Season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance is overflowing with urban dance pros, like Tadd Gadduang, Robert Taylor, Jr., Chris Koehl, and Wadi Jones. Naturally, we're expecting a ton of hip hop to come out of the hat in the next few months.
Here's a handy little breakdown of the different styles we might encounter:
Originating in the Bronx, b-boy is short for break boy, named so because these pros would dance during the break part of the music in clubs. The style can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was commonly referred to as "Good Foot" from James Brown's record of the same name. After a brief quiet period, b-boying experienced a resurgence in the early 1990s and has been going strong ever since.
There are four basic elements involved in b-boying: Toprock, Downrock, Freeze, and Power Moves. Toprock is the upright grooving and shuffles, while Downrock refers to the fancy footwork we see these guys do on the floor. Freeze is just what it sounds like: when the dancer hits a cool pose — perhaps on his head — and freezes there for a moment. Last but not least, the Power Moves are those awesome tricks we see, whether crazy spins on the ground or fantastic leaps and flips in the air.
Poppin' and Lockin'
Popping started to spread in the late 1970s when the Electric Boogaloos performed their moves on Soul Train. The main idea is centered around a technique that requires the dancer to quickly contract and relax their muscles to create a jerking effect (called a pop, tick, or hit). The style is broken down into different body areas, for example arm pops, leg pops, chest pops, and neck pops. Unlike breaking, popping is usually performed standing up, and it incorporates different aspects, like miming and facial expressions. Also, this style really lends itself to battles, where two dancers try to outdo each other. Awesome.
Locking comes into play when the dancer freezes out of a fast movement and locks in a certain pose, holding it for a bit before returning to their original pace. Often comical in nature, these dances are mostly improvised, although there are some standard moves most dancers throw into the mix.
This aggressive style of super high-energy, exaggerated movement is the most recent of the styles, coming around in the early 2000s in South Central Los Angeles. Rarely choreographed, krumping consists of four basic moves: jabs, arm swings, chest pops, and stomps. The kids who pioneered the style saw it as a way to release their anger and frustration without resorting to anger.
Check out one of our favorite krumpers of all time, Season 6 winner Russell Ferguson.