Popping is a dance style and one of the original funk styles of dance that is thought to have come from Fresno, California during the 1960s-70s. It is based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the dancer's body, referred to as a pop, tick or a hit. This is done continuously to the rhythm of a song in combination with various movements and poses.Popping is also used as an umbrella term to refer to a group of closely related illusionary dance styles and techniques that are often integrated with popping to create a more varied performance, but it is distinct from breaking, with which popping is often confused. A popping dancer is commonly referred to as a popper.
When used as a hip hop dance style, popping is usually performed in a battle (also known as a competitive jam), where participants try to outperform each other in front of a crowd. This gives room for improvisation and the performance of moves that are seldom seen in shows and performances (also referred to as freestyling). As a street dance it also encourages the dancer to interact with the other dancers and spectators.
TerminologyAs stated earlier, popping has become an umbrella term for a group of closely related styles and techniques that have often been combined or danced together with popping, some of which are seldom seen outside of popping contexts. However, the use of popping as an umbrella term has been criticized on the grounds that its many related styles must be clearly separated so that those who specialize in more specific styles aren't classified as poppers (ex: a waver, a tutter, a strober).
It is often assumed[by whom?] that popping is a style of breakdance. This is due in large part to the movies Breakin' and Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo. In these movies all styles of dance represented, (breaking and the funk styles: popping, locking, and electric boogaloo) were put under the "breakdance" label causing a naming confusion. This caused the media to associate funk styles with hip hop music and assume that popping and electric boogaloo were the same as breaking. The difference between the two is that breaking originated in the Bronx, New York and is danced on the floor while popping and boogaloo came out of Fresno, CA and are danced standing up.
CharacteristicsPopping is centered around the technique of popping (or hitting), which means to quickly contract and relax muscles to create a jerking effect (a pop or hit) in the body. Popping can be concentrated to specific body parts creating variants such as arm pops, leg pops, chest pops and neck pops. They also can vary in explosiveness. Stronger pops normally involve popping both the lower and upper body simultaneously.
Normally pops, or hits, are performed at regular intervals (the intervals can also be irregular if the dancer wants to avoid "the old one two", which refers to popping to the same beat continuously without any variation) intervals timed to the beat of the music, causing the dance to appear very rhythmic in nature. A common technique of transitioning between poses is the dime stop, heavily utilized inrobot dancing, which basically means to end a movement with an abrupt halt (thus "stopping on a dime"), after which a pop normally occurs.
Poses in popping make heavy use of angles, mime style movements and facial expressions. The lower body has many ways to move around from basic walking and stepping to the more complex and gravity defying styles of floating and electric boogaloo. Movements and techniques used in popping are generally focused on sharp contrasts, being either robotic and rigid or very loose and flowing.
As opposed to breaking and its floor-oriented moves, popping is almost always performed standing up, except in rare cases when the dancer goes down on the knees or even lies down for a short while to perform a special move.
Songs that are generally favored have a straight and steady beat at around 90-120 beats per minute, a 4/4 time signature and a strong emphasis on the back beat, normally by a snare drum or a drum machine. The pops performed by the popper normally occur on every beat or on the distinct back beats. The popper can also choose to follow the music more freely such as by timing the pops to the rhythm of a melody or other rhythmic elements.
Related styles and techniquesA street dancer doing the backslide, a common move in the floating style often seen combined with popping.There are a number of dance styles and techniques that are commonly mixed with popping to enhance the dancer's performance and create a more varied show, many of which are seldom seen outside of popping contexts. That is why these moves can be considered a part of popping when using it as an umbrella term.
AnimatronicsA style similar to "Botting" but you "hit" at the end of each movement. this imitates Animatronic robots.
Electric BoogalooA loose and fluid style trying to give the impression of a body lacking bones; partly inspired by animated movies and cartoons. It utilizes circular rolls of various body parts, such as the hips, knees and head, as well as isolation and sectioning, like separating the rib cage from the hip. "Electric Boogaloo" was later developed in 1978 by Boogaloo Sam. The electric boogaloo is the signature style of The Electric Boogaloos (the dance crew).Main article: Electric boogaloo (dance)
BoppingA style of popping in which the chest is isolated by being pushed out and brought back while flexing the chest muscles. As this movement is performed to the beat the popper can incorporate different moves in between the chest bop. When practiced the chest bop can be done at a double-time interval adding a unique effect to the move.CobraSimilar to a Boogaloo, except you roll your chest like a snake.Crazy legsA leg-oriented style focusing on fast moving legs, knee rolls and twisting feet. Developed in 1980-81 by Popin' Pete, originally inspired by the fast and agitated style of breaking by the famous b-boyCrazy Legs from Rock Steady Crew.
Dime stoppingA technique of moving at a steady pace and then abruptly coming to a halt, as if attempting to stop on a dime. This is often combined with a pop at the beginning and/or end of the movement.
Fast forwardThe concept of moving faster than normal, like being part of a video being played in fast forward.
FlexingIn flexing the dancer uses flexible arm stretches which usually include the temporary dislocation of the shoulder. Movements are also added to make the stretches look more exaggerated. This style of movement is also commonly known as "Bone-breaking"
Floating, gliding and slidingA set of footwork-oriented techniques that attempt to create the illusion that the dancer's body is floating smoothly across the floor, or that the legs are walking while the dancer travels in unexpected directions. Encompasses moves such as the moonwalk (sliding). An amazing example for this type of dance style is Michael Jackson who took these features to a new level.Main article: Floating (dance)
FresnoA move, which defines all that is essential in Popping (also used in electric boogaloo). The Fresno can be performed in various different ways as only the following requirements exist. In a fresno, the dancer moves side-to-side doing a hit on each turn with the leg and arm of the side the dancer has moved to.
Liquid dancingAn illusionary dance style that focuses on flowing and continuous liquid-like motions, with concentration on the fingers, hands and arms. It is stylistically connected to – and often mixed with – waving. Liquid dancing is common in rave culture, and some dancers consider it a complete style of its own.Main article: Liquid dancing
MimingPerforming techniques of traditional miming to the beat of a song. Most commonly practiced are various movements with the hands as if one could hold onto air and pull their body in any possibly direction. Miming can also be used to allow a popper to tell a story through his or her dance. This style is often used in battles to show the opponent how they can defeat them.
Old ManInspired by watching an old man who had one of his leg deformed and had walking difficulty, Off that, Boogaloo Sam saw inspiration and worked with that move.
PuppetA style imitating a puppet or marionette tied to strings. Normally performed alone or with a partner acting as the puppet master pulling the strings.Main article: Robot (dance)
ScarecrowA style imitating the scarecrow character of The Wizard of Oz. Claimed to be pioneered by Boogaloo Sam in 1977. Focuses on out-stretched arms and rigid poses contrasted with loose hands and legs.
Slow motionMoving very slowly with exaggerated movements to make it appear as if the dancer is viewed in slow motion.
StrobingA style of popping that gives the impression that the dancer is moving within a strobe light. To produce this effect, a dancer will take any ordinary movement (such as waving hello to someone) in conjunction with quick, short stop-and-go movements to make a strobing motion. Mastering strobing requires perfect timing and distance between each movement.Main article: Strobing (dance)