In this extensive resource, we’ll dive deep into the captivating world of breaking, also known as breakdancing. Whether you’re a newcomer eager to learn the basics or a seasoned enthusiast looking to expand your knowledge, this guide is your ultimate companion. From the rich history and cultural significance of breaking to its intricate moves and styles, we’ll cover it all. Get ready to embark on an enlightening journey that will unravel the secrets, techniques, and stories behind one of the most dynamic and influential dance forms in the world. So, grab your virtual cardboard and let’s dive into everything you need to know about breaking!

What is breaking/breakdance?

Breaking, also known as breakdancing, is a dynamic style of street dance that originated in the Bronx during the 1970s. It’s easily recognizable due to its emphasis on floorwork, where dancers perform intricate moves such as spins on their hands, backs, or even heads. Those who practice breaking are referred to as b-boys, b-girls, or simply breakers.

Within the breaking community, terms like b-boying or b-girling are commonly used, while the media often refers to it as breakdance or breakdancing. However, many insiders find the term breakdance to be derogatory and prefer not to use it. The terminology surrounding breaking is still evolving, leading to debates and disagreements within the community. Different regions may use the same terms to refer to different aspects of the dance, reflecting its fluid and vibrant nature.

What is breaking/breakdance?
What is breaking/breakdance?

History of breakdancing

The history of breaking is intertwined with the larger culture of hip-hop, originating from the African-American and Latino neighborhoods of New York City. Alongside MCing (rapping), DJing, and graffiti art, breaking forms one of the fundamental pillars of hip-hop culture, often referred to as the “four elements of hip-hop.”

What is hip-hop? Hip-hop is a cultural movement that originated primarily among African American and Latino communities in the Bronx borough of New York City during the 1970s. It encompasses various elements, including rap music (MCing), DJing, graffiti art (writing), breaking (or breakdancing), and beatboxing. Hip-hop culture emerged as a response to social and economic challenges faced by marginalized communities, serving as a form of self-expression, creativity, and resistance.

  • Rap (MCing): Rap involves rhythmic spoken or chanted lyrics over a beat, often addressing social issues, personal experiences, and cultural themes.
  • DJing: DJing involves mixing and blending recorded music to create unique sounds and beats. DJs are integral to hip-hop culture, providing the musical backdrop for MCs to rap over.
  • Graffiti Art (Writing): Graffiti art, or writing, is a visual form of expression that involves creating intricate and colorful designs on public surfaces. Graffiti artists use their art to convey messages, express creativity, and reclaim public spaces.
  • Breaking (Breakdancing): Breaking is a dynamic style of street dance characterized by acrobatic moves, footwork, spins, and freezes. It originated alongside hip-hop music and culture in the Bronx and has since become a globally recognized dance form.
  • Beatboxing: Beatboxing involves creating rhythmic sounds and beats using the mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. Beatboxers emulate the sounds of drums, percussion, and other instruments to accompany rap performances or DJ sets.

Overall, hip-hop culture serves as a platform for artistic expression, community building, and social commentary. It has had a significant impact on music, art, fashion, and youth culture worldwide, influencing generations of artists, activists, and individuals seeking to make their voices heard.

Breaking’s journey to global recognition began with the release of movies like Beat Street and Breakin’, which brought the art form to mainstream audiences. Since then, breakdancing has experienced an exponential growth in popularity, becoming a cultural phenomenon with a widespread global following. Competitive breakdancing, in particular, has surged in popularity and is now larger than ever, with plans to include it as a sport in the 2024 Games. This evolution highlights the enduring impact and influence of breaking within both hip-hop culture and the broader entertainment landscape.

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Elements of breakdancing

Breakdancing encompasses a diverse range of moves that fall into several categories. These include Top Rock, Go Downs, Footwork, Freezes, and Power Moves. Additionally, many breakers incorporate Tricks and Flips into their dance routines, adding further depth and excitement to their performances.

Elements of breaking
Elements of breaking

What is style in breaking and are there different styles?

Style in breakdancing refers to the unique expression and presentation of the dance by individual dancers. It encompasses how they perform the moves, their gestures, their synchronization with the music, and their overall presence while dancing.

Contrary to common misconception, style in breaking isn’t solely about fashion; rather, it primarily pertains to the way dancers execute their movements, not their attire. Understanding the context is essential in discerning whether someone is praising your dance technique or your clothing choices.

In the past, a dancer’s style was heavily influenced by their peers, mentors, and the events they participated in. Styles were often regionally distinct, with dancers showcasing characteristics specific to their locality, sometimes even down to the city or crew level. However, with the accessibility of videos featuring dancers from all over the globe, aspiring breakers today have the opportunity to emulate and incorporate various styles into their repertoire.

Moreover, traditional dances from different cultures have also left a significant impact on breakdancing, contributing to the diversity and evolution of styles within the dance form.

What is a cypher in breaking?

In breaking, a cypher is when b-boys and b-girls gather in a circle and take turns dancing in the center. It’s a space where dancers can freely express themselves, share their moves, and exchange energy with others. Participating in a cypher is often referred to as “cyphering.”

Although the atmosphere in a cypher is typically open and welcoming, there are certain informal guidelines to keep in mind. These unwritten rules help maintain the flow and respect within the cypher.

Additionally, some events, such as the national qualification competitions for Red Bull BC One, are specifically named Red Bull BC One Cypher, emphasizing the importance and centrality of the cypher in breakdancing culture.

Movies, documentaries, videos and series about breaking

If you’re interested in watching breaking in action, you’re in luck! There’s a plethora of entertaining content available on Red Bull TV.

To begin your journey, we suggest checking out “The ABC of… Breaking” to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of breaking. From there, you can explore a wide range of documentaries, series, and dance clips that delve deeper into the world of breakdancing.

For example, “Breaking Beyond” follows six Red Bull BC One All Stars as they introduce their crew mates to the vibrant local dance scenes in their respective hometowns. This series offers a fascinating glimpse into the diversity and richness of breaking culture around the world. So grab some popcorn and get ready to immerse yourself in the electrifying world of breaking!

The music of breaking

The music that accompanies breakdancing draws from several main genres, including breakbeats, funk, rap, and soul. Breakers groove to original breakbeats and samples, which can be found across various musical styles. DJs play a crucial role in sourcing and mixing these tracks to create the perfect beats for dancers to move to.

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Prominent DJs like Lean Rock and Fleg have dedicated themselves to mastering the art of selecting the right music for breaking. Their expertise lies in understanding how different tracks can enhance a dancer’s performance and elevate the overall energy of a cypher or battle.

For breakers, having strong musicality is essential. This means being able to feel and interpret the rhythm and melodies of the music in their movements. Many top-level dancers naturally gravitate towards DJing or music production as a way to further explore their connection to the music. B-Boy Lee, for instance, seamlessly integrates his passion for dance with his talent for creating music, demonstrating the close relationship between breakdancing and musical expression.

The music of breaking
The music of breaking

Biggest events in breaking

Experiencing breaking firsthand, whether in a cypher or on a stage, is an unparalleled thrill. If you’re keen on witnessing the best of the breaking scene, these are some of the most significant and enduring events you shouldn’t miss:

  • Battle of the Year
  • Freestyle Session
  • Red Bull BC One
  • The UK B-Boy Championships
  • The Legit’s Blast

These events showcase the top talents in breakdancing from around the world, providing electrifying battles and performances that captivate audiences and celebrate the artistry and skill of the dancers. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to the scene, attending these events promises an unforgettable experience filled with jaw-dropping moves and fierce competition.


“Everything You Need to Know About Breaking” is a comprehensive guide that delves into the world of breaking, also known as breakdancing. This guide offers a detailed exploration of breaking, covering its history, cultural significance, moves, styles, and more. Whether you’re a beginner seeking to learn the basics or a seasoned enthusiast looking to deepen your understanding, this guide provides valuable insights and knowledge. From the origins of breaking in the streets of the Bronx to its evolution into a global phenomenon, readers will gain a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic dance form. With engaging content and informative resources, “Everything You Need to Know About Breaking” is your ultimate companion for exploring the captivating world of breaking.

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