House dancer Mamson performs in a street for a photo shoot.
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Dance

Four street dance styles for dance enthusiasts to try

If you love to dance but haven’t really given it a go, read on to know about some styles you can get started in as a beginner.
Written by Divya Naik
5 min readPublished on
Street dance picked up popularity in India a few years ago with several reality dance television shows being introduced.
We now have a lot of dancers in different styles and many making viable careers as professional street dance practitioners.
If you have been keen on getting started in dance but don’t know what style is for you, read on to discover some dance styles you could try and some advice from dancers that might help you make your decision.

Hip-Hop

An authentic street dance style, hip-hop derives its rawness from the fact that the movements are spontaneous rather than rehearsed. “We just start dancing when the music plays and that’s how hip-hop battles take place,” says Bengaluru-based Velu Kumar, member of the dance crews Graffiti and Desi Hoppers.
In his opinion, a hip-hop dancer needs to know how to freestyle as they need to be able to dance to any song that is being played. He also stresses on the need to undergo foundation courses to learn basic hip-hop moves in order to be able to start off in this style. He adds, “I would also advise beginners to attend workshops across the country, conducted by senior dancers and not just in hip-hop but multiple other dance styles. I would emphasize on learning multiple styles as unless and until you try your hand at different styles, you will not be able to understand which style is truly meant for you. For instance, you might be interested in breaking but your body language might sway towards popping and you won’t know this unless and until you have tried both.”
He also stresses on beginners attending cypher sessions as they provide an opportunity to meet other dancers.

Dancehall and Afro

Dancehall emerged as a dance style from different aspects of African culture many years ago. It was created on the streets of Jamaica.
Dancehall is a way of life and a music style for Jamaicans, apart from just being a dance style. Bengaluru-based Divya Easwaran, a member of all-girl afrobeat dance crew Afrontal, says, “Afro is an umbrella term for all the dance styles that come from Africa. We are still gaining a lot more knowledge on all the dance forms that the African continent has to offer and in India, we are fairly new to these forms. Afro is still picking up compared to dancehall. The dancehall community has grown in the last four years.”

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If you are keen on getting started in dancehall or afro, Divya suggests starting with internet searches. “Try finding teachers who are proficient in these forms in India. Also, nowadays, with classes happening online, one can also access Jamaican teachers, who are the original experts.” She also feels that joining a class is better than trying to train yourself as both dancehall and afro are social forms of dance. “These dances were made to share and not compete,” she says.

Waacking

Waacking is a dance style which started becoming popular in India roughly a decade ago. While waacking became popular as a street dance style, it was created in the LGBT clubs of Los Angeles during the 1970s disco era; the dance style is considered to be a very important aspect of the liberation of the LGBT community.
If you are thinking about getting started in waacking (or any other dance style), Ahmedabad-based Sri Lakshmi, founder of Paranoid Dance Crew, has some advice. “As a beginner, I would recommend everyone to start listening to a wide variety of music genres and not limit yourself to any one genre. Understand which genre hits you the most – dig a lot of genres and pick one. When you do that, you will understand the style of dance you should be doing. Post that you must learn different styles and then stick to one,” says Sri Lakshmi.

Popping and locking

As a style, popping has a lot of movements under it such as robot, animation, boogaloo, etc. Locking is a style which involves freezing the joints of your body to form angles; it was made popular by Don Campbellock, founder of the crew ‘The Lockers’. The two dance forms go together with popping and locking being about quick movements and short freezes.
Chennai-based dancer Nimble Funk says that understanding the history and foundation of these styles is very important. He says if you want to get started in these styles, pick a teacher with many years of experience in popping and locking. Nimble adds that tutorials are not enough to master these dance styles because you might feel like you are moving as per the tutorial, but it is not possible to get right unless you have a great teacher watching your movement.

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“You need to attend a lot of workshops and train hard in order to master the style. Anyone can dance but developing your own style is very important. You will be unique only when you have your own style,” he explains.
He also says that it is important to understand the roots of these styles and also the music which accompanies the dance form. “You need to know how these dance styles were created and then practice the basics after knowing about the history. Once you master the basics, you can have your own variations,” he concludes.