Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches by Lindsay GuarinoThe history of jazz dance is best understood by comparing it to a tree. The art forms roots are African. Its trunk is vernacular, shaped by European influence, and exemplified by the Charleston and the Lindy Hop. The branches are many and varied and include tap, Broadway, funk, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, pop, club jazz, popping, B-boying, party dances, and much more.
Unique in its focus on history rather than technique, Jazz Dance offers the only overview of trends and developments since 1960. Editors Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver have assembled an array of seasoned practitioners and scholars who trace the many histories of jazz dance and examine various aspects of the field, including trends, influences, training, race, gender, aesthetics, the international appeal of jazz dance, and its relationship to tap, rock, indie, black concert dance, and Latin dance.
Featuring discussions of such dancers and choreographers as Bob Fosse and Katherine Dunham, as well as analyses of how the forms vocabulary differs from ballet, this complex and compelling history captures the very essence of jazz dance.
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Ever since Jazz entered into popular culture, it immediately fueled the creation of its dance style that not only followed its modern rhythms, sounds, and techniques but also heavily promoted the sense of individuality, spontaneous dancing, free flow dancing and showcase of the skills of dancers. Dancers who started dancing to the early sounds of Jazz developed a high degree of improvisational skills, which became especially popular in the African American communities as early as the 19th century. Origins of Jazz dance can be traced all the way back to the first years of the arrival of African slaves to the shores of Central and North America. Dances and music they brought were much more free-flowing, experimental and improvisational than traditional dances that were brought to North America by European immigrants. The appearance of the traditional style of Jazz music and dance appeared during the early s in the city of New Orleans. This hot-spot of musical experimentation soon managed to popularize Jazz into almost theatre-like dance performance that could be danced by professional dancers and organized by some of the most talented dance choreographers of that period. Jazz music was often performed by large New Orleans' bands who received notoriety by performing Jazz at funerals of local music artists or during public holiday celebrations.
Jazz dance is a performance dance technique and style that first emerged in Brazil in the early twentieth century. Both genres build on African American vernacular styles of dancing that emerged with jazz music. Vernacular jazz dance includes ragtime dances, Charleston , Lindy hop , and mambo. The term 'jazz dance' has been used in ways that have little or nothing to do with jazz music. Since the s, Hollywood movies and Broadway shows have used the term to describe the choreographies of Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. In the s, colleges and universities applied to the term to classes offered by physical education departments in which students dance to various forms of pop music , rarely jazz.
Jazz dance , any dance to jazz accompaniments, composed of a profusion of forms. It radically altered the style of American and European stage and social dance in the 20th century. The term is sometimes used more narrowly to describe 1 popular stage dance except tap dance and 2 jazz-derived or jazz-influenced forms of modern dance.
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Jazz, the dance, is as experimental, free form and fluid as jazz, the music. It's fusion, it's inventive, it's exuberant. And, like the music, jazz dance is a uniquely American art form with influences from everywhere. The smooth and syncopated moves of jazz are always all about the performance. Jazz came out of Africa -- an inadvertent import to American with the slave trade.
Jazz dance has its roots in the folk dances of Africa. Unlike the early Europeans, the African people believed in using the whole body including the hips and ribcage as a means of dance expression, and dance and music were an integral part of everyday African life. When African slaves were brought to the Americas from the 16th to the 19th centuries, white society was appalled by the black slaves who danced with abandon. However, the dances survived, were adapted and took on slightly different forms in different areas. In the United States, for example, arm swings and body movements were added to Irish clog dancing, and gradually American Tap and Rhythm Tap evolved. Early forms of tap and jazz were danced in minstrel shows, medicine shows, carnivals, circuses and vaudeville, as well as socially among blacks. The white society that was initially shocked by the free dancing of the blacks eventually found themselves doing it.
Jazz dance is an umbrella term that can refer to several related dance styles. All of them are connected via common roots, namely tap, ballet, jazz music, and African-American rhythms and dance. Jazz dance originated from the African American vernacular dance of the late s to the mids. An early popular "jazz dancer" was vaudeville star Joe Frisco in the s. He danced in a loose-limbed style close to the ground while juggling his derby, hat and cigar. Until the middle of s , the term "jazz dance" often referred to tap dance, because tap dancing set to jazz music was the main performance dance of the era. After the , pioneers such as Katherine Dunham took the essence of Caribbean traditional dance and made it into a performing art.