What is Tutting?

By Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Tutting is one of the funk styles/street dance styles affiliated with Hip Hop, and is considered by most to be an off-shoot of Popping, at least originally. 

Tutting is a style of dance that involves making shapes and angles (usually 90-degree angles) with the body, limbs, hands, fingers, etc, and is thought to have been inspired initially from Egyptian hieroglyphs and depictions of King Tut the pharaoh. 

In the USA, Tutting emerged in the mid-1970s to early 1980s when Poppers would hit Tutting poses or make Tutting shapes and angles while they were Popping. 

The person who pioneered this style was Mark Benson aka King Boogaloo Tut. It is said that he was inspired after seeing Boogaloo Sam (founder of the Electric Boogaloos) dancing in Mac Arthur Park in Long Beach, CA. 

Benson was only 15 at the time, and he wanted to be a part of the Electric Boogaloos, so he decided he needed to find a way to stand out. The Electric Boogaloos already had members with specialties; they had a popper, boogaloo, ticker, puppet styles, etc. Then one day Mark was watching an episode of Batman, and the villain was King Tut the pharaoh. He realized there was no King Tuts popping anywhere, and knew he’d found a way to stand out. 

He was inspired by the shapes made and depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and decided to “give them movement and a soul and the rest is history”(Benson). 

In 1979, he choreographed The Street Scape and went on to tour the world during the 80’s. He has appeared, choroegraphed for and been a part of many television dance shows such as Soul Train, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crew and America’s Got Talent.

Popin’ Pete (Popping Pete), an original member of the Electric Boogaloos verifies Mark as the pioneer of the Tutting style in his post, “…We would go around to many different places popping/boogaloo/ticking and Mark would break that tut out on people and eyes would buck, we went all over watching people dance, and there NO ONE DOING TUTTING BEFORE HIM! this was the summer of 1978” (Popin’ Pete). 

Because of the sharp use of angles, it is important to make clean lines with whatever body parts you’re tutting with. There are many interesting concepts to help make your Tutting more intricate and creative. 

The box concept is one that is often used, creating box shapes with the arms, hands, fingers, etc. Tutting also uses Popping concepts to link and animate the various shapes being made. 

Other styles that integrate Tutting concepts are Voguing, Waving and Liquiding –just to name a few. The creative hinging and bending of geometric shapes is very interesting to watch, which is why so many people find it so appealing. 

Interested in learning some Tutting basics? Check out this tutorial from Mr. Wiggles, original member of the Electric Boogaloos.

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!

About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 3-11. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.