Dance Industry Instructionals

So how does a dance battle work?

How does a dance battle work? Here are some beginner pointers!

If your only point of reference is something out of a noughties dance film, then let’s get you up to date.

The different types of dance battles

Ok so there’s ballroom culture (Vogue), 1 v 1, Seven to Smoke, All Styles, specific styles…the list keeps going. Aside from a Ballroom event, many street dance battles have a few things in common.

Common elements: Knock-Out Rounds

Many street dance battles, just like a lot of competitive sports, have knock-out rounds, in which one dancer or crew versus another dancer or crew.

Common elements: Time & Music

In most cases, each side gets 1 minute to dance to whatever the DJ spins before the other side dances for a minute.

Often in the semi-finals and finals (i.e. the last two remaining dancers), each side gets a few 60 second rounds as it goes back and forth.

What if you don’t like the music? Tough luck bebe. The whole point of a battle is to show you can freestyle to anything that’s thrown at you. It makes for an extra compelling watch as an audience member because it’s harder to pre-choreograph and you’re relying on your ability to listen to music and think creatively with your movement on the spot.

We all love watching a bit of pressure don’t we?

Who goes first?

So if each side gets a 60 second round, how do we know which side goes first? Ah, there’s a few options. a classic spin the bottle (it’s a dance event, someone will definitely have a water bottle on them), a scissors-paper-rock or a ‘last one to get to the battle area once their name is called out’ are all common ways to pick who goes first.

Other times, the music simply plays until someone initiates the first round. As a general rule, once you start dancing, the clock starts ticking.

An MC (and the crowd) often counts you down as your 60 seconds begins to run out.

Image via Red Bull

Who judges?

Judges. They’re street dancers who have a solid rep in the battle scene and often have numerous wins under their belt themselves. It is expected that the judges will also get up and do a judges demo.

It’s keeps them humble and asks them to show us why they’re in the hot seat.

How does judging work?

Easy. Crowd cheers or an odd number of judges.

After each side has danced their round, our judges are asked to point to their favourite side. Holding up an X with their arms signals a tie.

With three judges, you often have the scales tipped in favour of one winner, but in the case of a tie, the dancers simply dance again for another one minute round.

The other common way to pick a winner is to simply go by crowd cheer. Smaller battles just go by the vibe and volume, but larger battlers may go as far as recording decibels. It’s a vibe!

How do I watch a battle?

Easy, become part of your local street dance community.

If you don’t know how, take street style dance classes, then approach your teacher after and ask them when the next battle is on.

…And if your teacher has no idea what you’re talking about, then maybe look for a new street dance teacher.

Pssssttt…word on the street is Groove Therapy has beginner adult street dance and hip hop classes with teachers who are all actively part of the street dance scene…maybe book yourself in?