TALK THE TALK and WALK THE WALK: Hip Hop Terminology

Being a relatively new phenomenon, the Hip Hop style of dancing has unique terminology. While some of the terms are borrowed from Ballet—such as plié (bending the knees) and relevé (rising on one’s toes)—other terms have developed to describe the movements unique to this style. Below you will find a list of terms commonly heard in Hip Hop dance classes at the Omaha School of Music and Dance…

Break it Down – demonstrating dance moves slowly, showing all the separate elements as clearly as possible.

Freestyle – dancing without choreography, a chance to be self-expressive. Professional Hip Hop dancers will freestyle at the beginning of a song, before choreography begins, in order to get a feel of the beat and connect with the music.

Groove – a large rhythmic dance move performed using the entire body, as opposed to an “isolation,” which is moving one singular part of the body.

Isolation – a movement involving a single part of the body, while keeping the rest of the body frozen still.

Locking – a short, articulated and somewhat jerky movement developed for Hip Hop, usually moved through in quick succession.

Popping – Variant of locking in which poses are linked into more fluid movement, credited to Popin Pete, a dancer with the Electric Boogaloos.

Moonwalk – a term for the robotic glide dance move popularized by Michael Jackson, it is a misnomer for what is commonly called the backslide. A true moonwalk doesn’t travel.

Old Skool – early phase of the historical development of hip-hop in which dancers retained clear distinctions between close-to-the-floor moves and more vertical styles.

New Skool – developing late in the first decade or so of Hip Hop, a form utilizing freestyle into a wide-range of moves.

Robot – an early form of ‘popping’ popularized by Michael Jackson in his TV performances by Michael Jackson in his TV performances of the record Dancin’ Machine.

Uprock – mock combat staged by early dance crews, resembling fast rhythmic version of a kung fu fight. Trading off the display of their skills, the “combatants” dance as close as possible without touching.

Downrock – denotes move performed close to the floor.

Toprock – denotes a hip hop style where dances remain standing on their feet (without dipping so low as to put hands on the ground, or handstands, etc.)

Windmill – a distinctive hip hop move of a backspin held for an extended time.

In Hip Hop class, your child will learn even more about this terminology!  Sign your child up for OSMD’s Hip Hop dance class by registering online, or calling our office today!




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