B-boying or breaking is a dance. It is danced to funk music and especially to the breaks in funk tracks. B-boying is commonly named as one of the five elements of hip hop. According to Afrika Bambaataa the founder of the Zulu Nation these are: mcing, djing, writing, b-boying and knowledge.


The term b-boying comes from the word b-boy. B-boy is short for breakboy and breakboy is the name Dj Kool Herc gave to the people dancing to the breaks in the funk tracks at his parties in the early 70s. The dance practised by b-boys or b-girls was therefore called b-boying or breaking. In the early 80s b-boying or breaking was, together with other forms of dance, erroneously named breakdancing by the media.


Fluidity, musicality, individuality and originality are key in b-boying or breaking. Fluidity or flow is important because the b-boy or b-girl should try to make out of his single movements a consistent whole with beginning and end.

Musicality is important because the b-girl or b-boy is a dancer and a dancer not only moves with or to the music but tries to interpret and make something new out of it.

Individuality is important because b-boys and b-girls search for their own style as they try to express themselves in dance. Since each and everyone is different, each and everyone should dance differently. Dancers should not so much try to set themselves apart from others but rather look for their own selves.

Originality is important because b-girls and b-boys should try to develop new moves. They should try to find their own style. Stealing ones' moves from other dancers or copying another dancer's style is called biting and frowned upon. However, the line between known or unknown influence and intentional theft is not that easy to draw.


As all classifications, these elements are broad categories. Thinking in categories has its advantages but also its dangers. Since b-boying or breaking is a dance where fluidity, musicality, individuality and originalty are important, a lot of moves are not easily categorized and as straight thinking in categories requires rigidity it may well lead to the loss of the values so important in b-boying or breaking. However, since categorization makes it a lot easier to speak about b-boying or breaking as a subject, we will here use categories for the purpose of explanation. Basically b-boying or breaking can be said to consist of four elements: top rocks, footwork, freezes and powermoves.

Top rocks are steps that are performed while in an upright position. One of the first top rocks was probably the Indian Step. By doing top rocks the dancer prepares for the drop and footwork.

The move that initiates the footwork is called the drop. The drop is used to transfer from up- and top rocks to footwork. Footwork then are basically all moves where both the dancer's hands and feet touch the floor. Today the basic step of footwork is the Sixstep developed by b-boy Spy. Doing the Sixstep the dancer rotates his feet around his body within six steps. Another basic step of footwork are the cc's that were also created by b-boy Spy.

A freeze is when the dancer abruptly stops all movement for a short time. The dancer seems to freeze, hence the name. Freezes can be done out of practically any position. One of the best known freezes is maybe the Baby Freeze.

The powermoves are moves that form a continous rotation. Two of the most widely known powermoves are probably the Windmill and the Headspin. Blow ups are sometimes considered powermoves or a category apart. They are basically series of freezes where positions get changed without the continous rotations that are characteristic for the other powermoves.


Other than in practice sessions b-boying or breaking takes place in a cypher or circle. A cypher or circle is an open space surrounded by b-boys and b-girls. In the open space b-girls and b-boys dance one at the time. As soon as the dancing b-boy or b-girl has finished his set or run someone else may enter the cypher. A set or run dures approximately 30 seconds. It should build a whole with an entry into the circle, a beginning, an end and an exit from the circle.


The battle is b-boying's or breaking's competition form. A battle takes place in a cypher or circle. In a battle two b-boys or b-girls or two crews made of b-boys and b-girls dance against each other. Touching is not allowed. The b-girls or b-boys or members of each crew enter the cypher in turns and try to trump the adversary's run.

Routines or commandoes can be used by crews. A routine is when two or more b-boys or b-girls of the same crew dance together at the same time. A commando is a short routine used to exchange dancers of the same crew. This enables them to leave out a dancer of the competing crew as two dancers of the same crew can now enter the cypher one after the other. Battles can dure until one dancer or crew gives up. Most of the time however, either the spectators or better a jury decide which dancer or crew has won the battle after a given time.