Please Wait a Moment

Hip Hop History and Heritage

Male hip hop dancer performing

Professor: Moncell Durden

Tuition: $310 member / $385 non-member

6 Weeks; 1.5 NDEO-Endorsed PDCs

Shaped by sociocultural and sociopolitical circumstances in the 1970s and developed during economic struggles and environmental turmoil, hip-hop gave voices to the restless and tumultuous inner-city youth. Its roots are found in the social fabric of African and Afro-Diasporic concepts of communication that have re-inventions in ragtime, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, funk, and soul which culminated in hip-hop. This course will help students understand hip-hop vocabulary, terminology, and fundamentals as well as gain a contextual and historical overview of hip-hop dance and culture; its recurring cultural modes of discourse and discursive practices present in black vernacular / social dance, and its intersecting economic, political, and social dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Participants will engage in reflection, choreographic explorations, and written dialogue with classmates which will illuminate their personal, social and cultural dynamics of ethnic diversity. Additional course components include reading, video viewing and analysis, and writing assignments that allow students to focus their understanding of hip-hop dance.

Professor Durden will host a live (OPTIONAL) weekly Q&A Zoom discussion with the class on Saturdays at 1pm EST in lieu of written feedback to each student. He will be on hand to answer your questions and provide additional insight into the weekly topics. These sessions will be recorded for those that cannot attend the Live session.

  • June 24 Saturday at 1pm EST - What is Hip-Hop
  • July 1 Saturday at 1pm EST - The Influences of Gang Culture in Hip-Hop
  • July 8 Saturday at 1pm EST - The Continuum - Authentic/Vernacular Jazz
  • July 15 Saturday at 1pm EST - Hip-Hop Theory and Practice
  • July 22 Saturday at 1pm EST - What I've Learned about Hip-Hop Dance

Due to the unique nature of this course, all students (including those auditing) are encouraged to fully participate in this course as peer-to-peer written feedback is a critical component of the Discussion Board posts. Peer-to peer feedback benefits participants by: 1) enhancing and practicing feedback skills; 2) providing opportunities to share thinking; 3) sharing lesson and curricular planning, and 4) creating networking opportunities and community support.

Book required: Durden, E. Moncell (2018) Beginning Hip Hop Dance: An interactive dance series. Human Kinetics.

Questions about this Course?  Email

Past Student Testimonials

"This course was extremely enriching which makes me a more knowledgeable teacher. I liked the content and the variety of how it was presented to us. I liked that there were discussions each week although I was not able to attend them live. I do appreciate the option to revisit them."

"I enjoyed this course because it helped define exactly what hip hop dance is and is not. I feel like I have a better understanding of what I am seeing when I view hip hop verses related styles of dance. I think I could confidently teach my students the origins of hip hop, what other things influence it, and the basic steps and bounces. I really liked the zoom meetings. I wasn't able to attend all of them, but the ones I couldn't make were still helpful to listen to later."

"I will always remember the discussion on "am I teaching my dance students to copy me or am I teaching them to DANCE?"

"This course gave me the confidence to not only teach hip hop but also teach the history of hip hop and how the style has changed or how some people have misrepresented it. This course has taught me how to identify true hip hop. I have a deep appreciation to now teach the history of any dance style as well as the style itself."

"Taking this course helped me to understand the culture of Hip Hop and the history that led to its creation on a much deeper level, and I feel that as a teacher that has enhanced my ability to share an even more authentic view of Hip Hop with my students than I was previously able to accomplish. On top of really liking and enjoying the historical and cultural aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed how much we explored the larger, more complex ideas in first section that can be used to help understand all forms of dance. The content, while being a great supplement for the rest of the material in this course, was a very powerful learning tool that allowed for better understanding of all forms of dance."

"I think this course really pushed me to think of the origins of everything that I am teaching. It showed me the importance of doing your research and giving credit."

Professor Bio

E. Moncell Durden is a dance educator, choreographer, ethnographer, embodied historian, author and associate professor of practice at University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman International School of Dance who specializes in pedagogical practices that prove cultural and historical context in what he calls the morphology of Afro-kinetic memory. A highly sought-after instructor, Durden teaches practical and theoretical classes in the U.S. and abroad; an expert in locking, house, hip-hop, authentic jazz, and party dances from 1900 to the present. He has published articles in Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches and the Encyclopedia of African Cultural Heritage in North America, Rooted Jazz Dance, and the Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Dance.

How Courses Work