March-April 2016 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Back Spin and Sweep

Photo by Bill H

Photo by Bill H

Back Spin and Sweep

By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro

Tip 1
The back spin is a good introduction to understanding and controlling centripetal force. It’s often done from a footwork position, but to teach it, start on the floor.

Begin by lying on one side, propped on that forearm, weight in the arm and hip. Leaning back slightly for leverage, kick the top leg out close and parallel to the floor, over the straight bottom leg. The kick and the top arm’s similar motion generate momentum. As the leg kicks, it lifts; the bottom leg moves; and momentum is transferred into a spin. Keep legs straight—bent legs decrease the centripetal force—and, in the push-off, palm the floor firmly with the stabilizing bottom hand.

Once legs reach full extension, the body has leaned back to pivot on the middle of the spinethe “sweet spot.” Pull limbs into a tight tuck, increasing speed and centripetal force. Students shouldn’t kick too strongly until they can control their momentum, and spins may wobble until students discover the sweet spot and the tuck’s timing.

Tip 2
The sweep is a great foundational move for beginner b-boys/b-girls. Begin in a squat, right leg out straight to the diagonal, left hand on the floor for stability. Sweeping the right leg across the front to the left, shift weight to the right hand. Hopping off the floor with the bent left leg, sweep the right leg underneath. Sweeping the right leg behind the body, shift weight back to the left hand and leg. Tell students to keep the sweeping leg straight as long as possible, and to push strongly off the floor so the straight leg can skip cleanly under the bent leg with no trip-ups. Repeat on the left. For a continuous sweep, keep the same leg traveling around the body.


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.