Street dance, formally known as vernacular dance, refers to dance styles—regardless of country of origin—that evolved outside of dance studios in any available open space such as streets, dance parties, block parties, parks, school yards, raves, and nightclubs. They are often improvisational and social in nature, encouraging interaction and contact with spectators and other dancers. These dances are a part of the vernacular culture of the geographical area that they come from. Two examples of street dance include b-boying (or breakdancing), which originated in New York City, and Melbourne Shuffle which originated in Melbourne, Australia.
Traditional jazz dance, having existed since the late nineteenth century, is perhaps one of the oldest street dances of urban America. Street dance is often considered urban folk dance. Since many concepts of urbanization have existed for a long time back in history, the point of which folk dance is to be considered a more historical street dance is often broad and unknown. Street dance and folk dance are distinguished by when the terms were introduced for, the term 'street dance' as a compound noun has been believed to have existed since beginning of the early 20th century, whereby Afro-American vernacular dance was becoming the most popular in the western world. Clogging is thought to be considered a very early form of street dance, since it evolved in the streets, factories and dance parties during the 18th century (or before) amongst dancers that were considered a part of the UK, Western Europe and Appalachian urban countercultures at the time.
The hip-hop dance style b-boying and the funkstyles popping and locking are some of the most popular street dance styles in African American culture. Those forms of hip-hop dance are the most prominently practiced street dances. These street dance styles are so common that commercialized versions have been professionally developed and choreographed for dance routines in pop, hip-hop, electronic, and R&B music videos. B-boying helped bring about street dance crew culture, whereby the dance crews would learn various street dance styles for impression and competition. These street crews usually perform in outdoor jams, leading to further styles of hip-hop dance. New Jack Swing (a.k.a. Swingbeat) was created in the 90's dance scene, which is also a respected style of streetdance. New Jack Swing is also a music genre, co-created by pioneers such as Teddy Riley.
Another example of a street dance is house dance, which is prominently danced to house music. House dance evolved out of Chicago clubs but grew and developed in the clubs of New York. Due to the modern mainstream popularity of clubs, street and fad dances tend to evolve more often in nightclubs rather than outdoor spaces. However, they may be practiced in outdoor spaces. Many rave dances are also street dances. The majority of rave dances are street dance styles since rave culture is prominently an underground movement. Rave culture, like hip-hop culture, is vastly diverse and there are many different music genres each of which have individually prominent vernacular dance styles. Amongst the electronic dance community, street dances in the form of rave dances are mainly revolved around a consistent rhythm and flow. Street dance styles like popping, tutting, and roboting, due to their futuristic-psychedelic theme and/or movements, have been widely adopted amongst the electronic dance community and influenced dances such as Liquiding. From out of the electronic dance community, street dances like Electro Dancing and Jumpstyle (an example of a rave dance) have emerged. Unlike many hip-hop dances, house and rave dances are usually heralded more 'fun' than 'competitive', although most street dances start like so before being adopted for competition or any other purpose since nobody legally owns them. Generally dances like the Melbourne Shuffle are not applied as a dance for battling, rather for dancing in the crowd at a rave party. This distinguishes rave dance from partner and competitive street dance forms. However, many people do perform rave dances as an expressively competitive dance.
Punk dance (also known as the thrash dance, or simply thrashing) is a form of street dance that is performed impromptu in large crowds. While the punk dance is considered a fad dance, its origins also make it a street dance. The dance originated amongst the punk rock community and was made popular by the band, Sex Pistols. The dance styles are most popular amongst hardcore styled music concerts or raves, as well as busy nightclubs. The most modern form of punk dance is hardcore dancing.
Adaptions to these street dances are today practiced at both dance studios and other spaces, i.e. studio hip-hop dance is the commercial version of hip-hop dance. Dance studios often dub the commercial adaptions as street dance, regardless to the fact they aren't 'absolutely' by true definition. Some schools use street dance as a form of physical education. Another example is the Cha Cha Slide, and Cupid Shuffle, which are street dance influenced line dances. While line dances may be considered street, vernacular, or folk dances, they usually require professional instruction (or choreography) and integrate moves derived from studio dance styles.
Street dance has evolved between people in a social environment, although it cannot always be determined as to how they actually do evolve between people. In theory, as one person comes up with a move that apparently looks good to another person, that other person tries to copy that move. Similar to chinese whispers, the effect is that the other person cannot absolutely perform that move the same way as the other person, thus leading to the dancer to create their own style or entirely new moves based on it. There is a small difference between entirely freestyle (improvisational) dance and an absolute street dance. While freestyle dance is random and a personal dance invented by a single person (even if it is based on someone else's dance style), a full street dance is a collection of the various similar dance moves and styles collected into one practice and regarded as the same dance. For example, when b-boying evolved out of early hip-hop culture, people came up with their own moves, and other people improved them. Street dances constantly evolve for as long as they are intermittently practiced and regarded as the same dance. All the moves danced to breaks in hip-hop culture was regarded as b-boying.
Sometimes it is possible to trace back street dance styles that were mostly pioneered by specific persons. One example is Locking, which is often regarded as being started by Don Campbell, who was a 1970s pioneer of American street dance. Most of the time it is impossible to credit specific people for street dances, since the dances evolve outside of professional dance environments, whereby there is no social and/or legal record. Street/vernacular dance pioneers also rarely have professional degrees in dance, thus distinguishing street dance from other modern dance forms.
List of street dances
Afro-Caribbean vernacular dance
South American vernacular dance
West African vernacular dance
Asian vernacular dance
Egypt Berry dance
British vernacular dance
European vernacular dance
- Stearns, Marshall Window; Stearns, Jean (1994). Jazz Dance: The Story of English and American Vernacular Dance. New York City: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306805537.
- Mansbach, Adam (24 May 2009). "The ascent of hip-hop: A historical, cultural, and aesthetic study of b-boying". Boston.com. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
- "About the Documentary". MelbourneShuffler.com. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
- Clog dancing's big street revival
- "Definition of street dance, Buzzword from Macmillan Dictionary". "Wednesday 17, June, 2010". Retrieved 2010-04-16. Check date values in:
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