Showing posts with label Jazz Dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jazz Dance. Show all posts

Sunday, March 5, 2017

JAZZ as DANCE

While few people understand the true origins of Jazz as a music form, fewer people still understand the origins of jazz as a style of dance. Jazz is very much a fatherless child. More than that however, jazz as music and dance seem to have many mothers despite the fact that they have no father. By this I mean that there are many influences to this colorful form of music and dance though no one influence is notable enough in the new creation to be considered the 'father' or 'mother' for that matter of jazz.

English: Jazz dancers adapted from flickr phot...
Jazz dancers adapted from flickr photo by Alvaro Arriagada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though jazz has many supposed birth places it really only has one true home and that home would be New Orleans. Much like the music this city is famous for, New Orleans is a city without a father too. New Orleans was a melting pot in the truest sense of the word before we had any real clue what it meant to be a melting pot. From the influences of the French, Spanish, German, English, and of course the population of former slaves and black free men and women, New Orleans was the perfect place for this blended and mixed style of music and dance to call home.

It is no wonder that jazz dance emerged as the result of jazz music. There are simply no adequate dance steps for the delightful music we have come to know over the years as jazz. For this reason something new and a little bit off the main path was needed in order to keep time and pace with the new music that was emerging.

As a style of dance, jazz was much more 'brazen' than dances in the past had been and in some circles considered to be singly unseemly. Polite society certainly had no interest in this particular form of dance. The good news for those who enjoyed this style of dance is that there were plenty of places in which jazz, as a form of dance and music, was readily embraced. You had to go off the beaten path a little in order to find it but for many it was well worth the effort.

Jazz music and dance was popular for quite a while and then seemed to go underground except in cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, Kansas City, and St. Louis where it was an ingrained part of the history and culture. We have seen a reemergence of this once popular style of music and dance in recent years however with some notable musicians bringing back the swing and 'big band' sound that went hand in hand with jazz as both a music form and a style of dance.

You should understand however, that when it comes to jazz dance, much like the music, there are no definitive rules that you must follow in order for it to be jazz. There are no rigid dance steps that must be adhered to for the 'jazz' effect. Jazz dance is often confused as 'tap dance' because tap music was often set to jazz music. It is important however to realize that jazz isn't limited to tap dance and that other styles of dance fall under the rather large umbrella of 'jazz dance'.



Some of the more common jazz dances include: Black Bottom, Boogie Woogie, the Cakewalk, the Charleston, the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop, and swing dancing. Each of these styles of dance seems to be making a rather remarkable comeback in popularity over the course of the last two decades and are very interesting to watch, as well as in which to participate should you ever have the opportunity.

If you have considered jazz dance lessons for you or your children, I hope you will decide to indulge. Not only is the music for this type of dance excellent and uplifting but also the style of dance in and of itself is quite fun and enjoyable. There are very few styles of dance that can compete when it comes to allowing artistic license, going with the flow, and simply dancing for the sheer joy of dancing. As an art form and as a form of entertainment jazz music and dance are tops in my book.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

All About JAZZ DANCE

Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Art of Jazz dance is an amalgamation of  different styles of dance that began between 1800's, and the middle of the 1900's rooted in African American movement.  One man known for this type of dance was the star of vaudeville Joe Frisco around 1910 who danced in a unrestrained fashion in close vicinity to the ground while tossing his cigar,  and derby in a juggling manner. The Jazz dance style up to the middle of 1950's was Tap dance which was always performed with Jazz music such as the Jitterbug, Swing, Boogie Woogie, Lindy Hop,  and the Charleston.  Katherine Dunham is renowned choreographer and dancer studied the cultural dances of Caribbean in Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, Martinique and Shango making this African American dance a modern work of pure art.

She took this style to Hollywood and Broadway who embraced a more refined Jazz dance.  Modern Jazz Dance is a smooth style of dance roots from Tap, Ballet and Jazz music which is performed in many musicals from the Pajama Game to Cabaret to Chicago to music videos and the Las Vegas showgirl performances. The usual technique for Jazz dance is that of a ballet dancer for balance and strength from doing slow movements. In contrast the typical Jazz dance has sharp movements, but the skills of ballet smoothes it down into a refined style.

Moreover, Jazz dance is such a versatile style that it can be combined with other dances from lyrical, contemporary and hip hop. Jazz dance like Jazz music can be combined with other dance styles to enhance the dance to another level. For instance,  The United Kingdom witness a new movement of dancers in the 1980's who danced when the Jazz, and Funk music clubs was becoming unpopular known as Street  Fusion Jazz Dance. Due to the new modern music scene, new groups who longed to keep the tradition of Jazz dance, and still leave room for the new styles.

There are two groups known for street fusion jazz dance known as IDJ ( I Dance Jazz), Brother in Jazz and Jazz Cotech.  Famous people of the world of Jazz dance is Fred Astaire, Jerome Robbins, Jack Cole, and Bob Fosse. In the world of Jazz Dance there are terms people use to describe various dance movement.



Jazz Dance Terms:

Ad lib, Axel Turn, Ball Change, Barrel Jump, Barrel Turn, Bounce, Cake Walk, Cat walk, Catch Step, Chasse`, Coffee Grinder, Contract, Curve Or Arch, Dolphin, Drop and Recover, Fall, Fall Over The Log, Fan Kick, Figure 8, Flick, Flick Kick, Freeze, Funk, Head-Roll, Hinge, Hip Walk,  Hip-Fall, Hip-Roll, Hitch Kick, Hop, Jazz Drag, Jazz Run, Jazz Split, Jazz Square, Jazz Walk, Jump Over The Log, Kick, Knee Fall, Knee Slide, Knee Turn, Lay Out, Limbo, Mess Around, Moonwalk, Pencil Turn, Pitch, Pivot Step, Primitive Squat, Release, Ripple, Shimmie, Shiver, Shoulder Fall, Shoulder Roll, Sissonne Fall, Skate, Snake, Snap, Spins, Spiral, Stag Leap, Step, Switch, Table Top, Tilt, Touch, Tripplettes, Turns, Twists, and the Worm.