A skilled b-girl can breeze through complicated floorwork, her feet kicking and scissoring rapidly. But just like ballet, tap or contemporary dancers, breakers must first master basic skills. The six-step is a foundational footwork sequence that introduces beginners to the grounded, circular momentum that’s crucial to breaking. It also builds strength in the arms, hands and core, which helps dancers progress to more advanced moves. “It’s one of the first things you learn,” says Jennifer Weber, artistic director of Decadancetheatre, a Brooklyn-based, all-female hip-hop crew. “It helps you understand what it means to dance on the floor.”
Don’t worry if you move slowly while learning the six-step. With practice, you’ll be able to increase your speed. Decadancetheatre crew member Nadia Lumley also recommends practicing the move in both directions. “You’ll have a more complete understanding of momentum,” Lumley says, “which allows you to be unpredictable.” And once you feel comfortable with the six-step, you can experiment. “It doesn’t have to be done completely as a unit,” Weber says. “You can do steps one, two and three and then flip over. You can break it apart. It’s a stepping-stone for creativity.” Here, Decadancetheatre crew member Taeko Koji demonstrates the six-step.
Begin in a squatting position with your weight evenly distributed between both legs.
Tip: Stay on the balls of your feet to move freely and easily.
Cross your right foot in front of your left and place your right hand on the floor next to your hip, lifting your left hand above your body.
Tip: When placing your hands, keep your weight on the front of your palm with your wrist and the base of your palm lifted. This creates space between your body and the floor, allowing you to move more quickly.
Keep your right hand on the floor and step back with your left foot so that there’s space between your legs.
Tip: Keep your knees bent to help build speed.
Step back with your right foot while placing your left hand on the ground so that you end up in a wide, raised push-up position.
As you shift your weight toward your left hand, step forward with your left foot and release your right hand, lifting it above your body.
Bring your right foot forward and tuck it under the crook of your left knee.
Tip: Keep your hips pushed up. The six-step should travel around your body. Don’t let your weight settle beneath you.
Swing your left foot across the front to place it next to your right foot. Don’t stop in this position for long—you can move right into another six-step by shifting your body forward and pushing off your left hand before releasing it to propel yourself into Step 1 again.
Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers
P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.
When you think of a dancer, a double leg amputee may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Eric Graise, who's one of the stars of the upcoming "Step Up: High Water" YouTube Red series, hopes to change that. Graise, whose legs were amputated as a child due to missing fibula bones, will play a character named King in the new dance series, set to debut early next year.
We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.
New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).
Oh hey there, Hallmark Channel! The producer of all those sweet, homey movies best watched in your PJs with your mom has a super dance-y film on its holiday lineup this season: A Nutcracker Christmas. And the casting is—to use a very Hallmark-y pun—perfectly on pointe.
A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.
Yes, it's a whole lot of plot to wrap your head around. But the real story here is that Sadie is played by none other than the phenomenal Sophia Lucia, and the ever-dashing Sascha Radetsky is also involved in the project. (Radetsky's exact role is unclear from the press material, but he seems like a pretty natural fit for Mark, no?) The odds seem good that we'll get the gift of some very high-quality dancing. Merry Christmas to us!
Sophia Lucia showing off those banana feet (via @sophialucia5678)
You can catch A Nutcracker Christmas on December 10 at 8 pm. Get your slippers and hot cocoa ready.
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
One of the most beautiful things social media has brought us is the ability to feel like we're up close and personal behind-the-scenes with all our favorite dancers. And one of our favorite stars to Insta-stalk are actually two casts of 36 scintillatingly synchronized precision dancers. I'm talking, of course, about my mild obsession with the legendary Radio City Rockettes.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?