Underground Dance Masters

Final History of a Forgotten Era

by Thomas Guzman-Sanchez


From Michael Jackson's unforgettable moonwalk to the dance moves of today's pop stars like Usher, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna, all aspects of modern pop dance—and consequently pop culture—are derived from the inspired, unsung heroes of an underground urban dance movement that dates back to the mid-1960s.

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Cover image for Underground Dance Masters

October 2012


Pages 169
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
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    Hardcover: £37.00/40,00€/A$62.00

This book is a comprehensive, historical bible on the subject of urban street dance and its influence on modern dance, hip hop, and pop culture.

Urban street dance—which is now referred to across the globe as "break dance" or "hip-hop dance"—was born 15 years prior to the hip hop movement. In today's pop culture, the dance innovators from "back in the day" have been forgotten, except when choreographic echoes of their groundbreaking dance forms are repeatedly recycled in today's media. Sadly, this is still the case when dance moves that were engendered from 1965 through the 1970s on the streets of Reseda, South Central Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Fresno, CA; or in the Bronx in New York City, are utilized by modern performers.

In Underground Dance Masters: Final History of a Forgotten Era, an urban street dancer who was part of the scene in the early 1970s sets the record straight, blowing the lid off this uniquely American dance style and culture. This text redefines hip hop dance and the origins of a worldwide phenomenon, explaining the origins of classic forms such as Funk Boogaloo, Locking, Popping, Roboting, and B'boying—some of the most important developments in modern dance that directly affect today's pop culture.


  • Includes coverage of all of the major players in urban dance
  • Places current dance phenomena—from the moves of Usher to the choreography of High School Musical—in a historical context that stretches half a century
  • Includes interviews and photos to further bring the rich history of urban dance to life


  • This book is the first—as well as the definitive—history of urban dance
  • Puts current, well-known pop culture phenomena into context with their historical origins
Author Info

Thomas Guzman-Sanchez is founder of the International Urban Dance Master Association and has helped pioneer forms of urban dance since 1973. He has been a guest professor for outside studies at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, University of California, Riverside, and California Institute of Technology. Guzman-Sanchez's feature documentary film, Underground Dance Masters: Final History of a Forgotten Era, was chosen by the Dance Film Association as the feature event for its Dance on Camera Festival in 2008.



"An intriguing window into the work and world of Guzman-Sanchez, an urban street dancer, and the performances he was part of, starting in the mid-1960s and continuing through the 1970s and beyond. . . . Because of the author's central participation in the era examined, this brief volume serves as a primary document from a true believer and respected practitioner." Choice


"Innovative, informative and intriguing—this is a unique history of urban dance, and a must-read for all concerned with cultural creativity and social networking in America."—Joan L. Erdman, Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies, Columbia College, Chicago

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