The history of hip hop is distinctly American, though, like other "distinctly American" forms of dance, its roots extend back through jazz to African dance.
In the 1960s in New York City, the uprock and breaking dance styles started to develop alongside hip hop music. At the same time, dancers in California, inspired by Hollywood robots, were working on dance moves to imitate them through locking and popping. In the 1970s, professional street-based dance crews emerged and popularized these various subcategories of hip-hop. As hip hop gained ground in the American cultural imagination, dancers blended the two different coast styles into one big genre of hip hop.
Social forms of hip hop dancing evolved alongside hip hop music — in the 90s we had the Running Man and the Cabbage Patch, in the 2000s the Soulja Boy and the Dougie. Unlike most dance styles on this list, hip hop was developed without a formal structure and was not created in a studio. In other words, a hip hop dancer only needs a natural sense of rhythm and practice, rather than formal training, to become skilled in the style.
Recently, modern hybrids of hip-hop (lyrical hip hop, jazz-funk) have become popular in the entertainment industry. However, because these versions incorporate highly technical elements of other dance disciplines, these versions (sometimes called "studio hip hop") are not always considered to be authentic.
Some identifying elements of hip hop include:
Competitive nature: hip hoppers challenge each other with dance moves
isolations: dancers control and move specific parts of their bodies
Popping: quick contraction and release of a dancer's muscles to the beat of the music
Locking: performing a series of movements to "lock" parts of the body in different positions
Breaking: improvisational freestyle movements performed closely to the rhythm of a song, often including flips and tricks