When you freestyle… you’re vulnerable. You’re honest. You don’t have set choreography to fall back on. It’s just your body, your mind, and the music.

And this can be scary!

A lot of dancers, even those who are confident in class or on stage, freeze up when thrown in a circle.

But we don’t have to be afraid! It’s not called fear-styling…

Freestyling is so fun and liberating. It captures the essence of what dance is really about – moving for the sake of moving to music that you love.

If you are just starting to explore freestyle dancing, then it will help to have some knowledge of what exactly it is, as well as some tips on how to start.

See Related Article: 5 Dance Tips To Begin Your Freestyle Foundation

This guide will take you through your freestyle dance journey step-by-step.

Keep reading to learn how to freestyle dance!

What Is Freestyle Dancing?

how to freestyle dance

Freestyle dancing is improvisation. It’s when you spontaneously create movement that was not choreographed ahead of time

The “free” nature of freestyle allows the dancer to express their individual style and feeling. You don’t have to be in a circle to be freestyle dancing.

You probably freestyle all the time already!

You are freestyling any time you dance – at the club, in the car, whenever you hear a song that makes your body move.

In a way, freestyling should just be called “dancing,” because that’s essentially what it is. Your body’s just reacting to the music and feeling it out.

That being said…

It Starts With The Music

how to freestyle dance

When you freestyle, you don’t necessarily have to follow the structure of the song you’re dancing to.

But there are certain things to keep in mind for your moves to not clash with the music.

Before you start to move, listen to the song for a few 8-counts.

Get in the groove of the rhythm / tempo of the song.

The first step to freestyle is simply to find the beat. This sets the pacing of all your movements

And listen to the melody – this is the layer of the song that you “sing.” (*It doesn’t necessarily have to be lyrics).

The melody helps you with the mood of your freestyle. Dancing to this layer is a great way to switch up your freestyle from hitting the “boom”s and “ka”s in the song

Notice other patterns in the music that you can emphasize.

For example, is there a bass beat every even count? A snare at the end of every 8-count? You can take mental note of these so you can later do something to “hit” that sound.

Don’t want to be so analytical? We’re basically just saying: listen to the music. Know what you want to dance to or how it makes you feel.

Brush Up With This Article: The Ultimate Guide To Musicality For Beginner Dancers

Building Your Base

Cool, so you got a handle on the music. Let’s see how you can dance to it.

1. Get Well-Versed In A “Fundamental Style”

how to freestyle dance

Fundamental, or foundational styles, are the bread and butter of freestyle.

These dances emerged in clubs and other social settings where dancers used freestyle to express themselves. (This is also why our first point about music is so important. The music that’s popular in an area or period greatly influences how people think, feel, and dance.)

Over time, the techniques, grooves, and combos from these styles became the building blocks for a lot of the choreography we see today.

These styles include but are not limited to: Popping, Locking, Breaking, House, Waacking, Krump, and more!

The vocabulary of moves from any of these styles give a blueprint for freestyle dance. Yes, freestyle allows you to embrace your own style, sure, but it helps to start on solid ..foundation 😉

Watch videos and take classes to see which styles you feel most drawn to and just focus on ONE or two of those.

It’d be REALLY overwhelming and not as efficient to start to train in house, lock, waack, and break all at once.

So once you zero in one one or two styles, practice those techniques repeatedly. Think of it as conditioning, similar to how ballet dancers tendu or plie repeatedly to ingrain that into their bodies.

Drill hits, waves, loose legs, glides – whatever it is that you want in your arsenal of dance moves. They will be the skeleton for your freestyle!

how to freestyle dance

Boogie Frantick, an OG popper talks a lot about the importance of these techniques in his waving and hitting classes on STEEZY Studio.

Keep in mind that you are free to expand your movements however you wish. That’s the best part of freestyling – that it’s a mode of self-expression. These drills will just help you to have a good base to build off of.

See Related Article: How To Develop Your Unique Style As A Dancer

2. Hip-Hop Groove It Out

how to freestyle dance

Many people mistake “Hip Hop” as being the umbrella term for other styles, but it is actually its own style.

Hip hop grooves may just be my favorite, ever. I sometimes take “Grooves” classes if I feel like just… dancing!

Take classes like this, watch videos, or come up with your own grooves!

Bianca’s classes on STEEZY Studio are filled with old-school grooves that you can bust out anywhere.

See Related Article: Why Every Dancer Should Take A Beginner Dance Class

3. Play With Dynamics

Nothing’s wrong with just vibing to a song, but if you want your freestyle to look more compelling or impressive, then try adding dynamics.

Dynamics refer to how you do a move, not the move itself. For example, you can do the same arm wave in an infinite amount of different ways. Fast and strong? Or initiate from the shoulder? Milk and then hit at the end?

We like to call these the “fast and slows, highs and lows.”

Playing with different speeds, levels of power, placements, and other factors can transform your dancing from flat to fascinating.

4. Play With Combinations Of Moves

how to freestyle danceWe all have our “default” moves. It’s what our body naturally wants to do to certain sounds.

Do you find yourself repeating certain movements? That’s fine! But you can make that move look more complex and interesting by fusing it with other movements.

For example, you got your basic two-step. Right, tap. Left, tap.

Now… Add arms! Maybe a.. Head tilt! Try a lean into your step!

Groundbreaking. Now your basic two-step is a whole new move!

Experiment with different body parts to add more flavor to your base moves. You never know what unique pictures or grooves you’ll come up with!

5. Use Concept-Based Freestyling

It’s common to get stuck or lost in a freestyle if you’re just basing your dancing off of a set of moves.

Try telling a story or depicting a concept with your freestyle.

This video explains how you can use “concept-based freestyling” to level up your freestyle dance game.

6. Practice Wherever, Whenever!

how to freestyle dance

The best part of freestyling is that it’s FREE. Get it?? Eh??

No, but literally.

You don’t have to pay for a class or go anywhere fancy. You can freestyle in your garage, your room, your car… You can get a group of your friends together and session… You can hiT DA CLUB and let your freak flag fly.

How and when you practice freestyling is virtually 100% up to you.

So do it anytime, all the time! And watch yourself grow more comfortable and creative freestyle dancing.

See Related Article: 7 Cheap Ways To Become A Better Dancer

Did this article help you start your freestyle journey? What do you struggle with that we didn’t discuss? Comment below!

Wondering how you can get in your popping drills and beginner hip hop grooves? We’ve got classes GALORE on STEEZY Studio! Build your freestyle dance base starting… NOW!