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Jazz Dance

Jazz dance, an often contested term that generally refers to a fusion of European and African movement traditions performed to the rhythms of jazz music, has been a visible presence in Chicago since the early twentieth centuryas both a social dance form and a theatrical art. Jazz dance is a form of modern dance which is heavily influenced by the sounds, rhythms, and techniques of jazz music. Like jazz music, jazz dance is highly individual, with an emphasis on showcasing individual skills, and jazz dancers are skilled at improvisation as well as working with other dancers to achieve a desired look and feel. Jazz is known for being heavily syncopated and unpredictable, JAZZ DANCERS must be physically very flexible, and much attuned to the music they dance to. Some jazz dance is heavily structured and choreographed, while other performances build in room for improvisation. In group performance, improvisation must be carefully executed, with the dancers working together so that they do not clash or distract from the harmony of the piece, just like jazz musicians. Jazz dance often referred to tap dance because tap dancing, set to jazz music, was one of the predominant dances of the era.

Early roots of jazz dance

came from African culture imported by slaves. In Africa, natives danced to celebrate cycles of life: birth, puberty, marriage and death. Children, adults and the elderly all depended on dance to express their cultural beliefs. Drums, string instruments, chimes, reedpipes and other percussion instruments set the beat for the dancers. Slaves continued to interpret life through dance. However, their dances, while based on the traditions of Africa, were influenced by the European background of the plantation owners, so the dances changed. The only place where African dances remained outside this influence was Congo Square in New Orleans. From 1805 to 1880 slaves were permitted to dance by the French and Spanish Catholics who inhabited the area. They felt that providing slaves with an opportunity to dance under supervision would make the slaves happier, monitor plans for revolt, and prevent secret voodoo dances from being performed. Watching slaves dance led whites to stereotyping. Whites began blackening their faces and imitating slave dancers as early as the 1800s

Jazz Dance Attire


The movements that are used in the jazz dance require a lot of flexibility and grace. The jazz dancers are therefore required to wear jazz dance costumes that emphasize the lines of the body. This would mean the jazz costumes need to be fitting without all the fuss and

frills. It would also depend on the creativity of the designer to come up with new ideas that would highlight the body and make it glamorous for stage shows. The jazz dance shoes are as important as the jazz dance costume. These need to be simple and light. They should allow the jazz dancer the right kind of flexibility needed and not hinder the performance. Jazz shoes are available in neutral colors with a slight heel.

Who Invented the Jazz Dance Technique? Early experimentation with the jazz dance form is synonymous with names such as Katherine Dunham and Jack Cole. Katherine Dunham is recognized as the 'Grandmaster of Jazz Dancing' the world over, while Jack Cole is considered the 'Father of the Jazz Dance Technique'.

PIONEERS OF JAZZ DANCE TECHNIQUES Jack cole Peter Gennaro, Jon Gregory, and Katherine Dunham. Cole was one of the first jazz choreographers.

He merged the modern dance motivation for movement with popular jazz dance steps to make a more technical and artistic jazz dance. He also took from his modern dance training, the idea of being "low to the ground". He incorporated a very low plie into much of the movement he developed. This redefined his style, which turned into a bonafide technique. This gave jazz movement a sense of power and gravity. Jack was also extremely interested in the aspect of isolation and syncopation, all which are a huge part of jazz today.

Gennaro's style was "light, quick, loose, and flexible ... with a warm-up, with plies and various ballet based leg exercises". Gregory had a limited dance background, and began his class with a series of arm gestures and across the floor movements, and rapidly progressed to a set combination of "spectacular leaps and falls Katherine Dunham Her classes were accompanied by conga drumming and involved step patterns across the floor that included isolated movements of the shoulder and hips. Although her technique is one that trains the body in an organic, well-planned fashion, she was considered a modern dancer and her style would appear to be too ethnic to appeal to the emerging Broadway theatrical

In 1955, two teachers emerged who formalized theatrical jazz dance training in New York,

Matt Mattox and Luigi. Mattox had taught for Eugene Loring's School of American Dance in the early 1950s, and then began teaching "everything I knew from Jack Cole" at New York's Showcase Studios. His classes were strict, demanding, and inspiring. Mattox's exercises worked on acquiring the ability to isolate movement of body parts while training the body in a systematic progression - as in the structure of a ballet class. Eugene Facciuto, who is known simply as "Luigi," was an aspiring dancer who suffered a near fatal car accident that left him paralyzed on his right side. He developed a series of dance exercises as rehabilitation, and they became the basis for his technique. The Luigi style visually recalls the fluid, lyrical quality of ballet, and emphasizes "the line of the body with arms lifted, chest high, and head thrown back". Two other teachers noteworthy for developing their theatrical jazz dance techniques after careers in modern dance are Ruth Walton and Gus Giordano. Walton was "influenced by Martha Graham and much interested in tap and primitive". She prefers to call her style "modern jazz dance", and is the author of A Ruth Walton Course In Modern Jazz Dance.

Giordano. TO HIM "the jazz dance form is movement ... that starts in the stomach or solar plexus and creates a mood." His classes aim to "create a regal look in the torso and head" and his technique "incorporates the relaxing study of basic Yoga". After warm-up exercises, Giordano asks FOR isolation exercises, and jazz walks across the floor. Modern jazz dance Modern jazz dance is frequently influenced by other dance styles such as acro, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, and hip-hop. In turn, many other dance styles are influenced by jazz dance. As in most forms of dance, technique is the foundation for all modern jazz dance movement. In particular, jazz dancers benefit from a sound working knowledge of ballet technique and, consequently, hip hop dance curriculum commonly includes ballet training. Modern jazz dance encompasses various techniques, including: Center control By treating the center of balance as the point from which movements emanate, it becomes possible to maintain balance and control while executing movements that would otherwise take the dancer off balance. Spotting This enables dancers to maintain balance and control while executing turns such as pirouettes and fouetts, by reducing the dizzying effect of repeated rotation. Pointing

When pointing, dancers stretch their ankles and point their toes so as to align their feet with the leg lines in an aesthetically pleasing manner MODERN JAZZ DANCE CHOREOGRAPHERS Jerome Robbins Jerome Robbins was a hugely influential and successful theatrical jazz dance choreographer as well as a ballet choreographer. Dance historians credit Robbins with the refinement of the jazz gesture--and the melding of ballet and jazz for a more lyrical and dramatic form of jazz dance. Bob Fosse Influenced heavily by choreographers Jack Cole and Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse expanded on the use of the isolation and gesture--sometimes moving only a finger or a hip as part of his choreography. Fosse's physical limitations--turned in knees and hunched shoulders-became part of his dance vocabulary. Bowler hats, canes and chairs became standard props in jazz dance BECAUSE OF Fosse.

forms of jazz dance \ Over many years, jazz dancing evolved and from it were born a range of social and concert styles. The origins of many popular forms of jazz dancing can be found here. Such styles include the Cakewalk, Charleston, Black

Bottom, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie and Swing many of which still remain popular today.

CHARLESTON The music for the Charleston is ragtime jazz, in quick 4/4 time with syncopated rhythms. The dance uses both swaying arms and the fast movement of the feet. To begin the dance, one first moves the right foot back one step and then kicks backwards with the left foot while the right arm moves forward. Then both feet and arms are replaced to the start position and the right foot kicks forwards while the right arm moves backwards. This is done with a little hop in between steps

CAKEWALK The meaning of the dance was lost on white minstrel performers, who added the exaggerated, over-the-top dance to their repertoire to portray the bumbling attempts of poor blacks to mimic the manners of whites. No longer was the Cakewalk a dance of satire; minstrels and their audience genuinely thought it signified blacks wanting to be like whites. By the turn of the century, the Cakewalk was used by both black and white minstrel performers far from its original intentions, and when the musical comedy gained prominence in theatre, the Cakewalk was transferred from the circuit theatre to Broadway.

Jitterbug The term jitterbug comes from an early 20th-century slang term used to describe alcoholics who suffered from the "jitters". The term became associated with swing dancers who danced without any control or knowledge of the dance. In popular culture, it became generalized to mean swing dancers themselves, or a type of swing dance. the act of swing dancing "People were top-notch jitterbugging, jumping around, cutting loose and going crazy".

Boogie-woogie The Boogie Woogie is a social jazz dance closely related to swing dancing. The Boogie Woogie involves a six-beat dance pattern, usually called as "step, step, triple step, triple step," with the dancer traveling in a forward pattern while performing these counts. Originally developed as a style of blues music, the Boogie Woogie is often danced to rock n' roll music.

Swing The swing dance is not a single form/kind of dance but a group of various dances which developed in the earlier half of the twentieth century. These dance forms flourished with jazz or swing style of music. The origin of these swing dances can be traced back to the vernacular African American dance forms.

Lindy Hop The Lindy Hop is an American social dance, from the Swing dance family. originally evolved with the jazz music. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.