BY SHAWN BYFIELD
If you are thinking about taking a plunge into the world of hip hop dance there are some things you should know. Hip hop class is a great outlet to release the everyday stress of life and learn a bit of history. The class is a great physical activity and excellent exercise no matter where you take it.
Of course, nobody wants to stand out as “the new kid.” So here’s some proven tips to help you rank higher on the cool factor, no matter what your color, age or ability!
Look And Dress The Part
When was the last time you saw a hip hop video and the dancers were in bodysuits and tights? It’s amazing how just looking the part helps you dance and feel better. Here’s what to wear:
- Find some baggy sweats, army pants or cargos.
- Get a funky t-shirt or top that you feel comfortable and stylish in.
- Find a pair of running shoes that absorb shock. No ballet or jazz shoes!
- Accessorize with bandanas, hats, armbands and belts as long as they don’t distract and prevent you or others from dancing.
- For the ladies, warm up with your hair up, then when it comes to dance, practice with your hair down. No celebrity ever performs with their hair in a ponytail. And lastly ladies – leave your Lulu Lemon pants at home.
Bend Yo’ Knees and Get Low
Hip hop has roots in African dance, which is very earthy and grounded. A basic rule for hip hop is, stay low to the ground. Here’s how:
- Bend those knees of yours, and widen your stance like a football linebacker. This allows you to transfer your weight quickly as needed in class.
- Center yourself squarely over your pelvis, and “sit” into it, almost like you’re going to ride horseback.
- And no straight backs! It’s not ballet. Bend that spine, curve forward slightly and relax your neck.
Bring a Positive Mindset
Because we’re humans, as we age we tend to fear anything new. Afraid of change. Afraid of anything different. Afraid of what others will think. Afraid of how we’ll look. Afraid of making mistakes.
ALWAYS remember this: You become what you think about most of the time.
So tell yourself that you’re here to learn, you are proud of yourself and you’re not afraid to make mistakes. Be positive! You’re eager to learn. And remember, you didn’t learn to run overnight. First you had to learn to crawl, then you learned to walk.
The same basic process applies to hip hop dance – and any dance style for that matter. Be confident. Be patient. Encourage yourself and in time you will succeed.
Get Professional Guidance
Lastly, get involved often! You will only improve based on the level of effort you put forth.
So if you dance once a month, you won’t get too far. But if you dance two or three times a week, now we’re moving forward. Set your schedule and PLAN to take yourself seriously. Research a professional hip hop instructor or school you’re interested in, sign up and commit to a class, and prepare to have a blast!
Shawn Byfield (www.ShawnByfield.com) is an award winning choreographer, show director and a leading expert in dance lessons and industry advice.