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Breakdancing is a form of acrobatic dance that is part of hip hop culture. Breakdancing is one of the four elements of hip hop.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Fashion
3 Dance


Breakdancing is probably connected to Urban Street Jazz or more likely capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian dance/martial art. Breakdancing as we know it today developed in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although there is some controversy, and many argue that breakdancing was also developing in Los Angeles at the same time.

In New York, DJ Kool Herc was the first person to coin the term 'b-boy' in 1969. During performances were Herc would be DJing, he would yell out "b-boys go down!" which cued the dancers to begin breakdancing. 1969 was also the year that James Brown recorded "Get on the Good Foot," a song that promoted high-energy, acrobatic dancing.

Prototypically the pioneers of breakdancing were young and of a lower socioeconomic class. The majority of these were male, and most were Black or Hispanic, and lived in dense urban areas (mostly New York). Many of them were members of street gangs who taught themselves martial arts (particularly capoeira) for self defense. The style was so full of dance-like moves that it translated well to the nightclub, where breakdancers would battle.

Breakdancing battles were very common. A breakdancing battle is when dancers 'fight' against each other on the dance floor without contact. They form a circle and take turns trying to show each other up through either better style, more complex move combinations, or tougher moves. Usually, breakdancing battles would take place between two opposing breakdancing crews. Some of the major crews are the Zulu Nation, Rock Steady Crew (RSC), Style Elements, Ichigeki, Team OHH, Fireworks, Havikoro, Furious Five and Airforce Crew.

In the 1980s, with the help of pop culture, breakdancing made its way to the suburbs. Musicians such as Michael Jackson popularized much of the breakdancing style in their music videos. Movies such as Flashdance, Wild Style, Beat Street, Breakin' and Breakin 2: The Electric Boogaloo also contributed to breakdancing's growing appeal.

Many oldschool breakdancers prefer to be referred to as b-boys. "B-boy" was the original term for urban style dancers, while "breakdancer" is better known as it has been used more commonly by the media. The 'B' in b-boy doesn't correspond to a specific word, but most likely means "Boogaloo" or "Break." Today, the term 'B-Girl' is used as well.


For the breakdancer, fashion is an important aspect of their identity. Most breakdancers dressed wearing Adidas shoes with fat (thick) laces. They also wore nylon jumpsuits which were functional as well as fashionable. The slick surface allowed the breakdancer to slide on the floor much easier than if he had been wearing a cotton shirt.


In its early form, breakdancing was divided into three distinct forms of dancing, breaking and popping. Today, each body movement has been classified into a distinct style or genre of breaking and is similar in principle to others but characteristically different.

Other styles of dance associated with breakdancing include Popping, Locking, Tutting, Boogaloo, Uprock, and Liquid. These are not the same as breakdancing, although often are incorporated.

The most basic breakdance moves are the 6-step and toprock. The rest of the dance is founded around these two elements. Dancers usually begin by toprocking, and then continue by going down to the floor and performing a 6-step or 4-step that may be heavily 'teched' (variated). The 6-step provides a base for other more complex moves to be formed, as well as power moves.

After performing a 6-step to begin the dance, and then performing a power move, the breakdancer will usually end the dance with a 'freeze' which is when he contorts his body to a strange position and literally freezes, stopping all dance motion. The breakdancer wil usually hold the freeze for a second or two. There are nearly infinite variations on freezes, and coming up with new freezes greatly enhances the breakdancers style.

Breakdancers often call any dancing that takes place on the ground 'downrock' as opposed to uprock or toprock.

Much of being a successful breakdancer is about having style. The constant debate between b-boys is a debate of who has the most style. Since anyone can learn to breakdance, the dancers must deviate from the set dances slightly to use their own style. In this way they can show-up other breakdancers during battles, thus winning the battle.

Power Moves

Power moves are the breakdancing moves that often require incredible skill and flexibility to complete. The major power moves are:

Basic Moves