Street Dance

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Locking, popping and hip-hopping has never been so good for you. Street dance or urban dance is a combination of different dance styles from 70s funk to new skool hip hop. Although it emerged on the streets, studio classes in this style are becoming more and more popular – so even the stuffy and straight-laced can tone up, get fit and learn how to lock and pop like an MTV star.

How does it work?

Street dance is a general term that covers all sorts of super-cool dance movements. The types of dance your class includes will depend very much on the tutor – most have their individual style and will lead their class with their own energy and personality. The main dance styles that are likely to be included are:

*Locking – big moves and even bigger trousers, locking involves a lot of humour, high-energy and a distinctive way of freezing mid-move and moving on to the next.

*Popping – this is a later style with tighter more jerky movements. Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake include a lot of popping in their dance routines.

*Breaking or break dancing – we've all seen break dancers spinning on their heads, but there are elements of breaking that are more likely to be included in a street dance session, particularly floor work techniques.

*Krumping – this kind of dance originated from street dance battles in LA, it's very much focussed on sharp, energetic movements of the upper body. This style of dance was highlighted in the Madonna video "Hung Up", as well as in the Chemical Brothers video "Galvanize", in case you were wondering.

A typical beginner's class will involve an ice-breaking warm up to get you moving. If you're really nervous about dancing, this is a chance to lose the inhibitions a little bit, getting into the simple movements and getting swept up in the funky hip-hop music.

After the warm up, you'll move on to putting together some short sequences of moves, or learning some of the most common basic footwork. These will then be built up into a continuous dance so that by the end of the lesson the whole class has mastered some basic choreography and can do a dance sequence in time – just like the backing dancers in a music video.

The class will be held in a mirrored studio so you can see how you're moving and mimic your tutor as closely as possible. It also means that you'll be able to check out the moves of other people in the class, which can really help you to improve your style.

A beginner's class will normally last for an hour, but workshops and more advanced classes can last for as long as 3 hours of high-energy moving and grooving. You should take a bottle of water, wear loose baggy clothing to make sure you can move freely and wear trainer-style shoes to start off with. As you get better, you might want to invest in a pair of shoes that have slightly less grip than your average running shoe, because it helps with spins, slides and all the spectacular moves you're going to wow your friends with.

Is it for me?

Generally street dance classes tend to be quite informal, unlike more classical forms of dance like ballet and jazz which are stricter on form. One of the benefits of this is that you can launch quite quickly into doing the moves rather than spending months perfecting positions and posture. So, if you like quick progress and you have bags of energy, this could be the class for you.

Street dance isn't just good for looking cool on the dancefloor – it's a fantastic workout. If you're the type of person who hates the treadmill and would rather not exercise for the sake of it, street dance will use muscles you didn't even know you had and without you being aware how hard you're working.

You'll need to be reasonably fit before you start street dance classes, but a beginner's class should take it easy with both the intensity and the technique. More than fitness, it's coordination that most beginners find difficult, but luckily that comes with time – so keep it up and it won't be long before you're back-flipping with the best of them.

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