Mini History of Jazz Dancing
WHAT IS JAZZ?
When you hear the word Jazz what do you think of?
Better yet, when you hear about jazz as a style of dance what comes to mind?
Do you think of the Charleston? Or does your mind go straight to broadway?
The evolution of jazz dance spans over history, and takes on many forms.
Jazz began as a social style of dance at the turn of the century when African American dancers began blending traditional style African steps with European movement.
With that combination it allowed dancers to create a conversation with the musicians and their instruments. Like jazz music, jazz dance was centered around improving and a call and response between the dancers and musicians.
No matter where and when jazz always has had a performative feel.
Here are some steps every beginner should know:
Ball Change: A quick transfer of weight from one foot to the other.
(Click to see gif⬇️)
Jazz Square: A four step movement in which the dancer steps across, back, and to the front. Creating a square pattern with feet on the floor.
(Click to see gif⬇️)
Chassé: Step out in any direction in píle, then jump and chase the first leg. Like a gallop.
A list of some famous jazz dancers throughout history:
Bob Fosse: June 23, 1927- September 23, 1987
An actor, choreographer, dancer, director, and screenwriter.
He was known for his distinct style with his use of the pelvis, arm, and hard isolations, and rounding of the shoulders. He gave jazz a new dimension. Winning 8 Tony Awards for choreography. Some of his major works include ‘Chicago’, ‘Kiss Me Kate’, ‘Pippin’, and ‘Cabaret’.
Jack Cole: April 27, 1911- February 17, 1974
A dancer, choreographer, and theater director.
He is considered as the “father of jazz” technique. He combined jazz with modern steps.
Jack choreographed Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friends’. ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, and ‘Les Girl’.
This opened the floodgates to new talent and modifications to the dance form.
Jerome Robbins: October 11, 1918- July 29, 1998
Theater producer, director, and dance choreographer.
He was a world renowned choreographer, know for his contribution to ballet, theater, movies, and television musicals.
His works include: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, ‘Funny Girl’, ‘West Side Story’, and many more.