Hip Hop moves and steps are a fusion of different street styles. Locking, popping, funk, Electric Boogaloo, Old School, New Wave and Hip Pop will probably all feature in your class at some point.
But whatever the fusion of styles, the overall format of learning Street dance moves is as follows.
As we've mentioned, you will build a
routine which, by the end of the class, will last for 32 beats. This
will be broken down into four short routines of eight beats each.
For each of the eight beats, you may be expected to do an arm movement, a leg movement and possibly a head movement too. That’s up to three different Hip Hop moves for EACH BEAT.
That's a huge amount of information.
a lot to remember and to get the hang of. So you may find that your
teacher will give you some alternatives or may simply say that part of
the move is optional.
That means you can concentrate on your feet and can always add in the head or arm movements later.
And usually, a good teacher will teach you each movement separately. So, they show you the leg movement, then add in the arm moves and finally any head move.
In your class (as demonstrated in our online one), you should have a little time to practise each move individually before you have to do them all at the same time.
And hopefully, when you do put them altogether, you should feel they flow well, that they compliment one another and the whole move comes together brilliantly.
All Hip Hop moves should be explained in a way that makes it obvious where your weight should be.
This is perhaps the most important thing to grasp in Hip Hop dancing.
If your weight isn't exactly where it needs to be for an individual step, you'll be off balance when you go into the next step.
Wobbling and falling on your face just isn't cool.
So accurate weight distribution is vital to help you progress.
Even if you can't remember the whole move exactly, if your weight is in the right place, you'll be able to pick up the next move better.
So just keep awareness of where your weight should be.
One of the hardest Hip Hop moves for newbies to master is the spin.
Some routines being taught to complete beginners seem to have very fast spins in them.
To spin quickly while holding your balance and end up in a position that enables you to smoothly go into the next step is a hard thing to master.
Also, trying to spin when you have shoes on that have a strong grip is difficult, and can cause injury, so watch out.
A strong grip on the floor during a spin can mean that you twist your ankle (which could mean no dancing for weeks), and even if your shoes don't trip you up, your balance might.
To spin too fast is to effectively lose control of your movement.
You simply won't have enough time to realize you are falling to stop yourself.
Before you know what's happening, you'll have crashed face
first onto the floor, into a wall or into someone else.
Smashing full force into a class-mate's elbow, shoulder or head can cause horrible injuries. Do not do any spins that you cannot control.
are spinning too fast to be able to focus on your surroundings as you
turn, the spin is too fast for a beginner and you need to leave it out
of your routine.
It's just plain dangerous if you can't control it. And even if you do manage to get around the whole spin without losing any major body parts, you may well find yourself with crossed feet and will tip over anyway when you try your next move.
So leave the fast spins for when you are a bit more familiar with your Hip Hop moves.
The best thing to do is to learn how to spin or twist around very slowly and then build your speed as your confidence and ability grows.
The turns on our online Hip Hop dance class are very slow and takes a couple of beats.
This is perfect for the beginner.
Now, without doubt, there are some routines you will be taught that will have a move on every beat.
But best for beginners is the kind of routine that has different rhythms woven into it so that perhaps some movements will be stretched out over two or even three beats.
That'll give you a chance to find your balance and catch up if you are in danger of falling behind with the routine.
It'll also help to keep your interest levels up – a move on every beat is very hard work and yet can be strangely boring at the same time.
Try it and you'll see what we mean. Texture in a routine gives it a truly professional look and feel.
And you may find you are slightly fooled by Hip Hop music.
A great deal of it is based on roughly the same beat pattern, but it can sound slow or fast – although your moves stay the same.
So in theory, a teacher can mix up the music a great deal but have you dance the same routine to it. So just listen carefully to the main beat.
And don’t be surprised if the music is played LOUD – and by that we mean club level loud – so you can just get carried away by it. Fantastic!
So that's our message really. A lot of Hip Hop moves are fast. And if your co-ordination is poor, it might take you a while to get used to the pace. Just don’t give up.
Your co-ordination will improve in time, as long as you practise.
A lot of Street dancing steps can involve a jump or hop type of move, and a 'crunchy' style of full body movement, so reasonable fitness will be a welcome by-product of these Hip Hop moves.
Your flexibility and strength will improve by doing Hip Hop too.
Although doing the dance well is exhausting, it is amazing that you can actually get away with doing very little aerobic stuff in a Hip Hop class.
You should jump or bounce the Hip Hop moves but you could simply walk them through.
It is the bounce that gives you the workout though, so don't walk it unless you are struggling to understand the steps or routine, or are absolutely exhausted and need a rest but don't want to sit down.
Try to keep going, and keep the aerobic content of your class consistent if you can.
But Hip Hop moves aren't just fast and jumpy. You'll perhaps be surprised by some of the subtlety in the middle of a fast routine. You might even find some yoga-like poses – it can be very delicate.
Hip Hop steps for beginners doesn't usually involve very many specific feet placements – close enough will do at this stage.
So it is possible to learn a great deal about the feel of the dance without being able to do it to perfection. Which is a great confidence booster for the beginner.
Just try to see the 'picture' of each movement as you do it – concentrate on how the body positioning looks and it will add that extra finesse to your routines.
With that in mind, let's explore those routines....