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street dance also streetdance

noun [uncountable]

an informal style of dance involving a variety of moves, which is popular with young people and often developed in public spaces such as streets, clubs, playgrounds, etc.

street dancing

noun [uncountable]

street dancer

noun [countable]

'More boys than ever before are joining dance troupes as a street dance craze sweeps London.'

London Evening Standard 8th June 2009

'… Croft could have been fired by anger but he side stepped that suggestion with the skills of a man who in his youth studied contemporary, modern and street dancing. …'

London Evening Standard 9th June 2009

'Street dancers Flawless pulled off another eye popping routine to a medley of hits.'

Daily Star 26th May 2009

On 30th May 2009, dance group Diversity wowed British audiences with a stunning routine which sealed their victory in the popular UK TV show 'Britain's Got Talent'. In the aftermath of this breathtaking performance of synchronised and acrobatic movements, the expression street dance made a corresponding leap into the radar of the general public.

Street dance, also informally referred to as street, is an umbrella term which encompasses a range of dance styles characterised by descriptions such as hip hop, funk and breakdancing. Its eclectic nature has spawned a whole new street dance lexicon, including terms such as popping, locking, waving and krumping.

with the last surge of interest occurring in the 1980s, street dance has resurfaced during the last five years to enjoy a renewed popularity

When a dancer pops, they jerk their body by quickly contracting and relaxing the muscles. The movements they make are correspondingly referred to as pops or hits. Locking refers to fast, exaggerated, movements which then freeze into a rigid position (a lock), whereas waving describes a more fluid style where movement appears to ripple through the limbs (as if a wave were traversing the dancer's body). Krumping is characterised by free, expressive and energetic movement of the arms, legs, chest and head. Proponents of these different styles can correspondingly be described as poppers, lockers, wavers and krumpers. If you'd like to see these street dance moves in action, check out the video in this article.

With the last surge of interest occurring in the 1980s, street dance has resurfaced during the last five years to enjoy a renewed popularity. Interest has been sparked primarily by television, especially through MTV music videos and advertisements using dance moves to sell products. Across the UK, dance studios have reported an increased demand for tuition, with more young people, especially more boys, participating in dancing classes than ever before.

Though the term street dance was already established within youth/dance culture, recent media interest in 'Britain's Got Talent' winners Diversity and rival group Flawless seems to have now planted the expression firmly into mainstream British English.

Background to street dance

Street dance, also more formally described as vernacular dance, originated in New York in the 1970s. Evolving on the streets of Manhattan and the Bronx, it was developed as an improvised, social dance form, reacting against traditional, high-art dance styles. Popular with African-Americans and Puerto-Ricans, street dance was used as an expression of resistance and cultural identity outside of the mainstream.

The energetic nature of street dance makes it popular with young people on a variety of levels, both as an art form, a competitive activity or for physical exercise. Some UK secondary schools are therefore beginning to introduce street dance as a form of physical education.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 17th June 2009.

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