If you have watched Step Up, Stomp the Yard, Streetdance, Honey or any other movie about the hip hop dancers, their work and struggles, you might be a bit confused about what it’s all about. All of us have heard about hip-hop dance battles, but how do they really work? Who dances and what determines who has won the battle? Can people only dance alone against one person, or is it possible for more people to battle together as a team? And, if America’s Best Dance Crew crossed your mind, you should know that, even though the show is based on a competition between many different hip hop crews, it has nothing to do with battles. The dance crews in that show compete against each other like in every other competition – a lot of them perform, and then the judges decide which were the best ones. Battles work a bit differently, and if you want to find out how – keep reading.
Basically anyone can participate in a hip-hop battle, but, of course, it is expected that the person is a good dancer. If we’re talking about spontaneous battles that happen right in the middle of the street, all you need to do is be in the right place in the right time. But, if the battle is organized ahead, you should probably apply yourself or your crew for the battle just by putting your name on the list, for the purposes of the easier organization. Of course, another way for you to participate in a battle is to get called-out by another dancer or a crew, which usually means the one who called you out is testing your dance skills and think they can beat you. You can battle either alone or with your crew, depending on the type of the battle. The number of people on each side is always determined, because it would be unfair for one person to battle against, for example, three people. When talking about battles, people often mention the number of people battling, so there are battles “1 on 1“, “3 on 3“, “5 on 5“ and so on.
Who dances first?
The order of the dancers quite differs in different battles and depends on the organizers of the battle. Sometimes, if the battle is 1 on 1, the dances will be randomly divided into pairs, and only one person from every pair can win, and therefore proceed to the next round, where they are battling another randomly assigned opponent who got to the next round the same way they did, and so on, depending on the number of dancers battling. In the final battle, there are only two dancers left in the round and whoever wins the round has won the whole battle. The order of dancers is usually determined by spinning the bottle on the floor, between the dancers who are participating in the round. When the bottle stops spinning, the direction where it’s pointed determines which dancer (or a crew) dances first. But, this is not always the rule. Sometimes the order is fixed and randomly assigned while forming pairs of dancers.
Of course, the person (or a crew) with the best dance moves, who managed to demonstrate the music through their movement is supposed to win the round or the battle. Some battles have judges, usually 3 to 5 respected dancers of different styles, who have to give their vote to one of the sides at the end of the round, or they can vote a tie. Since every judge votes for themselves, a dancer who got more votes in the round wins. In a battle with no judges, the audience decides who wins the round by the loudness of their cheering, or sometimes holding up a card of a certain color for each side.
So, now that you’re a bit more familiar with the way things work in the world of hip hop battles, grab some popcorns and start a Step Up marathon. Or maybe organize a battle to show off your moves? It’s up to you.