Breakdance: What Happen To Hip Hop Dance
In the late 80's Break dance went underground again so more focus was placed on freestyle party dancing. At the same time music videos started incorporating way more choreographed party dancing to go with the performance. Heavy D, Kid N Play, Troop and Salt N Peppa just to name a few artist who accompanied their songs with a lot of freestyle party dancing. Self proclaimed as Hip Hop's first choreographer, Rosie Perez really changed the game when she opened up Spike Lee's movie "Do The Right Thing" with an intentese solo that was unmistakably freestyle Hip Hop at it's best. Shortly after that she raised the bar again with the choreography she did for the Fly Girls on "In Living Color" which created a demand and opened the door for other street dance choreographers. While Rosi and other legendary Hip Hop choreographers like Big Lez blazed a path for others, Hip Hop dance was quickly headed toward mainstream but still hadden made it to the suburban dance studios of America. Hip Hop was such a raw form of dance that your average tap or jazz teacher couldn't just jump on the wagon and teach it, so it wasn't as "marketable" to the dance studio world.
It wasn't until a LA Lakers cheerleader named Paula Abdul landed a job as the choreographer for an up and coming megga super star named Janet Jackson that things took a turn. Paula had a very Jazz/sassy cheerleader style of dance that Janet was able to express an attitude that had the feeling of Hip Hop. Soon after Janet switch up again to another choreographer Tina Landon who also had a similar style of dance, but had some exposure to Hip Hop dance and was able to incorporate some Hip Hop movement into the choreography that gave Janet's "Rhythm Nation" video even more edge. Because of the Hip Hop influence in Janet's videos her style was quickly titled Hip Hop.
Girls across the world all wanted to be and dance like Janet Jackson, and one of those girls was an up and coming star name of Brittany Spears.Brittany being young and white hit an untapped market which was predominately white and between the ages of 8 and 16. Brittany quickly began to imitate Janet's performance style, Now it was official Hip Hop dance had become mainstream, so of course every dance studio in America wanted a piece of the action, so every Jazz, teacher, and cheerleading coach in America went and bought their first Hip- Hop CD (Will Smith) and put up big signs that said NOW OFFERING HIP-HOP. Enrollment for these places doubled so as far as they were concerned this was a legitimate art form.
Most of the dancers taking Hip Hop know very little about the culture so they enter the classes blind to what is or isn't authentic Hip Hop. Just like Jazz, Tap and Ballet, Hip Hop dance has a foundation a vocabulary and a history. The majority of studios that offer Hip Hop don't know or care anything about the Hip Hop culture and see it as a great money maker for their studio. In a lot of cases kids only want to take Hip Hop but the studio will make it a requirement to take other dance forms they offer or you can't take Hip Hop.
Dancing now for over 20 years I've taught many workshops and seen a number of classes and very few offer foundation and in some cases there are students that have been taking Hip Hop for five years and can't do basic Hip Hop movements. If you want to be a Hip Hop dancer you should be trained in Hip Hop dance forms. Free style party dancing, Popping/boogalooing, Breakin, Campbell Locking, House and Whacking. Today a lot of music videos feature dance that's titled Hip Hop, but is really Fusion which is a combination of Jazz, cheer leading and Hip Hop.
The artist known for her raw authentic Hip Hop both in her shows and on video is Missy Elliot who has a combination of choreographers that convey 100% bounified Hip Hop. One half of Missy's dynamic moves come from Hi Hat, her foundation was established as a street dancer in clubs and doing freestyle. She's been blazing trails with her brilliance for years and has mastered the art of adding the influence of other dance forms without losing the Hip Hop essence. The second half of Missy's choreography comes from the NU Styles duo Cicely Bradley and Olisa Thompson creators of the "Dutch Dance" and featured in most all of Missy's video's are possibly the most raw and influential Hip Hop dancers of our generation these two are simply mind blowing and the best.
Here are more Hip Hop choreographers who are keeping the true style of raw Hip Hop dance alive, Fatima (whose skills were also acquired not through formal dance training but through freestyle club dancing) is also one of Hip Hop dance's Queens when it comes to style and trend setting. As the choreographer for Aaliyah she let it be known that Hip Hop was not just hardcore but smooth and sexy. Dancers like Fly (Missy & Usher) and Brian Green who have a house foundation and K-Mel (Breaking choreographer for Missy Elliot) and Flo Master (Usher) who are B Boys and Dave Scott (B2K) keep the realness alive and kicking for artist like Missy Elliot, Usher, and B2K. There should be mentionied Poppers/ Boogallooers Mr. Wiggles, Poppin Pete and Poppin Taco who have been behind the scenes working with artist for many years. Poppin Taco personally trained Michael Jackson for 18 years.
It is your responsibility as someone participating in the Hip Hop culture to educate yourself about the culture and the dance and if you're taking classes your instructor should be able to give you most if not all of the answers you need to have answered if not you make it happen for yourself. Hip Hop dance runs through these bones.