Looking to learn how to breakdance? We got you covered. If you’ve seen dancers explosively spinning on their heads or hands on the dance floor, and even striking extremely difficult and intricate poses while balancing on their arms, elbows or heads, chances are that you’ve been witnessing a dance style called breaking.
Breaking, which is widely known to the mainstream public as breakdancing, is an athletic and energetic style of street dance originating in New York City among the African American and Puerto Rican communities in the early 1970s.
Recognized as one of the four elements of Hip-Hop culture (Breaking, DJ-ing, Emceeing, and Graffiti), breakdancing was born out of the hip-hop movement in the 1970s and is danced to songs featuring drum breaks, particularly in hip-hop, funk, soul and breakbeat music (a type of electronic music that uses drum breaks sampled from earlier jazz, funk, and R&B music).
The dancers who practise this style are referred to as breakdancers, breakers, b-boys, which stands for break-boy, or b-girls, which stands for break-girl. As such, the breaking can also be called b-boying or b-girling.
From being featured in films from the 1970s to the present, such as Flashdance, Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Beat Street, and all five of the Step Up dance movies, breakdancing is considered to be the most well-known dance out of all the street dance styles.
In addition to its presence in pop culture, breaking has seen a surge in popularity with its Olympic debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. After seeing such a successful inception to the Olympics, breakdancing has been selected to feature as a new sport at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris where 16 male and 16 female breakdancers will face off in one-on-one matches.
If you’re a beginner looking to break into the breaking scene and learn how to breakdance, go ahead and grab a bottle of water, comfortable clothes you can move in, some breakbeats, and let’s get started!
Different Aspects of Breaking/Breakdancing
In case you didn’t know, breaking isn’t just limited to dancing on the floor. Breakdancing is actually a complex style comprising four main elements: toprock, footwork, power moves, and freezes. When breakers get down (dance) in a battle or cypher, they typically perform a combination of these main elements to the music. Here’s a quick overview of what they are and how they’re different from each other:
A top rock is a type of move performed when a b-boy or b-girl is standing and involves foot movement, which is often styled by hand and arm movements. Many breakdancers usually start their dancing by performing top rocks as a way of displaying their unique style, sense of rhythm, flexibility and coordination. Top rocks are also used to help breakdancers transition into the more acrobatic movements of breaking such as footwork and power moves (discussed below).
Some famous top rock moves are the Indian Step, the Crossover Step, and the Side Step.
Footwork/Down rock/Floor work
Footwork, also known as floor work or down rock, is performed when a b-boy or b-girl dances on the floor while being supported by their hands and feet as they display their footwork. This floor-based footwork allows the breaker to show off their foot speed, body control, and intricate and complex footwork combinations.
Footwork is also used to transition into the more explosive power moves, as well as other floor-based moves like windmills and flares.
The most popular beginner footwork moves include the 6-step, along with its variants such as the 2-step, 3-step, the CC (Crazy Commando), and the Coffee Grinder.
Power moves are explosive, athletic, dynamic, and acrobatic dance moves performed by b-boys and b-girls which rely on speed and power. They are often the main feature of a breaker’s get down. Power moves are done when breakers propel their entire body into a continuous, circular rotation while being balanced on their hands, head, elbows, shoulders, or back.
Some popular breakdancing power moves include Windmills, Air Flares and Head Spins.
Lastly, freezes involve b-boys and b-girls stopping all their movements to pose in a unique and difficult position that involves incredible strength and balance, as if they were frozen. Freezes are usually used by breakdancers to highlight a part of the music, or end their dance round.
Freezes are often characterised by twisting and contorting the body and are balanced on only, or a combination of, a breaker’s head, arms, shoulders, back, and elbow.
Popular freezes include the Elbow Freeze, the Baby Freeze, and the Chair Freeze.
How to Breakdance
Here are some basic moves for you to try out. If you have any difficulties, which is completely understandable given how difficult breakdancing can be, you can check out the Master Your Foundation course to get you breaking in no time!
How to do the 3-Step
The 3-Step is a foundational footwork step that involves three steps. It’s also a great move for beginners to learn when learning breakdancing. You will be moving in a circular motion using the 3-Step, so this is how you do it in a clockwise motion:
- Start off in a squatting position facing the front, or the twelve o’ clock position.
- Kick out your right leg while keeping your left bent. Place your right arm on the ground on your right side to support you.
- Switch legs: kick your left leg out and bring your right leg underneath you in your squat. Your right arm is still supporting you on your right side.
- Bring your right arm over to your left side and place your right and left hands on the ground.
- Jump into a push up position. Your legs should be kicked out behind you, and your body should be pointing towards the nine o’ clock position.
Congratulations! You’ve done the basic 3-Step. To complete the 3-Step in a clockwise motion:
- After getting into the push up position, lift your left arm up, balance on your right arm, and kick out to the back with your right leg (six o’ clock position) while still squatting on your left leg.
- Switch legs: kick your left leg out while bringing your right leg underneath you in your squat position. You are still supporting yourself with your right arm.
- Swing your right arm over to your left side and support yourself with both hands on the ground.
- Jump into a push up position again by kicking both your legs out behind you, and with your arms supporting you directly beneath yourself. Your body should be pointing towards the twelve o’ clock position.
You can continue repeating the 3-Step in a clockwise circular motion as many times as you’d like! You can also try the move starting on the left side, allowing you to move in an anti-clockwise motion instead.
Pro Breaking Tip:
- Keep yourself on the balls of your feet and keep your balance on your finger tips, meaning that your palms should not be on the ground. This might be difficult to do at first, but it helps a lot in keeping you nimble.
- When jumping into a push up position, keep your legs spread out, either shoulder-width apart or even further than that to make the move look more dynamic.
Once you’ve gotten the foundations down, take a look at how you can take your 3-step to the next level with this lesson by B-Boy Focus. Explore more variations and add your own style to the 3-Step once you get comfortable with it!
With our help, you’ll be breaking in no time.
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