Dance has been a major part of my life since I was a child, but it’s all about the movement. The native Hawaiian dances I was taught as a child tell a story; every hip roll, every hand position, every arm sweep. Even the more vigorous steps the males had to learn tells a story about the ancestors from my island home.

One of the many things I love about dancing is the choreography. For some, it’s movement before music. Meaning, you learn the steps first and then put them to music. This was how it was taught in my dance classes. This is how My Boy works. It was harder for me to learn this method because I wanted to know what the steps meant. LOL. In actuality, they were meaningless. It was just a step, or a sequence of steps, and we looked cool doing them. Period.

My own method is music first, then the steps. Depending on my mood, I pick a song and close my eyes while listening to it. And then the steps just…come. A week or so ago, during some much needed down time, I was watching BET. They were counting down the “25 most hottest dancers” or something like that. Basically, they were acknowledging certain musical artists with superb dance moves. Of course, they mentioned The Gloved One, but they also gave props to people like Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers (waaaaaaaaay before my time), and Gene Kelly.

They also mentioned Ciara. Have you seen the video for her song Promise? Feel free to check it out now if you’d like.

Really. No, go ahead. I’ll wait.

I’m just gonna get some iced tea while you do that. Can I get you anything? No? Ok. I’ll be right back.

I chose this video of hers for one clip in particular: the one where she’s wrapped around the microphone stand as it nearly touches the floor.


I can just imagine how much fun she had doing that. I can also imagine how many takes they had to do because she kept saying “That was fun. Can I do it again?” Her choreography totally rocks, even though you can’t see much of it in her “Get Up” video. She should’ve worn white pants instead. Just sayin’.  I don’t know anything about her dancing background. If she does her own choreography, what’s her method? Maybe she has a professional come in.

I’m curious. To all you dancers out there, what’s your dance routine method?



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


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

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?

{April 5, 2007}   YOUR STORIES ARE NEEDED!!!


I run a special place here on the Big Island, so I won’t be able to post as often as Celise would like me to. So I’m asking for your help in supplying content for two specific days of the week:

Dance Lesson Wednesday – If you’re a dance instructor/choreographer or dance studio owner, I’d like to interview you.

First Dance Fridays – Do you remember your first dance? How old were you? Where was it at? Who did you go with? Do you remember the music that was played?

What you need to do:

~ For interview requests, please put Dance Lesson Wednesday in the Subject line and I will send you a questionnaire.

~ For the stories, please put First Dance Fridays in the Subject line and supply your name, city and state (unless you want to post anonymously).

~ Send your entries to me by clicking on the Email Me link in the Sidebar.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

 Thanks for all your help!

et cetera