Learn to Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a style of dance evolving from the Hip Hop culture. There are various types of Hip Hop, which both boys and girls enjoy.

What is Hip Hop?

Hip Hop dance refers to dance styles primarily danced to hip hop music or that have evolved as a part of the Hip Hop culture.

Currently Hip Hop dance forms have emerged to be independent of the original culture, and many people – girls and boys – are dancing it today without having (or having just a little) connection to the original culture.

Hip Hop dances are often considered street dances, because of how they were formed and are being practised.

In the 1990s a lot of Hip Hop music evolved and got slower, heavier and more aggressive. This gave birth to new styles of dance.

The newer dance styles take inspiration from many things including the older street dance styles and have merged/changed them into something different. Some more specific styles of new school dances are krumping, harlem shake and snap dancing.

Many of the newer styles of dance are a common sight in current music videos.

Today, many dance studios offer Hip Hop classes in which they practice elements of various street/club dances, often mixing them with other dance styles such as Jazz and Contemporary.

As Hip Hop is such a broad genre in dance studios, the instructor has much freedom and room for personal interpretation, allowing them to be more creative.

Hip Hop dance classes range from a beginner to intermediate levels. These classes encourage students to use their bodies in ways that help to develop/execute many different stylistic techniques. This style of dancing is not as thoroughly structured as some dance styles and allows students to interpret the moves in varied ways.

Hip Hop dance classes are relatively fast-paced and challenging, and allow people to emphasise their creative rhythmic talents.

Where do you learn Hip Hop?

You may choose to learn Hip Hop dance at home via music DVDs, videos, and/or online for free. Alternatively, most centres around the country have dance schools or studios. Some only specialise in one particular type of dance such as Ballet or Highland. Others cover several dance forms. You will need to phone around and join a school offering tuition in all dance styles, including Hip Hop.

While it varies from school to school, most teach in a class environment only. There are advantages with the group tuition, where young children interacting with others, creates an enjoyable synergy which is stimulating and fun.

As the young dancer progresses individual tuition is available through private teachers. However, the dancer would generally be expected to be fairly well advanced.

What age can your child start Hip Hop?

For Hip Hop, most dance schools take pupils from age five. Several schools offer pre-school classes, but these are usually dance and music appreciation classes, where the youngsters are encouraged to explore music and movement rather than a specific dance style.

While the younger the better when it comes to learning dance, a young person can begin a dance style such as Hip Hop in their early teens and progress quickly.

How do you progress over time?

Many schools combine Hip Hop with another dance form such as Tap, Jazz or Ballet for the first few years. This provides the child with a range of dancing skills and, after a period of time, allows them to continue with the dual dances, or specialise in one.

Hip Hop dance examinations are available. Most schools offer the examinations, and although not compulsory, dance students are encouraged to follow the examination path. This course of study is viewed by dance teachers as practical and a great way for the student to set tangible goals for themselves. Progress can then be monitored on a practical level over time.

The examinations are usually via the New Zealand Association of Modern Dance (NZAMD).

Examinations begin at Primary Prep Level, advancing through to grade five. The next step is Elementary to Advanced. These allow the successful dance student to add letters after their name, as in tertiary qualifications. While the NZAMD provide examination formats for a range of dance styles, there are examinations that are Hip Hop specific.

Also, should the young dancer decide to follow a performing or teaching career, such formal qualifications are viewed favourably.

To reach advanced status requires several years of dedicated practise. A young dancer would generally be well into their late teens or older before attaining the highest level.

Many dance schools will put on a public show, perhaps twice a year. These shows are a great way for the young dancers to showcase their talents and are an exciting time for the kids.

Hip hop, as with any dance, is about more than simply dancing. Any dance teacher will tell you that the chance to perform regularly before others generates self esteem and self confidence, putting the young person at ease around peers and in public.

Some dance schools also provide group singing classes in addition to dance. These classes are seen as a way for the young students to develop all around entertainment skills as Jazz dancers can be expected to sing should they become involved in stage shows. As the dance student progresses into their teens, teachers will often encourage formal singing lessons for this reason.

What equipment do you need for Hip Hop?

Hip Hop uses a basic uniform consisting of a Leotard and tights.

Footwear required is a standard pair of Jazz shoes. These are designed specifically for Modern dance and are different to the traditional Ballet shoe. They need to be a good fit. Avoid buying larger to give your child ‘growing room’.

There will or should be heaps of practise at home, so a stereo system is essential, as is a place to practice. Any decent size room or garage is preferable, with good lighting, ventilation and away from distractions.

How much does Hip Hop cost?

School charges vary depending on several factors. These include class size, age group and also whether the class is just providing dance instruction for Hip Hop or a combination of dance forms such as Contemporary and Jazz.

  • For a 45 – 60 minute class, once a week, you will pay around $75 – $125 per term.
  • Leotard: $35 – $50
  • Jazz Shoes: $65 – $95

How much time does Hip Hop take to learn?

Beginners classes are usually 30 minutes in duration and increase to 45 – 60 minutes depending on the pupil and class.

Practise at home is expected. Most dance teachers recommend 30 minutes daily for beginners and increasing to 30 – 60 minutes.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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