Forum: General / Hip Hop / Freestyle

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freestyle defined (karma: 3)
By damon_k
On Tue Jan 11, 2005 08:25 PM
Made sticky by soliloquy (28370) on 2005-03-29 19:14:23

The fundamentals of freestyling

Ground Rules
1. There are no rules besides beat adherence. As long as you have good beat attention you will not be defined as an abstract dancer(someone who doesn't necessarily have a connection to the music they are dancing to). Modern Dance is often said to be this way where the music plays more of a secondary role.

2. There are no foundations to learn. This is because there are no fundamental movements required. Foundations come about by the receptive ability of your body to form movements that may act as base level or grounding. Generally most people will learn rudimentary foundational movement(such as side stepping or swaying/soft hitting) in a social setting. If you can move your body in any shape or form to the beat, then you can create your own foundations.

3. Movement is about the moment. The ability to spontaneously come up with movements that suit the musical circumstances. Music gives off a feeling, an attitude and a message. At any point in the music, we have a depiction of what it means, how it makes us feel and how we personally react to it. Freestyle is about conveying that feeling through the medium of movement.

Freestyling - The mind body connection

With freestyling, our task is to specifically employ the mind to use the body as an expressive instrument while simultaneously, receptively and effectively allowing the body to be responsive to the expressive mind. Through this connection we can physically show that we not only know and understand the music by being in sync with it, but also that we can bring across our own thoughts and angle on it. A show of our own personality in the music that we are demostrating to be in tune with.

Body Language - Relationship of dance to feeling

True freestyle is really an extention of body language. Body language is a natural manifestation of true feeling. It is always evident and we actually rely on it quite significantly whilst verbally communicating without realising it. Body language requires no conscious thought. It is an innate characteristic of being human. Expression is connected to movement in this way. Music gives off an emotive vibe, and we respond to it not only on a mental level but in a physical way also. Having an understanding of these underlying relationships gives one a clearer view of how we can seek out and give off the emotive forces behind the movements we make.

Body Intelligence - movement knowledge

Our body intelligence is one of eight known intelligences of ourselves. It is the ability of movement to become second nature through familiarity. Every movement we have every learnt is known by our body. Try brushing your teeth with your other hand just to see what I am talking about.

When we dance, movement at first requires mental processing. When learning dance forms this requirement on the brain is substantial. It leaves little room for other processing. Once the movement becomes familiar we are free of this preoccupation. We can then focus on feelings etc.

The more rigid/bound the form of movement practice and the higher the degree of strict and or confined practices, the less human the feel. This was the reason behind Modern Dance as a rejection of ballet's classical ideals about movement and learning. Students preoccupied with conformity of a standardised way lack indiviualism and expression of personality in their dance.

True Freestyle - little conscious preoccupation

First I have to clear up a few things. There are two known defintions of freestyle. Actually most know it as just doing movements that you know in no particular order as to show others what moves you know and have learnt. This form is actually just a mishmash of other learnt forms being displayed together.

The other definition is a little more complex. I like to call it true freestyle. I am only naming it because it isn't really recognised at all and need a way to distinguish it. This form is dance which develops through experience with no attention payed to external application of movements. This means, there is no rote learning or copying of movements and no mental processes taken up by thinking about where and how to move the body and its parts.

True freestyle relies upon the true and innate connections between the mind and body (as touched on above), the trust and faith in the ongoing increase of body intelligence, and the
requirement of the conscious mind to be perceptive of the music.

NB. It is possible to combine approaches whilst dancing. It is hard to completely repress natural feel. That is what gives people their own flava or personal style in the form they practice.

Music - what does it do for us?

The complex and indepth message that music gives us is not particularly recognised today in dance. The connection between music and movement is not so strong. Movements are learnt irrespective of the specific music's complex drum track, tone, vibe, use of lyrics and instruments etc. Actually most current dance only requires attention to the base beat and with no emotional affect. A lot of the reason for this is because of the complexity of music, and how can you teach dance that is specific and broad at the same time? The simple answer is...with difficulty. Today dance routines are becoming more complex and choreographers are facing greater challenges. Learning of these complex movement sets, which are not natural to each individual require hours upon hours of consciously preoccupied repetition. Sometimes, I have seen dancers that can dance very complex routines and not even have the ability to dance freely when the event is over and any music comes on.

Freestyle - diversity and flexibilty

We humans have a spectrum of emotion. Someone who can't laugh or someone who over stresses has an imbalance in emotional release. It is easy to have restrictive qualities. They inturn effect our bodies too....back pain, tumas etc. To be a truly healthly individual, we must analyse ourselves and discover what we personally are holding back or holding onto. The harmonious nature of life is like a river, but many people block it with junk at every bend.

Freestyle dance helps one to break free of inhibitions and insecurities by developing an outward confidence in the body. Our body is our connection with the world. A lack of respect for it is the result of our thinking. Since thoughts follow actions, we are the result of our thoughts and the body is a direct reflection of just that. For an prevalent example, you merely have to examine a person's gait (how they walk) to get an idea of what they are about.

What better way than dance to become comfortable with you own body.

Cultural significance

We can't escape culture. It is all around it...we live it. What is socially acceptable determines how we behave. Societal norms have given us a kind of subconscious set of beliefs about what it is to be male or female, how to act, dress, eat, play, etc. The effect of this on dance is not to be underestimated.

Becoming comfortable in your own personal movement is not an easy task. It requires one to let go of what it is to have accecptable dance movement. It requires one to brush of these social stigmas in order to search for a deeper connection with themselves. It requires one to reject what they have been told about how they should move and start to actually pay attention to their own self(body).

Group mentality is very strong...and sometimes detrimental. We find security in the group, yet also want individual freedom. Make sure that your not too secure.

History and knowledgebase

Freestyling is present in hip-hop because hip-hop is about self expression. Hip-hop's cultural heritage is about the respect of the self through expression and the rejection of being subjugated. People's dances were individual but also
supported and grown through group participation. In a sense, freestyle is a term for any dance that is not labeled or categorised. Something that connects the forms and something like a filler.

Due to freestyle being an individual's dance, it can't have a history beyond each individual. So, that is why to understand the universal elements of what makes freestyle freestyle, it requires one to understand more secular studies. Relevant fields include:
psychology; physiology; anatomy; semiology (systems of signs); biology; physics; mechanics; kinesthetics; neurology (nerves); aesthetics; communication; linguistics, sociology.
Basically, the more you learn about the human and his environment, the more you can understand how dance plays an integral part in all respects of the word 'living'.

*Read some history on modern dance.
*A great movement scientist is Ruldolf Laban.
*Also, check out

Other helpful areas include, proprioception, ideokinesis and the alexander techinque.

I apologise if I have made any speculations or assumptions within this post. I have tried my best to keep it real.


A little bit about myself.

I began to understand these principals through a love for dance that grew out of a love for music. It is the yearning to be a part of music that draws one into involving themselves with it, be it singing, dancing or playing.

After clubbing for a few years with relatively little movement besides swaying, I discovered something more.
One day I bought some good headphones because I couldn't play loud music in my flat and had just sold my car. It was my new escape to musical ecstasy. I started to nod my head to the state where I would get up and walk around. Then I began to start to dance in my room. This soon became a regular thing for me and without the eye of the world I started to develop movement without the constant fear of what others may think of me. I would still club but would not dance as I did at home.

Time went on and I started to gain both a significant increase in ability and confidence. I thought I had discovered something new and just continued to improve....thriving off the enjoyment of the music and my release. Changes started to happen to me. I began to open up substantially as a person. Restrictive habits and conscious mind games started to flee.

Today, six years since I began, I am confidant enough to not only write about these things, but I have just recently performed infront of 300 people with all the dancing off the top of my head. Just me and the music.

61 Replies to freestyle defined

re: freestyle defined
By iH0p
On Tue Jan 11, 2005 08:41 PM
ya rock damonk...

but no definite history on freestyle???
"Freestyling is present in hip-hop because hip-hop is about self expression. Hip-hop's cultural heritage is about the respect of the self through expression and the rejection of being subjugated."
but if freestyling existed before hip hop... doesn't that mean... hip hop is present in freestyling? hehe just messin

re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Tue Jan 11, 2005 08:55 PM
Yes, no real history of freestyle that I have come across yet besides its connection with hip-hop. That is why I was hitting up Invent about it recently.

I guess you could say it goes both ways... open to debate...
If you freestyle with hip-hop influences then yes.

gotta go...that post took up most of my morning.

thanks for props iHop

re: freestyle defined
By Keitsumember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jan 12, 2005 01:22 PM
Thank you for the information. I like how people can write a long post of information to read. It helps everyone by sharing your knowledge ^_^ I have a better understanding of freestyle now.
re: freestyle defined
By TrippyJing
On Wed Jan 12, 2005 01:57 PM
Of course, once your body become comfortable with ANY sets of movement, it will begin to repeat. Paraphrasing Bruce Lee, "There is only so much the human body can do, unless we have three legs or arms."
re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Mon Jan 17, 2005 06:54 PM
I forgot to mention Phenomenology.

Please read this link for an indepth link on natural body movement and body intelligence. . . .

also here are a few other useful links. . . . . . . . . .

It is worthwhile having an understanding of these things.
Not many dancers really understand the way the body and mind actually work. Use this knowledge to enhance your dance.

re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Fri Jan 21, 2005 09:06 PM
As I explained briefly in the post, freestyle is generally recognised as a mixture of styles, besides the more complex definition I have given.

I just noticed the reply to Sticky: Hip-hop Dance Styles: BASIC KNOWLEDGE below on the Hip-hop forum with reference to freestyle in Hip-hop.

By Buddhastretch1.

"FREESTYLE,NEW STYLE,ETC,..are all terms used over the last 7-8 years 2 describe HIPHOP dancing,2 separate it from BBOYIN,ROCKIN,etc.Freestyle HIPHOP has been around since 1985,it's a derivative of the SOCIAL/PARTY dances of the 70's,& 80's.Dancers like myself,Brian Green,& others,have been doing this style for years.....As 2 the mixing of styles,ALL of the street dances are mixtures of styles,it's the inevitable conclusion of cross culture.....Lockin,is a mixture of several social dances of the 60's,early 70's,like the FUNKY CHICKEN,the ROBOT,the BREAKDOWN,ETC....POPPIN also is a mixture of the ROBOT,LOCKIN,etc.The main reason for the statement of not mixing the styles is,IMHO,NOT ENOUGH SO CALLED POPPERS/LOCKERS/BBOYS,KNOW HOW 2 DO ANY OF THE OTHER STYLES,WELL ENOUGH 2 MIX THEM!let the music lead,then follow.....peace"

It is hard to source this kind of information because it is not well documented, so when someone such as this (Buddha is well recognised) lays things out, you listen up.

Please remember that although the term Freestyle is associated with Hip-hop or originated through the culture, it does not necessarily mean that you have to dance Hip-hop styles. It is a mix, but any styles or movements are applicable, including, most importantly your own.

re: freestyle defined
By DancesLikeCiara
On Wed Jan 26, 2005 06:58 PM
i'm glad someone finally broke it down....thanks
re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Thu Feb 17, 2005 05:41 PM
Is there anyone on the site that studies dance as a subject? If so, could you please point out some areas or specifics that I have not touched on in reference to freestyle...

I know it's a stab in the dark...please someone!


re: freestyle defined
By dancer172
On Fri Feb 18, 2005 10:22 PM
freestyle is the way you move to music. thats it... great post!
re: freestyle defined
By Lady_PinkZ
On Sun Apr 03, 2005 06:53 PM
yeah i should be learning dance as a subject soon and after reading what you've wrote i think its quite INTRESTING and can't wait to start learning more... thanx damon u inspired me
re: freestyle defined
By mojobboy
On Tue Apr 05, 2005 01:00 AM
I like your freestyle definition, Damon. I aslo think freestyling can contain simple movements like the two step, to more difficult movements like breaking. But the dance is not limited to breaking and the history, I guess, is different.
thnks damon 4 daht xplanatn
By bizjamesjr
On Fri Apr 08, 2005 03:04 PM
Removed by Etoile_Filante (19013) on 2005-06-20 23:57:37 daht, gr8 are not words. PLease do not use netslang
daht was gr8 n i now ve a massive knowledge of wht freestyle intales n da site u gav ... very cute ..thnks alot
re: freestyle defined
By always_smiling
On Sat Apr 09, 2005 12:05 PM
Really great post! I can relate with you. When I'm at school dances, people ask me why I don't dance. Now, I love to dance. It's like I feel the music, but I don't want anybody to give me looks like "What is she doing" because I'm not dancing like everyone else (which just involves heavy grinding). When I'm at home, I put on my headphones and express the song in my dancing. I get wrapped up in the music and it feels good.

I have a dance to go to tonight and I hope I can just...finally dance how I want to dance without worrying about restrictions, stiffening up, or looking funny, you know?
re: freestyle defined
By discocrazy
On Thu Apr 14, 2005 06:19 AM
Everyone should feel great when they dance, your teacher should help make you feel confident, and that no-one is better than anyone else.
re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Thu Apr 14, 2005 09:07 PM
Thanks for the replys definitely encourages me to go further with my studies. I would like to see people ask deeper and more challenging questions about dance...let`s maintain a sense of connection between being a dancer and being a human. Learning about ourselves makes us more aware of what dance means to us and how we can apply, and gain from it.

I am happy that I made this post a seems that more and more people are hitting it up which is great.
I hope it encourages everyone to gain a greater interest and get more out of dancing from gaining a deeper knowledge.

I haven`t posted much in a while because I have been quite busy learning new things, composing beats, working, and as always...dancing.

Right now I am reading a couple of books. One is about club culture and what is referred to as "Improvised Social Dance" (freestyling in a social setting) and the history of the club scene in New York. It`s titled Impossible Dance. Another titled The Moment of Movement is about Improvisation but is more inclined towards Contact Improvisation involving groups of people using the interaction of each other which has greater complexities with such variables as weight, inertia, tension, balance etc as opposed to the individual. It does however delve into many areas of interest including creativity, phrasing, kinesthetic awareness, abstracting etc.

It is hard to find good information on freestyle dance...usually books touch upon it here and I tend to search for material that discusses different relative areas of study.

I am yet to find a good book on the mechanics of the body. Every part of our body moves in a circular motion. It would be good to have an clear understanding of the limits of a well functioning body for possible movement range. I am just looking for diagrams of skeletons or muscle groups, but illustrations and descriptions of each moveable part.

Also yet to find any resource to do with application of movement to sound, and how specific sounds give us specific urges. On a deeper level, how we interpret complex musical phrases and put them into complex movement phrases. Beat adherence in dance is rarely discussed either.

And Lastly looking for emotional descriptions for musical tones, and scales in music theory. On a deeper level, music`s influential role on our emotive reaction and also how we display this in dance and body language.

If anyone can recommened anything, please let me and everyone else know.

I am currently building a website devoted to these things which will be clearly and simply explained as to help people grasp fundamental truths in aid to their dance and awareness. Once a very small project is becoming ever increasing. One day, I will get it up online.

Will keep you posted.

Enjoy life with dance.

re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Fri Apr 15, 2005 02:19 AM
replys...haha maybe I should learn the English language properly first.
re: freestyle defined
By Danseusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Apr 16, 2005 08:28 AM
Hey, I'm no hip-hop expert but I HAD to karma you for that. That psot was an amazing post of what dance, in general should be about in a dancer's mind. You and the music should be unified, and nothing else should take priority.

Gosh, that post was superb. I have a freestyle battle coming up in a (haha) charity concert, and I was nervous becasue I had no idea what to do. this is the best guidline I could ever have, Thank you so much for this.
re: freestyle defined
By Lady_PinkZ
On Wed Apr 20, 2005 04:25 PM
re: freestyle defined
By Glowworm00member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Apr 29, 2005 06:45 AM
Brilliant post. Freestyle is one of my favourite dance forms. I used to work for a club type thing and used to freestyle on podiums, just the way you could get up there and just MOVE to the music was the best feeling in the world. Karma for you :)

re: freestyle defined
By damon_k
On Wed May 25, 2005 08:49 PM
thanks guys.

hope you are keeping it up.

still going hard.

By bgurl_chelle
On Fri May 27, 2005 07:02 PM
I have really learned a lot from your post. I'm a young poet and when i dance i think of dance as poetry in motion. I like to be one with dance and to be able to feel the music. I think that feeling the music and understanding your body are basic instructions for freestyling. Once you have complete control over your body you know where you can let loose and let the music take over. Thanks a lot.
re: freestyle defined
By lovehippityhop
On Sun Jul 03, 2005 04:17 PM
thank u 4 all the insights. it was rlly kool to read. i love to dance hip hop but i have trouble freestyling now and then. i have realized it is a lot harder wen i am around ppl. xcept for certain friends i have trouble letting go. i will work on it and take some of ur tips.
re: freestyle defined
By lovehippityhop
On Sun Jul 03, 2005 04:20 PM
i am not studying it rite now but i hope to in this up coming year in high skool. i'll let u kno if i find nethin
re: freestyle defined
By Schandra
On Tue Jul 12, 2005 02:18 PM
You know thats totally true...i dont think i ever really thought about it becasue i was too caught up in wanting to be better than everyone else and trying to be cool. ( every one who can hiphop dance at my school is awesome)
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