What is a Urban Dance Cypher?

What is a Urban Dance Cypher/Circle? 

A dance cypher in the urban dance context is a group of people (dancers, and also audience) who have met in one place (jam, club, practice place etc.) to form a circle and participate in the act of dance. It is based on the african and mediterranean culture phenomenon of “call and response”… It is practice of dialogue in a  body language (…).  This principle found its way into Hip Hop culture through Jazz.


How does is work?

After the cypher is formed, the played music gives the impulse to the dancer to step into the middle.  The first person to dance inspires the next one to perform his interpretation, which might be reinterpreted by the next one who follows. The dancers call is to be responded to by the next person stepping into the middle. By stepping into the cypher – the dancer gets to communicate by playing with all the bystanders and participants in a vibrant spectacle. The audience, other dancers and foremost the group members are not just watching and waiting to get involved into the cypher, but they also serve as shell, protecting the dancer from anybody outside.

„In a vital circle, people think about the representation of the art form itself.“

What’s the point of a Cypher?

Every cypher that is formed assumes its own temporary identity. It is a practice method and ritual which has an own and unique energy and power. „The object in the cypher is not to analyse, to win, lose or even to exchange an opinion(…)“. It is much more to look at all single statements fully and see what they mean altogether.

Further the experience of a “collective identity” soon develops, and it´s strong: the sense of “We´re standing here” and “We´re doing this” seems to exude from the collective of the circle.

By being together and sharing, the cypher ritual helps also to strengthen unity!


Text by Sezai – „Rocking Till Death“



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