Hip Hop is the most popular dance forms today. Why does everyone want to use it? It’s because Hip Hop music is dominating the charts. When the music bumps through the speakers in the middle of a party, club or dance studio, who wants to start a ballet combination? Fun, funky routines are taught everyday in dance rooms and studios, giving hungry dancers the fuel to perform choreography. However, there is another side to hip hop, the primal raw side that is still a mystery to many dancers, Freestyle Hip Hop.
There are, in fact, two types of urban dancers, the routiners and the freestylers. Each type spends hours perfecting their craft, but few master both. And that is where the problem lies. The best Hip Hop dancers know that Hip Hop is now a 50/50 dance form: 50% routine, 50% freestyle.
Most other dance forms don’t require you to dance much by yourself. However, hip hop dancers are expected to do a random solo to a variety of music. Almost every Hip Hop audition in Los Angeles or New York consists of routine you must learn very quickly and a section where you freestyle. When you look at music videos, most of them have a combination of routines and freestyle. Even so, I see freestyle dancers who can’t do routines and routiners who can’t freestyle. My job is to help you get your PhD (that Perfected Hip Hop Dancing) in Hip Hop. Here is how to turn yourself into a Hip Hop Machine.
TIPS FOR THE ROUTINE IMPAIRED
Learn to count.
Although this is second nature to most dancers, many freestyles just groove with it and never count the music. That’s why many hip hop dance crews consist of small numbers of dancers – more dancers mean more communication, which translates to counting.
Learn styles other than your own.
Since Hip Hop is constantly changing, you must actively seek out as many types and style of Hip Hop. It is real easy now to go to the Internet and find the latest dance trends. Keep up on it. The more interested you are the better you will be. Step outside your box frequently. Don’t be closed-minded with your dance skills and be a sponge soaking up a variety of styles.
Train your body to do what you want it to.
Instead of letting body tell you what it can’t do, test your body’s threshold by trying another choreographer’s complicated combinations. They may feel completely unnatural to you, but after practice, you will notice your body soaking up the choreographer’s style. You’ll see the moves were unnatural because you hadn’t tried them before.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Being a great dancer is no secret. The person who practices the most is usually the best. You should be taking classes from as many teachers as possible. Soon you will begin to see patterns that are familiar to you and you will catch on with lightening speed.
TIPS FOR THE FREESTYLE IMPAIRED
Gain individual dance confidence.
Most dancers dance in groups or go to dance classes regularly, but few dance solo regularly. This gives you only group dance confidence. You feel more comfortable with others by your side or in front of you. When no else is there you feel insecure, if you know the routine. To gain solo confidence you need to dance by yourself in front of an audience more often. Here’s a tip. Look for dance classes that will turn the lights low at the end and let you freestyle for a while.
Realize that you can’t mess up.
I believe freestylers can never mess up: they only show others that they mess up. Dancing free of routine can be scary, but it is also very liberating. You can do anything, whatever you want. No one knows but you, as long as you don’t make the “whoops face” or make the “I messed up pause”. Just keep flowing.
Put together your own dance dictionary.
Make a mental book of some of your favorite moves. Include some of your favorite routines you’ve learned in the past. Clump them up, take them out and make those 4 – 8 count combos your own. Freestyle dance is really nothing more than the execution of your favorite moves in order.
Learn to make a freestyle sentence.
There are moves and there is choreography. Moves can be repeated to the left and the right over and over, whereas choreography is usually done only once. Think of each move or combo as a phrase and connect the with the dance equivalent of ands, buts, and commas (this means things like pivots, jumps, and turns). When you finish an 8 count, put a period on it just like a sentence, with something like a kick, freeze, or finger snap to let the people know it is done.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Some dancers want a quick fix of Hip Hop. They don’t want to take the time needed to learn the fundamentals of Hip Hop. I always say that they want a dance move just like they get fast food. Practice does not have to mean dancing in a room by yourself. Go to clubs and dances and get inside the circle, or get a dance teacher to guide you. Remember that nothing worthwhile comes easy, but if you take the time and commit to learn the essentials of Hip Hop, you’ll receive your PhD in no time.
Basics of Hip Hop Choreography
The 8 Count in Hip Hop Dancing
The Full Move in Hip Hop Dancing
Hip Hop Dancing Tips