A Beginner’s Guide to Hip Hop Dance Classes for Kids

When parents visit our dance studio interested in enrolling their child in dance classes they naturally have questions about which dance style is best for their child and will suit the child’s personality.

Hip Hop dance classes are popular and a perfect choice for energetic kids who are always on the move and enjoy popular music.  We start dancers in Hip Hop classes as young as age three and support them straight through to their teens.

Read on to learn a little bit of Hip Hop history, what moves your child will learn in a Hip Hop dance class and take a look at some of our favorite hip hop videos.

What is Hip Hop Dance?

If you ask ten people to define the term “Hip Hop,” there’s a good chance that you’ll hear ten different answers.  The phrase Hip Hop combines two slang terms: Hip, which means “in the know,” and has been a part of African American vernacular since the late nineteenth century, and Hop representing the hopping movement exhibited by Hip Hop performers.  The Hip Hop style of dance and movement started back in the 1970s when disco and funk dancing were popular.

Hip Hop dance is much more than a way of moving to Hip Hop music, and it is anything but simple. Hip Hop has a distinct style that includes its own language, music, culture, and even fashion. Hip Hop encourages the dancer to incorporate their own personalities. The acrobatics involved in Hip Hop often rival those of highly trained gymnasts. Just as with the best ballet dancers, the best Hip Hop dancers can be considered true athletes. At Progressive Dance Studio our hip hop dance class students are encouraged to step outside the box and bring their own individual style and personality to the movements. Hip-Hop dance is edgy, very energetic, and intense and sets the stage for a truly fun dance class.  

In our beginner level Hip Hop dance classes, our instructor’s emphasis is on teaching the fundamentals of Hip Hop.  The instructor strives to inspire well-rounded Hip Hop dancers and focuses on Hip Hop techniques such as Breaking, Popping, Waacking, Waving, and Commercial Dance (see our Hip-Hop dance class primer below). As the dancer advances in skill they will learn numerous other Hip Hop elements like Freezes, Grooves, Locking, Tricks, Tutting, and Vogueing.  Our instructors focus on teaching Hip Hop rhythms and encouraging our students to hear the music and “feel the beat.” 

A Hip Hop Dance Class Primer For Beginners and Parents


Here are five essential Hip Hop dance styles, or elements, that Progressive Dance Studio Instructors teach their students in our hip hop dance classes and some video examples of each style.


Breaking, also referred to as b-boying or b-girling, is probably the most well-known element of Hip Hop dance. Breaking, or breakdancing, is very unstructured and improvisational and is composed of movements performed at different levels: top rock (performed while standing), down rock (performed close to the floor), power moves (acrobatics) and freeze moves (poses).


The Popping Hip Hop element consists of quickly contracting and relaxing your muscles, causing a jerk in your body; these jerks are known as "pops" or "hits." Popping is performed with other dance moves and poses to the beat of the music.  Some Popping terms and elements are Puppeting, Waving, The Creep, Tutting, Robotting, Ticking, Dynorama, Strobing, and Vibrating.


Waving is an illusionary dance style composed of a series of movements that give the appearance that a wave is traversing through a dancer's body. Waving is thought to have grown out of the popping and funk dance scene and is often seen combined with popping and its related styles. Waving is fluidly moving your body or parts of your body to imitate real waves in the ocean.

Commercial Dance

Commercial Hip Hop dance is one of the styles that you might recognize without actually knowing the name. According to dance educators, commercial Hip Hop dance has elements of street dance and sometimes jazz that is danced to R&B, pop and chart music.
Commercial dance is most often seen on TV and in venues like arenas and cruise ships. While commercial Hip Hop dances can still tell stories, the main focus is pure entertainment. Some examples of commercial dance are professional dance teams, music videos (MTV), and many of the numbers on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” 


The Waacking style of Hip Hop dance consists of arm movements up and around the head and behind the shoulder. Waacking also incorporates wild but controlled moves, posing and fast footwork that is in time with a disco or funk beat. Waacking puts a strong emphasis on musicality and interpretation of the music and its rhythm. Waacking is typically a Freestyle Dance that can incorporate other body and feet moves from different dance styles. Some Waacking terms and moves include Basic Waack, Arm Circle, Groove in waacking, Point, Waack & Cross, Waack Attack, Windmill Arms, and Wrist Waack, among many others.

Check out our  Hip Hop dance class schedule conveniently sorted by age and skill level and sign your child up for a free trial class. Comfortable loose clothing and a clean pair of sneakers are all that’s needed. 

For information about other dance styles see our post The Beginner’s Guide to Dance.

If you have questions or would like to take a tour of Progressive Dance Studio located in Englewood, NJ call our front desk at (201) 894-1333 we’re happy to help!

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