Hip-hop dance refers to street dance styles primarily performed to hip-hop music or that have evolved as part of hip-hop culture. It includes a wide range of styles primarily breaking, locking, and popping which were created in the 1970s and made popular by dance crews in the United States. The television show Soul Train and the 1980s films Breakin’, Beat Street, and Wild Style showcased these crews and dance styles in their early stages; therefore, giving hip-hop mainstream exposure. The dance industry responded with a commercial, studio-based version of hip-hop—sometimes called “new style”—and a hip-hop influenced style of jazz dance called “jazz-funk”. Classically trained dancers developed these studio styles in order to choreograph from the hip-hop dances that were performed on the street. Because of this development, hip-hop dance is practiced in both dance studios and outdoor spaces.
What distinguishes hip-hop from other forms of dance is that it is often “freestyle” (improvisational) in nature and hip-hop dance crews often engage in freestyle dance competitions—colloquially referred to as “battles”. Crews, freestyling, and battles are identifiers of this style. Hip-hop dance can be a form of entertainment or a hobby. It can also be a way to stay active in competitive dance and a way to make a living by dancing professionally.