26, February 2015
Break dancing, more commonly referred to as breaking, or b-boying/g-girling is a form of hip-hop dancing. The actual “Break” in breaking comes from the period of a song where the rhythm section falls silent and the groove is distilled, the break in the song creates space for expression. There are usually no lyrics in hip-hop music that is used to break because lyrics are known to be limiting. Therefore, the anesthetics of breaking reflect one’s personal expression, and the significance of breaking is the collective bliss when all the limits fall away.
There are four sections of a solid improvisation. So there are four basic steps in break dancing and although the moves have progressively gotten more challenging the top rock/up rock, go-down, power moves, and the freeze remain present. The top rock or up rock are the movements while the B-boy or B-girl is still standing, the standing motion is mostly to gain momentum for the challenging moves coming next. The go-down is when the breaker finds their way to the ground in a complex motion. The go down requires strength, skill, and practice. The go-down is the first move in breaking that separates breaking from other dance forms, getting to the ground should be creative, individual, and innovative. Then the power moves, these are the fast movements that put the audience in ‘awe’. Examples would be head spinning, windmill, jackhammer, or the head slide.
Breaking came out of hip-hop culture, and to understand all the perspectives of breaking it is important to look at hip-hop culture elements. The elements of hip hop are the, MCs, whom are commonly known as rappers, DJs played and created the music, breakers were the dancers, and graffiti artist encouraged knowledge throughout the community. History behind hip-hop and breaking came from New York City in the Bronx during the 1930’s. In The Wall Street Journal, the author Miriam Jordan wrote The Street Dance of Rio come to New York City. She writes about the development of breaking in New York when young dancers that migrated from Rio overcame diversity in their current social standard. Jordan quoted Bill Bragin, "’These kids are shaping Brazilian popular culture,’ he said. ‘We're recognizing that an art form coming from the streets and people who are historically disenfranchised is contributing to world culture’"(Jordan). Robert Moses was a politician at the time and made some structural changes to the city that caused many problems for middle class inner-city livers. When Moses put up The Tribrorough Bridge it separated lower class and middle class into sections. The White Fight encouraged white people to move out of the Bronx and into nicer parts of the city. This sectioned immigrants of other ethnicities besides white and lower class deep into the Bronx. After this, the Bronx developed a gang culture that spiraled out of control.
In 1971, there was The Bronx Peace Treaty, it wasn’t formal but it was effective. Gangsters and many other people started to participate in hip-hop dancing, especially breaking, in order to suppress aggression. People in the Bronx stared breaking as a different way to express themselves without using violence. Out of this came three laws of hip-hop that could also be applied to breaking; individuality, creativity, and innovation. Individuality means that an individual can move in a way that they are naturally inclined to without anyone else’s ideas being oppressive in their dance moves. Creativity suggests that people should dance using their imagination and letting the limitations fall away. Finally innovation means in breaking those dancers should progress without fear in order to improve their skills.
These skilled breakers are known as B-boys and B-girls in the article “In The Cypher” “B-Boy Spaces” by Joseph G Schloss. Schloss explains the variety of settings and surfaces in which breaking takes place. The surfaces are what…