Saturday, November 14, 2009

Freestyle vs. Choreography

Are you a freestyler or a routine-based dancer?

Hip Hop dancers can be separated into two different categories: freestylers and routine-dancers. Which category do you fit in?

Freestylers: “freestyle” in hip hop terms basically means improvisational dancing. This means that when the dancer performs, he or she does not prepare a routine for the performance. Most of the time, dancers who are self-taught tend to prefer freestyling. Usually, they do not use the regular 8-count rule that choreographers employ. They tend to find their own way of keeping track of the beat and staying in sync with the rhythm. Freestylers simply follow their gut and dance without thinking about what their next move is going to be. In this way, it is not a very professional way to dance, however it is just as entertaining as a choreographed dance. Most hip hop dancers like to think of freestyling as “dancing from the heart”.

All freestylers are distinguished. They each have their own distinct style that is personal to them. Sure, many free-styled performances may look similar, but each one includes the dancer’s unique touch, which is what I really like about freestyling. In a way, it can be seen as the dancer’s identity—something like their very own fingerprint on hip hop.

Routine-dancers: Routine dancers tend to be those who began dancing at studios and took professional classes. They learn how to dance by the 8-count rule and depend on it to stay on beat. Routine dances are very structured and take time to put together. They are usually prepared months before the actual performance, as opposed to freestyling which is prepared on the spot. Routine dancing is considered to be the more professional side of hip hop dance. The benefit of developing a routine before hand is that it relieves pressure on the dancer. In freestyle, the dancer can suddenly freeze up or run out moves (this has happened to me a number of times, and is quite embarrassing). There is a lot of pressure on the dancer not to be repetitive and to think of creative moves to impress the crowd, on the spot. Fixed routines take that pressure away. Basically, as long as the dancer practices the choreography, there is no need to worry.

Personally, I prefer freestyling to routine-dancing. I find that I have more fun improvising than taking months to establish a routine. Furthermore, I have always found freestyling to be very impressive. It requires a considerable amount of skill to put together a dance while you’re already dancing.

Does this mean that I believe that choreographed dancing is less important? Certainly not! In fact, my dance team and I are currently in the process of developing a routine for ourselves. I greatly value both forms of dancing, and believe that it’s important to know how to do both. In my opinion, to be a good dancer, one has to be sufficient in both freestyling, and routine-dancing.

So, what about you? Do you prefer to freestyle, or do you prefer choreographed dancing? Feel free to comment if you want to express your preference. I would really like to hear your opinion.


  1. Hi there, I'm a locker and popper from Montreal, Canada.
    I believe that freestyle is the truest form of dancing since you try to portray how you feel about your environment, the energy of your surrounding(often the crowd), and your own state of mind. On the other hand, choreography is certainly an art as well, but it is often more an execution of movements to display vividly the idea of the choreographer. Good dancers, can make the choreography their own if the choreographer allows it. So yeah, I think choreography has elements of dancing, but it is not exactly dancing. I 've done both in my dance life, and right now I would only do choreography under certain conditions:
    - If it's for a job
    - If it's for self-promoting (video, showcase, performance)
    - Or simply because I want to put an idea to life, and create a nice piece.

    Nowadays I find that a lot of people doing choreography aren't dancing, but only executing. They look like robots/clones following a set structure, and that is sad because although it looks visually nice, it doesn't convey any emotions. I don't feel anything from them, and the only thing making me want to dance is perhaps the song, and definitely not the executioners.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. choreography is not dancing. It's for weak minded people who have no guts to express themselves trough dancing.

    They're afraid oh no I can't try something new because other people would make fun of me. buhuhu I'm so insecure.

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