January 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Grooves and “Indian” Step

Photo by Bill H

Photo by Bill H

Grooves and “Indian” Step

By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro

Tip 1
An important concept in hip-hop is “keeping the groove.” The groove is the constant pulsing movement of the body, which corresponds to the feel of the music.

To teach keeping the groove, tell students to think of their bodies as metronomes. Students should feel their bodies “become” this continuous pulse. Like an internal clock, the pulse marks time for the steps and keeps the dancers in sync with the music.

A specific groove embodies the essence of a specific dance style. The foundational groove to teach your studentsfrom the early days of breakingis the body rock: a backward-rocking motion, with the accents going backward on every whole beat of an eight-count phrase. The hip-hop music groove is similar but uses mostly forward movement. The jack, the house music groove, combines the forward rock with a downward pulse.

Tip 2
The “Indian” step is usually the first step taught in breaking (or b-boying/b-girling).

Start with the right-side crossover. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, the dancers kick the right foot as if kicking a soccer ball. They put down the right foot, pick up the left, and step across the right leg onto the left foot. (Make sure students keep their upper bodies forward, twisting only from the hips as they cross.) Next, they hop back into the position before the cross, with weight on the right foot and the left foot raised. Step left and kick right to repeat.

Keep repeating the step on the right or add a left-side crossover to complete the phrase. To alternate sides, in the last step of the right-side crossover, kick with the raised left foot and repeat the phrase using the opposite footwork. Alternating sides forms a continuous looped pattern.


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.