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Learn about how breakdancing, as the representative dance element of hiphop, stands as an integral part of the whole hip-hop culture.

Hip hop is a phenomenally successful youth-oriented culture that has now reached every corner of the globe, just as rock'n'roll did a generation earlier. Also like rock'n'roll, hip hop emerged in the exuberant decade following a prolonged military conflict, in this case the Vietnam war.

Hip hop encompasses music, dancing, art, poetry, language and fashion. Its originators were from the inner-city immigrant strata of society: frustrated young people who felt disenfranchised by the system, excluded from mainstream culture, and desperate to express themselves.

So the hip hoppers utilised what was around them. They spraypainted the walls, they danced on street corners, they hooked-up to lamp-posts to power their sound systems.
They took what already existed and turned it into something new, exciting and different. Popular songs were transformed by 'deejaying' techniques. Martial arts were incorporated into dance styles. 'Emcees' manipulated the language into a new nomenclature.

Much of what these cultural entrepreneurs did was illegal, condemned, or otherwise disapproved of. But hip hop is now a global multi-billion dollar industry, and those same entrepreneurs who contributed to its success are now engaged in a desperate attempt to maintain the roots of hip hop and, in the now-familiar phrase, 'Keep it real'.
As with any maturing culture, hip hop has spawned its own theory. This theory is based around the four elements of hip hop:
  • Deejaying
  • Emceeing
  • Breaking
  • Graffiti art


Anyone who plays a record on a turntable can call himself or herself a Deejay. But hip hop deejaying, or turntablism, is a complex art. At its simplest it consists of a pair of turntables, an audio mixer, and original recordings. Upon these the deejay performs techniques such as mixing, scratching, cutting, and sampling, to create an entirely new piece of music from the original track.

The roots of hip hop deejaying lie in the Jamaica of the 1950s and '60s, where the sound system was an efficient way to transport music around the country, and the deejays were popular and often flamboyant entertainers.

Musically it was an innovative period, with the emphasis on rhythmic experimentation. The afterbeat, the rock steady beat, ska, dub and reggae all developed during this period.

And deejays were experimenting not only with music, but also with technology. In 1968 King Tubby created the dub style of music by leaving out portions of the vocal tracks on a dub plate (the local term for the acetate disc), and effectively creating a new version of a song - what would today be called a 'remix'.

In the 1960s many Jamaicans emigrated to the USA, winding up in the inner-city ghettos of New York. One of these immigrants was DJ Kool Herc. In the late 1960s he used to deejay at parties, where he would chant improvised rhymes over the instrumentals and breaks of popular songs. Since these intervals weren't really long enough to get a good rhyme going, he would put two copies of the same record on the turntables and use an audio mixer to switch between them, allowing him to loop the breaks for as long as he needed - hip-hopping on the turntable. These became known as 'breakbeats' - and hip hop deejaying was born.

Throughout the 1970s and '80s deejaying techniques became ever more sophisticated as the music and the technology developed side by side. Hip hop and electro musicians will look back with fondness on such classic instruments as the Moog Synthesizer, the TR-808 drum machine, and the Technics 1200 turntable - the deejay's Stradivarius!
When scratch deejay Mix Master Mike joined the Beastie Boys in 1998, scratching really made it to the mainstream, and formed a special relationship with Nu-Metal. Bands such as Limp BizkitLinkin Park andIncubus added a deejay to the traditional guitar-bass-drums line-up.

Hip hop cognoscenti will hotly debate exactly when, where and who invented such techniques as cutting, scratching, beat juggling, and breakdown. But it was Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore, the New York deejays, who brought all these styles and tricks to a wider audience. The 1981 album The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel is a prime example of early turntablism, and was a landmark hip hop release.

Despite the profusion of technologies now available to contemporary artists, these techniques remain the essential arsenal of any turntablist.


The breakbeats of hip hop deejaying also gave birth to the dance form known as 'breaking' or 'B-boying'. B-boys would dance during the breaks spun by the deejays, hence the 'B' stands for 'Break'. (The more popular term 'breakdancing' was coined by the media, and is rarely used by breakers themselves.) Breaking is a high-energy combination of complex footwork, spins, kicks and 'freezes' - holding a position balanced on hands, head or shoulders.

The two strongest influences on breaking styles are Kung Fu (due to the incredibly popular Kung Fu movies of the 1970s) and the African-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira. Unsurprisingly, the flashy yet disciplined moves that the kids were seeing on screen or on stage found their way to the dance floor.

Breaking has a standard repertoire of moves, but originality and humour are also highly regarded. Breakers can draw inspiration from anywhere, but especially from the music and their own opponents. (Incidentally, 'popping' and 'locking', which developed on the West Coast around this time, came to be lumped together under the 'breakdancing' banner. In fact they are very different forms of hip hop dance, consisting of robotic movements, waving limbs, and various styles of moonwalking.)

The heart of breaking is the battle, where individuals or crews compete for dance supremacy. In order to get into a good crew, you had to battle the members of that crew to be accepted. Some of the original crews are still very much on the scene: New York's Rock Steady Crew, and Air Force Crew in LA, have been going since the 1970s and now have chapters all over the globe.

In the UK breaking has never been as popular as it is elsewhere. France, Germany, Korea, Japan and Belgium have thousands of talented Breakers easily capable of challenging the Americans at their own game.


Like deejaying, emceeing also made its way to the US from Jamaica. Most people associate emceeing with rapping, but rapping is only one Emcee technique. Some Emcees are experts at human beatbox (the human voice imitating percussion sounds using the microphone) or 'call and response'.
Originally, the Emcee's job was to entertain and stoke up the crowd, accompanying the music rather than being the focus. The 'call and response' was a popular way to achieve this, but it was always best to keep it simple:
Everybody in the house say Yeah!
The poetry of hip hop is 'rap', a complex lyrical delivery of clever, playful and allusive rhymes in sophisticated rhythms. Rapping styles differ widely: some are sing-songy in their delivery, such as female Emcees Salt'n'Pepa, while others concentrate on rhythm and rhyme to give their lyrics dramatic emphasis, as in this extract from Big Daddy Kane's 'RAW':
I go and flow and grow to let you know,
I'll damage ya, I'm not an amateur
But a professional, unquestionable,
Without a doubt superb,
So full of action my name should be a verb.
Traditionally, rap lyrics have discoursed on two themes. The first is a celebration of the rapper's own prowess, bigging up himself or his deejay and crew. This is battle talk, the element of competitiveness being very strong in all aspects of hip hop. The second is socio-political, and ranges widely from Grandmaster Flash's 'The Message', an elegy for life in the ghetto, to the passionate invective of Boogie Down Productions' 'Sound of Da Police', released a year after the Rodney King trial and the LA riots.
More recently, Eminem has brought rap narratives off the streets and into the (broken) home.


For some reason, a term such as 'graffing' hasn't really caught on, though the term 'tagging' is often used. The 'tag' is the writer's signature, and the most prevalent example of graffiti art. The tag that made graffiti famous was TAKI 183, the 'nom de graf' of a 17-year-old kid called Demetrius, who tagged as he rode around on the New York subway. When the New York Times published an article about him in 1971, graffiti art exploded - especially on the subway. New York's graffiti-covered subway trains are now a symbol of the city, as famous as London's red buses.

There are three main types of graffiti art, the tag being the first. The next stage is the 'throw up', which is an evolved tag with perhaps more of an outline, two colours and so on. The throw up is also the next stage historically, as the advent of the spraycan allowed mere tagging to graduate to more colourful and intricate styles.

Having perfected your throw up, you may then consider moving on to composing a 'piece', a full-on masterpiece of graffiti art. To be called a piece, it must consist of at least three colours. Pieces that stand out for their creativity or vibrancy are known as 'burners'.

In New York City, the spiritual home of graffiti art, you get 'top-to-bottoms' and 'end-to-ends' - it's not difficult to work out that these refer to pieces created on subway cars. The graffiti artist's grail is the 'whole car' - a long and difficult feat that takes plenty of planning, time and people. One of the best-known 'whole cars' is the Christmas Train of 1977, painted by members of the Fabulous Five crew.

Of the different elements of hip hop, graffiti art still has the most negative image in the eyes of the world at large. Yet there are graffiti artists, such as Keith Haring or Lee Quinones, whose art has graduated to galleries. Graf Art is essentially a public art form, often incorporating political and religious themes. But it is often condemned along with vandalism as being anti-social and destructive, and there is no First Amendment to help artists defend it.

The artists would argue that it is not destructive but creative, transforming the oppressive urban landscape with an art that originated with the earliest cave painters.

The Creative Spirit

In hip hop theory, the belief is that this modern culture actually springs from old and deep-rooted instincts.
African music, art, martial arts and dance drove the creative spirit of a new generation to transform the world around it, and to engender a culture in which freedom of expression - however controversial - is what is of paramount importance.

The essence of hip hop truly is the transformation of existing objects and forms.
- KRS-One (Hip-hop Emcee)

110 crews. 1,500 dancers.
Excellent show.
World-class performers.

Watch Philippine Dance Cup Season 2 on March 19, 2018, Monday at Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium, Manila, Philippines.

Gate opens at 11:00 AM and show starts at 1:00 PM.

Our elite judges:
Jay Mastah
Melvin Ang 
Agigi Castro (Open/Mob)
PJ Perez (Youth/School)

WAIT THERE'S MORE! Catch special performances of WCOPA 2017 Grand Champion of the World NHIKZY CALMA, Pilipinas Got Talent Season 5 Grand Winner POWER DUO, BABYBOYS of PGT6, J CRISIS, JIAR, Xydel and Ananya!

All these for only P200! Tickets are available thru members of participating crews or at The Corporate Inn Hotel Manila.

Bring your family, friends and classmates in the most amazing show this weekend!

This event is brought to you by Dance PH and powered by MNLPH Events Management.

In partnership with National Parks Development Committee, The Corporate Inn Hotel Manila, Topmost Artists Center, The Performing Arts and Recreation Center - PARC - Foundation, INDAK Headquarters, Flick Motion Productions, City of Manila, Manila Police District, UDLPI, Sinag Dance Community and Dance Pinoy.

Beyond terminology, beyond definition and cultural lines drawn in the sand, there has existed, arguably since the late 70s, hints of hiphop dance influences at the fringes of Filipino culture and entertainment. We didn’t call it by any name in particular (definitely not hiphop, which was a word we hadn’t quite discovered), save for coining words for certain dance moves—like “funky-funky,” and other equally picturesque terms.

That is, until the early 90s, when one Jungee Marcelo, then fresh from an eleven years’ stay in the United States, started to define its boundaries in the Filipino context and baptized it with the name we all know it by today: streetdance. Streetdance is a distinctly Pinoy term, which isn’t categorically different from hiphop, but rather, defined by cultural nuances and influences that, as Jungee and others of his breed have seen, have made streetdance a variation of hiphop dance that is identifiably Pinoy to the rest of the world.

“I couldn’t use the word hiphop to describe the dance here,” Jungee explains. “Because it seemed to pertain more to the culture of hiphop rather than the dance. So to make the terms clearer, I called it streetdance.” Jungee is more careful than anyone as to how he uses the word hiphop, since he knows how much African-American culture and history actually goes into the word. You certainly won’t see Jungee parading around in baggy pants, heaps of bling, and bandana-under-cap ensembles (although he’s not one to pass up wearing an oversized basketball jersey, but not for any particular associations). “When people ask me, ‘Hiphop ka ba?’” Jungee says. “I tell them I’m a hiphop dancer. I make that clear.”

Perhaps depending on where you come from, you’ll either know Jungee as a composer (who has created songs for the likes of the Papuri! Singers, Gary Valenciano, Paolo Santos, Sarah Geronimo, and Sharon Cuneta, among others), or as a commercial jingle writer (for shows and commercials like Game KNB, Krystala, The Buzz, Hoy Gising!, Palmolive Naturals, and Close-Up, to name a few), or as an exercise instructor (in Hiphop Dance and Precision Cycling Spinning classes at Gold’s Gym and Pinnacle Health Pointe), or even as a broadcaster (on 702DZAS and CBN Asia’s 700 CLUB).

But in the industry of dance, there is no mistaking his reputation. Known to some as the “brown man with a black soul” and to everyone else as a major proponent of hiphop in the Philippines, Jungee is the hiphop dance guru and now Head Coach of the Philippine National Hiphop Teams that compete yearly in the World HipHop Championships in California.

Where it all began

Categorized under the Philippine International Competitive Aerobics Fedration (PICAF), which is under the Philippine Olympic Committee, the Philippine National HipHop Teams currently consist of three teams: The Crew, UP Streetdance and Allstars. The groups all come from different backgrounds,many budding late in the 90s, when streetdance had already become something of a popular pastime.

“Now most of the kids in our group are hiphop instructors themselves, working at ABS-CBN talent center or at local gyms, or even as coaches of dance teams in universities,” Jungee proudly explains. “But when we were starting out in the early 90s, it was a whole different story.”

It had all started when Jungee first brought in a formal streetdance class, following his return from a long stay in Los Angeles. Jungee himself had learned his moves not in formal classes, but down where the real education was: in back alley jam sessions, in underground dance parties, and on the streets of LA, where he first fell in love with hiphop. When he brought his instructional methods back home, there were barely a handful of participants seriously interested in the dance. Even The Crew and UP Streetdance coach Jerome Dimalanta, one of Jungee’s first students, had taken the class unassumingly, around the time that he was also taking his second degree in UP under the College of Human Kinetics. By the time he graduated, Jerome wanted to push Streetdance as a PE subject in UP, which eventually did happen, and which Jerome still teaches at UP until now.

“There used to be a hole in the wall gym on Katipunan called Sweatshop,” Jungee recalls. “Friends and friends of friends—a dancer from Powerdance, professors from UP College of Human Kinetics, among others—got together and learned streetdance under me. That was the first time I discovered the joy of teaching, and I found it to be my release.” Of course, on the other hand, his work in production also ate up a lot of Jungee’s time (as it always tends to do), and eventually he stopped teaching his hiphop classes to concentrate on other priorities.

Then fast forward to 2005—Gold’s Gym became interested in opening a different kind of exercise class, and at the top of their list was none other than Jungee Marcelo, whom they wanted to teach a hiphop dance (which happened to be a rising fitness trend at the time). “I was surprised they asked me since I had gained a lot of weight then, because I’d worked in music production, where you’re usually sitting to work all day and constantly reaching for food to munch. And not to mention my wife cooks really well,” Jungee recalls with a smirk. Nevertheless, Jungee took on the job, and soon after starting at Gold’s, he was asked to be a judge in the Philippine Nationals for Hiphop, the winner of which would be sent to the States to compete in—what else?—the World Hiphop Championships.

“The funny part was,” Jungee remembers. “After I’d judged the contest, they called me back and asked me if I wanted to coach the team going to the international competition, since they apparently had no coach lined up!” PICAF Secretary General Lei Fernandez, who was incidentally also manager at Gold’s and therefore greatly helped in getting the gym’s support for the teams, had been pushing for a Philippine Team to compete abroad. “The Philippines had been sending a delegation since 2004, three years after the World Hiphop Competition was first established,” Jungee says. Well enough, since last year, Philippine team Allstars made sixth place, and just a few weeks ago, in a much-publicized return, they had topped the Italian Open.

“This year, we took the top three teams in the Nationals, and we’re sending all of them to better our chances of winning,” Jungee says, explaining that other countries, like the US, send as much as six teams to compete. “The one to beat this year is last year’s champion, London. Right now, they’re the toughest team in the world.” A proud note, however, as both Jungee and Coach Jerome attest, is that most of the teams that got a place in the competition actually had half-Pinoy members. In fact, the US team that took third place last year was actually composed purely of Fil-Ams.

Defining Streetdance

What’s the difference between streetdance and hiphop? “Mostly cultural context, which also includes terminology,” explains Jungee. “They’re more technically descriptive with their terms, like popping and locking. But in the Philippines, we would use terms like hataw or gigil or hinay-hinay instead.”

Coach Jerome, who took his Master’s in Physical Education, majoring of course in Dance, turned in an ethnographic study of streetdance for his thesis. “There are really distinct differences between streetdance and hiphop,” Jerome says. “For one, streetdance developed with more dynamic movement and linear movements which you don’t necessarily find in hiphop. Hiphop is basically popping, locking and breakdancing, but in streetdance, we have a lot of more expansive movement, linear movement, and a lot of influences from outside, like jazz. I think streetdance can already be considered a variation of hiphop.”

“We stem from the new school of hiphop, which was initiated by Wade Robson,” Jungee also explains. “A little of jazz is incorporated into hiphop, which is a huge break away from the strictly old school of hiphop.” Jungee, once being an old school purist himself, now actually incorporates influences even other than jazz to dance. “I take what I see around me and I add it to streetdance,” he says. “There was really a time I was a purist, but then you come to realize to eventually stop growing.”

Another visible difference between hiphop and streetdance, a characteristic sometimes considered a flaw, is that streetdance—especially and unfortunately commercial streetdance (i.e. noontime variety show dance)—tends to be in the tempo and timing of the dancers. “Because of Spanish dance influences, pasugod tayo sumayaw,” Jungee explains. “We always seem to be anticipatory of the music and beat, so our movements are often presumptuous.” In Jungee’s experience, most people jump into hiphop without getting into the ever-important groove first. “Which is why I try to encourage people to sing the groove,” Jungee says. “It helps them feel the music and movement.”

“On the first day of each of my Streetdance PE classes in UP,” Coach Jerome recalls. “One of the first things I always tell students is not to go ahead of the beat.” If you watch African-Americans dancing hiphop, you notice how laid back their movements are. “They don’t anticipate the music, they follow it.”

On the subject of noontime variety shows, another major difference is in the history and meaning of each dance for its corresponding culture. “On its own, hiphop dance suffers from a lot of historical questions and is not as well-documented as other aspects of the hiphop culture, such as rap, which everyone knows comes from African oral traditions,” says Coach Jerome. “In hiphop dance, there are different claims as to where it originated—until today, those from the East Coast claim one thing, and those from the West Coast claim another.”

On a whole, however, what is agreed upon is that what is most important is the symbolic meaning of the dance for the African-Americans. Streetdance, on the other hand, is for Filipinos mostly just as source of entertainment. “For the African-Americans, the dance is a part of their culture and their struggle,” says Coach Jerome. “For us it’s really just entertainment.” He recalls watching a dance documentary which featured one hiphop move called krumping, which is done very fast and always appears very angry. “That has deep rooted social significance, because it recalls the angst or anger that they have,” he explains.

On a last, rather surprising note, one very specific difference between hiphop and streetdance is that streetdancers, apparently, are far more graceful in their movements. “It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? ‘Graceful hiphop,’” says Jungee. “But Pinoys really do move very gracefully, it’s natural to us. The best streetdancers in the country move very gracefully, they practically flow. For example, if you see the Maneuvers dance, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a very Pinoy thing.”

Moving Forward

“For this competition we are incorporating certain moves from native Filipino dances,” says Jungee. “And we’re even using Francis M.’s ‘Meron Akong Kuwento.’”

“Last year was a learning experience for us,” Coach Jerome says. “Many of the judges were also from the old school, so our dances then many not have gone over very well with them. What we’re doing now in adding Filipino influences may help us stand out and catch their attention—of course, we know it’s also a huge risk at the same time.”

Coach Jerome, as perhaps the only academician involved deeply in streetdance, and as one of the few to be pushing to standardize streetdance and to eventually get it recognized as a dance art form, has been working on a book based on his thesis, tentatively titled Streetdance 101, which focuses on how streetdance is developing right now in the Philippines, for example how it has only gelled together lately, after being radically split up before.

“Streetdance has developed differently over different fronts, mainly the academic, the breakdances on the street, and the commercial streetdance,” Jerome explains. “What we want to do in the academe is to standardize learning to a degree, so as to facilitate the learning process. We don’t want it to simply be ‘gayahin mo ang ginagawa ko,’ rather, we break down the moves so there are steps to all of it.” The key is to give the basics, but still not remove the dynamism and versatility of streetdance, where improvisation and influences are always welcome. “The important thing is basic form, structure and technique, which a lot of people wrongly think doesn’t exist in streetdance,” says Jerome.

“Streetdance is one of the things we’re very good at,” says Jerome. “Not kopya, but in that we can easily adapt to the music and movement.” Since notation is also key to elevating streetdance to the higher level of dance art form, it is also important and interesting to be able to document its evolution in the country.

“I hope that in my lifetime I will get to see the Philippines win in the World HipHop Championship,” Jerome says. “Whether it’s my own team or not that achieves that doesn’t matter, since the culture of hiphop is such that even if you are competitors, you still maintain respect for each other. But, as an academician, what I hope for is to see my dance influence grow and evolve.”

Pocari Sweat recently launched its online DANCE NATION contest. 

The contest is open to Filipino citizens aged 13 and above, currently residing in the Philippines. To join, participating groups must have at least five (5) members.

Should you be interested to join, you may access the following links, for full details:

Mechanics video 

Detailed Mechanics

We are re-introducing Dance Pinoy Magazine, the premiere resource portal for Filipino dancers and information about the dance scene in the Philippines. Like we did before, we will be giving out tips on how to become a better dancer, interview dancers, write articles about dance events, and review dance-related products.  

The online magazine was established in 2009 to cater the needs of Pinoy dancers. 
This is what looked like a decade ago. 

Keep tuned in Dance Pinoy for dance scene updates!

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