchase. By 1900, it was a blend of Spanish, French, English, German, Italian, Slavic and countless blacks originally brought in as slaves.
The first jazz bands contained a "rhythm section" consisting of a string bass, drums, and a guitar or banjo, and a "melodic section" with one or two cornets, a trombone, a clarinet, and sometimes even a violin. Years later, jazz was taken over by large orchestras; a "society jazz band" contained fifteen or more musicians. Today, there is a renewed interest in the "big band" era, even though the music has very little to do with real jazz.
True jazz is characterized by certain essential features. The first is a tendency to stress the weak beats of the bar (2nd and 4th) in contrast to traditional music which stressed the first and third beats. The second feature is syncopation through an extensive repetition of short and strongly rhythmic phrases or "riffs". The third feature of jazz is swing (regular but subtle pulsation which animates 4/4 time). The swing must be present in every good jazz performance.
History of Tap
The history of tap dancing in the United States is a long one, with influences ranging from the British Isles to Africa. While the dance style originated in the early 1800s, it was more than 100 years later that the genre would become popular on a national scale.
In the earliest days, before this style of dancing could even be considered tap as we know it today, tapping was done in leather-soled or wooden-soled shoes. Nowadays, tapping is done with closely-fitted metal taps fixed on the leather sole of a tap shoe (note that clogging taps are different from tap dancing taps). While the shoes have changed completely since the early days, and the steps have evolved considerably, the basis of tap dancing is to create a rhythm with one's foot movements. Because the goal of this dance is to create rhythmic sounds, it is referred to as a percussive dance. From the earliest days, tap was a percussive dance with catchy rhythms.
The earliest tap dancing examples were not on stage but rather a type of social dancing among slave communities in the southern United States. Incorporating African dance movements with the idea of British clogging or Irish step dancing, African American communities in the South began to develop what would become American tap dancing. Either accompanied by informal music or performed as a strictly stand-alone sound, impromptu performances would start up when groups of people gathered together for social reasons. Often taking place outside, these gatherings would include a board to lay down on the ground on which anyone could try their hand at this raucous type of dancing. Strong dancers can even make tapping sounds using their bare feet, which was probably often the case during this period of tap dancing history.
History of Ballet
To put it simply, ballet is a formal form of dance which finds its roots in the courts of the Italian Renaissance. The art form went on to be developed in Russia and France, and these countries were the first to present it as an avenue of public entertainment. Even the world "ballet" comes from the French, and was then adopted by the English during the 17th century. Before the French term was coined, it finds its name roots in the Italian world "balletto", which is a variation of the word "ballo," or "dance." Going back even further, you can find the basis of the word in the Latin "ballere," which means "to dance."
All of this dry jargon aside, the art of ballet quickly caught on as a History (beautiful expression of both art and physical ability), and all of Europe began to embrace it. By the time it traveled over to the West, three distinct forms had come into existence - classical, neoclassical and contemporary. The Ballet Russes of Russia is often credited as being the first successful ballet company, and the discipline has continued to be influenced by folk dance and other local styles wherever it happens to be performed. This is one reason for the split into three unique styles, as it was impossible and quite possibly disloyal to forbid the evolution of dance for the sake of preserving one single form.
There are seven different variants in which one can train when pursuing a career in classical ballet, however you will most likely find a teaching of the Royal method or the Cecchetti method when you visit a modern ballet studio.
Below you will find a brief explanation of these three types, as well as how each style is enjoyed today.
The oldest and most formal of all ballet styles, classical ballet utilizes the traditional ballet techniques of those early years in its studios all over the world today. This is the ballet of the Russians, Italians and French, and all variations found in classical style are rooted in the original French technique.
Often requires a particular style of dress, usually consisting of leotard, tights, a wrap skirt for women, and shoes in the shades of white, black or pink. Tutus were developed early on for performance, and as a female progresses in dance, she will eventually begin to dance "en pointe." Traditionally, this is taught around the age of 12 or 13, but it all depends upon the strength of the student and some cultures start dancers out en pointe much younger or older than this.
Terminology has been overall preserved throughout the world, making it easy for a classical dancer to travel to far off places and still communicate efficiently with choreographers and fellow dancers. Elite dancers will have learned the roots and phrases of very early ballet terminology, and it continues to be vital today.
Classical ballet leaves little room for creative expression, as its stylings are rigid and premeditated. However, this form of the dance continues to be popular today, especially with youngsters just beginning their dance careers.
Neoclassical ballet, much like its grandchild contemporary ballet, finds its roots in classical ballet but allows for a more free range series of movements. It was developed in the early 20th century, and sticks very closely to the Russian form of classical ballet, however it oftentimes adapts the classic terminology to allow for more impressive steps. Neoclassical ballet is also much less theatrical and "showy" than its originator, and while classical ballet can often be compared to a formal night out at the opera, neoclassical is presented best in a casual theatre with minimal costuming, lighting and sets.
Contemporary ballet was influenced first by classical ballet, but then by modern dance. It holds onto the pointe work derived from the classic teachings, however it adopts a greater range of movement and relaxed steps not found in the strict discipline of old school ballet technique.
George Balanchine is credited as the founder of contemporary ballet, and Mikhail Baryshnikov is a shining example of someone who carved an entire career out of this unique style. He briefly studied under Balanchine, and various modern dance geniuses such as Twyla Tharp also came alongside to further develop the style known as contemporary ballet today.