Urban Dance Studies – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Theory Glossary

I. What is Urban Dance?

Urban dance, also known as street dance, is a style of dance that originated in urban settings, typically performed to hip-hop, R&B, or electronic music. It is characterized by its high energy, intricate footwork, and improvisational nature. Urban dance encompasses a wide range of styles, including breaking, locking, popping, and house dancing. It is often performed in freestyle battles or in choreographed routines.

Urban dance is a form of self-expression and a way for dancers to connect with their community. It is a way to tell stories, express emotions, and showcase individuality. Urban dance is not limited to professional dancers; anyone can participate and learn the various styles of urban dance.

II. What are the Origins of Urban Dance?

Urban dance has its roots in African and African-American dance traditions, as well as in the social dances of the 1970s and 1980s. Breaking, one of the most well-known styles of urban dance, originated in the Bronx, New York, in the 1970s. It was created by African-American and Latino youth as a way to express themselves and escape the harsh realities of inner-city life.

Locking and popping, two other popular styles of urban dance, were developed on the West Coast in the 1970s. Locking is characterized by its exaggerated movements and pauses, while popping involves quick contractions of the muscles to create a popping or jerking effect.

House dancing, another style of urban dance, originated in the underground clubs of Chicago and New York in the 1980s. It is characterized by its fluid movements, intricate footwork, and syncopated rhythms.

III. How has Urban Dance Evolved Over Time?

Urban dance has evolved significantly since its inception in the 1970s. What started as a form of self-expression and rebellion has grown into a global phenomenon with a dedicated community of dancers and enthusiasts.

One of the biggest changes in urban dance has been the incorporation of different styles and influences. Dancers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible, blending traditional urban dance styles with elements of contemporary dance, ballet, and even martial arts.

Technology has also played a significant role in the evolution of urban dance. Social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram have allowed dancers to share their work with a global audience, leading to the rapid spread of new styles and trends.

IV. What are the Different Styles of Urban Dance?

There are many different styles of urban dance, each with its own unique characteristics and history. Some of the most popular styles include:

– Breaking: characterized by its acrobatic moves, footwork, and freezes
– Locking: known for its exaggerated movements and pauses
– Popping: involves quick contractions of the muscles to create a popping or jerking effect
– House dancing: characterized by its fluid movements, intricate footwork, and syncopated rhythms
– Krumping: a high-energy, aggressive style of dance that originated in Los Angeles
– Voguing: inspired by the poses and movements of fashion models on the runway

Each style of urban dance has its own set of techniques, movements, and cultural influences, making it a rich and diverse art form.

V. How has Urban Dance Influenced Popular Culture?

Urban dance has had a significant impact on popular culture, influencing music videos, fashion, and even mainstream dance styles. Many popular artists, such as Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Lopez, incorporate urban dance elements into their performances, helping to bring the art form to a wider audience.

Reality TV shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Best Dance Crew” have also helped to popularize urban dance, showcasing talented dancers and choreographers from around the world.

In addition, urban dance has inspired new forms of dance, such as hip-hop and contemporary dance, and has influenced fashion trends, with dancers often serving as style icons.

VI. What is the Future of Urban Dance Studies?

As urban dance continues to evolve and grow in popularity, the future of urban dance studies looks bright. More and more universities and dance schools are offering courses and programs focused on urban dance, allowing students to study the history, techniques, and cultural significance of the art form.

Research in urban dance studies is also expanding, with scholars exploring topics such as the intersection of race, gender, and class in urban dance, the impact of technology on the art form, and the role of urban dance in social and political movements.

The future of urban dance studies will likely involve continued collaboration between dancers, choreographers, scholars, and educators, as well as a focus on preserving and celebrating the rich history and diversity of urban dance styles. With its ability to inspire, empower, and unite people from all walks of life, urban dance is sure to remain a vibrant and influential art form for years to come.