The History of Jazz Dance
• Jazz dance originated in the 1900s from different styles of dance but mainly
from the African Culture. In the 17th century, when slaves where brought to
America, their music and dances were brought with them. These dances
were brought to the plantations and many slave owners used their best
dancers to perform for guests. Eventually, these songs and dances made its
way to theater, but not from the people it originated from but rather from
the Mistrel Shows. Once the 1980s arrived, blacks where allowed to perform
their own Mistrel shows.
Example of Traditional African Dance
History of Jazz Dance Cont.
• The Minstrels were popular until the emergence of the Vaudeville era. This
era was the beginning of the creation of jazz music, which was the
combination of the blues and ragtime. Along with the new emergence of
music, jazz became connected with burlesque shows and American theatre.
During the 1930s, jazz became a very important part of the entertainment
industry. Jazz starting popping up in night clubs, movie musicals, and dance
Example of Jazz in the 1930’s
• Today Jazz has many different styles and represents different things to different people. As stated
In Nora Ambrosios book, Learning about dance, although Jazz has been defined in many
different ways, “ descriptive terms such as sensual, visceral, improvisational, syncopated, hot, and
cool are often usend in reference to jazz dance”(127).
• Quote by writer Mike Moore:
“Basically, jazz is an approach. It is everchanging, but vitality is a constant. A continual refinement is also constant.
Changes in jazz happen in very subtle ways. Jazz dancers seek the fine edge of perfection in their performance. No
movement is dull, there is an unabated theatricality about jazz. No movement is perfunctory. Improvisation is the core.
Jazz dance moves through delicate changes of color and shading. In jazz dance, one works toward an individual style
that builds from traditional jazz origins and strikes out boldly in the contemporary. Jazz was born in America, of
Michael Jackson studied the style of jazz dance and used this as inspiration in
many of his music videos.
Elements and Style
• Jazz dance focuses on the concentration of certain parts of the body and
controlling their movement. Jazz also focuses on the idea of the dramatic
movement of moving the body from doing dance moves crouched low to
the grown and then instantly changing to movements standing straight up.
Jazz shows great emphases on the lines of the body and how certain
movements can create a certain line and look to the body. Jazz dance is based
around jazz music, which is very soulful, and jazz dance reflects these
emotions through dance.
• I find jazz dance to be my favorite expression of dance. I love the
incorporation of traditional African dance mixed with the burlesque theatre
of the 1930’s. Jazz dance appears in so many places in todays media from
music videos, Broadway, and many movie musicals. Jazz dance is a dance
form that anyone can relate to and enjoy. Jazz dance can range anywhere
from slow sorrowful dance numbers to very uplifting and upbeat dance
numbers, which gives this form of dance a lot of range to work with.
• Ambrosio, Nora.Learning about Dance.Kendall Hunt,2003.Print
• “Chicago-Hot Honey Rag”.Youtube.Web.23,Nov. 2013.
• “Michael Jackson- Thriller”.Youtube.Web.23,Nov.2013.
• “Tradition African Dance Performed in Rwanda.Youtube.Web.23,Nov.2013
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