Break! it down
Vail, CO, Colorado
Hip hop dance started in the streets. It was 1970, and with the ghetto basters blaring, dancers would try to one up each other step after step.
From the streets, it moved to house parties and then into the night clubs, where people really started to notice.
“It was in the night clubs where people got chosen to be on TV shows like ‘Soul Train’ and ‘Solid Gold Hits,'” Aqua Boogie, a dancer from Break!, said. “From that it went into the movies and it’s transcended all the way into today, where it’s very much alive and what we are doing in our culture.”
Break! is a hip hop dance troupe out of New York. Dancers perform a free show today as part of the Vail International Dance Festival. Accompanying the troupe is a DJ, a human beat box and a drummer.
Hip hop dance has evolved since the ’70s, Aqua Boogie said. Audiences expect more, like 150 head spins as opposed to just three. Jumps have to be higher and the acrobats are more demanding. But three styles ” break, pop and lock ” still dominate the ever-changing dance form.
Each dancer in Break! specializes in one of the three styles. They will perform as a group, but each member will get to solo, in true street competition form, trying to out due one another.
“Soloing shows the rawness of what we do,” Aqua Boogie said. “A lot of times, we improvise on stage, right on the spot.”
Aqua Boogie’s specialty is popping, which, he said, resembles muscular waves. In fact, his nickname stems from how he looks on stage: “People say it looks like I’m made out of water. It looks like I have no bones,” he said.
Like jazz music, hip hop dance is all about improvising. It’s an art form constantly on the move. To understand the basics, Aqua Boogie breaks down the three major styles.
The moves: Popping extends from the robot dance. It sometimes looks like muscular waves “Dancers dance the robot, snapping their muscle to the beat and the rhythm in the song,” Aqua Boogie said, whose specialty is popping.
The music: Hard beats and hard claps, like Kilo, a musician from California.
The movie: “Breaking 1”
The moves: Breaking is the classic break dancing moves people remember from the old-school movies “Beat Street” and “Star Wars.” “It’s a lot of foot work, freezes, head spins, moves you do on the ground,” Aqua Boogie said.
The music: Percussion, featuring loud drums and congas.
The movie: “Beat Street”
The moves: Sometimes mistaken for the funky chicken, Locking was made famous by the character Rerun in the show “What’s Happening.” “There’s a lot of shuffling and fast combinations, splits, back ups, it came right along side popping,” Aqua Boogie said.
The music: The funk.
The movie: “Breaking 1”