Hip Hop the LA Way

 “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” – Martha Graham

Martha Graham lived to be 96 and was known as “the Picasso of dance”, liberating the genre from traditional stereotypical moves and embracing new styles.

Image based on a photo by Imperious_Images

These days Los Angeles is THE place for Hip Hop but its roots can be traced back to the East coast of the USA. It developed as street dance from the fusion of several artistic forms in the New York of the 70’s and  80’s. Starting in South Bronx it then spread among mainly black Americans of Caribbean descent to other areas such as Harlem. Although almost always associated only with rap music it also encompasses other musical, physical and visual elements namely: DJing or turntablism, MCing, breakdancing and graffiti art.

Photo by Sabrina Campagna

Origin of the name. The name combines two African American slang words, “hip”, known to have been used since the late nineteenth century to mean “aware” or “in the know” and “hop” for dance. The term is credited to Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, who was teasing a friend who had joined the army by scat singing the words “hip/hop/hip/hop”, sounding like marching soldiers.

Rap & Dance. The history of rapping, an integral part of the Hip Hop tradition, is thought to go back centuries to west Africa where certain people called griots were verbal historians, storytellers, praise singers, poets and/or musicians.

Hip Hop moves are at the same time robotic, fluid, fast, athletic and inventive – best to take a look!

If this routine now looks familiar to you, it might be because you saw them performing on TV. The group Jabbawockeez became famous for winning the 1st season of America’s Best Dance Crew.

Musical roots. Hip Hop was the first type of music to be based on sampling, where a section of a recording is taken from different sources e.g. two vinyl turntables and combined with an audio mixer. This art of updating classic styles into a modern remix is called “flipping” and follows a progression of previous American music styles from blues, jazz, rock and roll. It has evolved to include electronic music, elements of salsa, soul, funk and continues to influence contemporary R&B and indie rock. Catch up on the latest news at

Photo by Alejandro Davis

Hip Hop in LA. During the 80’s Hip Hop spread to different regions of America and the West Coast developed its own style. Initially it was associated with a gang subculture and was known as Gangster Rap. The sometimes strong, aggressive language was controversial and for a while was banned on the radio but it gradually became more mainstream and accepted by a wider audience.

Image based on a photo by maricargacutan

Brotherhood at the 2014 HHI World Finals (Adult Gold Medalist)

In the spotlight. One of the most influential people who have helped to popularise the Hip Hop dance scene is Tricia Miranda. From being a child star she went on to become a dance teacher at 17, developed her own hip hop class two years later and moved to LA in 2001. As a dancer and choreographer she worked with no lesser names than Beyonce, Britney Spears, JLo, Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Destiny’s Child, JLo, Prince, Jay Z, Usher, and Jamie Foxx to name but a few.

Recently, one of her recent recordings of a dance class to Nicky Minaj´s song, Anaconda at Millenium Dance Complex, took off and became a viral success. Radio stations and online newspapers in LA began to share the clip and talk about the amazing dancers, who ´slay´ the choreography and apparently perform even better than Nicki Minaj herself. See why:

Nicki Minaj – Anaconda – Choreography by Tricia Miranda

Now if you’re in the mood to shake it off back home, WilldaBeast Adams, who worked for artists like Usher, The Black Eyed Peas and Jason Derulo, offers some pretty cool and easy to follow dance tutorials on Youtube. Check out the crazy choreography in the upper video and learn the moves from the tutorial!  Here´s one of our favorites to Beyonce´s song Upgrade U:

Choreo Beyonce – Upgrade U | WilldaBeast Adams

Tutorial Beyonce – Upgrade U | WilldaBeast Adams

For more Hip Hop tutorials, dance workouts and tips check out Matt Steffanina and Dana Alexa on Dance Tutorials Live.


It´s your turn. When you come to LA you’ve got to give it a go! Here is a selection of the top 10 studios – of course there are many more around – as you can see Hip Hop is BIG in LA.


    1. Millennium Dance Complex - Known worldwide as the premiere studio of the commercial dance world and is widely referred to as a ‘the place where it all happens’. Britney Spears, Janet and Michael Jackson practised there. Great video on the website Lankershim Bl North Hollywood, CA 91601
    2. Debbie Reynolds Studio – One of Los Angeles’ top four professional dance industry studios. This renowned venue offers a large adult drop-in class program featuring many of L.A.’s top choreographers. Minimum age 17. The studio is strong in Hip Hop, and many highly regarded instructors teach regular classes. Great facilities – Pirates of the Caribbean rehearsed here! Lankershim Bl North Hollywood, CA 91606
    3. EDGE Performing Arts Center in Hollywood - One of L.A.’s finest professional dance studios, known worldwide for excellence as a training center for commercial dance. The studio provides instruction in a wide range of styles, from basic to professional levels, and is particularly strong in jazz. EDGE PAC offers perhaps the greatest focus on jazz and classical technique out of Los Angeles’ top four professional dance industry studios, and also has outstanding Hip Hop classes. Numerous top industry professionals teach at EDGE. Cole Ave 4th Floor Hollywood, CA 90038
    4. 4. IDA Hollywood - Since opening in 2008, IDA Hollywood has quickly risen to the stature of one of L.A.’s top four professional dance industry studios. The studio is strong in Hip Hop, and its excellent instructors offer diverse styles and teaching approaches. Hollywood Bl, 2nd Floor Hollywood, CA 90028
    5. Boogiezone Utopia Laboratory for the Creative Arts in Torrance – Has seven dance studios, locker rooms, dance exchange student housing, and more. There are drop-in dance classes for all levels and is strongest in Hip Hop but also features additional dance styles, dance fitness such as Zumba, and even some rare specialty dance classes. W Carson St Torrance, CA 90501
    6. eLABorate Creative Arts Center - Designed to offer an expansive range of classes for the person who likes to move and create. It offers a full schedule of all-ages classes in breakdancing, house dancing, all levels of Hip Hop, and more. Tumbling and kickboxing are on the schedule, and private lessons in DJ’ing may be booked. N Azusa Ave West Covina, CA 91791
    7. DK Dance Factory – A noncompetitive dance studio for all ages, offers a comfortable, accepting environment and classes led by patient instructors. Laurel Canyon Bl, Valley Village, CA 91607
    8. Blackbird Dance Company - Offers a strong selection of Hip Hop that tends toward specific styles and specialty classes, Blackbird Dance specializes in helping freestyle breakdancers learn to work with choreography, bridging the gap between street and commercial Hip Hop so they can book jobs and work in the industry. N Fairfax Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036
    9. Fusion Studios – Offers a home for multifaceted artists of all ages. Dancers here can find not only dance classes with excellent professional instructors, but art and music lessons under the same roof. Palos Verdes Bl Torrance, CA 90505
    10. The Athletic Garage - Offers dance and fitness classes in a beautiful converted garage. The inside of the studio is clean and spacious, with a sprung wood dance floor and mirrored wall. Owner Sandy Portaro, a believer in lifelong fitness through dance, offers classes for all ages of adult and beginners to professionals. Waverly Dr Pasadena, CA 91105

Phew! Need somewhere to rest up after all that exertion?

Check out OMG travel for a wide range of accommodation options in and around LA.

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