December 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Geometry and Fundamentals

Photo by Bill H

Photo by Bill H

Geometry and Fundamentals

By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro

Tip 1
If students tend to focus internally or stay in one spot while freestyling, or if choreography isn’t moving around the room as planned, turning basic geometric shapes into pathways can help. This exercise encourages students to focus outward and frees their bodies to travel.

Ask students to imagine a simple shape, like a square, on the floor. (Use tape on the floor to help students visualize it.) Discuss and show what bodies can do inside it, outside it, along its lines, or from point to point. Have the students freestyle, responding to the shape in as many ways as they can envision. Then have them imagine the same shape floating in the air—they could be inside it or looking at it—and repeat the exercise, this time trying to explore the limits of their kinespheres.

Try using the room (students might move corner to corner or parallel to the walls), triangles, stars, or other shapes. Discuss how this exercise applies to freestyling inside a cypher.

Tip 2
Students can feel overwhelmed when asked to improvise. Focusing on dance fundamentals, basic aspects of movement shared by all dance forms, can help.

Try this exercise inspired by circuit training at fitness centers. Divide students into several groups. Each group forms a cypher; its location in the studio is a “station.” Assign each station a dance fundamental: levels, speed control, rhythm/timing, etc. When students freestyle at the levels station, for example, they’ll focus on using high, middle, and low levels. Have students freestyle for 10 minutes (or until each has taken at least two turns in the circle). Then have groups switch stations. Repeat until they have practiced each fundamental. This exercise reveals which fundamentals they’re strong in and which need work.


Philadelphia b-boy Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro is a member of the Rock Steady Crew and an MFA candidate at Arizona State University. He studied with Crazy Legs and Mr. Wiggles and travels the world teaching.