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Published:April 23rd, 2007 10:35 EST
Breakdancing: A Type of Dance Like No Other

Breakdancing: A Type of Dance Like No Other

By Peter Giordano

How do they do that? That`s the question when you see talented young dancers spin on their heads and do intricate footwork that just blows your mind. This type of dance is called break dancing, or to the true breakdancers, b-boying.  Break dancing has had an effect on the world since the early 80`s and is still around today. Fashion, music, and dancing are just parts of what makes break dancers who they are.

Breakdancing has been around for more than 20 years now, but the credit goes to the real starters of it all. It has been said that breakdancing was formed on the streets in New York City by former African American jazz dancers, such as Crazy Legs and Spy.  These B-boys " also started this crazed phase of dancing history in night clubs. When the DJ would say b-boys go down, " that`s when they knew to start break dancing and show everyone their moves.

Breakdancing wasn`t only used for entertainment, though; it was also used to settle fights between gangs. Whichever gang had the best dancing capability won-- fight would be over and that gang would win the competition. Nowadays, a break dancing fight " would be suspected of dancers battle on the dance floor in order to be named the best breakdancer. 
One major part of break dancing is what the dancers wear. The most common outfits, especially in the 80`s, were adidas shelltops for shoes, adidas sweatpants with the three stripes on the side, and a wife beater " or white tank top for a shirt. Today, the dress has changed from the jumpsuits to the present fashions. Even though the clothes have changed, the roots and moves of breakdancing still live.

When breakdancing first started, the moves consisted of  dancing, popping, and breaking. These elements all come from the two basic steps: the 6-step and the toprock. The toprock usually begins the dance and is performed standing, but, toprock leads into the 6-step, which is lower to the ground. Usually, the 6-step is performed to build up adrenalin for power moves. To reduce friction, most breakdancers dance on linoleum or cardboard floors.

Today, the basic steps are still the same, but more elaborate power moves have been introduced to society.  These power moves require skill, flexibility, and rhythm. The most popular power moves are the windmill, a flare, head spins, and the jackhammer. Most of these moves also require upper body strength because breakdancers balance themselves on their hands. Dancers also use props such as chairs, hats, or any other available object that can be involved in the dance.

Even though breakdancing isn`t as popular as it was in the 80`s, it is still used worldwide in many different venues. You can see break dancing in music videos, movies, or even on the streets. Music videos are the most popular place to find breakdancing because it draws attention to the performer and artist of the song. When breakdancing is in a music video, it is performed most often to hip-hop or rap music.

Movies are another good source of breakdancing. The first movie that included break- dancing was Flashdance, " which had only a small segment of breakdancing, but had a huge impact on what it became.

Other movies that are more recent are Save the Last Dance " and You Got Served. " In Save the Last Dance, " a strictly ballet dancer has to learn more free-style " dancing, so she selected breakdancing with its use of props and intricate footwork mixed into her own style. You Got Served " was based on the battles of breakdancing. It showed moves that you would never begin to think you could do. It also showed the fashion and attitudes of present day breakdancers. The plot touched topics such as battling, titling of groups, and team leaders.

The streets of big cities were the original source of breakdancing. You can still witness breakdancers get-down " with complex dance moves. Many of the popular dance moves are used but new moves are invented every day. Breakdancers can even have a chance of appearing in a music video or movie if the right person walks by at the right time. Cities have now required a permit to dance on public sidewalks, but that doesn`t stop b-boys from showing off their talent.

Breakdancing has come a long way since it first began. It went through popular phases that changed the moves and fashions of breakdancing. Through the years, breakdancing can be observed in the media and in your everyday community. Without breakdancing, many genres of dance would not have been discovered, such as hip-hop.  The skill and passion that a dancer must have takes time and determination. From the start of break- dancing to present day, it will always be considered a type of dance like no other.