Hip hop dancing is a wide genre that consists of many different dances. Many hip hop dances draw from similar roots, like popping, but they all have their own style that makes them unique. Some are performed on the streets and others are great for the club. One thing that underlies them all is self-expression, which leaves plenty of room for improvisation. Learn hip hop dance moves with free video lessons from Howcast!
We’ve put together a video tutorial series for some of the most popular types of hip hop dancing. Explore this series below and find your favorite moves:
Popping and locking is a dance that looks exactly like it sounds. It is a combination of two dance styles: popping and locking. It consists of quick and emphasized movements, specifically of the arms, chest, and legs, that create a popping motion. This is mixed with briefly freezing and locking a muscle in place that creates an exciting back-and-forth style.
With each pop, the proceeding lock movement makes the previous popping movement stand out. This jerky motion can seem almost robotic as you’ll constantly be pausing and moving again, but this gives it a unique sense of flair that makes popping and locking look awesome.
Krumping is an expressive style of street dancing that encourages freestyling. It features exaggerated movements of an isolated body part that are meshed with stomping, swinging, and popping. While most motions are intense, moves are typically performed in response to how heavy a beat is hitting.
This means that a beat drop will result in a more aggressive move, which will then be followed up by comparatively gentler moves. These basic rules underline how to krump, but the exact moves you make should be a reflection of your personality. This is why krumping looks slightly different from dancer to dancer and can be modified to how you feel like performing it.
Moonwalking is the dance first popularized by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” during the 80s. The dance is silky smooth and makes a dancer look like they are gliding across the floor. This is because you’ll slide your feet to move around rather than picking them up to take steps.
These sliding and gliding motions are performed backward, which creates a unique illusion that makes it look like you are trying to move forward but being pulled backward instead. While moonwalking focuses on gliding foot movement, your arms and head should also be used to help illustrate that you’re being pulled in the opposite direction. All of this together makes for an amazing dance that has you floating around the dance floor.
The Electric Boogaloo is a quirky dance that is a mashup of popping and the original boogaloo dance from the 60s. It centers around the core boogaloo movement, which is a heavy sway of the hips and knees that makes it look like a dancer’s midsection is spinning in place. This motion is then combined with stepping, swiveling, and full-body spinning, known as making a combo, to create the hip hop version of boogaloo performed today.
Tutting is a hip hop dance style that primarily focuses on hand and arm movements. These are made to continuously create right angles, meaning that arms and hands must be straight and rigid at all times. In addition to right angles, sometimes geometric shapes like squares and rectangles are created.
Tutting also uses stop-and-go motion as shapes and angles are briefly held so they can be seen. This also means that moves are performed in a popping style that makes them stand out. Today, tutting is quite popular because it doesn’t require much movement from your lower body and is a great way to display creativity with your arms and hands.
B-Boy dancing is the original term for breakdancing, which is best known for flashy moves with a dancer mainly on the ground. B-Boy dancing consists of many spins, twists, and freezes that make the dance look unlike any other. It requires a combination of agility, precise footwork, athleticism, balance, and strength to perform many of the b-boy moves.
The dance begins with standing up and performing a few steps, then transitioning onto the ground when a song’s beat breaks down. From here, moves are performed rapidly to match the energy of the beat and showcase the dancer’s talents. B-Boy dancing is incredibly difficult to master but looks amazing when performed by a skilled dancer.
Reggae and Dancehall are extremely similar dances with the main difference being that dancehall is slightly more energetic and upbeat. The two music types and corresponding dances originated from Jamaica, with reggae being mainstream and dancehall being an underground version of reggae.
Both dances have a heavy focus on swiveling hips in time with a beat. Because dancehall music is faster, reggae dancehall dancing is also quicker with its movements. In addition to hip-swiveling, you should also sway from side-to-side, pulling your shoulder back and dropping an arm as you do so. From here, you can start to incorporate steps and over-the-head arm swinging to make either dance complete.
Stepping is a dance with deep roots that creates noise when performed correctly. It focuses on precise stepping movements that are often emphasized to create a loud stomping noise. While footwork is crucial, this is also paired with swift arm and upper body movements that make the whole dance flow.
This consists of clapping and leg slapping, which help to add character to the dance. All of this is done extremely quickly and can be challenging to keep up without practice. With everything mixed together, stepping is a continuous flow of stomping, clapping, and leg slapping that makes it a sight and sound you can’t miss.
We hope our video guides help you to learn your favorite hip hop dance moves! For more great video lessons and guides, check out our main How to Dance page.
Randy R.C. Connor is known as the choreographer-to-the-stars. He got his start with the group rap trio Salt-N-Pepa, which led to his first MTV award nomination in 1994 for Best Choreography for Salt-N-Pepa's "Whatta Man" video featuring En Vogue. He has also worked with Prince, Mary J. Blige, P. Diddy Combs, Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, and others.