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More Than Movement Dance Education: Celebrating Women in Hip-Hop

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

Welcome to another More Than Movement Dance Education spotlight! These spotlights are dedicated to sharing the history and culture of various Black dance forms. We specifically aim to spotlight dance forms that are historically appropriated and set the record straight about where so many of these beautiful dance forms originated!

Have a dance form you would like to see spotlighted next? Let us know at!

A Brief History of Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop has a rich history and culture, but here is a brief history of how this groundbreaking art form started!

  • During the late 60s/early 70s, the Black and Latiné communities living in the Bronx faced systemic oppression and benign neglect.

  • On August 11th, 1973, DJ Kool Herc and Pep-1 threw a back-to-school party to raise money for school supplies at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York.

  • DJ Kool Herc pioneered the merry-go-round technique. The merry-go-round technique is when a DJ takes two funk records and extends the instrumental section, or "the break." This became known as the birth of Hip-Hop music. DJ Kool Herc also coined the term "break boy" and "break girl" (more commonly known as BBoys and BGirls).

  • Hip-Hop culture became a way for these communities to express joy and find an escape from oppression.

It's essential that we recognize where Hip-Hop started and who pioneered the culture that we all enjoy. In honor of Women's History Month, we want to give recognition to just some of the women that were trailblazers in Hip-Hop culture.

Cindy Campbell

Cindy Campbell had the idea of throwing a party to raise money for back-to-school supplies, raising $500. Her brother Clive, aka DJ Kool Herc, was the DJ for the party. The party took place on August 11th, 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, and this would soon be known as the party that marked the beginning of Hip-Hop.

Cindy is a B-Girl, Graffiti Writer, and the first Hip-Hop Promoter.

In 2007, Pep-1 and DJ Kool Herc helped save 1520 Sedgwick Avenue and keep it as an affordable housing option.

MC Sha-Rock
"Mother of the Mic"

Known as the "Mother of the Mic," MC Sha-Rock got her start in Hip-Hop as a member of The Funky 4+1, making her the first female emcee.

Funky 4+1 became the first Hip-Hop group to receive a record deal and the first to perform on mainstream television, giving a musical performance on "Saturday Night Live" on February 14th, 1981.

She has received several awards for her contributions to Hip-Hop, including an honorary award from the County of the City of New York, and the Women of Distinction Award by the Hip-Hop Culture Center.

Roxanne Shante

At 14 years old, Roxanne Shanté recorded an answer to UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne," later called "Roxanne's Revenge." This single sold over 250,000 copies, making Roxanne a hip-hop star.

She is one of the founding members of Juice Crew and was known for her ability to freestyle entire songs.

In 2017, a dramatized biopic of her life called "Roxanne, Roxanne" was first shown at Sundance Film Festival, receiving critical acclaim.

Sylvia Robinson
"Hip-Hop's First Godmother"

Sylvia Robinson is a singer/songwriter and the co-founder and CEO of Sugarhill Records.

Before becoming a record producer, Sylvia had a successful career as an R&B singer. In 1973, she released a solo hit called "Pillow Talk" under the name Sylvia.

In 1980, Sugarhill Records released Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," the first hip-hop song to chart on the Billboard Top 40.

Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott changed the Hip-Hop game with her visual and sonic vocabulary. After working with artists such as Aaliyah and Ginuwine, Missy recorded her debut album called Supa Dupa Fly in 1991, which featured her smash song "The Rain."

Her signature style of baggy pants and bright colors was a stark contrast to many new female Hip-Hop artists that embraced a feminine, hypersexual persona.

Along with her signature style, Missy also provided more opportunities for dancers in her music videos and live performances. One of her many accolades includes a 2005 MTV VMA award for Best Dance Video.

Today, she continues to push boundaries and inspire dozens of Hip-Hop artists.

The Rise of the Hip-Hop Feminism Movement

While women play an essential role in the evolution of Hip-Hop, they are often overlooked, hypersexualized, and dismissed due to the misogyny within the Hip-Hop music industry.

  • During the early years of Hip-Hop, women used storytelling and metaphors to tell important messages

    • Salt N Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex" (1990) preached the importance of safe sex

  • "Hip-Hop Feminism" was coined by Joan Morgan in 1999. Artists such as Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill are prime examples of Hip-Hop Feminism because they called for solidarity among women while breaking records in the industry.

  • Today, women in Hip-Hop continue to shatter records and embrace feminity, while showing that they can be successful in a male-dominated genre.

Resource List

Interested to learn more about Hip-Hop Dance? Visit our living resource document which we are continuously updating with more resources on different dance forms!

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Learn More About More Than Movement

If you have any questions or comments regarding our More Than Movement program or have any resources you’d like to share, please email our More Than Movement Committee leads, Lexi and Kristie at

Please continue to follow this page, our Rae Studios newsletter, and on social media for upcoming events, workshops, speaker series, panels, performances, materials for dance educators, and more. We look forward to growing as artists and community leaders that will show the world that what we do is #morethanmovement.


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