September 2014 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Partnering

Photo by Michael Higgins

Photo by Michael Higgins


By Geo Hubela

Tip 1
Partner work in hip-hop can be utilized in many creative ways. Partnering can be done so that the two dancers never come in contact with one another. One way is shadowing, where one partner dances closely behind the other. Isolations, sharp movements, waves, and tuts that are matched by both dancers are simple and effective forms of partner work.

Take this concept to a more creative level by having an upstage partner act as a puppet master. This dancer should appear to control the other dancer’s movement. Use levels and have the “puppet master” frame the other dancer in your choreography so that both are seen effectively.

Mirror-image choreography is another visually impressive partnering technique. The dynamics of popping and isolations, as well as the body lines of tutting, look impressive when mirrored by two dancers. Create the movement on one dancer and have the other dancer do the same choreography on the opposite side.

See my favorite partner couple:

Tip 2
Come up with creative ways to have dancers partner while staying connected. This can be done with two dancers or even a crew.

Have a small group create a pose while connected with arms, hands, or legs. One dancer does an isolation of the arms or head and the movement spreads in a ripple effect until all the dancers have done an isolation. (They don’t have to use the same body part.)

The key to making this work well is musicality. Many dance crews do this in the break in a hip-hop song. Using music with variations in beats, sound effects, and break-downs will enhance the look and creativity of the connective choreography.

The group I aM mE, winner of America’s Best Dance Crew season 6, is known for creative connective choreography:


Geo Hubela is the co-founder and director of ICON Dance Complex in New Jersey. His ICONic brand activities range from to the ICONic Boyz hip-hop troupe to instructional DVDs.