February 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Basic Top Rock and Imagery

Photo by Bill H

Photo by Bill H

Basic Top Rock and Imagery

By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro

Tip 1
To teach basic top rock, start with the two-step. A two-step can happen on either foot and move in any direction. If you’re using counts, rock the body on 1, then rock and step on 2. Make sure students shift their weight into each step, even when rocking backward, so they’re prepared for a drop or transition to the floor.

Second, add a bounce groove. The bounce is a natural movement in the body that gives our dancing a spring-like look and feel. Tell students to stay on the balls of their feet as they move, without dropping the heels. Have them imagine the bouncing steps of a boxer in the ring. Keeping a bounce groove will also help them with fast, precise movement, because they’re ready to shift their weight in any direction.

Combine the rock, two-step, and bounce groove, and you are doing basic top rock.

Tip 2
Use the mental images conjured up by dance and step names, such as popping and locking, to help your students feel the hip-hop aesthetic in their bodies.

For example, popping—like when you pop a balloon—is a sharp, fast movement. As students contract their muscles for each pop, have them focus on and try to embody the mental image of popping a balloon.

In locking, we contract the muscles and “lock” our bodies into a held pose or gesture. A good mental image for your students is a steering wheel locking into place when you turn off the car. Like that steering wheel, their bodies are fluidly in motion, then get fixed abruptly into a position and held there until released.


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.