Hip Hop & Jazz Funk with NiCo O’Connor

Hip Hop & Jazz Funk

Taking Class

NiCo O'Connor's intricate yet groovy style is based in jazz funk, contemporary hip hop, and classic 90s grooves. Taking hip hop with NiCo, you may get anything from gritty swag to a fierce pop performance routine. In jazz funk, he highlights the more technical side of his style. NiCo encourages students to commit and focus on the intention behind the movement. In his class, he says, dancers always get the chance to tap into a feeling or emotion.

Class members say they appreciate NiCo's use of levels and the way his choreography pushes their bodies physically—and also the diversity of NiCo's movement.

“Focus on the details and the music,
let everything else go!

In his teens, NiCo trained in hip-hop technique at Culture Shock in Oakland, CA—developing strong fundamentals in breakdance, popping, and locking—then went on to study more stylized hip hop. His choreography is also richly influenced by his passion for the old-school grooves and jazz funk he grew up watching in videos for 90s R&B artists like TLC.

While NiCo's style can be intricate and challenging, it's always organic and rooted in the sensation of movement. NiCo doesn't usually use a mirror while he choreographs. Late at night, when he's most inspired, he moves the table to make space to dance in his kitchen.

Before teaching, he gives a new routine a final check in the mirror.

But while he's creating, NiCo says, "I don’t want to think about what looks cool in the mirror, but what feels right on the body."

In class, NiCo is patient and methodical; he really wants students to learn. He breaks the moves down, leads the class in marking half-time, and describes what he wants in detail.

"Let it accent, but still move to the beat," NiCo instructed in one class. ". . . This part should be heavy—boom, boom . . . Listen to the bass, it's carrying a lot of the choreography . . . Let it flow."

"Charge it up," NiCo said of one part. "It can be whatever you want."

He encourages individuality in class, NiCo says, and invites his students to let go of self-consciousness and be open to making mistakes as they grow and push outside their comfort zone. He wants to see dancers move with intent, and commit to their execution.

"It's all about letting go and letting your light shine," NiCo says. "Focus on the details and the music, let everything else go!"

NiCo sets a tone by example, and students say his warmth and positive energy make him a pleasure to learn from.

"His personality is so light and bright," says Summer Dion.

NiCo received his first regular class at Millennium, where he was a work-study for over three years after arriving in L.A., and has also taught at other top studios. His passion for dance gave NiCo drive and direction when he needed it, and teaching has become about much more to him than giving a combo, he says. Many younger dancers haven't fully figured out who they are yet, so NiCo strives to nurture students as they grow into themselves.

Hip Hop & Jazz Funk

Class in Brief

In NiCo O'Connor's hip hop class, you may get anything from gritty swag to a fierce pop performance routine. In jazz funk, he highlights his more technical side. But in all of NiCo's classes, dancers get the chance to tap into a feeling or emotion.

Class members appreciate NiCo's physically challenging choreography and the diversity of his movement. His style is rich in old-school grooves and 90s-style jazz funk, and also draws on contemporary hip hop and hip-hop technique fundamentals from styles such as popping and locking.

NiCo is a patient teacher who really wants students to learn. He breaks the moves down thoroughly and reviews when needed. NiCo also encourages individuality and risk-taking in class, and students enjoy his warm, energetic personality.