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Commercial street dance is one of those styles that you might recognise without actually knowing the name. Back in 2011, when an episode of So You Think You Can Dance drew ‘commercial’ out of the that for the week’s dance style, there was some confusion as to what this even was.

Now we love commercial dance and lots of people have even taken commercial street dance lessons – here’s why:


Hip-hop dance

Commercial has its roots in hip-hop dance, which was the dancing side of the culture that emerged in the 1970s. TV shows such as Soul Train and later Breakin’, Beat Style and Wild Style in the 1980s saw that hip-hop dance become something that everyone was aware of, even if they couldn’t do it themselves!

The dance industry looked at this new culture and started to create its own versions of these dances and styles. Often known as ‘new style’ as well as styles such as ’jazz funk’ this saw classically trained dances learning from hip-hop dancers to then start choreographing dances in these styles. And the nature of hip-hop meant that these dances happened both in dance studios and outdoors, even in the street.

The birth of commercial

This newly choreographed version of hip-hop with its classic trained dancers and choreographers quickly led to the creation of a commercial version of the hip-hop style. This new style was also seen in pop music videos and concerts for rap, pop and R&B artists and groups. Of course, for those deeply involved with the original hip-hop culture, this commercial version wasn’t truly their style but for many others, it was a bridge between the culture and the mainstream.

This new style commercial street dance started to spread around the world. For example, a dance documentary in 1992 called Wreckin’ Shop from Brooklyn brought the new style to countries like France and Japan where it was really popular. These New York hip-hop dancers took new style to be their own and created ‘New York Style’.

Current definitions of the styles

Like any style, commercial dance has continued to change and evolve over the years since it was created. At the moment, you can take lessons in various different styles of commercial and hip-hop dance. Generally, they are split into:

  • Street dance – literally, dancing in the streets outside the studio as well as nightclubs, this style has a heavy emphasis on improvisation without a formal routine
  • Commercial dance – this is the strong, sexy style that you see on music videos and MTV, sometimes in the street and other locations showcased by stars like Rhianna and Lady Gaga
  • Break dance – another street-based dance with intricate movements and coordination, made popular by African American and Latin American teens as a constructive alternative to gang lifestyle
  • Reggaetón – style of dance originated in Panama in the 1970s that is a mixture of Jamaican and Latin American influences with hip-hop and Electronica music

No matter what style you decide to try, all have a lot of energy and fun involved and are great to help you boost your confidence and increase your fitness levels. To join a commercial street dance class in North Tyneside complete our form to join our amazing dance school!