October 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Box Step and 360-Degree Dancing

Photo by Bill H

Photo by Bill H

Box Step and 360-Degree Dancing

By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro

Tip 1
The box step is a basic step in many styles. In hip-hop, it was popular with early b-boys/b-girls and lofters. Start with feet shoulder-width apart. This is where the step starts and finishes; it can start on either foot and be mirrored on both sides. Step forward on the right foot; step crossing over on the left foot; step back on the right foot; then step back on the left foot, ending in the starting position. Repeat, stepping first on the left. These four steps in a square pattern give the step its name—box step, jazz box, or jazz square.

Once students get the foot pattern, have them rock their bodies and stay loose on top to add a groove. All footwork done in hip-hop can be seen in other styles. What makes it hip-hop is the dancer’s groove and upper body. So remind students to keep rocking and bouncing in their box steps.

Tip 2
Most hip-hop dance is done inside a cypher. Dancers address the people around them with their movements, dance together, or dance at each other in battle. Make sure your students think about dancing in 360 degrees. If they always face forward in the studio, their dancing will stay too flat.

If you’re teaching in a studio with mirrors, try covering them. Dancing without the mirror to depend on forces students to move throughout their kinespheres and opens up the potential of using all the space around their bodies. If you incorporate the idea in class of not seeing oneself while dancing, students will connect more strongly to their imaginations and to the movement’s feel. Take away the sense of sight and students will look internally for the image of their dancing.


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.