A Brief History of Breakdance
Breakdance as we know it today originated from the dance moves of James Brown and his dance the Good Foot in 1969. It is a high energy dance with aerobatic moves typical of the James Brown style. When the Good Foot became the craze, dance battle, or street dancing competition, was well established in New York especially in Harlem. These dance battles were well suited for very athletic young men. The Good Foot became B-boy which later became breakdance. Today, with head spins, hand glides and backspins James Brown’s original is considered old-style breakdancing.
The break in breakdancing refers to the instrumental part of a song that would be looped by the DJ to make it last longer. During this time people would breakdance. The break also denotes the element of danger associated with the dance battles in the street when the best dancer was also the best fighter, and broken bones could result from the hard street surface and vigorous moves.
There are two main moves upon which the rest of breakdancing is founded—the 6-step and the toprock. In the 6-step the dancer walks in a circle on the ground with only one hand touching the ground at a time. This step can be modified by the dancer for individual style. The toprock is the steps that begins the dance and is done standing up. It is simple foot and arm work that can also be individualized by each dancer.
Breakdance is considered the oldest hip-hop style of dance, but hip-hop is not the only music that lends itself to breakdancing. Soul, funk and jazz also work well. A code of dressing also accompanies the breakdancing scene. Low pants, T-shirt, a hat, usually tipped over one eye and sneakers is the main costume.
Today, elements of breakdancing are seen in rap videos and it has had a permanent affect on social and nightclub dancing. Dancing is freer, more energetic and less controlled because of the influence of breakdancing. The Electronic Boogaloos and Rock Steady Crew defined breakdancing as we know it today with spectacular back-spinning, hand-gliding, wind-milling and head-spinning moves. It has gained popularity throughout the world by being incorporated into musical theater and movies. European and Asian fans have added their own moves to the sensation.