The History of Jazz Dance

I started Jazz dancing at the age of six and it soon became my favorite style of dance!  Jazz has roots dating back to the 1800s.  The first official American “jazz dancer” was Joe Frisco who danced around the year 1910.  Jazz moves were created by slaves who often danced and sang as a source of entertainment.  Slave traders allowed them to dance during their journey over to America, as an attempt to keep them physically fit.  Not only did it work, but it formed an impressive series of dance techniques and steps that made history.  The original steps came out of Africa while Jazz dance itself came about as a crossbreed of American culture.  Jazz music obviously inspired some of the first documented jazz dance choreography.  Europe lent elegance to the technique; Africa gave it its movement and rhythm; and America allowed it to have the exposure and growing popularity that has sustained it as a cherished dance style today.  After being passed down through plantation ancestors and early restaurants and night clubs, jazz dance began to be taught in studios.

By the early 1900s, people began doing such dances as the cakewalk, Charleston, jitterbug, swing and the Lindy Hop, all of which were forms of jazz dancing.  Jazz also began to appear more in Broadway shows and musical comedies.  Modern jazz was developed by choreography greats such as Bob Fosse, whose work is emulated in the ultimate of jazz dance shows, Chicago and Cabaret.  To properly execute jazz dance steps, many teachers still believe in teaching a firm classical ballet foundation so that bodies can develop with strength and agility.  Jazz dance is able to be traditionally peppy and bright, but can also take on a flowy and soulful feel.  There are no limits to its creativity, and this has continued to rank it as one of the most popular forms of dance available in studios today.  Over the last year, I decided to focus on classical ballet, but my dance school also teaches jazz.  I take one jazz class per week and I still love it more than ever!

References:
History of Jazz Dance
About Jazz Dance History

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This is me last year in costume for a jazz dance to the song, Knock on Wood.  It was a fast paced disco song, but the dance style was jazz.

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And this is me last year in costume (postal worker) for our jazz dance to Return to Sender by Elvis Presley.  This dance was slower, but still a jazz dance.

The History of Ballet

Hello everyone!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been having a very busy, yet relaxing summer.  It’s almost time to go back to school and for dance classes to start-up again.  Because I am a dancer and talk so much about my love for dance, I decided to write a series of blog posts about the history of different kinds of dance.  For my first post in the series, I am going to start with the form of dance I love the most – ballet!  I started ballet at the age of five and I didn’t much appreciate it in the beginning.  Now, I go to a dance studio where the main focus is ballet technique.  Now I am so much better at it because it’s all that I do.  The history of ballet is as interesting as the art form itself.  The word ballet comes from French and was borrowed into English around the 17th century.  The French word in turn has its origins in Italian balletto, but uses the shortened version of ballo (dance).

Ballet ultimately traces back to Italian ballare, meaning to dance.  According to Wikipedia, ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and spread from Italy to France.  Catherine de’ Medici and Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx were responsible for presenting the first court ballet ever which applied poetry, dance, music and set design to a storyline.  In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera), within which emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet.  The dominant use of French in the vocabulary of ballet reflects this history.  Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art and spread from Europe to other nations.  The Royal Danish Ballet and the Imperial Ballet of the Russian Empire were founded in the 1740s.  In 1907 the Russian ballet moved back to France.

Soon ballet spread around the world with the formation of new companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and many others.  In the 20th century, different styles of ballet continued to develop.  The United States choreographer, George Balanchine, developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet.  Subsequent developments have included contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet.  I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.  My favorite ballerina, Misty Copeland, was just named American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal dancer.  I find her to be very inspirational.  Because of her late start in learning how to dance ballet (she was 13) and her race and body type, she is what’s known as an unlikely ballerina.  Keep reading my blog to learn about other forms of dance.
 

This is me in my ballet costume for a group dance I was in during my 5th grade year back in 2013 – 2014.  We danced to Discombobulate.  It is the theme song from the movie, Sherlock Holmes.