9090s are a move in breaking. Often called 90s this move comes from breaking and is a spinning handstand on one hand. It requires a lot of power to push your body weight up off the floor and into the rotation.
VII Gems stands for the 7 GrandMasters and is a crew dedicated to the preservation of the traditional dances of Hip Hop culture in New York City. B Boy Ken Swift created the organisation and is the president. VII Gems travel globally to educate about these dances and the culture. In 2009 they toured to cities across the UK with Breakin’ Convention.
Afrika Bambaataa is the founder of the Universal Zulu Nation a global hip hop awareness group. Created in 1970s New York it spread across the world teaching the principles of the culture and bringing communities together through peace, love and having fun. Bambaataa was the leader of the Black Spades gang before he won an essaywriting contest that took him to South Africa. Inspired, he returned home with a vision of bringing his people together through peaceful means, not violence. Bambaataa is currently a visiting scholar at Cornell University. The Zulu Nation still exists today.
Air Flares are the aerial version of Flares. It requires more power as you have to push away from the floor to flip over, you are constantly rotating.
Baby Freeze was originally a freeze on the floor where the dancer would curl up like a baby and suck their thumb; its been developed so that the body is off the ground low or high supported on the elbow or knee.
Backspins are a move in breaking where you spin on your back. Backspins happen high on your back and you arch your back like a turtle shell. In that shape you are able to spin on the middle point of your back. Backspins require speed and are a very stylish old school movement.
B Boy / B Girl is the term given to the dancer, but more than simply doing the movements of Breaking, a B Boy/Girl lives the culture. It is as much about style and character when dancing as it is in the clothes you wear and the values that you live your life by. The values of hip hop are about individual expression, peace, sharing knowledge and skills.
Breakin’ Convention is the UK’s festival of international Hip Hop Dance Theatre. Based at Sadler’s Wells it was founded in 2004 by UK
Hip Hop Dance Theatre pioneer Jonzi D. Nobulus performed Out of the Shadow in 2007 and 2008 at the London festival.
Breaking is the first dance of hip hop, created in the Bronx, New York City in the 1970s. Breaking consists of tops (dancing standing up to express the music including different types of get downs to the floor), footwork (the complex and diverse ways that dancers move and rotate on the floor) and the freeze (a frozen shape the dancer pulls at the end of a set). B Boys see this dance as an individual expression, it’s like a conversation that has a beginning, middle and an end, it has flow, style and character. Within this there is an endless and continually growing
repertoire of movements including Baby freeze, knee drops and windmills.
Canon in dance is when a group of dancers repeat a movement or a movement phrase one after the other. For example like a Mexican wave.
Chair freeze is where dancers try to create the illusion of a chair with their bodies. It is a complex freeze, your back is arched and your body supported by one hand (elbow stabs into the waist), your head and one foot is on the floor. The second foot is placed on the other knee.
Circles hold massive significance in hip hop culture. It is the space where the community come together to share and express. Whilst the term battle is used it is as much about your inner battle, your journey to self awareness and individuality, your expression of your skill. Traditionally there wasn’t a judging process, merely the dancer or crew that rocked the circle most got the crowds applause.
Counter balance is done when you pull away from another dancer and your weight balances the position you hold. This can be done by two dancers or by many more.
Crazy Legs is the Bronx born (New York City) B Boy that is credited as one of the most influential figures in breaking. He is President of Rock Steady Crew and bought the dance to London and Paris on the first world tour in 1983. Today he is an advocate for hip hop culture and teaches, judges, DJs and hosts events across the globe.
The Cyc or cyclorama is a curtain or other barrier positioned to screen both the rear of the stage and part of the wings to create an impression of space.
Dancehall is a street dance form from Jamaica born in the culture of sound systems. The movement and vocabulary find its roots in Jamaican folk dances such as Kumina, Dinki Mini and Revival. Dancehall culture refers to the music, fashion, the life style and the dance. Dancehall crews and dancers pride themselves on creating authentic moves, often performed in unison. Dancers name their steps, making a reference to life experiences, dreams or humour. Many of these steps have now become popular worldwide – for example; give dem a run, gully creepa, tek weh yuhself, jiggy, dutty whine and nuh linga. Some, but by no means all, moves in Dancehall are gender specific, with only the female dancers performing them. Most movements are not gender specific.
Flares are a movement from breaking. Your legs are in a wide open position and you rotate your legs around your hands, which support you on the floor. The move takes you in a rotation like a circle. This movement looks similar to the mens’ gymnastics style on the Pommel Horse. This is an old school move innovated in the late 1980s that originally was done as just one repetition, not a continuous repetition that you see in breaking today.
Footwork is one of the key elements of breaking. The simplest description is to get down to the floor and go crazy! There was no formula when it was created. You rotate around yourself making your feet run around you in a circular pathway and include moves like knee drops. With footwork, like the whole of breaking, the more original you were the better. Today dancers have created a lot of formulas around footwork – 2 step (two steps of footwork create one rotation) or 6 step (six steps of footwork create one rotation). However, originally it wasn’t this specific.
Frosty Freeze was a B Boy and member of Rock Steady Crew. He was renowned for his comedic and acrobatic style. Frosty Freeze passed away in 2008 but is still respected today for his contribution to the dance and culture of hip hop.
House Dance came from America in the early 1980s. Its roots were in Clubbing and Jacking in Chicago which then developed in New York, the name House Dance was used later. After Clubbing in the mid 1960s and the Disco era in the 1970s, advancements in music technology and instruments led to the creation of House music in the 1980s. In the late 1980s hip hop dancers started to go to clubs where House music played, that is where Hip Hop and House met. With fast footwork and floor work its a dance that responds to many rhythms in the music throughout the body. Like most of the street dance styles, House is a social dance, it came from clubs where people meet each other to dance together and exchange with each other.
Theatre In the Round is when the stage is in the centre and the audience surround the stage area on all sides.
Inverted, or an invert, is an upside down shape or movement.
Jonzi D is a UK Hip Hop dance theatre artist from London. He has created many productions for the theatre including Areoplane Man, Markus the Sadist and The Letter as well as being Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention.
Ken Swift is a B Boy and former Vice President of Rock Steady Crew with Crazy Legs. Widely called the ‘epitome of a B Boy’, Ken Swift teaches, dances and judges globally. He is president of Breaklife and VII Gems Hip Hop Movement in New York City.
Knee drops are movements in breaking that take you to the floor, touching one knee on the floor as you go down. You can perform combinations of knee drops that move you around the circle, become part of footwork or lead into a freeze.
Locking was originally called Campbellocking after Don Campbell who created the original moves. Created on the west coast of America in the 1970s, it is traditionally danced to funk music. Locking refers to the way that the dancer moves into a position of ‘lock’ like a point or muscle man, and then moves back into the groove of the music. It includes jumps into splits, points, hand slaps and polyrhythm’s through the body.
Morphing is a technique created by Nobulus and is what the dancers use to change shapes as Shadows. The morph is the moment between shapes, it is a movement pathway. Dancers are given the visualisation of swirling fog or melting to inform their movement. This freeform task has two points; the first shape and the destination shape. Dancers had a freedom in the creation period to explore movement and quality to find their morph. The result that Alexander Wengler wanted was shapes and structures that shifted in a fluid ‘morphing’ process and without a hard switch between shapes.
Method acting is a series of techniques used by actors to seek out and identify with their characters’ inner motivations in order to create believable performances. ‘Method’ refers to the techniques used to draw on your own emotions and memories to create characters with depth. You will often read about actors that continue to portray their characters even off stage throughout the duration of a project.
Muscle man is a movement from Locking. The dancer pushes into the hips and lifts the arms, like a strong man or ‘muscle man’ into position that is held for a few seconds.
NuStyle is actually the name given to hip hop social dances by French dancers. Actually there is no ‘new’, these dances were done to hip hop music in clubs, on the street, at family gatherings. Social or party dancing was seen by other dancers across the world and called Nu or New style. Within the underground community these dances are called Hip Hop. Dances were often created around specific tracks or people. For example Gucci Crew II’s song The Cabbage Patch inspired the ‘cabbage patch’ dance, and the ‘Dougie’ was named after rapper Doug E Fresh as it was similar to the way he moved.
Phax is a dancer from Sweden renowned for his slow motion technique. Often called the slowest man in the world he has developed his own style of movements drawing on comedy and pantomime and popping. He has performed in street shows as well as performing in many stage shows and battles. He has his own solo choreography.
Popping is a technique that involves the contracting or popping of the muscles and releasing to the beat of the music. The Electric Boogaloos, in particular Boogaloo Sam, are known as the innovators of the Electric Booglaoo popping style. Popping has many styles related to it, for example Waving, the illusion of a wave moving through the body.
The term power move in breaking is used differently by different people. The old school definition of power refers to the volume of power and strength movements require. Footwork is a power move; the arms and upper body are supporting your full body weight in order for your legs to move with rapid speed around the body. Today, what would have been classed as aerial moves are referred to as power. You do need power to push away from the floor, but once in the air you release and then catch that energy again when you go back to the floor. For example with air flares as soon as you flip you leave the floor and your body isn’t using its power in that moment.
Proscenium Arch is the wall and opening that divides the stage from auditorium. The audience watches the performance framed by a rectangular arch around the stage, creating a window around the set and performers. Many modern theatres have dropped the arch in favour of a more open stage plan.
The Rock Steady Crew was established in 1977 by Bronx B Boys Jimmy D and Jimmy Lee. When they started this crew in the streets of the Bronx, they had no idea that someday it would take them all around the world. Rock Steady Crew is led by Crazy Legs, one of the most respected B Boys in the world. It has featured some of the worlds’ famous B Boys and B Girls including Ken Swift and Frosty Freeze.
Round the world is a continuous flow of Zulu spins. They are done in a circular pathway (remember you would be dancing in a circle so going in a straight line wouldn’t work). The name comes from the movement – in doing a full circular pathway you see everything around you; you go ‘round the world’. Dancers in the 1980s in the UK first saw Rock Steady Crew performing this move.
The Scarecrow is from Popping and dancers create the illusion of being a scarecrow with their arms outstretched.
Standing Styles refers to dances like popping, locking, waacking or voguing where the predominance of the movement is standing. Breaking wouldn’t be considered a standing style as a core part of the dance is footwork, which is done on the floor.
Street Dance refers to a collection of dance styles that originated outside of dance studios on the street or in community centres for example. In particular this refers to hip hop and its associated styles, for example breaking, locking, popping, dancehall. However, each of these dance styles have their own lineage, techniques, music they are most commonly danced do, and it is important to retain that distinction.
Superman is a pose in breaking. Dancers stand feet wide part, hands on hips, chest high and pretend they are superman. It’s a strong freeze you could do after getting up from footwork.
Traverse is a style of theatre seating or performance where the audience is on either side of the performance, and the audience are facing one another
Waacking is a form of street dance developed in the 1970s disco era in Los Angeles, America. It was named by Tyrone Proctor. The dance is characterised by stylised arm movements to the Disco beat. It has similarities to Voguing but is not done to House music.
Unison describes the technique of all dancers performing the same choreography at the same time in perfect unison.
Voguing is a highly stylised modern house dance that evolved out of the Harlem Ballroom scene in the 1980s. Made popular by Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ it is recognisable by its angular linear arm movements. It is done to House music.
Waving is a technique in the Popping family. It is a series of movements that give the illusion of a wave moving through the body. Today some dancers just perform waving, without popping.
Windmills are a move in breaking. It uses the technique of a backspin with extended legs rotating the body. The move was given its name because the extended legs looked like the sails of a windmill. This is an old school move and it was originally done as one rotation.The move is called ‘continuous’ when multiple repetitions were performed in one go.
Zulu Spins are a move from breaking. You make a tight ball shape with your body and spin on the ball of one foot using your hands to push away from the floor. Dancers would do a zulu spin in footwork. When performed in a continuous repetition they are called Round the World.