Mastering the Six-Step

December 2, 2010

What is the Six-Step?

The six-step is literally six steps during which your weight is transferred back and forth between your hands and feet. While it may not look fancy, it’s the glue that holds the more spectacular breaking feats together. Jules describes it like this: “A six-step should look like you’re hovering over the ground, weightless. The feet should never be clunking on the ground, making plodding noises.” If you’re a jazz dancer, compare the six-step to a more complicated version of the jazz square. The pattern is circular, so you can return to step one after completing step six. The six-step can begin at any of the steps in the sequence, depending on where your prior movement ends, and can be done either clockwise or counterclockwise. The instruction we provide below begins in a neutral position.

The Set-Up

Start with the balls of the feet and your fingertips on the floor. It’s important to keep your weight on your fingertips and not drop your wrists. If the whole hand is on the ground, weight shifts will be very difficult. The most important part, according to Jules, is that “the butt must not be sticking up in the air but adjusted so that the weight is at your shoulders.” Engage abs for additional support. Think of yourself as a clock positioned parallel with the floor. Your head is pointing to 12 and your feet, separated slightly wider than your shoulders, are at the 6 o’clock position.

Step One:

Replace your right hand with your left foot, lifting the right arm either to the side or up in the air to make room for the leg. Your weight is on your left arm and right leg.

Step Two:

The right knee steps up to meet the left, with the right knee tucking under the left leg. “Your weight should now be almost entirely on your left arm and your feet should be at the 3 o’clock position,” Jules says.

Step Three:

You’ve reached the halfway point. The left leg comes out and sits “under your left butt cheek,” says Jules. “You should be able to sit up as if you’re squatting down talking with someone.” Remember that your hands are never on the floor at the same time. A classic beginner’s mistake is to put both hands down behind of the torso during this step, which causes the hips to be too far forward and will inhibit weight transfer into the next step.

Step Four:

The right leg sweeps in front of the left leg and the weight transfers from the left to right hand. The feet are now facing the 9 o’clock position and your head faces down. “Be aware of what your arms are doing,” Jules warns. “Don’t just let them fly around everywhere. In breaking, you are conscious of your entire body.”

Step Five:

Almost there! If you feel like you’re playing Twister, don’t despair. You’re probably doing it right. In this step, the left leg steps backwards to 6 o’clock, away from the right leg and your head is pointing to 12 o’clock. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away. In breaking, there will be hard moments, Jules says. “Breaking requires a lot of discipline and practice. Give yourself a chance to learn before you give up.”

Step Six:

The right leg joins the left, and you’re home free! You should end up in the exact same position as in the Set-Up. To make this final move, Jules says that push-ups and weight training to strengthen shoulder muscles are essential. She also recommends core muscle development—Pilates, yoga and sit-ups.

Ladies First

Lady Jules was born Julie Urich in St. Paul, MN, with a thirst for movement. After mastering head spins and hitting seemingly impossible freezes, she earned the honorable name “Lady Jules.” Whether in the classroom or on stage with her group F.E.M. (Females En Motion), Jules is one of a powerful group of female breakers proving that girls can play, too. In a male-dominated field, Lady Jules is developing her own pedagogy (a fancy word for teaching philosophy) for training b-girls. Her classes focus on helping girls develop strength and breaking steps down to provide female friendly pointers. “I was trained mostly by boys, so they kind of trained me the way they would train other guys. The hard part for me, and what I hope to do as a role model, is to teach women about the muscles and the body awareness they need to have to learn a dance style like breaking. I didn’t have anyone telling me what I had to work on—where my center of gravity is— they were telling me to ‘just do it.’ I figured it out on my own, and it took me a lot longer. I just want to bring all the knowledge I have from my training and learning about how the body mechanics of it all work, especially as far as a woman goes and how to train the body.” Check out for breakdancing instructions, downloadable video clips and forums.

Cari Cunningham has a BA in dance from the University of Oregon and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder.