What Is Freestyle Dance? With 13 Top Examples & History
Chances are, you know freestyle dance is a bit different than many other dance types. But what is a freestyle dancer? This is what we explore below. We also give video examples of freestyle dance so you can see it with your own eyes.
What Is Freestyle Dance? Definition
Freestyle dance is a type of dance where the order of moves the dancer makes are neither choreographed nor rehearsed. The dancer ‘freestyles’ it, doing what they want when they want.
It’s an innovative, artistic form of self-expression through dance, allowing the dancer to show their feelings using movements they choose.
In World Street Dance Championships competitions, dancers of different freestyle genres compete and showcase their prowess, with the most experienced dancer winning.
It takes years of training and practice to make one the crème de la crème of freestyle dancing. Thousands participate in competitions in their streets and globally, but only a few take the crown.
Through routine moves, dancers can utilize their best moves and create a unique impromptu routine whenever they are challenged by an opponent or at will. Each time, the dancer will create a new dance routine as none of the moves are rehearsed or pre-empted.
Who Invented Freestyle Dance?
The 1960s is an era typically known as the disco era. Dancers would follow the same simple dance styles more to follow the beat of a song without focusing much on their dance moves. In the 1970s, the disco era slowly started dying down and was quickly replaced by street dancing.
Street dancing started when young people met at a public point on the corner of a street or a unique joint to showcase their dance skills. In no time, the trend spread like wildfire from street to street and, soon enough, from state to state. New York and Los Angeles take center stage as the birthplaces of street dancing.
Today, street dancing has metamorphosed into a work of art. New dancers are giving veteran dancers a run for their money as they develop more intricate, edgier moves that add to the list of freestyle dance genres.
Fan favorite freestyle dances include popping, locking, street jazz, and Krumping.
13 Top Freestyle Dance Examples & History
It’s exhilarating for dance enthusiasts to watch their favorite dancer flaunt their moves on stage or in the streets. But do you ever get curious about how many dance styles exist and where they originate?
All street dance styles start from the streets. Every dancer works to be the best and most unique in whichever dance style they choose. Read on for a brief review of top street dance styles and their history.
Main Street Dance Styles
Here are the main street dance styles:
The Hip-hop dance style features unique movements and techniques that borrow from moves mostly practiced by revelers and other dancers at the onset of hip-hop culture. Other influences of the dance style that feature here borrow moves from fictional movie characters, everyday life movements, and nature. The Hip-hop dance style has a unique edge that allows it to stand out from other styles.
Also known as B-Boying, breaking is an artistic way of expression which borrows heavily from hip-hop culture and dance. This dance style is said to have started in the Black American community in the heart of the Bronx in New York City.
It features complex acrobatic movements that are mostly done close to the ground. Some dancers can express themselves through styles that require one to stand up for most of the moves. Dancers from other dance styles can incorporate breaking to add surprise and flavor to their routines.
Popping is a popular dance style from the west coast of America. It features slow movements with occasional hard muscle movements known as pops. The robotic style of dancing makes it look like the dancer is somewhat stuck in time.
Popping happened due to a change in the musical instruments used in making music. The advent of electric drums, synthesizers, and other digital instruments help pop dancers create illusions and techniques to execute near-impossible movements.
Locking goes well with funk music. It’s a happy dance move preferred by dancers who love smiling and exciting people with different locking moves. You are likely to see locking dancers in live performances and live bands.
Locking happened at a time when comic books, movies, and music were the in-thing. The Scooby-Doo and Tom and Jerry cartoons are shows that inspired some of the dance moves in this category. Don’t be surprised when you hear a dancer say they want to do the ‘Scooby Doo’; they are referring to a particular dance style, not the cartoon character.
Most dancers happily combine popping and locking to create a masterpiece performance that will never go out of style.
Here are the derivative dance styles.
1. House Dance
The first record of the House Dance style is said to have occurred in Chicago and New York. House Dance style is quite different from other freestyle genres for several reasons. While most dance styles featured on this list go well with most funk or hip hop songs, house dance styles only work with house music.
Most of the moves in this category are influenced by Native American, African, and Latino dance moves. House dancers are more relaxed and less animated. They prefer to use their upper body and arms combined with intricate footwork to execute different moves.
Also known as Jazz-Funk, Funk is a dance style with a blend of fluid and sudden moves designed to go well with soul music. The technique borrows heavily from the pop and lock dance styles creating a lively performance with everyone jumping out of their seats.
Funk is great for exercise if you’re dancing for fun. If you are a new dancer serious about learning this style, watching videos and attending nightclubs can help grow your talent.
It’s not as popular as some street dance styles but has gained significant popularity as the LGBTQ2S nightclubs continue dominating the LA nightlife.
This style dates back to the 1970s and was popularized by the famous TV show Soultrain. This street dance style features diva-like moves that imitate models' poses on the runway. Most of the moves involve a lot of footwork and arm movements.
This must be the most energy-intensive style that few other street dances can compete with. It involves plenty of sharp moves and requires aggression and power to execute.
Krumping became popular in the early 2000s. Its spread was triggered by a documentary named Krumped, featured during the Aspen Shortsfest in 2004. Krumping has grown in leaps and bounds as more dancers crop up, introducing their edge.
As the name hints, the Boogaloo dance style is as lively as it sounds. This fun dance style dates back to the 1970s and incorporates various street style techniques. Boogaloo became popular among African American and Latino teens in New York City.
While you can see a lot of influence in the usual hip-hop moves, Boogaloo styles mainly feature Latin dance moves. In hindsight, it explains why Boogaloo works well with Latin music genres.
The fluid body sliding movements combined with hip rolling, head, and knee movements leaves you in awe. It’s a rare dance technique that brings elegance to the streets.
Turfing is a dance style whose label deliberately mimics ‘surfing.’ It involves a series of movements, including waving with the arms, floor movements, and contortion, flexing, and gliding. It takes a true dance master to pull off turfing moves and create their unique sequence of movements.
Turfing was first practiced in Oakland, California, before spreading to streets in other places across America.
7. Gangsta Walking
Crunk music is why gangsta walking became popular. African American communities in Memphis, Tennessee, popularized the dance style, which went particularly well with Buck Music back in the 1990s.
Crunk music is another music genre that people who love gangsta walking enjoy. It’s something about the bounce of the beat that makes each movement epic.
8. Up Rock
Soulful, aggressive, and competitive are commonly used to describe rock dance style. Most dancers prefer to use foot shuffles, turns, spins, jerks, hand gestures, and freestyle moves to dance to the beat. Soul music, funk, and rock go perfectly with Up rock dance styles. To master this dance style requires patience and plenty of discipline.
Cuba and salsa go hand in hand. However, salsa street dance is a distinct style that dates back to the 1960s in New York streets. There’s proof showing that salsa may have Hispanic and African roots. Often, you would need a partner of the opposite gender to pull off an outstanding performance.
To be the best in salsa, one must also be a fan of mambo, rumba, and pachanga, among other Cuban genres. Other American dances like the swing and tap can creatively blend with salsa moves like hip movements and complex footwork to choreograph beautiful sequences and turns that intrigues everyone enough to win world competitions.
Freestyle Dance: Expert Tips to Improve Your Skills
Your love for dance yields an irresistible urge to start moving every time the music comes on. Your curiosity about street dancing is something you’ve probably wanted to satisfy for a long time. However, while you may dream of a time when you compete in world dance championships, the one thing that threatens your dreams is your inability to expand your skills.
So to help you out, below are tested tips to help improve your freestyle dancing skills.
Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to move a particular way. Put your favorite music on and start moving instinctively in whatever direction.
Don’t get stuck in your head wondering what you’re doing and what you look like. Remember, the best dancers in freestyle win competitions because they are unique, and no one else can do it like them. Create a judgment-free space for yourself, have no fear, and embrace your uniqueness enough to keep moving to the beat of the sound.
Choose a Specific Free Dance Style
It takes passion and practice to become good at any freestyle dance. If you want to learn how to dance, find the freestyle dance genre that matches your skill.
Focus on one dance style before considering learning another technique. What may seem easy for one dancer may be incredibly difficult for another. Whether you choose popping, locking, Krumping, hip-hop, or other dance styles, take time practicing techniques from one style before moving on to a different one.
Unleash Your Creativity
Dance is a form of expression. Without creativity, it will be nearly impossible to do any form of street dance. So go within and tap into your creativity before discovering your potential to compete with others.
If you’re finding it hard to harness your creativity, a few things can help jumpstart the process. You may find that watching one of Channing Tatum's dance movies helps get you excited enough to spark something that pushes you to become a great dancer.
You can also listen to your favorite music, watch your famous dancers and explore opportunities where amateur dancers can hone their skills in our neighborhood.
Go to Dance Classes
Not everyone is born with the talent for dancing. But, if your love for dance is enough to propel you to greatness in freestyle dance. Here, the proverbial ‘practice makes perfect’ proves true.
Going for dance classes to improve your skills means that you are passionate enough and willing to get help from the best to become a master in your practice.
You can always learn something from your dance coach. Freestyle dance coaches have gathered years of experience on stage as dancers and while working as dance instructors. If you want to improve your skill and learn how to street dance fast, there’s no doubt that you’ll gain a boatload of experience in no time.
What is Freestyle Dance? Final Thoughts
In front of the mirror, using your family as a crowd, or on the dance floor, whatever it takes to keep you on your toes, taking any chance to dance is the fastest route to becoming a pro dancer.
Street dancing is an incredibly satisfying practice for those who love dancing. Whether you’re doing freestyle for fun or to compete, above is everything you need to know about freestyle dancing.
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