Hip Hop Dance for Beginners

Hip Hop dance is great fun but very hard work if you want to dance well. So here is a flavor of what it's like to learn and lots of insider tips.

And if you want to have a go at dancing Hip Hop right now, here is your chance to try out a full length dance lesson, using our online class, which has been viewed over 25 million times.

Yes, our very own instructional Hip Hop dance class is available for you to do at home and features one of the most popular Street dance teachers ever.

So if you want to learn to dance Hip Hop, just read through these pages, and then follow along with the full class.  Easy.

And who knows where your dancing adventures could take you?

Hip Hop dance history

Hip Hop Dancer Lil' J

Hip Hop dance classes can be called lots of different things.  ‘Hip Hop’ is a cover-all term for modern Street dance, so your lesson will draw inspiration from many Street dancing styles, old and new. 
Look out for these classes...

Funk, Street Style, Street Dance, Zoo, Hip Pop, Fusion, RnB Moves, Locking and Popping, Street Locking, Old School AKA Old Skool, New Wave, Free Style, Urban Groove, Urban Dance, Electric Boogaloo.  And that's just a few.

The style of movement started back in the 1970's when disco and funk dancing were popular. So the roots of what you'll learn in a Hip Hop dance class can be traced back over 40 years.

In that time, lots of different moves, steps and styles have been created. So you'll find there are very few set boundaries where one dance ends and another begins. You will dance a blend of styles in your Street dance class.  You could find that after just a few lessons, you've experienced many of the classic Hip Hop dance techniques.

That way, perhaps you will prefer one over the other, and as your dancing progresses you can go to a more specialist class.

So beginners classes are a fantastic way to learn a lot about most types of Street dancing in a fairly short time.

What to wear to Hip Hop class - clothes, shoes and hair

Hip Hop dance clothes can be more or less anything, but we've still got one great tip for you.

Baggy street clothes are the best choice, but remember Hip Hop is incredibly hard work so just make sure whatever you choose, you're going to keep as cool as possible.  Our tip is bring something to put on top of your workout wear when you leave the lesson, so you keep nice and warm and don't cramp up as much.  You're a dancer now - you've got to learn to take care of your body the way the pro-dancers do.

This tip is particularly important if the class doesn't have a cool down at the end that stretches out your muscles after you've used them so much.  But don't worry, you can learn ours, and can stretch on your own if your class doesn't have a cool down routine. Just follow our online class all the way through.

Hip Hop Shoes

Hip Hop Sneakers

You can wear whatever clothes you want to Hip Hop class, but you’ve GOT to get your footwear right.  You MUST wear sneakers that give you really good arch and ankle support.

You are going to be doing a lot of hopping, stomping and stamps in a Hip Hop lesson.  So to prevent injury, you must have a good pair of dance sneakers on.

You absolutely should not try a Hip Hop lesson in ballet shoes, socks or bare feet – you must have support.

(However, as Lil' J says in the clip, if you are dancing on nice thick carpet at home, arch support isn't so important - but it really is if you are dancing on a hard floor.)

If you dance Hip Hop on a hard floor without arch and ankle support you'll jar your ligaments and lower back, and put enormous strain on your joints, which as every dancer knows, is something to be avoided at all costs.

So if you are going to take your dancing seriously, get yourself a seriously good pair of sneakers.

Hip Hop Hair

If you’re a beginner dancer, and aren’t used to going to dance classes, you might be tempted to just put your hair into the high ponytail that you see so many dancers wear.

And they do this for a good reason.  You can't be constantly pushing your hair out of your face - it can be distracting when you’re trying to concentrate on what the teacher’s doing and can ruin the look of your movement.  And of course, dance classes are hard work and you’re going to sweat, so the ponytail is often the obvious choice.

However, if you are going to go for the classic high ponytail, make sure that it’s really secure, and use as few clips as possible.  A bit of product (smoothing cream or serum and some spray or moisture mist) is better for keeping stray hairs in place than clips which could fly out and hit you (or someone else) in the eye…

But, if you’ve got very thick hair, there can be a problem with the high ponytail in a Hip Hop class.  This is because you could be doing some quite fast spins, and the way to turn your head quickly in dance is to ‘spot’ (that is, to pick a single spot right in front of you to focus on, and as you turn, you keep looking at that spot until you absolutely have to turn your head and when you do, you quickly whip it around to focus back on that same spot as soon as possible).

If you do this right, and you’ve got your thick hair in a high ponytail, guess what?  Your own hair basically punches you in the eye.  Sounds funny but it really can be quite painful.
So for thick hair, a lower ponytail at the nape of your neck could be the solution, or of course a bun - but again, make sure you use product to keep it in place and the minimum of pins and clips.

Or, if your hair doesn’t really fall right into your face, it’s perfectly OK to have your hair loose in a Hip Hop class (totally different from Ballet class, where wearing hair down is a no-no).  Just try to style it in a way that’s not going to distract you, as your arms are going to be forming part of the dance moves, so you can’t keep putting your hand up to your face or head to push your hair around.

When you dance along with our online class, perhaps experiment a bit with exactly what style is going to suit you and your dancing.

Truth is that a great cut with loads of defined movement and proper styling will actually accent your moves - particularly the spins, turns and lunges.  Hip Hop is the one dance style where your hair gets to move a bit too.  So go for it.

OK, that's the end of Part 1. We're just getting started…

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