March-April 2017 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Classic ’90s Hip-Hop: The Reebok

Photo by Briana Gardener

Classic ’90s Hip-Hop: The Reebok

by Samara Atkins

Tip 1
The 1990s offered a fresh take on urban culture. The music, clothing, and messages were loud; the movement was big, colorful, and “hype.” To me, the expressive moves of classic ’90s style are still the pinnacle of hip-hop.

The Reebok, named after the shoe worn by ’90s hip-hop heads, is always a crowd-pleaser. Here’s the version I like to teach:

Starting with feet shoulder-width apart, punch the left fist across the body to the right; pull it back to the left, at the same time shifting the weight to the right foot, left foot in midair. Again punch the left fist to the right, and shift the weight to the left foot, right foot in midair. Accentuate the weight shifts for a back-and-forth rocking motion.

Now step right, left, right—ending with left foot in midair—circling the arms outward from the body, parallel to the ground, this time keeping the weight transfers smooth and lateral. Repeat the whole sequence on the other side, starting with the right fist. Once you start doing the Reebok, only one foot should be on the ground at a time.

You can count the Reebok as “&1 2” (rocking) “3&4” (stepping). Two sets, to the left and the right, take 8 counts.

Tip 2
Imagery can be helpful when you’re breaking down a compound move. With the Reebok, I like to use the image of a door closing and opening. I tell students:

“Start by closing the door, crossing the body with your left arm. Open the door, shifting the weight onto the right foot. Close the door, shifting the weight back to the left foot. Then step through the door with the right-left-right steps.” Having students repeat this, either silently or aloud, will help them fall into the groove of this move.

Oakland, California, native Samara Atkins studied journalism and dance at Howard University and co-founded an all-female dance company. She teaches hip-hop at Destiny Arts Center, Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and In the Groove Studios.