If you had told me 10 years ago that one of the dance styles I’d become most comfortable choreographing in was hip hop, I would have laughed.
I started out my dance training taking only ballet. Eventually I added several other styles, including hip hop. Most people who knew me as a dancer didn’t associate me with hip hop, however. But it soon became one of my favourite dance classes.
Trying to choreograph your next routine? Use the Dancer Planner Worksheet to help you!
My first job as a dance instructor and choreographer was in hip hop. That was 8 years ago and I still love the dance style.
Here are 7 things you need to know about choreographing hip hop.
It’s not just hip hop.
In the commercial dance world, hip hop is often used as an umbrella term for the various urban dance forms. You’ve got popping and locking, animation, waack, vogue, house, step, Memphis jookin, krump, and more!
So if you’re planning to choreograph hip hop, make sure you have a working knowledge of the various styles within the greater genre.
Musicality is a must.
Just like other dance styles, hip hop choreography is often about pulling out the various sounds in a song – lyrics, percussion, melodies, etc. But hip hop music can be so jam-packed with different sounds that having great musicality is a must when choreographing.
It takes so much longer to choreograph and to teach.
There are so many itty bitty beats in hip hop that sometimes it can feel like it takes FOREVER to choreograph. It’s possible (and quite common) to fit 8 moves into 2 counts of music. While you won’t constantly be working at that pace, it gives you an idea of how detailed and persnickety hip hop choreography can be. The only dance style I can compare it to is tap, which is also so rhythmic and detailed.
It is possible to find kid-friendly music.
Now I’m not saying kiddy music, just kid-friendly. It might be as simple as finding the clean version of a song. Sometimes I opt to use the second verse instead of the first verse for my soloists. You need to fade out those curses if you can’t find a clean version. And maybe I’m just a little conservative when it comes to it, but I also like to avoid references to getting wasted or high or graphic sexuality when choreographing for kids and teens. It’s possible.
Just about any move can look cool if you make it “hip hop.”
The biggest lesson I took from hip hop dance is that hip hop moves are absolutely ridiculous, but adding soul and groove to those moves somehow make them look cool! So with that in mind, you can take just about any weird idea you have for a move and turn it into hip hop with the right style.
The other rules of choreography still apply.
Have you read my other posts on choreographing? You still need to keep in mind your dancers’ abilities, formation, transitions, variety, etc. in order to create an entertaining piece.
There’s so much room for personal creativity.
There aren’t as many set moves and rules in hip hop dance as there are in other dance styles. And so much of the spirit of hip hop comes from the notion that new generations of dancers need to build upon the old moves and change them and create new ones. Because of this, there is so much room for a choreographer’s personal creativity to shine through in their work.
- How to Choreograph a Dance Combination
- 6 Skills (Besides Teaching Dance) You Need as a Dance Teacher
- 6 Ways Music Theory Made Me A Better Dancer
I love choreographing for hip hop. It’s challenging, it leaves so much room for my personal style, and can yield some extremely cool results.
Have you checked out the Dance Planner worksheet, yet?
Let me know how your choreographing goes!
Enjoy the journey.