Hip-hop is a complex cultural phenomenon that presents theoretical richness to academic fields such as, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, musicology, education, and more. Yet, most of the scholarship on hip-hop focuses on its music, histories, and politics. Few studies have placed hip-hop’s two embodied cultural practices – dance and dress – at the centre of their enquiry. This interdisciplinary research seeks to unpack and analyse the social and cultural dynamics of hip-hop dance and dress. It posits that dress offers a rich platform from which to reflect on hip-hop dance performance, as well as key social and cultural issues within the hip-hop dance community.
Using ethnographic research methods, I examine the transformative power of the dressed dancing body in a number of contemporary hip-hop contexts. These include, classes, workshops, rehearsals, auditions, battles and competitions, hip-hop theatre, and the digital space. Through consideration of key theoretical concepts, I seek to illustrate how hip-hop dance and dress are inevitably tied to the creation of valuable communities of practice, and the development of individual or group identities within those communities.