DANCE JAM PRODUCTIONS











{April 11, 2007}   Dance Lesson Wednesday: The History of Jazz Dance

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Okay everyone, quiet down please. Quiet….quiet.

I SAID QUIET, PEOPLE!!

Ahem. Thank you.

Now, if you would please open your books to the chapter about the History of Jazz Dance, we can begin:

The root of jazz dance comes from the African American Vernacular Dance from the late 1800s up until the mid 1900s. During the jazz era, popular forms of jazz dance were Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Charleston, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, Lindy Hop (a.k.a. Swing), all forms of dance commonly danced to jazz music.

After the 1950s, pioneers such as Kathrine Dunham took the essence of caribbean traditional dance and made it into a performing art.

Since the fifties, with the growing domination of other forms of entertainment music, jazz dance evolved with broadway choregrapher into a new, smooth, modern Broadway style that is taught today and known as Modern Jazz, while tap dance continued to evolve on its own. An early popular “jazz dancer” was vaudeville star Joe Frisco in the 1910s. He danced in a loose-limbed style close to the ground, with eccentric steps, and juggled his derby and cigar.

Jazz dance is a form of dance commonly used in Broadway shows and movies. Jazz is more a contemporary kind of dance as compared to ballet, for instance. Even though jazz dancing might look easy and fun when the dancers do it, the dancers have to be in really good shape, and practice sometimes six hours a day. Some traditional musical jazz numbers are All That Jazz and Chicago.

To excel in jazz dance, the dancer must master ballet techniques. In jazz dancing the movements are big and exaggerated and there is usually an attitude the dancer conveys to the audience. The attitude would depend on the dance. For example in a number like Livin’ La Vida Loca, the dancer would probably be happy, and look like they were at a party having a really rockin’ time. Jazz dancing is also used in modern dancing as on MTV. Las Vegas showgirls are also jazz dancers.

Just about every dance school teaches jazz, as it is the most popular dance form for amateur dancers. The essence of jazz dance is entertainment to the people, a form of dancing which is easy to understand for anyone seeing it. As the famous modern choreographer and pioneer Alvin Ailey said “The dance came from the people, and should always be given back to the people”.

Famous jazz directors and choreographers include Bob Fosse, Gus Giordano, Gwen Verdon, Jack Cole, and Eugene Louis Faccuito (also known as Luigi).

Well known Jazz dances include All That Jazz, Can-can, Damn Yankees, The Red Mill.

~ From Answers.com

The dance routine that Jarek and I came up with for DJP’s Dance-Off segment would probably fall into this category. Possibly even Modern Dance, which we’ll discuss another day.

HOMEWORK QUESTION: Have you seen a Broadway show that uses Jazz dance moves? If so, which ones?

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