Breakdancing: a short introduction

Breakdancing is the colloquial term for breaking and although it doesn't sound very different, it's better to stay true to the roots of the art form by using proper terminology. The art of breaking originated in turmoil; it was a medium of expression much like a phoenix being born from ashes. Breaking developed with the Hip Hop revolution, a dance that helped take people away from fear, drugs and violence. It was born on the streets, and through performance, artists could say what they wanted to say. Breaking battles even substituted violence sometimes which means disputes could be settled with dance.

So we know what it's called and why it's there, but what is it? Breaking is a dance style that was created even before Hip Hop. It means dancing to the breaks of a song, the instrumental sections. Breaking started with salsa moves such as the shuffle (not the LMFAO running man) and... the salsa step! During the instrumental parts of a song, the salsa dancers would break. A DJ in the Bronx, New York noticed this and made songs by stitching together breaks, making the whole song one big break. Viola! Breaking is now its own style!

The top rock:

Breaking isn't just spinning on one's head. One of the fundamental moves is the top rock, a stylish and upright movement in which the dancer shows off the way they choose to move, their personality. It can become incredibly difficult to piece together a remarkable top rock performance, but it is still so loved that there are even top rock competitions in which the dancer performs only a top rock, without doing floor work at all.

The go down:

This part sounds easy, but a dancer can look extremely amateur without a creative go down. It is also a great way to show off originality and flare; surprising the audience with a different way to go from up to down is a skill. Footwork is another overlooked part of breaking. It is done on the floor which looks completely different with each breaker. Some dancers step and shuffle so fast that their feet are a blur while other show off flexibility by flowing from one tangle into another.

Power moves and freezes:

The power move is one of the flashiest parts of breaking. It's an acrobatic show of strength, flexibility, speed, control and determination with a whole lot of style. Think massive spins on the floor mixed with suicide moves (the dancer slams onto the floor in an often painful way) and swinging legs. It is difficult to define a power move and put them into a box because there are infinite possibilities and combinations. Freezes are a way to stop a power move (nobody can spin on their head forever) and so are seen in almost every breaking set. It's mostly used to show off strength although it allows some showcasing of flexibility and style.


The last part is tricking. Just jump high with lots of flips and you've got tricking down. Actually, it's incredibly challenging and dangerous, like much of breaking. It takes much technique, strength and, you wouldn't think it, but flexibility too. Tricking requires a large amount of concentration and should be taken seriously.

Combining these elements makes something beautiful, something stunning to see and even more stunning to perform. Absolutely anybody can do breaking. Disabled people take part in battles, and win. Children take on adults and big guys can mop the floor with their opposition. The most important point is that absolutely anybody can dance, even if it is only in their hearts.

So warm up, find some space, pump some music and get moving.