NOTE: wrote this in October 27, 2009 and surprisingly, it circulated throughout different dance communities in different countries—even ones in Europe and Asia. WOW… totally wasn’t expecting that! There are a couple new perspectives I’ve learned in the past couple of years—I’ve used the term “Urban Choreography” here, though there are definitely other names to term what I believe this “new style” is… AND I’ve also learned that popping and locking and house are not essentially “Hip Hop,” but they can fall under the umbrella of Funk styles, and have influences from disco or electronica. Well.. I’m still learning and figuring this whole thing out. Just thought I’d re-post my opinion for other reflective dancers to ponder upon :)
In class a LONG time ago, one of my first Hip Hop dance instructors told me…
“This isn’t Hip Hop. It’s Urban Choreography.”
After a few years of experiencing the dance community, I’ve realized the need to re-evaluate my title as a Hip-Hop dancer. As a beginner who was very NEW to street dance, I didn’t understand what he meant and continued to believe I was training as a “hip hop” dancer, when I really wasn’t.
Different languages of the world (chinese, spanish, english) are kinda like different dance styles (ballet, jazz, hip hop). We’re able to distinguish between different kinds, because each language uses its own unique rules of grammar and sentence structure, just as each dance style uses its own steps and technique. Over the years, languages and dance styles have changed. We’ve used the term EVOLUTION to describe what we see now in Hip Hop versus what it was in the past. On the other hand, I think what has emerged over time isn’t Hip Hop itself, but instead a different dance style that was INSPIRED by Hip Hop. Urban Choreography–an entirelyseparate language, born and inspired by a collection of the earlier languages. For example, Tagalog (Filipino) was formed and influenced by the Spanish, Malaysian, English, Arabic, and Chinese languages. Couldn’t we say that like Tagalog, our dance style was inspired by Hip Hop as well as other styles of dance, and has collected all of that to become it’s own language with it’s ownunique structure? We wouldn’t call Tagalog “Spanish-evolved” or “Chinese-evolved,” simply because the three languages follow entirelydifferent rules.
Nowadays, people have a few different names to refer to the style of dance being taught in many Hip Hop classes: LA style, West Coast style, commercial Hip-Hop, new-style Hip Hop, but to call it Hip Hop is to assume that it follows the basic fundamentals of Hip Hop dance–techniques in breaking, locking, popping, wacking, funk, groove, swagg etc. I’m no Hip Hop head… I’ll admit it. But when I SEE breaking, locking, popping, and all other styles of true Hip Hop dance, there is no denying that there is a totally different look to THAT kind of Hip Hop compared to what we call “new hip hop,” which varies greatly according to individual interpretation and also lacks greatly in strict rules and technique. In true Hip Hop, there are basic names of steps and techniques that aren’t completely present in this new style… so though we may dance as freely and as creatively as we want to Hip Hop and R&B music, can we REALLY say that it is Hip Hop?.. or are we just over-generalizing things to spare ourselves the trouble of analyzing & truly understanding Hip Hop history?
With so many new dancers coming up in the next generation, I think it’s very important for all those capable to educate them wisely and accurately… and that we don’t discredit or undermine the value of Hip Hop’s history.
in God we trust
<33 APRIL joy