Today is International Dance Day!

Let’s celebrate this fun occasion with;

Hip Hop Know-How, by Jennifer Coleman



Bend your knees and then bounce back up. Move slowly, quickly, or smoothly.  

Next, pretend you’re a robot and be rigid and choppy. Put these moves all to some music and you are doing hip hop!  

The style of hip-hop dance is a combination of your own steps set to a musical beat. While it started on the big city streets and combines strong drums that might remind you of Africa, any song with a beat can be used in hip hop.  

There are not many rules that you have to know to perform this style of dance, but here are a few tips to help you hip hop in style.

Stay Low!

Bend your knees a little lower when you hip hop dance. Pretend the floor is a strong magnet pulling your feet and body down into it.

Fun Fact: Ballerinas are lighter on the feet, but hip-hop dancers need to be more grounded.

Pop! Lock!  

Can you pull your muscles in tightly – shrinking them small and then relaxing them to make them loose? That is a move called popping.

Fun Fact: Popping is when that quick muscle movement causes a jerk, or pop, in the dancer’s body.  

animated-dancing-image-0419Some pops are small, while other pops EXPLODE! Dancers can pop one body part, like an arm or a leg, at a time, or many body parts at once. 

There are many ways to pop, and some dancers spend years training their bodies to pop in amazing, different ways.

Locking is a move a lot like a pop, except the movement is held longer (almost like you are frozen or locked into place).  


There is a lot of freestyle (or moving however you wish) in hip hop. Freestyling may mean that you try to tell the story of the song that is playing.

Fun Fact: Freestyling also may mean stringing together a few basic steps into one big dance.  

Try to choreograph, or make up your own dance. By naming the moves funny names, animated-dancing-image-0108you will remember the dance steps you are putting together.

Don’t be shy!

Hip hop is fun that both boys and girls can do with a group of friends!

Moves to Try

Double Buckets: 

  1. Put your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Turn to one side with your arms and hands holding imaginary handles of two buckets of water. 
  3. Pretend the buckets are on the ground and you are lifting them up. 
  4. Lift once, then again
  5. Now turn to the other side and lift the buckets, once, then twice.  

Variation: After you get good at picking the buckets up sharply, experiment with the move by bending your knees deeply with each bucket pull up.  

Windshield Wiper, WHAT?

This move starts with your feet.

animated-dancing-image-0116One foot is planted to the ground and doesn’t move. The other foot has just your heel stuck to the ground, but the toe part of your foot is free.  

Practice moving this free toe part from side to side like a windshield wiper on a car. When you move the toe from side to side, say in your mind, “windshield wiper.”

In that amount of time, it is like counting to two (your toe should have tapped the ground twice).

Next, pick up your foot and stomp it down on the third count. When you stomp, you can add the “WHAT?” movement!  

To do this, throw your arms out to the side with your palms up and shrug your shoulders like you’re asking someone “WHAT?”  

Let’s Review:

In your head, you are counting to three: 1-2-3!  1-2-3!

The movement is a Toe-toe-foot stomp!  Toe-toe-foot stomp!

The funny name for what you are doing: Windshield wiper WHAT?  Windshield wiper WHAT?

Variation: Try switching feet each time. Remember to stay low (bend your knees low and really tap your stomp strongly into the ground on the “WHAT?!”).  

Make an exaggerated face when you ask the question.

Peanut Butter Walk

Sometimes in a dance, you need to travel from one part of the room to another. But just animated-dancing-image-0365walking is not dancing, so try the peanut butter walk!

To do this, pretend your tummy is covered in a thick coat of peanut butter, and your knees have jelly on them.  

As you walk, contract (or shrink your chest down) and lift one knee up high to meet your chest – so that the imaginary peanut butter and jelly are touching!   

Remember to keep your other knee bent.

Variation: Experiment with your arms during your walk. Are they loose down by your side, or are you shrugging your shoulders?

Now pick a song and try out some of your new moves in the combination.  

Have fun!

Double buckets to the left side. Double buckets to the right side. (Do this two times more)

Peanut butter walk 6 steps

Windshield wiper, WHAT?  Windshield wiper, WHAT?

FREEZE!  (Pick a pose and hold it)

You’re now a hip hopping hero! AWESOME!

About the Author

Jennifer Coleman is a member of Austin-SCBWI and is also the author of The Texas Nutcracker and Ready, Set, Motivate! How to Capture Young Readers with Visual Aids.  A Texas-certified teacher,  her day job is as a certified elementary school librarian where she has been encouraging the love of literacy in children for over 20 years.

She also LOVES to dance and is a big supporter of the performing arts.  You can find her at or @jcobooks.


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