Hip-hop dance refers to street dance styles primarily performed to hip-hop music or that have evolved as part of hip-hop culture. It includes a wide range of styles notably breaking, locking, and popping which were created in the 1970s and made popular by dancecrews in the United States. The television show Soul Train and the 1980s films Breakin’, Beat Street, and Wild Style showcased these crews and dance styles in their early stages; therefore, giving hip-hop mainstream exposure. The dance industry responded with a commercial, studio-based version of hip-hop—sometimes called new style—and a hip-hop influenced style of jazz dance called jazz-funk. Classically trained dancers developed these studio styles in order to create choreography from the hip-hop dances that were being performed on the street. Because of this development, hip-hop dance is practiced in both dance studios and outdoor spaces.
The commercialization of hip-hop dance continued into the 1990s and 2000s with the production of several other television shows and movies such as The Grind, Planet B-Boy, Rize, StreetDance 3D, America’s Best Dance Crew, Saigon Electric, the Step Up film franchise, and The LXD, a web series. Though the dance is established in entertainment, it still maintains a strong presence in urban neighborhoods which has led to the creation of street dance derivatives turfing, krumping, and jerkin’.
Hip-hop dance has a particularly strong influence in France and the United Kingdom. France is the home of Juste Debout, an international hip-hop dance competition, and Battle of the Year, the largest team-based breaking competition in the world. Like France, the U.K. also hosts two international competitions: The UK B-Boy Championships and the World Street Dance Championships.
What distinguishes hip-hop dance from other forms of dance is that it is often freestyle (improvisational) in nature and hip-hop dance crews often engage in freestyle dance competitions, colloquially referred to as battles. Crews, freestyling, and battles are identifiers of this style. Hip-hop dance can be a form of entertainment or a hobby. It can also be a lifestyle: a way to be active in competitive dance and a way to make a living by dancing professionally.