New Victory Dance Arts Break: House Dance and Community

Every summer, New Victory Dance celebrates the artistry and diversity of NYC dance! Whether you’re preparing to attend a performance or are just in a dancing mood, New Victory Dance Arts Break offers fun and free dance education and engagement activities for wherever and however you feel like moving. So far we’ve found dance in everyday movement and in our own emotions. In this third installment, we’ll explore the history of house dance and how it can connect us to our community. Let’s move!

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New Victory Dance Arts Break: House Dance and Community

The video in this Arts Break was filmed at the New Victory Theater. We acknowledge that the New Victory resides on the seized homeland of the Lenape people and the intertribal territory of many First Nations. We celebrate and pay deep respect to all Indigenous peoples, past, present and future.

Try This!
You can express yourself through dance on your own, but dancing in community is a great way of sharing your moves and connecting with others! House dance is a style of dance that originated in the early 1980s, created predominantly by Black and Latinx LGBTQIA+ artists. Let’s join New Victory Teaching Artist Olney Edmondson for some house dance history and a menu of moves to learn with friends and family. And stick around until the end to celebrate with a cypher—a freestyle dance jam where family and friends take turns dancing in the center of the dance circle.

If you’re interested in practicing some of the house dance moves from Olney’s video, take a look below!

Looping splitscreen GIF of the three dance moves: jacking, paddbre and lotus

Did you know? The house move paddbre comes from pas de bourrée, a sideways step in ballet!


If you’re feeling confident in the moves above, finish off your house dance exploration with a cypher! Make sure everyone gets a turn.

Craft This!

In the 1980s house dance community, the individual dance teams (or “houses”) often had their own names. Gather the friends or family members who you dance with and brand your house dance house!

Materials: Piece of paper (or larger construction paper), coloring utensils, scissors, photos, magazines

Step One: Brainstorm a name with the other members of your house. What name feels right? It could be as simple as your family name, or you could spice it up! Try an exciting adjective, an animal you all love, or an activity that you all do together.

  • The Electric Edmondsons
  • The Kantor Kangaroos
  • The Waterskiing Wongs

Step Two: Once you’ve come up with a name, create a poster for your house. Fill up the poster with photos of yourselves, cutouts from magazines that represent you, colorful drawings, stickers and whatever else you need to make it unique to your house.

Evelyn and Paulina from the New 42 Youth Corps each created posters for their houses. The House of Cazales-Estrada is inspired by Evelyn’s childhood and family—her mom, dad and two brothers.

Illustration of Evelyn's House of Cazales-Estrada, with different family members drawn in rooms of a house enjoying music, games, theater and dancing

Paulina chose to make posters for two houses, both inspired by her circle of friends. The House of Happy Friends always sticks together no matter what. And just like the characters of Winnie the Pooh, the House of Adventurous Friends is always up for an adventure!

The Houses of Happy Friends and Adventurous Friends, collaged with cutouts of characters from Hello Kitty and Friends and Winnie the Pooh

Celebrate your newly named house in style! Wear clothing that feels like an expression of you and your family, and perform your house routine from Olney’s video for an audience. Be sure to introduce yourself and your house by name before dancing!

We hope you’ve had fun building community through dance and sampling the menu of house moves with your fellow house dancers. We’ll see you soon with another installment of New Victory Dance Arts Break. Have fun, and keep moving!

New Victory Arts Break Supporters

New Victory Arts Break is funded, in part, by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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