Dance Technique: The Breaking Body as Opposed to the Broken Body

Dance Technique: The Breaking Body as Opposed to the Broken Body

Nefeli Tsiouti
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4261-3.ch010
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Dance technique includes the movement vocabulary used by each dance form to deliver a message, embody the style, reach its highest potential when performed at a representative level. The Breaking body's dance technique will be discussed along with the body of the dancer who performs the Breaking style. Breaking as a dance genre creates a platform, providing its practitioner bboys/bgirls with many positive aspects. It is an art form rich in content, possibilities, movement vocabulary fundamentals, opportunities for creativity and individuality. However, the fact that Breaking is physically demanding, with some extremes in range of motion in joints and some ‘unnatural' movement pathways, may be problematic for dancers, causing pain and/or injuries, which in severe cases can become chronic. The four levels of Breaking are presented through a technical analysis of their movements and possible risks the movements may cause.
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Breaking (or b-boying) is one of the four artistic elements of hip-hop culture, alongside MC-ing (Master of Ceremony), DJ-ing (DeeJaying) on turntables and Graffiti painting on walls. Breaking has initially been the original dance element of hip-hop culture. By 1980, Breaking had already existed for a few years in New York, and by 1984 it had reached Canada, Europe and Japan (Banes, 1994: 143). Top rocking, vertical dance, and the original dance of b-boying involved intricate footwork deeply rooted in salsa, Cuban mambo and rumba, Brazilian samba, the Hustle, authentic jazz dance, and other African diasporic concepts of rhythm, time, and space (Durden, 2015: 7). Therefore, as it appears historically, Breaking is connected to other elements of hip-hop culture, despite having been forged through influences from and contact with many dance styles. Thus, it is a dance form with no defined cultural limits of movement vocabulary; on the contrary, its vocabulary continuously develops through time, space and generations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Signature Move: The personal move of a bboy/bgirl is recognised as their own and invented by themselves; someone else's moves cannot take signature moves. Certain fundamental moves were initially signature moves.

Bgirl: Female Breaker (from the word Breakgirl, because they started by dancing to the break of the record).

Bboy: Male Breaker (from the word Breakboy, because they started by dancing to the break of the record).

Footwork: The level in Breaking performed close to the floor, with the legs and feet executing complex movements and the arms being the axis of the body. It can also be used to describe movements of the feet when standing.

Toprock: The level in Breaking where the bboys/bgirls dance standing up, often before going down to the floor. It comes from rocking on the top.

Powermoves: The level in Breaking where the bboys/bgirls perform acrobatic moves requires power and velocity to be executed.

Cypher: The circle formed amongst people, who one by one enter the circle to showcase their moves without competing.

Freezes: The level in Breaking where the bboy/bgirl performs a pose that can be held for at least 2-3 seconds, where the movement freezes/pauses.

Throwdown: When the bboy/bgirl go to the dance floor to showcase their moves. It can refer to a battle round, or a cypher round that can be performed anywhere.

Battle: Two dancers or two crews/teams competing against each other, with the presence of at least three judges and an audience.

Breaking: The dance style that represents one of the four original elements of the hip-hop culture. It is also called Bboying/Bgirling. Mainstream media refers to it as Breakdance.

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