July 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Freezes and Levels

Photo by Bill H

Photo by Bill H

Freezes and Levels

By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro

Tip 1
Freezes (also called pauses or poses) are the moments in breaking when the dancer stops all movement—as if frozen in time. Freezes can happen at any point and must be held with confidence. Tell students to hold each pose for at least three seconds, to give the people watching a moment for it to sink in, before starting to move again. I compare it to someone walking down the street who stops to take a picture. It’s imperative that the freeze be stylish and comfortable; it should never look strained, wobbly, or off-balance.

Tip 2
The use of levels—high, middle, and low—is one of the fundamental elements of dance. Make sure your students are always aware of the levels they’re using. High could be standing tall or jumping; middle could be crouching down or standing with knees bent; and low could be lying on the floor or ground moves.

Challenge your students by having them freestyle within each level only, exhausting every possibility they can think of. Or choose starting and ending levels and have them move within and between the two levels until they have explored various ways to transition from one level to another. These exercises will help make their freestyle or personal movement more interesting and multidimensional. Remind them: “Use the space around you, and move your bodies in and throughout the space.”


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.