How the Bronx Pioneered A Genre: A Guest Post by Linda J. Acevedo

In this guest post, author Linda J. Acevedo invites readers to bust a move while learning about the history of the boogie-down Bronx in her picture book debut. Breaking to the Beat has received FIVE starred reviews and is available wherever books are sold!

Images of decay still echo in the minds of many whenever the Bronx is brought up. It’s an undeniable fact the 1970s hit the NYC borough pretty hard. But among the debris, a spark of optimism blossomed within the NYC borough—Hip-Hop. Breaking is the first element of the culture my eyes feasted on. My memory of the day is crystal clear.

Why Hip Hop is World Culture


A boombox blared as a breaker danced on cardboard laying on a street corner. Along with neighborhood kids, I stared in amazement at the fiery footwork. A rush of electricity ran through us. We jumped up and down as only excited preteens could, with an enthusiastic frenzy. We realized we witnessed something special, but had no idea the dynamic steps were our first glimpse of hip-hop.

Born to Dance: The Breakdancing Kid

We latched on to the dance. During recess, gym class, or when our teacher stepped out of the classroom, my friends and I tried our hand at swivels and spins. Bellyflops, plentiful. Determination, bountiful. Somehow, I managed a decent top rock and a so-so six-step. But a six-step nonetheless.

Breaking Confirmed for 2024 Paris Olympic Games

Battles erupted in hallways, after school parties, and the school bus stop. Someone, always ready to share a new move. And the rest of us, always set to sponge up every step.

Movies such as Flashdance and Beat Street pushed breaking into popularity. As a young Puerto Rican girl, seeing teens who looked like my family and neighbors on the big screen was exciting. I later came to understand how incredible it was for a group of disenfranchised Black and Latinx kids from the Bronx to have created a dance that ultimately took the world by storm.

Snap forward and breaking is as popular as ever. Competitions have popped up here, there, and everywhere, including the 2018 Youth Olympics where the FLY-est of the F-L-Y sprung from the ground. Other breaking competitions attract thousands of spectators who are excited to watch breakers drop to the beat. On the horizon is the 2024 Olympics Games where we’re sure to see dancers bring their trickiest STUNTS and explosive POWER MOVES to the competition.

Breaking to the Beat, a story brimming with hope, is a hip-hoppity journey that reimagines the life of breaking pioneers and the impact their passion and ingenuity have stamped on the world.

Breaking terms

Battles are a huge element of breaking. Circled by spectators in what is known as a cypher, breakers show off their own unique styles and routines.

Six-step is a type of footwork. Dancers lift their bodies with their arms and with a quickness walk around in a circle six times.

Toprock is an opportunity for breakers to warm up and introduce their style to the crowd before hitting the floor. This opening sequence is performed while standing and can include a mixture of salsa, Lindy Hop, and disco, along with kicks, hips twists, and other forms of dance and creative moves. There are many different types of toprock, including crossover step and kick step. Two-hand hops is when breakers are in a handstand position and hop on their hands.

Praise for Breaking to the Beat!

⭐ “This joyous celebration of break dancing is a visual treat. Vibrant full-page illustrations pop off pages, perfectly complementing the spare but effective text.” —Booklist, starred review

⭐ “A dazzling mix of spirited text and striking illustrations, this beautifully evokes a time period and the art it gave rise to.” —Bulletin, starred review

⭐ “This lusciously illustrated picture book, with Morrison’s signature images of characters with elongated arms and legs, effectively captures Manolo’s initial hesitancy and later verve, bravado, and dizzyingly bodacious moves. A wonderful story of an important artistic form that, like jazz, emerged from Black and Brown communities.” —The Horn Book, starred review

⭐ “With text full of punchy words and phrases, the author invokes the indelible zest of hip-hop in a way that inspires. Morrison’s hazy, graffiti-flavored artwork is spellbinding, with bodies etched in movement that leaps off the pages. An irresistible beat to get readers on their feet.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

⭐ “A picture book ode to break dancing and the Bronx. . . Graffiti-inflected art style makes smart use of changing perspectives, crowd scenes, and dance silhouettes to showcase a triumphant story.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Linda J. Acevedo is a New York native who was known to do the toprock and six-step at birthday parties and in her backyard. As a debut author, she is thrilled she gets to share this story about the origins of breaking and Hip Hop with young readers.