Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The next form of dance that we will be learning about is Jazz.

The formal definition of jazz is a dance form or dance that is matched to the rhytms and techniques of jazz music, developed by American blacks in the early part of the 20th century.

Jazz is broken down into two different categories, traditional and modern.

Traditional jazz: Until the mid 1950s, jazz dance referred to the dance styles that originated from the African American vernacular dance of the late 19th century to mid-20th century. Jazz dance is often referred to tap because tap dancing is also set to jazz music. Jazz dance has definitely evolved from when it first started due to the different social aspects and with the introduction of concert dance. When jazz first started, the popular dance forms included, the Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Charleston, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, Swing, and the Lindy Hop.

Granted a majority of these dance forms were dance styles of the 50s, but a majority of the steps we still use today.

The second form of Jazz is modern jazz. After the 1950s, pioneers such as Katherine Dunham took the essence of Caribbean traditional dance and made it into a performing art. With the growing domination of other forms of entertainment music, jazz dance had evolved onto Broadway. The performance style of jazz dance was popularized to a large extent by one of my favorite choreographers who many of you have probably heard of would be Bob Fosse who was one of the most famous Jazz choreographers. He uses movies from each one of these 50s dance styles. If any of you have ever seen All That Jazz you will know how he uses each.

For any of you who have seen Chicago, even the recent movie, you have a good understand of what modern jazz is.

Chicago isn't the only Broadway dance and a movie, that is modern jazz. Cabaret, Damn Yankees, and the Pajama Game are other forms of modern jazz as well.

Modern jazz is often performed with leather jazz shoes to help the dance move smoothly when executing turns, such as a pirouette.
Of course you can also wear Jazz boots

Jazz techniques are very similar to ballet techniques, and of course they both use the same steps and vocabulary, but the positioning of the feet is different. In ballet, the positions of the feet are turned out and in jazz you feet are turned in. So for example, in first position you leave your toes where they are in the turned out position but you just bring your heels back and align them with your toes. This goes for the other four positions as well.

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