What is Breaking?

Breaking – the original Hip Hop dance.

Breaking or Bboying, sometimes¬† called “breakdancing” in mainstream circles, is a dance that originated in New York in the 1970s and was a cornerstone of the original Hip Hop Culture. It was brought to media attention in the 1980s with films such as Beat Street and Wildstyle. Since then the dance has spread around the world, continually developing new moves due to its comepitive nature.

Breaking is a freestyle dance which developed from social dancing to the high energy breaks of funk songs. This made dancers want to “go off” or “get on the good foot” and led to the explosive, high energy movements which characterise the dance. Influences include Salsa and Mergingue, the lesser known Rock dance, and popular culture such as Kung Fu movies and comic books.

The dance has an established vocabulary of moves and steps that evolved in its ten year history in New York in the 1970s and the thirty years since it began to spread around the world. Thus though the dance is usually improvised and orginality is extremely important, this should not be confused with “just making it up as you go along” or “anything goes”. Even the most original BBoys and Bgirls show an understanding of the steps and aesthetics that they are playing with.

People who break are called BBoys or Bgirls. Competition formats are in Battles where individuals or crews face off against each other, thought these are not always formal, judged events.

For more information about Breaking, check out the documentary The Freshest Kids (2001) or the book Foundation: B-Boys, B-Girls and Hip Hop Culture in New York by Joseph Schloss (Oxford University Press 2009).

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