The differences of Hip Hop Dancers and Poppers ( or Funk Stylists as a select few prefer ) is profound, primarily because of the world the 2 styles originate from, many people consider them 1 in the same in regards to how each dancer whether Hip Hop or Popper evolves within the dance but in actuality I feel thats not entire an accurate train of though. In many circumstances their differences lie in their acquisition of skill. Both spend time practicing, both can spend time learning from a more senior peer. One profound difference in how these teachings are used comes from the world the 2 respective styles reside in.
Hip hop dancers spend more time choreographing and learning moves from whoever their respective teacher may be and these moves usually translate into their own styles almost as a mirror image, this is of no fault to the dancer but to the teachers who push a “right” and “wrong” attribute on their students. By creating a right/wrong environment (in regards to creativity not foundation) it restrains the practitioners own creativity and forces them to follow their teachers moves exactly. In many ways performances and group shows makes this aspect a requirement but in general learning and self development it is a hindrance that often gets swept under the rug in many dance schools.
Poppers, though they can have teachers and also generally teach themselves are in a world where copying of any sort is greatly frowned upon and thus they’re ability to create and grow into a unique dancer is more readily available to them. This in no way means hip hop dancers are incapable of dancing freely of their own created moves because there are many “general” dancers capable of this but the environment they grow in slows this process down. But in contrast poppers seem to have a harder time following choreography that isn’t directly related to funky styles and thus their drawback is being incapable of learning pre-taught dance motions as “quickly” as a general dancers/hip hop dancers.
Even in the example video its clear he (Nuko) is dancing purely on his own knowledge, style and skill level. It’s free and in no way looks “pre-created” which is common for poppers like him, regardless of their skill level. Again, this isn’t to say its impossible for hip hop dancers but I find that even watching the best hip hop dancers dance free of a group, they do moves similar to what other dancers do showing that their own creativity is still being guarded by moves taught in a right/wrong environment. This is why its troubling when hip hop teachers who really have little to no foundation of what funk styles really
is claim they are teaching popping because 9 times out of 10 they are teaching it incorrectly in regards to the foundation of the dance itself, And of course the contrasts ensure a balance of one not being primarily better than the other, the disadvantages of both Hip Hop and Popping whether it be originality, choreography etc can easily be overcome, its up to the dancer to determine what they like and the type of environment they want to be in, myself along with many other have grown fond of watching poppers/Funk Stylists because of that free nature they have with their various styles within Funk, but I do like the occasional hip hop performance but, For me, personally that’s where the line is drawn. I like watching poppers singularly “and” in groups.. But only tend to like watching hip hop dancers in groups only because that’s where I see more differences in styles and creativity. But again, to each his own.