Break dancing was a style of dancing that grew up around hip hop music during it's early stages of development in the United States. 'Break dancing' stretched the human body to its limit.

The most basic breakdance moves are the 6-step and toprock. The rest of the dance is founded around these two elements. Dancers usually begin by toprocking, and then continue by going down to the floor and performing a 6-step or 4-step that may be heavily 'teched' (variated). The 6-step provides a base for other more complex moves to be formed, as well as power moves.

After performing a 6-step to begin the dance, and then performing a power move, the breakdancer will usually end the dance with a 'freeze' which is when he contorts his body to a strange position and literally freezes, stopping all dance motion. The breakdancer will usually hold the freeze for a second or two. There are nearly infinite variations on freezes, and coming up with new freezes greatly enhances the breakdancers style.

Between 1970 and 1973, break dancing makes its first appearance in the clubs, Plaza Tunnel and the Puzzle. The earliest moves were the "Drop" and the "In-and-Out"

One popular move in 'break dancing' was known as the 'Floor Lock'. In this move dancers would support themselves on one hand while spinning their bodies around while kicking out their legs. Another popular move was the 'Handglide or Flow'. In this particular move the dancers would spin their bodies wile balancing them on one elbow. The 'Backspin' and the 'Windmill' moves were break moves that used the shoulder as a pivot. The 'Headspin' move as its name indicates, requires the dancer to spin using his head as a pivot point. Then there was the 'lofting' move in which the dancers would dive in the air and land on their hands. Probably one of the most dangerous break moves was the 'Suicide' move. In this move the dancer falls forward with their hands to the side doing a complete flip landing flat on their back.

Power Moves  
The Windmill is a move in which the dancer spins from his upper back to his chest while twirling his legs around his body in a V-shape. There are many variations to this move such as nutcrackers and handcuffs. Many dancers will spend anywhere from two to six months learning how to do a basic windmill, since the motion is quite unorthodox.
Headspins the dancer spins on his head, often while wearing a stocking cap or handkerchief. When the dancer uses his hands to aid in speeding up the spin, it is called 'tapping.' A dancer may tap for a few rotations and then 'glide' for as many as 15 rotations. Kid Freeze is the b-boy who claims to have invented the headspin.
Flare is an incredibly difficult move borrowed from gymnastics and resembles the use of a Pommel Horse, but is performed without one.
Jackhammer is a move performed on the ground having the dancer balancing on one hand and laying his body on the elbow of the same arm. He then bounce up and down with his hand as he spins around.
Basic Moves  
Top Rock is a simple dance done standing up to initiate breakdancing. Its style is obvious to anyone watching, because it is incredibly unorthodox looking. Breakdancers take pride in having unique toprock that still stays within the definition of what toprock actually is.
Uprock is doing a toprock with someone else, sort of like a fight but without contact and very rhythmic. Uprocking is often confused with toprock, but the two are completely different dances.
6-step resembles walking in a circle on the ground. Only one hand is touching the ground at a time. The 6-step is the building block for the rest of the dance, and is heavily 'teched' or modified to allow for variation and style.
Moonwalk a move where a dancer slides backward while their legs appear to be walking forward.
Worm a move in which a dancer lies on the ground and forms a rippling motion through his body. This can be done if one of two ways, either forward or backwards, either shifting your weight from the upper body to the lower body (backwards) or vice-versa for forwards. Sophie Tucker is recognized as the creator of this move, which goes back to the 1920's.

Evolution of dancing and hip-hop culture
The era of break dancing was replaced in the Hip Hop culture by dance moves known as the electric boogiemoves. Most of these moves would call for dancers to snap and twitch muscles in time to the music. Some of the most popular moves of this style of dance were the Tick, the Mannequin or Robot, the King Tut, the Wave, the Pop, the Float, and the Moonwalk.

The electric boogie moves were replaced in 1982 by a type of dancing known as free style in which dancers would improvise their own moves.

Pictures of breakdancing poses:

Videos of breakdancing

(Sources: Wikipedia, and Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute)

Hip Hop Home | Hip Hop Overview | Hip Hop and New York
Hip Hop Firsts
MCing | DJing | Graffiti Art
Breakdancing | Rap Music | Slang