Friday, September 15, 2017

How to Do the Fresno

Our love for music is almost a universal human characteristic. One doesn’t often hear another say how much he hates listening to music. Although most of us share this same trait, we each have our own individual and unique relationship with music. For instance, some of us love hip hop while others prefer rock n roll. On person may enjoy relating to the deep emotions hidden within lyrics while another individual might only care about a heavy beat or guitar solo. There are many ways in which we can express our unique relationship with our music to others. Music critics accomplish this on a very analytic level. Ordinary people have music conversations all the time, explaining what their favorite songs are and why. Some like to take a more visual approach to this expression: dance. Something about moving to the music shows how I feel about a particular song in such a way that cannot be captured through words. The raw and unconscious feelings can reveal itself in the form of passionate groove. However, these feelings can only surface if we move naturally. After all, these feelings are natural, and the only way we can portray them accurately is to dance as if it was second nature. In order to reach this place where dance can emerge from the body without the mind having to consciously think about the next movement, one must practice basic fundamentals for extended periods of time. Among all the different dance styles, popping is my style of choice, and one of the basic fundamentals I still practice today is the Fresno.
Before diving in to how we perform the Fresno, we must talk about what the Fresno is. The Fresno is a basic popping dance move and learning tool. Practicing the Fresno helps the dancer develop a consistent strong hit all while staying on beat. Because popping is all about continuously hitting on beat, the Fresno is a great basic move to learn whether you're a beginner or an experienced popper. A hit or pop in dance is the instantaneous contraction and relaxing of a muscle; for example, if Terry Crews flexed his pectorals faster and made his man boobs snap rather than jump up, the snap would be considered a hit. Hitting can be applied to a lot of different muscles. Although you can do the Fresno with more types of hits, this how-to will focus primarily on the arm and leg hit as they are easier to learn.
Related image

The first step is to "find" or know which muscles you need in order to perform a hit. The first muscle is the forearm muscle. If you are familiar with dumbbell workouts, this is the same muscle you would use with hammer curls. In order to find this muscle: 
1. start with your arms resting at your sides. 
2. Make one of your forearms parallel to the ground while the rest of that arm is perpendicular to the ground. Your arm should look like a capital L.
3. Place your other hand over your "L" hand.
4. With this other hand, create resistance while trying to move the "L" hand upwards without actually moving.
Your forearm tendon should stick out as you try to lift your hand. Once you have found the muscle, try practicing the hit. Flex this muscle as fast and hard as you can.You can also keep your hands relaxed when you hit so that they are free to jiggle, creating a better effect. It won't look very good the first time around, but with more practice, you can build up enough muscle memory such that the arm flexes fast enough to create a short vibration.   At that point, you have learned how to hit one arm and can now accent beats, drums, claps, and high hats when listening to music with that arm. After having one arm down pat, do the same with the other arm.

Related image

While the arm hit will take time getting used to, the leg hit will come more intuitively. The leg hit uses the quadricep muscle. It is not hard to find this muscle as all you need to do is stand up. Now that we have found our quads and are standing up, we can perform the leg hit.

1. Start with your legs fully extended. Try straightening your legs until they won't straighten anymore.

2. Relax the leg such that the knee moves forward a tiny bit.

3. Snap your knee back by flexing your quad as fast and hard as you can.

This is the leg hit. The flexing of the muscle is very similar to the arm hit; however, the leg hit can only be done when your legs are straight while the arms can be hit at a variety of different angles.

Related image

The Fresno will combine basic movement with the arm and leg hits that we already went over above.

1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and arms at your side.

2. Keeping your arms straight, lift your right arm up until it is at right angles with your body and parallel to the ground.

3. As your right arm is rising up, shift your weight onto your right leg.

4. Once your arm reaches that right angle point, hit your arms and legs all at once.

5. Stick this pose for another beat and hit your arms and legs again.

6. Lower your right arm and transition to your left arm. Remember to also shift your weight from your right leg to your left as you transition.

7.  Pop your arms and legs again once your left arm is at the right angle point.

8. Stick the pose again for another beat and another pop.

9.  Repeat this pattern with two pops per side dancing to a simple 4 beat rhythm.

10. Remember to only pop when you hear the beat. It is very easy to be off beat since our brains tend to anticipate the beat and, as a result, our body pops early. This is why it is crucial to listen very closely to the music.

You have now learned the basic Fresno! For you visual learners, here is a Fresno tutorial from Youtube: I know this video kind of defeats the purpose of writing this blog in the first place, but I hope you found this blog interesting nonetheless. As you may suspect, learning and practicing the Fresno, arm hit, and leg hit is not very exciting.  One way to keep motivated to practice such a basic move over and over again is to look for inspiration in other well established dancers. I for one am very likely to want to practice dancing after I see an awesome dancer throw down in a youtube video. If you are interested, you can look up the some of the best poppers in the world, such as Hoan, Kite, Jaygee, Greenteck, Poppin J, Firebac, Slim Boogie, Frantick, or Gucchon to name a few for inspiration. Here is a great video example showing some of the best popping you can find: While their dancing may look astronomically different and way more complex than the basic Fresno, each and every one of these dancers I mentioned started with the same basic practice in order to get to where they are today. It is their love and passion for dance that keeps them going. Although I can't make you love dance, I can tell you for certain that a passion for dance alone can take you a long way in your dancing.

EDIT: 9-19-17 3:13 PM; video links added.


  1. Your blog is very interesting to me because I personally love music. I can’t say the same about dancing but I still try to get on the dance-floor. I’ve actually never new that the Fresno was a dancing move and thanks to your blog not only do I know a new dance move but I also know now how to execute it. I liked the way you broke down how to do an arm hit and a leg hit step by step. The steps are written well, which help me on understanding how to the hit movements well. The only thing you can improve on is that if you can put a video link of your favorite dancer or an instructional video showing the reader how to do the move would really help your readers. I am personally a visual person, so it makes it easier for me to learn when I can see the move actually being done.

  2. Your analysis of how dancing is related to music appreciation and criticism was great. Additionally, your instructions seem to work pretty well, as I was able to improve my fresno just in the time it took to read your blog. I wish that you had figured out how to embed video, or at least make links on the blogger, though.