Differences between Ballet and Hip Hop

Ballet and hip-hop dancing are two very different forms of dance. Though both require significant skill and technique, each style calls upon you to use a completely different type of movement. Here we explore the differences between ballet and hip-hop dancing to give perspective on their nuances and unique qualities.

Comparison Ballet Hip Hop
Movement Style Graceful movements like pointing and flexing Full-body movements like The Wop, Running Man, Mike Tyson, Gucci, Smurf, and Tarek 
Speed & Rhythm Move quickly with control Focus on rhythm
Costumes & Attire Leotards or Tutus Up to self, like baggy clothes, caps, sneakers
Musicality & Expression Typically classical music Heavier beats such as rap, funk, or R&B backing
Choreography Choreographed and highly structured Improvisation and freestyling based on the situation
History Originated in the Renaissance courts of Italy in the 15th century Originated in African American and Latinx communities in the Bronx in 1970

Movement Style

The most important difference between ballet and hip-hop is the style of the movement itself. Ballet focuses on elevated, graceful movements that display strength and balance with every step. Hip hop involves more ground-based movement that’s loose and funky, often consisting of intricate body isolations that show off intricate levels of control over one's own body movements.

Ballet has specific footwork techniques, such as pointing and flexing the feet, whereas hip-hop dance often emphasizes the use of full-body moves like 

  • The Wop is a dance move that involves swinging the arms and legs in a circular motion.
  • The Running Man is a move that involves running in place while keeping the arms and legs moving.
  • Mike Tyson's Tarek is a move that involves hopping on one foot while throwing punches with the other.
  • Gucci's Buddha Stretch is a move that involves stretching out the arms and legs while spinning around.
  • Smurf's Buddha Stretch is similar to Gucci's but with more emphasis on stretching out the arms and legs.
  • Tarek is a move that involves hopping on one foot while throwing punches with the other

Speed & Rhythm

Ballet steps tend to move quickly but with control - the dancers must be precise and efficient in all their footwork! Hip hop on the other hand usually moves at a slower pace with a strong focus on rhythm rather than speed, allowing for more improvisation as dancers experiment with musicality more than technical skills.

Costumes & Attire

The way each dancer chooses to dress also reflects the differences between these two genres: dancers performing ballet typically wear leotards or tutus while hip hopping may dress however they want from baggy clothes, sneakers, and baseball caps to designer jeans! Finally, pointe shoes are often used in classical ballet whereas sneakers are an essential part of any street-style dancer's wardrobe.

Musicality & Expression

In terms of musical accompaniment, classical music is often paired with the elegant moves of ballet whereas hip hop tends to have heavier beats such as rap, funk, or R&B backing it up. Moreover, ballet requires highly regimented routines that limit access to creative expression whereas hip-hop encourages freedom within certain bounds making it easier for dancers to improvise and express themselves through dance moves that feel natural or familiar to them.


Ballet routines are usually choreographed and highly structured, while hip-hop routines often involve improvisation and freestyling. 


Ballet is a classical dance form that originated in the Renaissance courts of Italy and France. It is known for its grace, precision, and fluid movements, as well as its strict adherence to form and technique. Ballet is usually performed to classical music and often tells a story through dance.

Hip hop, on the other hand, originated in African American and Latinx communities in the Bronx in the 1970s. It is characterized by its strong beats and rhythms and is often performed in hip-hop or rap music. Hip-hop is known for its athletic and energetic movements, as well as its emphasis on individual style and freestyling.

Overall, the main differences between ballet and hip hop are their cultural origins, musical influences, movement styles, and techniques.

Have you ever wanted to know all the different types of dances? From classical dance forms such as ballet, hip-hop, salsa, and bachata - there are endless possibilities when it comes to the art of dance.

In this article, we will explore various types of dances and define each one with examples to help you get started on your dancing journey!

Do you want to learn how to dance but don't think ballet is the style for you? Learning a new dance can be invigorating and fun, but the style of dance is important. We'll explore some of the best dances to learn besides ballet

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Author: Sky Hoon
Into Watching Tik Tok Dancing. He loved to watch creative Tik Tok Dancing that show a person's personality. Created this blog to learnt more about dancing.
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